So my friend IMed me the other day. It went something like this:
You gave God of War 3 a 5/5?
Yeap. It's good.
But it's not a 5/5 game more like a 4/5.
I agree with that. It's not perfect, but for what it set out to do, it succeeded. GOW3 is an action/adventure/hack and slash/sequel to God of War. It did deliver as an action game and sequel to that francise, it did everything it promised. I think it totally did.
But you gave Heavy Rain a 3/5. So you're saying God of War 3 is a better game then Heavy Rain?
Well, yes and no. Heavy Rain, for what it set out to do, failed more than what God of War 3 set out to do. Heavy Rain wanted to be the future of gaming: an interactive drama. It was very pretentious and tried a little too hard to be a modern adult video game movie. Only it copied tons of other better movies, and games are initially different then movies for a reason. Heavy Rain tried to be snobby and forget that, it wasn't much of a game from a gameplay stand point. The characters and story were extremely cliché, not just for videogames, but they were copied and pasted from movies. Meanwhile God of War 3 knew what it was, the sequel to God of War. One of the most visceral, over-the-top action games, which is all GoW3 had to do. It made even more epic moments, setpieces (aka events), improved the combat a little, and it had mind blowing graphics. For its own set goals God of War 3 delivered what it said to do. While Heavy Rain failed to be a deep interactive story driven drama. While maybe taking more chances and aiming higher than God of War 3; it ultimately failed at what it set out to do.
Ok, but technically you still gave Heavy Rain a 3 and GoW3 a 5.
So, I'm going to try to write some pointers to help people understand game reviews. When reading or writing reviews try to keep these bullet points (you know I mean business when I do bullet points) in mind.
1. Reviews should be written without bias, or at least try to, as much as you can. If you love the God of War games, you should try to separate your fanboyness and be objective. Is this a good game? Is it well made? Polished? Fun? Etc. I think the bigger sites sometimes review games like fanboys. OMG MODERN WARFARE 2!!!! Instant 10/10.
To me nothing with a six hour single player can be 10/10. Sure maybe the multiplayer is the main attraction, but Modern Warfare 2 includes single so you have to rate the whole package. I would say even if the Multiplayer is a 10, the game would equal a 9.5. So clearly its harder for people to put their personal bias aside if they love a franchise. Also here's the crazy catch 22, you really can't. No matter how hard you try, people are human and you can never fully 100% give up your bias. You can be objective but in the end of the day, your going to have your own opinions built in.
I mean, If I love first person shooters and I'm not a fan of Real Time Strategy games. Then no matter what, most of the time, I'll probably rate a first person game higher than an RTS game. Just because I like them more and I probably had more fun with it. So, by understanding that no matter what review you read, you're reading something with someone's bias, you might not get so mad at them when they don't agree with your bias. In other words, their view of games, the franchise, the system and their experience with it. Obviously, if someone loves Fantasy games they're probably going to love something like The Witcher a lot more then someone that someone who loves Steam Punk would most likely love Bioshock. A Star Wars fan is going to give The Force Unleashed a lot higher score then it probably ever deserves. Because they bring their own experience with it; fighting with Darth Vader (no matter how poorly conceived) is a lot better to them than it is to someone who has no interest in the Star Wars universe.
2. People only read reviews for a couple of reasons. The first type (which is probably the least common),is people who haven't played or are only remotely interested in a game. They read reviews to help them decide. The next type of person is the person who reads review to decide between two games, with only enough money to buy one.
I think most common, however, is the people who already know if they're going to buy a big francise game. Halo, God of War, Modern Warfare, GTA ... The fans of these games pretty much are already going to buy this game good or bad. They're not going to wait for a review of it, because they are huge fans and can't wait. These people only want to read reviews because they either want to boo or cheer anyone that agrees or disagrees with them. In other words, to see if their favourite gaming site agrees or disagrees with their thoughts.
Or the other reason people who already own the game read the games reviews is to validate their sixty dollar purchase. They want you to love Final Fantasy 13, well because it's sixty bucks and they want it validated. Fanboys also just want more of said game so they get mad at any negatives, bad light or scores given to their favorite game series. They want everyone to love it so they get more of it. These people are also sometimes so in love with a series or game that they can not even see the real flaws in a game. They can't get rid of their bias. Is FF13 a bad game? No, not at all. It's pretty fun, and I'm enjoying it. Can you love it or have a good time with it? Absolutely, the game has a lot going for it. Is FF13 perfect? Hell to the F no. The game is seriously flawed, with terrible pacing, terrible story telling (not a terrible story - just the way they tell the story is pretty awful) and annoying characters. It's so over-told and confusing they have to make you read data logs and recap it every time you reload your game.
These Final Fantasy fans will argue they love the story, think the way it's told is great. Or they love the extremely slow start of the game. The thing is, they probably do love it and have a great time with it. But the thing they seem to not realize is the majority of people won't. And as mean as it sounds, they're wrong. You can call something blue even though it's green but it doesn't make you right. You can do it, it's your opinion and so what if the majority of people disagree? You can have your opinion ... it's just that it's wrong from a factual standpoint. So if you can separate your biased love for Final Fantasy you can be like, ok I love this game. I think its fun, but I see where all these other people are having problems.
3. The biggest problem I see is people try to compare all games. You can't really compare different types of games. My friend comparing God of War 3 to Heavy Rain is like me comparing 300 to the movie Seven. They're so different ... and I mean you could technically compare anything to anything else. This toast is better then God of War 3, well maybe it is to you ... but why the hell are you comparing toast to GoW3?
Even better imagine me comparing the movie The Hangover with Schindler's List. Now, while one can easily say “Schindler's List is a better film”, they're just not even in the same category. One is a comedy while the other is a serious drama. This applies to games, you can't say that because Spyro the Dragon got a higher score then Twisted Metal, Spyro is a better game. It's not, one is a action car game, the other is about a magical dragon. They both, at the time, did what they set out to do in their own category. It really depends on your cup of tea.
So if Modern Warfare gets a 10 and Infamous gets a 8 or 7 at most site this does not mean one is better. One is a first person military shooter with amazing multiplayer people love, one is a open world super hero sand box game. Personally I liked Infamous better than Modern Warfare ... but I wouldn't say Infamous is better then Modern Warfare. They're two different games.
4. The main thing to realize about game reviews is again they are written by people, not robots. Individual taste and choice will always play a part. You, however just need to try to put your bias aside and judge the game for what it is. Also in the end who cares, if you have fun playing Heavenly Sword and everyone else on earth tells you it's awful, so what? You'rein the minority , but you still had fun and really in the end that's all that matter. I love Hotel Dusk, but if somebody gives the game a 7, I'm not going to flame them. It will always be a ten in my book no matter what, but i understand that people's opinions differ.