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Thread: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

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    Filthy old man noTHINGface's Avatar
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    Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    I've been buying some PC games of late - the missus has been out with the kayak club so I have some free time you see. Anyway, I got myself copies of Timeshift, Jericho and Hellgate. Well done me... But there are multiple errors present here, all the afore mentioned games are pretty poor... And yes, I'm perfectly happy with predicating with 'imho'.

    What surprises me is that Hexus considers both these titles worthy of the laudatory recommended status when the rest of the world considers them pretty average. Hellgate - getting pretty much average reviews but Hexus recommends it? 'Looks great in most places', so does my dying grandmother, in a nightie viewed through stinging cataracts I guess...
    What we share with everyone is glum, and dark...

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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Quote Originally Posted by noTHINGface View Post
    I've been buying some PC games of late - the missus has been out with the kayak club so I have some free time you see. Anyway, I got myself copies of Timeshift, Jericho and Hellgate. Well done me... But there are multiple errors present here, all the afore mentioned games are pretty poor... And yes, I'm perfectly happy with predicating with 'imho'.

    What surprises me is that Hexus considers both these titles worthy of the laudatory recommended status when the rest of the world considers them pretty average. Hellgate - getting pretty much average reviews but Hexus recommends it? 'Looks great in most places', so does my dying grandmother, in a nightie viewed through stinging cataracts I guess...
    Seems to be the way things are going. Not one review anywhere mentioned the numerous problems with Bioshock, in fact, all the reviews went on about how well it ran. One of Custom PC's writers seemed to be one of the few in the media that panned the game.

    I remember a time when games weren't reviewed until a release copy was available, nowadays it's like reviews are little more than wordy, advanced advertising and over-hyped marketing. Still, when the publishers have got you by the balls what can they do?

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    HEXUS.gaming Steven W's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    I'll tell you for nowt, no-one ever tells me what to write, if it's useless I'll say it is. Mind you I mainly review 360 stuff, so I don't need to judge the performance.

    Timeshift was the 360 version and yes I personally thought it was good as do loads of other peeps.

    Jericho on PC - Nick has said in the review that the game isn't brilliant.

    "Pros
    Looks good for the most part
    Puzzles more taxing than average

    Cons
    Little variety between time zones
    Little variety in enemies
    Little variety in gameplay"

    In the reviews we way up the pros and cons and then come to a balance decision.

    As for Bioshock we didn't review it, but I thought it was great on Xbox 360.

    We've done plenty of reviews where we slate the game, even in the past month
    World Poker 2:
    HEXUS.gaming - Review :: World Championship Poker 2 - Xbox 360 : Page - 1/4

    Ratatouille:
    HEXUS.gaming - Review :: Ratatouille - Xbox 360, PS2 : Page - 3/3

    Stuntman Ignition
    HEXUS.gaming - Review :: Stuntman: Ignition - PS3 : Page - 4/4

    One thing we will be changing is giving the game's a score or percentage, which should make things more obvious, but -with my hand on my heart - I always give my honest opinion.

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    Filthy old man noTHINGface's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven W View Post
    .. but -with my hand on my heart - I always give my honest opinion.
    Please don't consider my post an attack at your integrity, honesty or otherwise, that was not my intention. I was reading Hexus, as I frequently do, and this opinion of mine just bubbled up. A lot of this stuff like video games is subjective and open to opinion, like most art (cf. Barkers comments since we have Jericho in the frame).
    What we share with everyone is glum, and dark...

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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    I trust Hexus more than most, particularly after you guys refused to back down when Alienware(?, I forget now) threw their toys out of the pram for not giving them a perfect review. But I've definitely noticed a trend developing where other review source's experiences don't tally with what gamers have to say. I tend to browse forums and Amazon reviews and the like to get opinions from the person in the street before making a final decision.

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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Yeah I have an issue with reviews too. Not with Hexus's reviews though. No idea what Hexus reviews are like. I don't think I've read any, and if I have, I can't really remember them. I am just speaking generally. Generally, most reviews give higher than sensible marks. Higher meaning, if the game is quite good, it ends up with like 90 odd percent. If the game is pretty mediocre, it ends up with 80 odd percent. And if the game is pretty crap, it gets 70 odd percent.

    Basically, they are all get scores that are atleast 10&#37; higher than I would rather they got.

    But really, its impossible to really nail it because we all like different stuff. To me, Hellgate is shallow as hell, hack n slash, with a few nice bits. Definitely not something I would buy, even if it was in a bargain bin. But to an ex-Diablo player, its probably gaming heaven.

    Same goes for other stuff too. Some people think Crysis is "just another shooter" (based on the demo). But I think its brilliant.

    Usually, most games are split down the middle with lovers and haters, and I'm on one side or the other. Sometimes its interesting though, because with Bioshock for example, that split was really wierd. It seemed like 95% of people thought it was amazing, and only a few people didn't like it.

