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Why You Shouldn't Trust Game Reviews

Regeneration

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Yesterday I bought the game Terminator: Resistance for PC. A friend recommended that game to me. At first I wasn't thrilled, because it received extreme negative reviews from "professional game reviewers", and the fact it was developed and published by unknown companies (Teyon, Reef Entertainment). I'm very picky when it comes to games... nothing, but the very best.

Wikipedia.jpg

metacritic.jpg

Despite the negative reviews, Terminator: Resistance is probably the best terminator game ever made. And it appears, the majority of people think like me.

Steam.jpg

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YouTube.jpg

IGN: 4/10
Steam: 9/10
 
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If you're reading a game review, you're really just reading someone else's opinion. There are no charts or graphs that compare it to other products like you would find in one of our video card reviews. Outside of hard facts like... the game ran poorly, is full of bugs, or contains this or that you may or may not like (microtransactions or something) enjoyment of the game itself is just one person's opinion.
 

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Everyone has an opinion and its on us to take it how we like. If I say a game is bad and you say its good who cares? We look at reviews for references, not life choices. Besides the user score is literally right there.
 

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Honestly, if our own @rtwjunkie says a game is good, its a sure bet that the game will be a wise investment for entertainment value.

Pro game reviews come and go, some I agree with, some I don't. But user reviews, especially those that have invested more than 2 hours into a game can provide some decent feedback, even on Steam reviews, as-long-as you take the time to read more than 1 or 2, I try to read closer to a dozen-ish, depends on the game and my interest and the quality of user reviews. There's plenty of skew in quality and useful user reviews as well, and sorting through the BS isn't always a clear path. At the end of the day, if you're convinced to buy and happy with the purchase, leave a good review to share your experience, and enjoy! :)
 
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As a rule, the only review I take seriously are those that are presented in an object form. User reviews are a mixed bag but generally you can tell the real ones from the fakes. Video reviews are the best as they actually show the game-play in motion and generally with someone playing it.

As for the game in the example above, Terminator Resistance is a very good game. Like every game out there, it is not perfect. But my complaints are few and mostly to do with personal preference. It is a graphically beautiful game, with excellent sound and solid controls. The storyline pulls you in and keeps you focused. Judged on it's merits and my tastes it's a solid 9/10. If you are a fan of the Terminator universe, that game will not disappoint!

And the above is the kind of user review that I take seriously.
 
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Game reviews are a difficult thing because so many games released have a lot of bugs and sometimes are completely broken. The reviwer can't know what might get patched later on so the reviewer just reviews how the game is on release. Only occasionally is a game given a follow up review after it's been patched and polished.

That's why I like to see a game tested, patched and polished before release but so many Publishers just want to rush them out the door and let the gamers do the beta testing.
 

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Honestly, if our own @rtwjunkie says a game is good, its a sure bet that the game will be a wise investment for entertainment value.

Pro game reviews come and go, some I agree with, some I don't. But user reviews, especially those that have invested more than 2 hours into a game can provide some decent feedback, even on Steam reviews, as-long-as you take the time to read more than 1 or 2, I try to read closer to a dozen-ish, depends on the game and my interest and the quality of user reviews. There's plenty of skew in quality and useful user reviews as well, and sorting through the BS isn't always a clear path. At the end of the day, if you're convinced to buy and happy with the purchase, leave a good review to share your experience, and enjoy! :)

Ive paid attention to some that defined the truth from crap
 
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I pretty much never read full game reviews nor care about the user score since I found myself rarely agreeing with them and I prefer to decide it for myself.

Game performance I usually check on YT with ~comparable hardware to mine so I can get an idea how it runs or if its has serious game breaking performance issues or something.

I don't take my gaming dead seriously so to speak and not trying to find every single small bug/problem in the game and then get upset about it,I try to enjoy my games for what they are. 'straight out annoying/frustrating games I do avoid tho'

Bit offtopic but I treat my choice of movies the same,if all I cared about is IMDB ratings for example then I would have missed a good few movie I actually had fun watching regardless of the low-ish ratings.
 

