Why You Shouldn't Trust All Reviews

I will never make the claim that I'm a great movie/video game reviewer. What I do I do for fun and enjoyment, most of the time because I'm completely bored out of my mind. I'm not paid, though I certainly wouldn't argue if I were. What's baffling to me are those people out there who really get paid to do this. Reading through some so-called "professional" gaming magazines can be downright disgusting at times.

It has nothing to do with anyone's opinion. I'm not some 8-year fan boy who's going to send countless E-mails to a reviewer for giving the latest "Yu-Gi-Oh" games low scores telling them they're wrong. They're not wrong. That's what opinions are for. If you don't agree with the review, it should still be able to deliver enough information on the title to tell you whether or not you would enjoy it. Unfortunately, some "professionals" fail to do this.

In a semi-recent issue of Game Informer, Gamestop's long running exclusive magazine, there was a review for "Tiger Woods DS," one of the few measly releases for the dry console in some time. He did not like the game in the slightest, handing out a review score of 4 out of 10. So, why did he hand out such a score? He's clueless.

His main complaint is that the rather innovative method of swinging is wildly inaccurate. Ok, agreed. It's awful at times. He continues on until we hit his quotes about putting and putting backspin on the ball.

"Because of the slippery touch screen, your targeting reticle (sp) slides all over the place."

"I still haven't figured out how to put backspin on the ball."

So, why can't you trust this reviewer? You don't need the touch screen to putt. It's much easier and way more accurate to use the D-pad. Secondly, to put backspin on the ball, all you need to do is touch the giant ball with an arrow going around it on the bottom screen in the direction you need it go. You really can't miss it.

Here is a person in a paid profession who completely fails to either spend enough time with the game or open up the instruction book to learn how to do something. In fact, not only does the instruction book tell players how to spin the ball, but also, so does the included training mode.

Does this mean his score is wrong? No. He genuinely didn't like the game and that's totally fine. Would he have enjoyed the game more if he actually knew what he was doing with it? Possibly.

What's the point of this editorial? Know what you're reading. If you find reviews are helpful to you, find someone who generally agrees with your opinion and is technically accurate. Don't just read one review and take it as the be-all-end-all review if someone you're familiar with does not write it. If your favorite reviewer is on vacation, read multiples.

Comments (5)

My experience with reviewers is that if you find one that seems to have the same tastes as you, stick with them. However, you are so right about reviewers now knowing the product they are reviewing.

There was/is a show on cable called The Electric Playground. It was/is hosted by a couple of guys who seemed to know what they were doing: Victor Lucas, Tommy Tallarico. Tommy was/is a video game score composer.

When I first started watching the show, they gave some great reviews. Were brutal to games that didn't stack up and didn't seem to fawn over most games like most reviewers do. However, when they moved to G4TechTV, they went right in the toilet. No matter what game they reviewed, the review was always favorable. They had succumed to the dark side. They also started talking a lot about action figures and other nonsense that I as a video gamer had absolutly no interest in. Yet another victom of the G4 take over of TechTV.

I know what you mean about Electric Playground. The funny thing is that it was a G4 show before the G4TechTV merge. So its gotten worse yet huh? I am really glad I stopped paying for that channel.

Tallarico made some great music in his day. Cool Spot is worth playing for the soundtrack alone. Unofrtunately, once I heard the man refer to a game as "poop" on national telivision, the respect level dropped signifigantly. I don't know about the show pre-take over as I only got the station here afterwards, but the combination of Extended Play and X-Play shows just how far the industry has to go.

Michael Siebenaler:

Game reviewing, and any type of media review, has to be fully experienced for accurate evaluation. Overall, reviewers make up bigger entities like the journalistic media which usually reflects society’s resulting reviews on media. Sales are also an obvious measurement as well, but don’t really touch the personal experience of the media. For now I’ll just stick with the personal journey of a media reviewer.

The reviewer/critic should really know what she/he is talking about, but does it mean a reviewer has to conquer every game before they review it? The ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) often evaluates games by viewing BETA footage, not by viewing the actual game. Their reviews are far from complete, yet they assign ratings to virtually game made in the U.S.A.

It’s a greater advantage to have experience in that medium – for example, reviewing a film might be easier when you’ve actually made one yourself or written a screenplay. You understand the process more because you’ve been exposed to more elements of the process. Personally, I use a check sheet when I do my reviews because I don’t know cinematography first hand, but I can make my review more comprehensive if I don’t discount it.

Media reviewing is also very collaborative. I used to resent the fact that I was known to certain people as only “the movie guy” or “that video game reviewer”, but interacting with people and discussing media has become a very important part of my work/job. You get a lot of incite about why something did or didn’t work, plus you get to test your own beliefs/theories as well.

Media reviewers who appear on television should get a lot of credit. Ebert and Roeper do it every week and even have their reviews in print. Their reviews and TV comments show results from the film from their own individual perspective and in their debates with each other.

Is it ethical to investigate a video game more by using codes and special passwords to access higher levels? Besides, who has the time for all that anyway when you’ve got two dozen other games to review?

Word length might be the only measurement of worth in deciding if a reviewer has actually reviewed a game or not, but an audience doesn’t really know that until they’ve experienced the game too and can call out a publication’s (previously mentioned) reviewer who mentions elements of the game that aren’t entirely accurate.

It seems to be a common occurrence in media reviewing because the audience usually doesn’t respond (though new technology, such as blogs are making feedback more legitimate and giving users a more powerful voice).

Even the Toledo City Paper gives movies grades before they’re released and evaluates them by a star system even though no media reviewing has taken place – a “buzz” rating at the maximum.

An extra level of effort goes a long way in the reviewing process because you get to see the discourse and the experience behind the actual media and all the emotions, feelings and thoughts surrounding it.

Ok, yeah, that's deep. But two points...

First, the ESRB isn't a review in the sense that we're talking about. They're not concerned with quality. The tape shows the most vile portions of the game (the good stuff) and lets the panel decide. You don't really need to play the game to see the violence or whatever else Rockstar comes up with next.

Seocndly, using codes is wrong. How can you be a proper judge on the games difficulty if you have some invincibility code? Are some parts of the game too easy? Too hard? Does the game slowly climb in difficulty like a great game should? Can't tell that using codes. Is it tough to get through a dozen games? Sure, but lets face it, if that's what you have to do to earn a paycheck, who's arguing?

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