If you've been following my blogs for the past 3 years, you'll know I don't normally write a lot of review content. To be honest, I'm often conflicted about random user "reviews." While I certainly don't think only super-professional games journalists should be the only people to weight in with an opinion about a game, most armature game reviews come off a little tacky. I always think it is a bit asinine when Joe Blogger arbitrary assigns 3/5 stars to a game's soundtrack, or 18-out-of-30 Nicholas Cage Heads to the "replayability" of some title, whatever that means.
This is especially striking when most blogger reviews come out weeks, or even years, after the game has been released. Its already been reviewed by every major publication and it's not like one amateur review written way after the fact is really informing anyone's purchasing decision. At that point you have to ask yourself why you're even bothering with it. That's one of the big reasons I much prefer to talk about games in a more personal or contextualized way. I like to write about the ways videogames have impacted my life, shaped my viewpoint of the world, the way we play, or just try and have some fun with the craziness of the industry.
But I'm also taking the idea of writing about games professionally more seriously. While it's always been a bit of a fantasy to get paid real cash money to do the thing I love about the stuff I love, I'm coming to a place in my life where I have to start getting my shit together. If I actually want to do this, I should probably start DOING IT. And I've suddenly realized that my pretentious position about amateur reviews is actually a huge liability.
When Jim suddenly left last month, I would have loved to have thrown my hat in the ring as a potential new reviewer for the site. Of course Chris is going to step up to Jim's previous position - review all the big games, hand out all the controversially low scores - but someone has to be there to pick up the scraps right? Who is going to review Barbie Dream House Party while everyone else is ploughing through Assassin's Creed 4 and Dead Rising 3?
But I didn't even have a sample review to send in. Sure, I've written some stuff I'm proud of. Some funny feature articles about stuff like being a typical OCD hording gamer, a bit of serious industry criticism looking at the disposable way Namco treats the women in Soul Calibur, and so on; but no reviews.
So I'm trying to fix that. I took a stab at it a few weeks ago looking at XCOM: Enemy Within. As an expansion for one of my favourite games, it wasn't exactly a curve ball; more of what I love, plus robots, equals SLAM DUNK. Risk of Rain on the other hand is a more tricky beast. It's a game I genuinely enjoyed, but is rife with technical issues and foibles that I can see being a real turn off for other players. I tried to express what I found beautiful about the game, while still giving fair warning about its downsides.
If you could, please check it out and give me some feedback. I don't generally beg for comments, but I'm really interested in what you all think since this is uncharted territory for me. Did you get a good sense of what the game is about from the review? Was it helpful for you making a decision to check it out/avoid RoR? Did I fuck anything up? Is it on fire? Am i burning alive as I type this?
Should I stop being a preening hipster and just give it a "blank-out-of-blank" score at the end?