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IGN are probably the worst when it comes to game reviews. They are mainly nothing but woke shills. So long as the cheque clears they will rate anything above 8/10 no matter how bad it is.
 

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I think of a game like Mass Effect: Andromeda which received some critical reviews on release and the user reviews were poor due to the bugs in the games. If you watched a youtube video most were about the bugs and glitches which could of been corrected before release. After it was patched and polished it got better reviews. I think Publishers set a target date for release and then start a marketing campaign and want to release the game when the hype is at the highest level to sell the most games but sometimes that's just not reasonable. Then gamers get upset about Cyberpunk 2077 getting delayed but CDPR aren't going to release the game until it's in reasonable shape.
 

Regeneration

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Warcraft III Reforged received 7 from IGN


Score of 0.5 by 28,000 users on Metacritic

 
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A lot of these access media "review" sites are keeping afloat by the companies who's products they review in one way or another. "Game journalist" is pretty low-rung in terms of journalism and is infested with folks who can't rub two brain cells together and especially not partaking into any sort of journalism. There's plenty of it and it works for them to get clicks and ad-revenue. Best to just avoid.
 
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Steam: 9/10

All well and good until the review bombs start dropping. Or the opposite where it gets all kinds of good reviews because the dev/pub donates to rebuild a building.

I'd rather trust someone that was paid for it than the masses. Honestly, it sucks either way. The only way you can remotely trust a review/recommendation is if the person recommending the game knows you and what you like.
 

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Terminator: Resistance is exactly the example of the disconnect between professional reviewers and the masses.

The game isn’t perfect. It is obviously made by a small studio. It has a few glitches. Facial animations are near non-existent, and body animations a little stiff. It’s not next gen level graphics either. These are all things “pros” slammed.

Yet despite those flaws, it’s a highly enjoyable game on its own merits as a FPS, and hands-down the best Terminator game ever made. Why? Because the atmosphere is nailed perfectly for the war years. The action is believable, and the enemies challenging, not overwhelming. There is a pretty good story, and solid voice acting for such a small studio. Overall, the fun factor is a 10, and the game gets a solid 9 in my book.

After about 30 games that “Professional” reviewers have negatively reviewed, my method of purchasing is to watch trailers, read whatever I can from the dev or publisher, and then go with my gut. I dont care what the users say either, prior to purchase. It is nice to see alot of them confirm my decision after I find I enjoy a game or not. I rarely find a game, however, that I don’t enjoy. There is fun to be found in nearly all of these bits of electronic entertainement. :)
 
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I know this thread is bashing reviewers but I like gameranx's before you buy videos. Steam user reviews for niche games they don't cover. Then if I'm desperate reddit discussions.

From these I've understood that:

looter shooters are not for me.

I wouldn't like AC Odyssey as much as I liked Origins.

The Outer Worlds is not that amazing as people claimed bathesda-killer when it released.

Battlefield franchise is not for me.

While COD: MW is amazing atm it'll cease to have dev support after a year so not for me.

JRPGs aren't for me.
 
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Part of it is preference, but the whole model also doesn't lend itself to transparency or reliability. This is not always about them being shills or whatever. I don't think that's it. I think it is fundamentally not possible for an outlet who's main purpose is to review games to actually nail it most of the time. They're never gonna catch the nuances. And sometimes those matter a lot. It's hard to pin this stuff down to numbers. I've always ignored number/star ratings and just looked at what is being described and in what way.

My problem with game reviews is how low-effort they often are. The person forming the opinions often has no time to live with them, so all you're getting is the same level of impression you could've gotten yourself just playing the game for an afternoon. You would then know what they know, and even more about what it means for you. Sometimes the person might not even have a background suitable... the type of person it takes to run one of these outlets is probably inherently lacking the ability to fully ascertain what makes someone able to review a game well. Their job is to run an operation. They just kinda look at how things go over and try to steer things towards a positive response, which doesn't necessarily require a lot of quality. Just consistency. Consistently mediocre reviews are easier to pull off. If you play it safe, even crummy, very surface-level reviews will generally be tolerated and even accepted. Bonus points, they're quicker to write, so you can have less people produce more content in less time which = less money spent! Little incentive not to.

