Are game reviews valid?

Are game reviews valid? by Honorabili

You might read a game review and be enticed to go buy or play a game but is a review really valid? How long did the reviewer play the game? Does it take into account replayability and updates over the life of the game?

The Quality Triangle
The Quality Triangle

I’ve written a bunch of game reviews but I often find myself with the dilemma of when I sit down and think about how effective the review really is. One of the reasons I created Obsolete Gamer is so that I can honestly review games in a reasonable and realistic manner. It’s really really hard to play a game that hasn’t come out yet or has just come out and play it like a crackhead non-stop to try to simulate having played it over a series of days and weeks. The problem with even doing that is that the game will still be new to me within a week timeframe as opposed to the game having been around in my collection for months. One would be more excited about a new game rather than an old one, unless it’s a really old game that was your favorite and you haven’t played in a while and you just found it because you lost it for some reason.

Planet Side cover
Planet Side cover

This question might not just apply to games but to maybe some movies or things like electronics and cars as well. Most reviews that just get mass produced will say this thing is “the next best thing since sliced bread and you must have it!” but they don’t take into account that for instance a car might have a defect that you will only see after owning it for a year or a game will get ruined by the 5th patch because they changed something that fucked up game balance and it will make people flee playing a game like a sinking ship. This especially happens for MMOs which are changing all the time. PlanetSide comes to mind, which a ton of my friends used to play when it was really, really popular. Your best bet it to read a game review by somebody that has the same tastes as you or to read a review written recently about an old game (like what we write here often, ahem).

A problem I have sometimes running Obsolete Gamer is that some reviews I’ve written, in order to keep them valid, I have to go back and play a game and update the review. One game that does this a lot to me is Nation Red, which updates like at least once a month, with new content added ALL THE TIME! I keep track of this for Obsolete Gamer but many sites will just pump out an article and just file it forever in its archives, never ever updating it again. In my book that makes those reviews useless. If you haven’t already checked out our game reviews do so in this section of the website.

Civilization 5 Crash
Civilization 5 Crash

So what’s the point of reviews? I see many as pieces of writing intended to get the reader to buy or play a game. Many get used to hype up the expectations of the potential and existing fanbase to a game or product. Some are genuinely written to try to warn people to stay away from a particularly poorly made game that would just be a waste of time and money for the player. Sure, I’ve played some games that have gotten bad reviews and found them somewhat more pleasant than this horrible picture the media painted for me. For example, I gave Elemental War of Magic a fair chance and actually it was sad that I enjoyed it more than Civilization 5, a game I had pre-ordered for $50 and now hate with a passion. The media crucified Elemental War of Magic because of its many bugs and shortcomings and yes even Stardock admits screwing up and it resulting as a flop but the difference here is that Elemental War of Magic got patched to the point where it’s very much enjoyable now but it still has a bad reputation as opposed to Civilization 5, which is PRAISED to be the strategy game of the year, although in my and in the eyes of every true Civilization game fan, it’s the biggest pile of shit ever made with the Civilization name. The game is months old and still has most of the bugs and missing features I mentioned in my early review of the game. It’s disappointing especially when they are still selling this turd for so much money. If you want to see this rage, visit the Facebook Civilization Page to join in on the fight!

Psychonauts Box, groovy huh?
Psychonauts Box, groovy huh?

This kind of hypocrisy has been around for many years, and not just in the gaming industry. Whatever has the biggest budget will get hyped up and up and some stuff that does deserve attention will sink into obscurity. Let’s look at small games though because it’s easy for people to say that Call of Duty or Halo or World of Warcraft are the best games EVER but let’s look at small games to see where the industry nailed it and where it dropped the ball. The industry rightly praised Plants vs Zombies and Trine and rightly so but it dropped the ball when it came to a classic gem like Psychonauts. You might say “Yeah, Psychonauts got famous later as a cult classic” but seriously, the people who made it needed the money from the game when it came out, not 4-6 years later! Most people pirated Psychonauts or bought it on Steam for $2 when they had its sale or even from Good Old Games. Think about how many people might have been laid off because the game didn’t do well when it was fresh.

Games are sort of like cars in the economic sense: they degrade in value over time. The money they make for the developer the most is earned when they are new and fresh. When they are on sale because they flopped or they’re old is marginal. The money the developer gets from ebgames or some other place selling you a used copy is NOTHING. I’m not saying go out there and buy every game because I do believe some stuff should have never come out and is not even worth downloading a pirated copy (a topic for another article), but if you do LOVE a game, whether you played it a friends house, got a demo, or are playing a warez copy, do try to buy it to pay back the creators and people whose life was spent writing that game. The economy is a democracy in the sense that you vote with your wallet. If you like the games made by certain authors and programmers and studios, keep them in business. Don’t you want your friends to do well?

