GameCentral readers reveal how much stock they put into video game reviews and whose opinion they trust the most.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Grackle, who asked whether you wait for reviews to come out before buying or pre-ordering game, and if you trust particular sources or put more faith in aggregators such as Metacritic.
Although many claimed they largely ignore reviews if they’re for a game they’re really looking forward to, most admitted they still enjoy reading reviews regardless. In fact, some even described it as one of the key pleasures of being a gamer. Our thanks to everyone who mentioned us as a trusted review source.
It might be a weird thing to say but I think reviews have always been my favourite thing to read from games media. I think it’s because of the anticipation of seeing how a game turns out after all of its build-up, or if it’s a game I have been looking forward to. I even check out the reviews of games I know I have no interest in playing as I’m interested in how a much anticipated game by fans turns out so I can be ‘in the know’, so to speak.
I have always been a magazine subscriber, with my favourite being the defunct PSM3, after which I switched to OPM when it died. I find their reviews to be quite good and trustworthy, along with GC’s – which I say strike the right balance.
I won’t lie and say that I ignore reviews scores as I don’t. If a game gets a score of less than 6 I tend to ignore it, anything above though sparks my interest and I will then to read the whole review then to gauge whether nor not I feel I will enjoy the game.
I also tend to listen to the opinions of specific journalists regarding certain genres. For example, with the racing genre I 100% trust the opinion of former Gamesradar journalist Justin Towell, who has an extensive knowledge of racing games and hasn’t let me down yet.
Truk_Kurt (PSN ID)/Angry_Kurt (Twitter)
Now playing: PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate
I will read through reviews on select websites – Metro, Videogamer, and nobody else – but ultimately I will buy games if I want to, not based on somebody else’s (opinion) review. I have Homefront: The Revolution on pre-order and won’t cancel if it gets bad reviews as all games now can be completely changed in months with patches and taking feedback.
I mean, what games don’t get expansions now that can improve the game? I also think games on day one aren’t the final product. The Division season pass, Dying Light season pass, etc. – every games evolves over a year until it’s perfect. Which is a good thing.
I only ever use reviews to decide on whether to buy a game if it’s a lesser known one or one I haven’t been following. For a Halo game or Dark Souls III this week, you could have said they are the worst games you have played and I would still get them on launch as I know and enjoy the franchise.
Smaller games such as the Danganronpa games, Persona, or other lesser known games I will buy on the back of a positive review. The Witcher 3 wasn’t even on my radar until I read your review, you said how great it was so I took a punt and it has now become one of my favourite games.
Even if I know I am buying a game in advance, I still enjoy reading your reviews though, and along with Games TM are my most trusted sources.
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Hardest job in the world
I only read this site and IGN, and take notice of the reviews on each. Reviews are an essential guide to not wasting your money, even though fun can still be had with games that score poorly.
I like GameCentral’s reviews because they are objective and level-headed appraisals that don’t spoil game content. IGN is fine, but in my opinion games are easily spoiled on that site because the video reviews seem to begin automatically and it’s all too easy to see gameplay before you want to.
I don’t envy game journalists, especially when it comes to reviewing eagerly anticipated titles. If a blockbuster game is given a score of 7 or 6/10 many readers seem heartbroken or personally offended, and the reviewer can receive all kinds of allegations and abuse. Which I don’t think is fair.
It’s not as if the reviewer coded the game. They probably aren’t marking the game down because it isn’t made by Nintendo. The reviewer certainly isn’t stopping you trying the hotly anticipated new title yourself.
From personal experience I know how difficult writing can be. I bet it’s depressing to have paragraphs of your carefully formulated text ignored in favour of the number at the bottom of the page.
After careful consideration I think I’ll give my email 6/10.
Reviews are never a decision maker for me wholly, I tend to use the aggregations sites more as they give you an overview of many different types of reviewers. However, mainstream AAA games are often easy to see if they are good or bad based on the sheer amount of hate or love they get on social media. I guess my main review source now is social media, you get more information about bugs and get to interact with the ‘reviewer’.
YouTube also can’t be dismissed as an excellent source to see the game in action, and if you might like it. Finally, friends on the gaming networks. I skipped the alpha and beta of The Division, my friends on Xbox didn’t however. So I messaged them and asked them how it was.
The truth of the matter is there are lots of opportunities to see, hear and find out if a game is for you before making a purchasing decision.
Mcsherlock Gaming (YouTube)
Reviews form a strong basis for my decision to purchase a game, particularly those by GameCentral and Edge, who seem to have similar tastes to me and get annoyed by the same niggles.
It is nice to see a game I have had no prior knowledge of get a 9 or 10. Even if these games are not in genres that I normally like I will still buy them, as I might discover a passion for something new. I found Disgaea, and by extension Nippon Ichi’s entire catalogue, based on an Edge 9/10 review for the first Disgaea. Strategy role-playing games suddenly became one of my favourite genres which I might not have discovered if it was not for that review.
More recent discoveries have been walking simulators, due to GameCentral’s review of The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter and draw-your-own-map Japanese role-playing games based on their Etrian Odyssey review. Both I enjoyed, but not as much as Disgaea.
Not all purchases based on reviews are successful: Okami, Bayonetta, and Street Fighter IV for instance never clicked, but I do not regret trying them.
That is not to say that I will not also actively ignore reviews occasionally too. For instance, I have Uncharted 4 pre-ordered based on Naughty Dog’s previous games. Likewise, I bought Destiny based on Bungie’s past games and recently bought The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.
The worst game I have pre-ordered has been Watch Dogs, but I was expecting a cross between Assassin’s Creed IV and Grand Theft Auto V which was not as good as either. And that is pretty much what I got. I also have Horizon: Zero Dawn pre-ordered, which is probably a mistake.
It’s a trap!
I remember game review scores being incredibly important to me ever since I was interested in gaming media, right back to reading Crash, Your Sinclair, and Sinclair User.
Most, if not all, magazines had their equivalent of a ‘Star Game’ award for being over 90 out of 100. And whether a game reached this level was really all I needed to know.
Certainly, I would very rarely justify spending my modest income on a game that wasn’t something of a classic. And for me nothing has changed really in the 30 years or so that have followed, other than it’s time rather than money that’s the valued commodity.
Perhaps controversially, to help determine a game’s value, other than of course reading the body of the review, I find a score out of a hundred is useful to distinguish between a very good game, a slightly flawed classic, and a pretty perfect game. For example, I completely agree with GC’s scores for the first Dark Souls games, which I believe received 9 out of 10, as both are exceptional games which for differing reasons, are flawed in design.
However, the first one is clearly better than the second one when you compare them both, and yet the second one on its own merits easily justifies a 9. Therefore, a review out of 100 would allow you to make this distinction easier, with a score of 95 or so for the first, and a score of 90 for the second.
‘But who gives a fig?’ I hear you say. Glad you asked, and as long as you stick to a 9 apiece, then presumably no one. But if in trying to acknowledge the difference in quality between the two excellent games, a lesser reviewer was tempted to give the second one an 8, then it can suddenly seem a much less essential purchase.
I call this the Return of the Jedi syndrome.
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