IGN is the worst. Ever watch their gameplay footage? Like, man... a good half of the time they can barely play. But sometimes it's worse. It's not just being unfamiliar with the game in particular, but the genre. They make noob mistakes that make you think "Do they even actually play games?" It's like they toss a controller to whoever is nearby and say "Just look at the screen and press buttons."

And that points to another issue. When you're writing game reviews for a major outlet, how much time or drive do you really have to do your own gaming and really dive deep into understanding/informing the opinions you have to put out day after day? Your average gamer will live with games they like (and even games they don't like,) which is naturally going to lend itself to them being able to make deeper cuts. Maybe more subjective, but also better formed. Whereas the guy who does it for a job is relegated to skimming as many games as possible and trying to extract and present what they think matters in the shortest amount of time.

At least an individual gamers' subjectivity is sincere. You know they mean what they say and that it comes from somewhere not totally new to them (unless we're talking certain people on steam, who sometimes bash aspects of games that are generally thought to be good for personal or ideological reasons, without ever saying that's actually why they're saying the graphics or whatever suck - those damned review bombers :laugh:) And generally you can kind of sense what their background is in the things they seem to highlight and miss about the type of game they're talking about. You can tell if they know what you know, or even if they know things you don't know (because they start talking over your head on different aspects.)

I'm not even talking about honesty here. In order to convey anything in a review, you will need to make some assumptions about your audience, just as they will have to make assumptions about you. A person simply putting up an opinion just to do it has no obligation towards doing that. There's a salt-glacier of unpredictable interactions taking place there. And it can't be avoided. Because when you dive too deep and just expect everyone to understand, nobody but people who are already in that deep will understand and everyone else will learn nothing. You'll be accurate, but nobody will know/care what you're on about. At least if you try to feel-out where they're at you can maybe convey something. Not everyone has the knowledge or history to grasp the nuance of why a game is good or flawed. It just so happens that this has the pitfall of taking the essence of what the experience will be for many people OUT of the review. Because again, they're trying to anticipate what readers will care about. Point out things they think the readers will and will not like, rather than giving their straight take.

There's that saying "Everyone is entitled to their opinion." My answer to that is "Some opinions are of better quality than others." A quicker, lower-quality, low-hanging take on something has little value compared to one that's been alive in someone's head for awhile and is based on other opinions that have been forged over long stretches of time. How often does a pro reviewer just replay games? I mean, really now? It's a vital part of understanding games, but the job doesn't always allow for that.

How often have you been on that 3rd 60-hour playthrough and gained really big insights about what the game was out to do and what it actually accomplished? And did that perhaps teach you some things about games a whole that you couldn't appreciate otherwise? You know? How many times have you played more or less all the way through, had a negative take, picked it up next year, maybe after playing other games and realized that the very game you thought wasn't good is actually one the best games you've ever played? Subjectivity is a bitch. Information doesn't always enter you in sequence, and sometimes it can move very slowly. You can harbor what are not just bad opinions, but actual fundamental misconceptions for a long time and not know it if you're not engaging with games freely... as in, not TRYING to understand them all of the time and just experiencing them. It's a luxury that we all have as regular gamers, that some reviewers definitely don't. Makes it so they fundamentally can't understand what your average gamer actually experiences at times. Instead what they have to do is perform a fast-aggregate of the state of other people's opinions on things and then intently plug-in what little information they pull from the game itself in what little time is alloted. Which is always going to corrupt the message to some degree. Even self-awareness can't fix that. Knowing that's how it is doesn't give a reviewer what they need to get around it. Because what they need is time they'll never have...

It's not really their fault... it's just not the best format for getting any kind of decisive or practical answers from, just due to how humans parse and internalize information. The ones I like are the retrospectives. Those usually have more quality info in them than barely post-launch-period reviews. Those are always going to be a crapshoot. There's a competitive element, too. Because if you don't have the review out when other people do, that decreases engagement for you. And over time that can leave you dead in the water.
 