Odium, a game few have played with like no reviews
Odium, a game few have played with like no reviews

I’m getting sidetracked, so going back to reviews, if you can’t find a good review for a game or a review at all, do a little research instead. See if there are people who posted information on forums regarding the quality of a game. Some stuff might be too new and small for people to review or it might be just really really BAD. Sometimes that’s a way to tell but sometimes the game might just be a lost gem that you have found. Give games a chance and don’t always go with what the mass media wants you to play. I don’t know how busy your life is, but try to not let people make a decision for you. This also doesn’t apply to just games as well but life as a whole. Discover something you will like. Try out a new genre if you’re bored of gaming in general or go out and do something else to get a new perspective. This might keep you from burning out on something.

Who knows what may happen? You might just find a game that becomes a new favorite of yours and you might end up like us writing reviews on them yourselves and websites like this one or maybe this one as well. ;] Just make sure that you honestly share your opinion on a game… To yourself be true and to others as well, if you can. Save people the aggravation of buying a lemon!

If you were stuck in a waiting room for hours and had to choose one game to play which one would it be?

Waiting Room
Waiting Room

Everyone has been through it, at one time or another you have had to wait in a small, cramped and completely boring waiting room. It really doesn’t matter what you were waiting for though waiting for a car repair or doctor’s appointment can be the worse. Let’s face it, you don’t want to read those crappy magazines they have from six months ago and the television channel is showing The View. Back in the day you would have to just tough it out, drink some awful coffee and maybe strike up a conversation, but thanks to portable gaming that has all changed.

Now you can play a ton of games across many platforms from console handhelds to the iPad. Today you are not even stuck playing simple flash games, with systems like the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable you can play brand new high graphic games anywhere. So that leads us to this week’s Insider Discussion; If you were stuck in a waiting room for hours and had to choose one game to play which one would it be?

For me it would be puzzle games. For some reason I just can’t enjoy games like Tetris and Super Puzzle Fighter at home on my 51 inch HDTV. However, when I am waiting for someone or something to get done I love to break out a good puzzle game and watch the time fly by. You can find so many great puzzle games no matter what platform you play on and once you get into it that hefty repair bill or super long doctor’s needle won’t seem so painful.

Now let’s see what our panel of insiders said:

Mathew Anderson from Petroglyphgames wrote:

“World of Warcraft (or any other similar MMORPG). Why? Because you can easily spend hours in the game on a variety of tasks, many of which can take hours to complete in and of themselves. Or simply chat with others around you. I mean, who wants to talk to real people in a waiting room when you have an entire virtual world to explore, right?! Games within games, “virtual” persons instead of real ones… do those count? :)”

Chris Skaggs from Soma Games wrote:

If that happened today, it’d be Mirrors Edge – which I’m absolutely loving.

Justin Melendez from Lan Slide PC’s wrote:

A few months ago I was stuck in an airport for about 12 hours during which time I played a fair amount of Starcraft, Aion and Borderlands. Had Starcraft 2 been out I probably would have queued up for some multilayer matches to pass the time.

Aaron Hunter from Playtechtonics Inc wrote:

Civilization 4 is a good for me, a real time-killer!

Josiah Pisciotta from Chronic Logic wrote:

Right now I would say Civilization IV, nothing makes time fly by like that game.  Plus if the wait turned into days instead of hours not only would I still be playing but I probably wouldn’t even notice 🙂

Corey Dangel from Detonator Games wrote:

Getting stuck in a waiting room for hours happens to me more often than I’d care to admit! Typically I just play a version of Spider Solitaire on my Android. I’m on a quest to break the 4 minute barrier (I’ve only gotta shave off 3 seconds so I know i can do it) so it actually can entertain me for quite some time. But if I was thinking ahead, or had the ability to manifest a game + device out of thin air, I’d play Scribblenauts for the DS. It’s such a creative game with so many ways to enjoy it.

Danny Greig from XGEN Studios wrote:

Street Fighter 2 or Super Mario Kart.  Both can be played for hours on a portable device without getting old. However if a console is an option, the choice would be Super Smash Bros (Any of them).

David Warhol from Realtime Associates wrote:

I actually found myself in this situation, and it was when Wario: Touched! for the Nintendo DS came out.  It is both very light-hearted which was helpful, and the game sessions were so quick you can pause & put it away at any time.  Plus of course it’s portable.

Grace Snoke from EOGamer wrote:

I love puzzle games and tower games.  Games like Bejeweled, Jewels, Collapse, things like that always eat up my time. I get involved in them and hours disappear because I’m constantly trying to beat my best score.  Or, if all else fails, Plants vs. Zombies, which is a tower game.  Best time waster ever.

Jacob Stevens from Riverman Media wrote:

Right now that would have to be Super Mario Galaxy 2. SMG2 is a textbook on excellent game design. Every mission of every level is different, it’s tough but never frustrating, and there are all sorts of surprises from beginning to end.

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

PopCap Games logo
PopCap Games logo

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

If you love puzzle games and specifically free ones then visit the website of PopCap Games and have fun! Some of my favorites are Plants vs Zombies, Zuma, Big Money, Chuzzle, and Bejeweled. These games might seem simple but they are the kind of games that improve your logic skills.

The website for Popcap Games is the following: http://www.popcap.com/