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 reviews: too negative ?

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Sparky the chu

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PostSubject: reviews: too negative ?   Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:49 pm

gonna start the first discussion here ^^

so, I'm gonna share a few thoughts. Lately I've been following game reviews less and less, until I decided to judge games by trying them out myself.

I believe that the point of a review is analyzing a game, showing how it works and spotting the flaws it could have. Not opinion-based flaws though! Many times I read reviews with reviewers giving a lower score to the game for things like:

-An artstyle they don't like
-The game doesn't have online mode
-The genre is old
-The reviewer doesn't like the genre

and many other examples. Now, I know that writing the perfect unbiased review is impossible, but perhaps it is possible for someone to judge games without prejudice and see what the real flaws are (can be a low framerate, glitches, problems with the controls...) and maybe try to understand what kind of people can like the game.

Afterall there are games that are indeed awesome and of high-profile, but not everyone can like due to it being particular, either having a certain gameplay or art style or graphic look (there's people who hates cel-shading).

If, for example, you give an RPG game to a reviewer who is commonly known for hating RPGs of course the rating is gonna be lowered just by that. This negativity on reviews seemed to increase lately, with games being accused to copy from other games (like dante's inferno with god of war), while they just meant to take inspiration from it...I don't think that taking reference from another game is bad, it just gives more ways to use that gameplay, setting, story, or whatever it could be...

To me it looks like most gamers became more and more bitter with the time and we know how many of them are unrespectful too, trying to bash games left and right just to prove that they're right and everyone else is wrong.

Anyway, feel free to share your thoughts on this ^^
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PostSubject: Re: reviews: too negative ?   Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:17 pm

As we have talked, every review is more or less opinion based, though a good critic always strives for as close as neutrality as he can :3 And also what are flaws is sometimes a question of opinion on itself <:3 Some reviewver might consider some aspect a bigger flaw than the other.

I do agree with the online part. It seems like every game these days needs to have an online function to get good reviews >.< What happened to the good old single player games? Game doesn't need always to have huge multiplayer function to be good.
My opinion though is highly driven by the fact that I am no friend of online games <:3 Unless playing with people I know. I have bad habits of meeting with jerks, who simply leave the game, if they are losing or act stupid, if they lose >.< And even in co-op games like L4D I've ment such players too often, who think they are better than others and all...
All and all, I think online is highly overrated <:3

True also that some critics, in their will to find the honest and truthful view of some game, dig too deep and pay too mcuh attention to facts that might not make the game so bad in the end, but becaues they point it out so strongly, some players choose not to by them. But critics are also professionals (at least should be) and their word has to count for something. But usually it is also profitable to look for just more than one review of the game :3
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PostSubject: Re: reviews: too negative ?   Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:51 pm

Honestly I think it's pretty near impossible to have a a review without some level of opinion attached to it sooner or later. As Rai-kun said, sometimes a 'flaw' in a game may be based on opinion in general. But oftentimes these opinions flavor people's views of the game aspects in general, even if we don't realize it. Plus if the reviewer is giving a score to certain aspects of the game, just how important factors X, Y, and Z are will still vary from person to person. A game having slippery controls may be more detrimental to one person's outlook on the game than it is on another person's, after all. And there isn't really a universal meter of how important that should be, so if the game has slippery controls? That'll indeed color the review.

I hope I'm making sense, I haven't had breakfast yet. >.>;

As for negativity in general... Admittedly I haven't really paid much attention to "official" game reviews outside of the Wiikly Reports, and I guess Zero Punctuation counts, given that he's a paid professional. But in Yahtzee's case, what he's paid to do seems to specifically be taking a harsh eye to new games, and be cynical about them. The Escapist also tends to be a humor site in general, doesn't it? So it may also be a case of playing up a character type for humor. Kinda like how AVGN is more a character in a humor series about not-so-good games than an actual, straight-up reviewer.

