Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Take care with your Review

This is a remake of one of my first blogs in Destructoid. Reviews were somewhat at the center of some polemics. Three in particular called my attention. 

The first one was Jim Sterling’s Battlefield 3 review. Many people don’t like it. In my view, it was a fair, good review. Sterling can be an awful news reporter, but as a reviewer I think he is fair and professional. He played the game, justified his points very well and he gave a score that he thought to be fair to his experience. 7,5 is a good score, but more on it later. 

Many complained about BF3 being about the multiplayer and not the single-player. That the campaign was just a bonus to the game. Others that the whole package needed to be reviewed as one product. I agree with the later. If I buy a game and the game have several components, all of them must count to the review. It all goes as how much importance you give to the campaign or the multiplayer, but as reviews are opinions, Jim decided that each part is equally important to him. 

The second review was Game Informer giving an 8 to Uncharted 3. Honestly, 8 are supposed to be a good score. The problem that many people pointed is the fact that the reviewer admitted to not like Uncharted gameplay style and going to a considerable length to explain why he don’t like Uncharted style of gameplay. Here is the problem: why someone who doesn't like the game series was given the review? There was nobody who liked the game available to do it? That is the problem that the people who aren't childish pointed. And I agree. 

The last one is this case. Why the reviewer just not admitted to not playing the game on normal? Hiding this just damaged his reputation. If you perceive you made a mistake in your review, admit it and try to avoid it in the future. 

My last two points. One, 7s are not good scores. Why? Because is the score gave to most games. See, here is the problem. If you review a hundred games, mathematics says that 50% will be average, in the middle of the score system, while 25% will be bellow average and 25% above average. That’s how it works. The logic says that most games gravitates around the 5 score. 

Wrong. In most sites I go, including Destructoid, the most common score for games are 7. If most games gravitate around this score, it means that a game who is mediocre (remember, mediocre is not bad, but something around the middle between bad and good), is a 7 score. That happens because reviewers do not review all games launched in a year, usually just the ones people talk about. And those ones are usually above average. So, 7, who is supposed to be an above average game is in fact an average game. The score system is completely flawed nowadays. 

So, I am now defending that score systems must be dropped. Corduroy Turtle have an awesome system in his Buy it/avoid it blogs that I think is perfect. Numbered scores (or ABCDEF systems or stars or any quantifiable system) do not represent how bad or good a game is. 

My last point. Reviews CAN be criticized. The fact that they are opinions does not means that they are above criticism themselves. I hate when a review is being heavily criticized and someone comes defending that since a review is an opinion people cannot do any kind of critic to the review. It is bullshit. 

If someone says that all Jews must be killed, of course he will be criticized. If he stated that it is his opinion, people will not just say ‘Ok, his opinion. We shut up now’. Reviews and reviewers are not sacred entities who are above critics. They can make mistakes; they can be biased and unfair. Damn, would be really funny if a site starts ranking reviewers and giving them scores to see how much those reviewers would complain, while the site defending itself as ‘just our opinion’. 

There is a saying about don’t judging if you don’t want to be judged. I think this goes for reviews and reviewers too. Well, that is it for today. Thanks for listening. 

All things said here are the writer’s opinions. If this was a review it would mean you have no right to criticize the author’s in any fashion. Since it is not, go ahead and give us your own opinions and criticism. I will be very grateful to any feedback.

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