Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A Downward Spiral of Cynicism - Journalism and Games

In a world where the video game is one of the most popular forms of entertainment, it was bound to attract it’s own critics, it’s own ilk of reviewers - And they come in all shapes and sizes.

From the smallest review in ‘neo’, to paper exposes in X-BOX Magazine, chances are you wont be able to walk into a WH-Smith’s or seven-eleven without seeing at least ten games related headlines. As for the internet… well, YouTube is packed with people just itching for the chance to shove their views on the latest ‘Resident Evil’ down your throat.

Personally, I can’t take any of them seriously.

I’ve tried reading ‘Gamers’ magazines, and slugged through the tedious ‘5 out of 10 for graphics! But there wasn’t enough blood splatter!’ that cater to the most hardcore fan-boy. I have to say, most of the articles you encounter will be just that - something aimed at making a crap game, with a huge following, look great. Why? Because chances are, the company that made it are paying those poor journalist's wages.

I’ll admit, I’m highly cynical when it comes this, but when IGN labelled ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops’ an 8.5 out of 10, can I really be blamed? The game was just a walk through movie from start to finish, and was far too short for the fifty pounds plus I’d just paid for it (I won‘t even mention the same-y game play and unimaginative construction of single player campaigns). I realise, I’m opening myself to a slew of hate here, but really IGN? Really?

And am I the only one who remembers the kafuffle with GameSpot a few years back?

I suppose that’s why I mainly troll through private Blogs for my reviews (if I even want to read them - more often that not I’m inclined to just listen to a friend), but even then I find a startling amount of people will base their opinion’s on the hype, or the ‘coolness factor’ - “Will people think I’m awesome if I like this game!? OMG, what if they hate me for it!” - instead of the games actual merits.

I think one of the worst cases I came across, was a poor fellow who describe Final Fantasy XIII as having ‘innovative and exciting new game play, they likes of which we haven’t seen from Square before.’ Indeed, I’d never played a Final Fantasy game that was impossible to get lost in before. All I had to do was point and go, one straight line from start to finish.

Saying that though, I’ve found a couple of video reviewers I like to watch - mainly for the humour factor. The Spoony Experiment is one I find myself favouring - even though he seems predisposed to hate most things, his video’s take on a certain amount of cheese that just reminds me of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (though nothing can beat that). I like the way he plays out a story along side his reviews. Too many people just look at a camera and talk… and talk… and talk.

Another source I trust is GiantBomb, the result of that kafuffle with GameSpot. It has an editable wiki as part of it’s review system, so the fans (and any other person who can be bothered) are the one’s you’re hearing from, as well as the professionals themselves. Though my favourite section are their endurance runs, who said grown men and women playing games for days on end, until starved, sleep deprived and pixel blinded can’t be funny?

In all I think no review is going to be impartial, but the least you can do is be honest about it.

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