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Review of "Reviews"

One definition of a review is “...a report or essay giving a critical estimate of a work or performance...” How do you as a reviewer accomplish this? If you are reviewing a house, you would for example, examine the location, space and house condition. By setting criteria on what you based your review on, you can compare your a review of one house with another. This is one of the most crucial aspects of a review, to make a valid comparison.

While a review is arguably an opinion of the reviewer, it is however has to be based how the work or performance fares against a set of criteria. One cannot simply rate a house that is located in amazing location, large living area and in perfect condition, lower scores because the reviewer does not like to live a posh neighborhood.

With games, respected site like IGN for example has the following criteria, Presentation, Graphic, Sound, Gameplay and Lasting Appeal.

Let’s examine Metal Gear Solid 4.

Presentation. A quote from IGN itself, “...A story worthy of a feature length film, with action that keeps you engaged from the second you hit the start button 'til the final credits roll....” While a reviewer may prefer sci-fi theme to real-world theme, a reviewer should always set aside this preference while reviewing a game. The presentation in MGS4 is arguably better to games like Mass Effect and Uncharted, both which received 9 from IGN itself. Some may prefer the presentation of Mass Effect to MGS4, however one simply cannot score MGS4 presentation lower to Mass Effect or Uncharted.

Graphic. Graphic in MGS4 is simply solid. The game has high quality textures, amazing details and superb animations. It is by far the best graphic ever in Playstation, only Uncharted is coming really close to it (9.5). Let’s compare this to Mass Effect, IGN rated Mass Effect graphic as 8.5. The graphic in Mass Effect is good, however with of course noticeable issues. By just using these two reviews, one simply cannot score MGS4 graphic lower than 9-9.5. At 8.5 the reviewer will basically argue that MGS4 graphic is the same as Mass Effect, which of course ludicrous.

Sound. It is simply masterpiece. The voice over is simply outstanding. The soundtrack is moving. Again comparable to Mass Effect, GTA4 and Uncharted, which all received a score of 9.5-10. Based on this, MGS4 score in sound should at least equal or higher compare to those games, 9.5-10.

Gameplay. MGS4 allow you to play stealthily or you can always blazing your way through with a choice of at least two dozen weapons. CQC in game is unique as well complex. There are multiple ways you can clear an area. By comparison, Mass Effect with its score of 9 in gameplay, has incredibly fun and deep combat system. One cannot simply rated MGS4 gameplay lower than Mass Effect score.

Lasting Appeal. MGS4 offers plenty of Easter Eggs, high replayability and most importantly a free MGO. MGO offers player unlimited replayability in multiplayer gaming. Mass Effect which has high replayability however with no multiplayer received a score of 9 from IGN.

Based on those criteria alone, a reviewer would have to present a very strong argument to score MGS4 lower than those games. Just adding the scores, MGS4 should have at least received a combined score of around 9-9.5 at the minimum; any lower than that then the review is no longer a review but simply an unfounded opinion.

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BlackCountryBob3617d ago

You present an interesting opinion on the nature of reviews as an entity but by using frequent comparisons to Mass Effect you could be interpreted as a disenfranchised fanboy (by another fanboy; they smell their own). Interesting ideas though.

One thing though, I would question the ability of anyone to ever remain 100% objective. No person and no entity is ever going to be able to remove all subjective bias from anything. It is my opinion that for reviews to be truly useful then the reviewer should be honest about their own bias and opinion when reviewing as they are then simply reviewing for themselves and others can choose if they do or do not agree.

There is a style of academic writing called auto-ethnography which I use frequently; it seeks to counter the fallacy that an individual can be objective by instead placing the writer at the centre of the text and using their thoughts, feelings, experiences and bias as the driving force behind the piece.

It sounds a little fanboyish but IGN, Gamespot, Eurogamer and everyone else has bias; each writer also has bias and they should embrace it rather than pretend to hide it. In that sense, the experience of a game, the emotional level it evokes and the very feeling of a review would be more relevant than simply the metacritic pleasing use of a score out of 10. Read a few reviews; they all say the same thing going from graphics to gameplay etc so after the first 2 or 3 have been released the rest are redundant as they are for all intents and purposes carbon copies; by embracing their differences every review would be different and justify their existence because of it.

evilbubble3617d ago

I play Mass Effect recently hence why it is still fresh in my memory. While I did play GTA4 as well, it is hard to compare GTA4 and MGS4 since GTA4 is about the scope, i.e. driving around a big city, while MGS4 actions are more focused and contained. No favoritism there.

While I do concede that no review will be 100% objective, when criteria where you based your review on clearly exist and well defined, there should be little deviation from general consensus. The objective part of your review should outweigh the subjective part.

BlackCountryBob3617d ago

Thing is though; the concept of a consensus is a myth. Why not accept that there is no such thing as a general consensus and as such the way to review a game is not to try to review for the mythical every man but just for yourself and in that sense you will be much more truthful and the review will be useful. Consensus is a lie of social conditioning, as is the sense of normal or right.

Let me phrase it this way the idea of being objective is a nice one and all but objective is subjective. To be objective you must first recognise the subjective motivations of your psyche but in doing this you are taking part in a subjective act.

Everything anyone anywhere ever writes or does is subjective and unique; my point is that a review should seek to declare this subjectivity at the door and use this to form the centre of a review rather than falsely declaring its non existence but still expressing it.

Objectivity is a scientific fallacy; every review is subjective, all I want is for more reviews to embrace this subjectivity and use it to their advantage.

Consensus is a dangerous idea; just because something is replicated everywhere does not mean it is right. For a consensus to take hold another one must be washed away; there is no reason not to abolish the present one.

evilbubble3616d ago

However when hard measurements exist, like in actual computing speed, with a benchmark, one can hardly argue otherwise. For example in the past few years AMD CPUs cannot compete in term of processing power against Intel Core2Duo processor. The general consensus accepts that Core2Duo processor is faster than AMD CPUs.

You cannot apply this of course where no hard measurements exist (criteria), like who is prettier, is abortion morally wrong and so on.

Again my argument is simply a game review should be based on criteria, in case of IGN, it is graphic, gameplay, sound and etc. Therefore it allows the reviewer to limit the subjective view of his/her while allowing objectivity to prevail. There is many way a reviewer can put forward his/her subjective opinions without compromising the objectivity.

BlackCountryBob3615d ago

But my point is that objectivity does not exist; any criteria you want can be put forward but the point remains that objectivity is false and everything is subjective. No matter what, no person can ever remove themselves from what they are doing.

Objectivity is a lie!

All I want is for reviewers to stop trying to protest that they are individuals able to completely regard all subjective traits because they cannot; accept an embrace the personal because it cannot be hidden.

As for reviewing criteria; it seems common sense as then all reviews could be compared. However, why do reviews need to be compared? And more importantly, who decides the criteria set down?

You seem to have a very status quo view of the world and you oddly seem to really enjoy IGN (god knows why, its just more News Corp owned tripe). My only point is that for reviews of games to be truly taken seriously then the le of objectivity should be discarded and the true nature of games should be used; namely that no 2 people experience a game separately so therefore for a review to be successful a person can only seek to present a truthful and honest account of their experiences.

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ape0073617d ago (Edited 3617d ago )

should be product reviews,not an opinion review on a game if I like it or not
some prefere,for example burnout over gran turismo but others like gt more than burnout,reviews shouldn't be like that

a review should be a product review, completely unbaised without

"I like type A more than type B"

exellent artical by the way.