i like to go on metacritic and read all the lower score reviews. not just those mind you, but i read them first to cut out all the hyperbole.
a good example is bayonetta. here's the top 3 scores on metacritic and their blurbs:
100 - Games Radar (in-house)
It’s an almost flawless exhibition of gaming greatness, which can effortlessly make even the most ham-fisted of gamers feel like they’ve got elite skills. Bayonetta is already an early contender for GOTY for 2010.
100 - GameShark
Bayonetta is a stunning orgy of sadistic mayhem that surpassed even my unreasonably high expectations, and proved that violence can be beautiful.
100 - Gaming Age
It's such a fantastic game to start off the New Year with, and while I haven't been fully in love with Platinum Games previous efforts, they really knocked this one out of the park for me.
what do those tell me about the game? not a fucking thing. now down to the bottom 3:
69 - Absolute Games
Adrenaline-filled, lightning-fast battles are so exciting that I'm willing to forgive Bayonetta for its clumsy, clichéd storyline, awkward camera and dubious soundtrack. The only thing that’s beyond forgiveness is horrendous quality of the PS3 port.
60 - PS3bloggen.se
Bayonetta on the PS3 is a rather bad version of a pretty good fighting game. The graphics are both slower and less crisp than its Xbox 360 counterpart, but the worst thing of all is the incredibly long loading times between levels, between cut scenes, while entering menus - and even whilst picking up objects.
60 - Giant Bomb
Unfortunately, most of the kind words I have for Bayonetta are reserved for the Xbox 360 version, as the PlayStation 3 version suffers from crippling performance issues. Load times are bad, even popping up when you're simply cycling through options on your inventory menus, but what really kills it is the way the game stutters and chops through the action, dropping frames and bogging down at an almost constant rate.
now we're getting somewhere. here i can tell it's got bad load times, framerates, and graphics compared to the 360 version, and a questionable soundtrack and story. now if i'm willing to overlook these issues, or hear otherwise from a friend, i'll check it out.
generally though i've kinda made up my mind if i want to play a game or not just by looking at it or trying a demo, no matter how good or bad it might be. like i'll look down release lists and think "nope, not my thing" or "hmm i'll check that out" or "definite buy". it's silly but i'm hardly disappointed.