But yeah, I can't say I've really seen an outbreak of negativity in what I would consider "official" reviews, since I usually want to play the game for myself before having my own perception colored in one way or the other, but I do think with the lack of a universal model to reviewing things, and not really thinking it'd be possible to make such a thing, opinion and personal preference will still end up working into just about any review on some level or another.
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PostSubject: Re: reviews: too negative ?   Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:18 pm

As our teacher has been pounding into our heads on the course, a review is surmised of several things. The main thing is to be objective and subjective, which means to look at what the game/movie/performance actually does which you can prove with solid evidence. Thats the objective. The subjective is then how you feel about it. Do the controls subtract from how you are playing? Is the art style not really right for what they are trying to do? Theres also a bunch of other stuff, like understanding the intent of the author/creator/performer/director and what you actually see and how that effects you, so essentially their intent and outcome. You also have to be a critic, and have to understand what you are looking at. So some applied knowledge of the field is good. Also, an understanding of the semiotics in place in the product and how they are used.
I think though in terms of internet and magazine game reviews, depending on what they typically report on, there will always be bias. A nintendo magazine will typically enthuse nintendo games, a PS3 mag will enthuse PS3 games. And maybe some reviewers have become a bit bitter? Nonetheless, harsh criticism in a humourous/sarcastic manner seem to be the rage. That and perhaps reviewers who don't like certain genres shouldn't review from those genres.

One thing I do have a problem with on general reviews though is the score system, or points, or whatever. the X out of ten thing is good, but I think too many games have high 8's/9's, and then they classify crappy games as like 7 and below. I think that should shift. Like really good must own games fall between 7 and 8/high 8, pretty decent but average games should fall between 4 to 7, and things that didn't work at all well should be below 3. 9's and above should be for games that truly define a genre or change one.

overall, I think the negativity in reviews is an indicator of how people are getting bored of 'small' time games, or want big changes too quickly..
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PostSubject: Re: reviews: too negative ?   Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:59 pm

A lot of very good points in this thread already! I do agree that I think it's probably not fully possible for a review to be completely 100% objective. There's always going to be some subjectivity to them, and that in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. Certainly, everyone has different tastes, and some of the difficulty comes in being able to separate what is objective vs. what is subjective in the review. If a review isn't well-written, it can be difficult for the reader to differentiate whether the reviewer's criticism is stemming from their subjective view of the game. As has been pointed out, depending on who is doing the reviewing, there will always be a certain degree of bias. A good reviewer is aware of their own bias, and tries to ensure the audience is aware of it. Like Sparky said, if you give an RPG to a reviewer who dislikes the genre, their review will potentially be harsher - but, if they make the audience aware of their feelings beforehand, at least those who do prefer the genre will know to take the review with a grain of a salt, and perhaps seek out a second opinion.

The second issue I have with professional reviews is actually the numerical or star rating system which Dray mentioned. Numbers can be a powerful indicator of how good or bad a game is, especially with sites like Metacritic where users can see aggregated scores at a glance. I do think numerical ratings are important, to an extent; however, the rating system itself can be nebulous and ill-defined. If a publication or web site doesn't explain why they rated a game as a 7/10 (or at the very least, what their criteria are) then how much can that number be trusted? How would it compare to a publication that gives the same game 3 out of 4 stars? Not only are we factoring in the subjectivity or potential bias of two different reviewers with their own separate likes and dislikes, but the different system of numerical ratings between them make it difficult to compare, as well. Again, as Dray said, the system is even more skewed by the fact that the only scores that seem to be well-regarded are 8.5+/10 - if a 5/10 game is considered to be a piece of crap (which it seems to be, in a number of publications) then why even bother having a 10 point system?

I also agree with Sparky that gamer base, in and of itself, has gotten more bitter and harder to please, and to an extent, this is probably one reason why reviews in general seem to be so negative. Even in general, it's much easier to be vocal about things you didn't like versus things you did like.
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PostSubject: Re: reviews: too negative ?   Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:16 pm

A review needs to be opinion based and fact based. If a reviewer is just sitting there and saying good things and bad things with no opinion, then that's bad. If it doesnt seem like you actually like the game, then its not a good game.
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