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i used to read PC Gamer back in the 90s and i'd say they were good somewhat honest reviews too.
they gave the game a good numbers of hours gameplay before giving it a score.
some of the reviewers are funny as well. towards the last 10 pages they have pc hardware reviews too.
After school i'd run to the library to read them.
 
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TBH, honest game reviews are seldom seen anymore. When the monetization review scandal came to light, we saw higher rated reviews that were usually paid while honest reviews diminish thanks to DCMA claiming. A lot of that has settled down but shady dealings with reviewers is still happening.

I blame the game publishers for this dilemma. Time deadlines are the major reason games in the last decade are released with enough bugs and glitchs to give anyone anger issues, think Electronic Arts hate. Game development studios share a blame too, smaller studios try to do too much with small staffs, and take on work they cant do in a timely manner. Telltale Games is a good example that most everyone knows about, they were taking on projects with not enough people while promising it to be completed by a specified date and not delivering. The end result is bad reviews of many games that could have been great if the time was spent on Q&A and fixing.

I have not bought a game in the last 15 years that didnt need a patch within the 3 months of the release date. This is the 2nd part of why games get a bad review, after a game is released, extra staff is usually laid off, likely the testers and Q&A team. Why? The gamers are now major source of bug reporting. The by product of this process is that it increases rants and raves about a game ending in lower ratings.

Me personally, I tend to ignore reviews and will buy a game if it peeks my interest enough. I've made some poor choices, but atleast they were my choices unbiased by a review.
 

Regeneration

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I perform a research everytime I see a movie or buy a game.

If I see something like this:

Clipboard02.jpg

I just imagine the worst and avoid.

This is not fair for both consumers, developer, and publisher of the game. Which in this case, look like small businesses.

It is a decent FPS with RPG elements, similar to BioShock, with an authentic Terminator environment.
 

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These days I usually just watch some gameplay from Youtube with commentary, not too much to avoid spoilers.. can't even remember the last time I've bought a shitty game when a reviewer has been "wrong".
 

rtwjunkie

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I perform a research everytime I see a movie or buy a game.

If I see something like this:

View attachment 144528
I just imagine the worst and avoid.

This is not fair for both consumers, developer, and publisher of the game. Which in this case, look like small businesses.

It is a decent FPS with RPG elements, similar to BioShock, with an authentic Terminator environment.
I see that and it means nothing to me. If I had listened to negative reviews I would have missed out on a ton of fun games and great movies. It seems most are completely out of touch.
 

Frick

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Warcraft III Reforged received 7 from IGN


Score of 0.5 by 28,000 users on Metacritic


That shows the other side: if the player base is upset by something they sometimes turn to a blind mob. See review bombing.
I see that and it means nothing to me. If I had listened to negative reviews I would have missed out on a ton of fun games and great movies. It seems most are completely out of touch.

This brings up an interesting point about normalization. You say "out of touch" which usually indicates out of contact with a sort of consensus. I long ago realized I was out of touch with gamers.

Also here we can have a talk about how trailers is the ruination of everything. :]
 
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I see that and it means nothing to me. If I had listened to negative reviews I would have missed out on a ton of fun games and great movies. It seems most are completely out of touch.
i do the same, and usually i check TPU "what are you playing" thread, rather than "professional" games reviews,

as for STEAM or customer reviews: "assume that it was not the right game for these people" (sometime it's out of fanboyism also :laugh: )

subjective opinion is the most relevant common point for all reviews, professional or not.
 

bug

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I remember the world before www and before a game was all about the opening week-end: reviews were only to be found in magazines and the main way to hear about a good title was after it was released, through word of mouth from those that actually played it (and not for money).
Good thing we "evolved" past that.

Another good thing is I never felt the urge to play anything on release. I usually played things my friends brought to my attention, or supposed AAA titles that people actually talked about 6 months or so after launch. I'm pretty sure I missed some gems (then again, who didn't?), but in general this was lean on my pocket and mostly frustration free (with bugs ironed out and everything).
 

INSTG8R

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It didn’t have invert aim so I couldn’t play It...small details are important...
 
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