    But yeah, basically, I don't read much into reviews. I can't make my mind up based on them. I still read them though, because if a game gets 1% then you know to avoid it. And you get the screenshots which are useful. And you get a general outline which is useful. And then the bulk of the review is generally enough to give me a good idea. But you have to look carefully for the opinions in it. Because when one person perceives something to be good, another might think its rubbish. Best I can do is read as much about it as possible, and then make my own mind up, and usually I do a good job. Its just a shame that to do that, I have to read a LOT of stuff.

    That guy who does the no punctuation reviews is really promising to me. He only seems to have reviewed a dozen or so games, and I only own a few of them. But he nailed exactly what I thought. So I am really hoping he will continue, do more than he is currently doing, and our opinions stay in line with each other. If that happens, I would be made up.

    I did once try to find other sites that share my opinion - atleast more often than not. But it didn't work. I used Bioshock as my example (which I didn't like), and all the main websites gave it 9 billion percent


    P.S. I'm convinced age is a big factor in all this though, and also, I am convinced that gaming standards are slipping, and gamer's standards are rising. I tried to explain that better but I started rambling too much so I just deleted it
    Last edited by acrobat; 07-11-2007 at 02:09 AM.

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    HEXUS.gaming Steven W's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Quote Originally Posted by noTHINGface View Post
    Please don't consider my post an attack at your integrity, honesty or otherwise, that was not my intention. I was reading Hexus, as I frequently do, and this opinion of mine just bubbled up. A lot of this stuff like video games is subjective and open to opinion, like most art (cf. Barkers comments since we have Jericho in the frame).

    No worries, I did get a bit defensive. I feel quite passionate about being able to be honest in reviews and one of the reasons why I joined HEXUS is because of their belief in telling it how it is.

    I know I've read reviews in mags and online and thought 'what a load of rubbish'!

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    No more Mr Nice Guy. Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    noTHINGface, you've highlighted one of the key areas of change that we are already working on.

    The reason we went with awards initially was because we took the decision, quite a while back, to simplify scoring to the reader.

    HEXUS.gaming Tested means it does what it says on the box.

    Recommended means the game is worth a look.

    Editor's Choice means this is worth buying for sure.

    But this three choice system, whilst being fine for hardware on the other HEXUS channels, is limiting when it comes to the plethora of games all of which have, to some extent greater or lesser, differentiating points.

    This is why we try very hard, in the last page of the review to not only give you a round up of what's been said before, but also a list of the strong and weak points, the pros and cons.

    The problem is, people like numeric scores and they do let you differentiate between games much better, which is why we're working to move over to them.

    So for example, Hellgate: London, I thought, was not a bad game and numerically I'd have put it around 70-75&#37;.. it was ok, not bad but not a shining example of a futuristic RPG.

    Similarly, The Witcher, which also scored a Recommended, I thought was incredibly slow to get going but was worth it if you put the effort in, despite niggles over the dialogue and the 'adult themes' which were nothing special.

    But numerically I would've scored that around the 75% upwards... maybe 80% tops... It kinda grew on me and it does get a lot better once you're into Vizima, the big city.

    It's worth noting here that The Witcher did an advertising campaign on HEXUS.gaming but I would still score it at 80% absolute max, most likely under that.

    When we review games we try our damndest to get into the mindset of people who'll play that type of game and review from that point of view. This is why I spent a good 12-18 hours in total on The Witcher, it NEEDS that time for a fair review.

    I think the point you're making is that our scoring system just isn't clear enough and doesn't allow for enough differentiation between games, which I completely agree with and believe me, we ARE working on this... sadly, it's a bit more complex than just lobbing a number at the end, there's all sorts of stuff that has to be done.

    In the mean time, I can only ask that you read the pros and cons of every review, preferably the whole review but at the very least the last page, as this'll give you our honest opinion.

    And rest assured, whoever is advertising on HEXUS, across all the sites, gets NO special treatment from us other than a guarantee to write about the product... what we actually say about it is an entirely different matter and still totally down to our own opinions.

    Advertising on HEXUS only guarantees exposure, what we actually say, whether it's good or bad, is still very much up to us.

    I'm not going to point any fingers but rest assured that there's plenty of sites and titles that are, shall we say, less than rigid in how advertising affect editorial.

    In short, regardless of whose advert is running, we'll still call it as we see it. We'll just make sure it's clear what our decision is!
    Quote Originally Posted by Dareos View Post
    "OH OOOOHH oOOHHHHHHHOOHHHHHHH FILL ME WITH YOUR.... eeww not the stuff from the lab"

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    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Games reviewing is really hard. I'd even say that 20 hours on The Witcher is no-where near enough to really understand the game. I felt that was a little reflected in the Hexus review (no offense Nick) which I wasn't sure got across the really distinguishing features of The Witcher (it sounded a bit like every other RPG from a new studio). Contrast the Hexus review with the Gamebanshee review and you'll see what I mean - I think the GB review does a better job of trying to describe what makes The Witcher different from other RPGS. That's not to say the Hexus review isn't honest - if 12-18 hours isn't enough for someone to get into why The Witcher is distinctive then that should be accurately reflected in the review. The descriptions of a slow start are entirely justified

    (and no, I'm not saying my first impressions post was any better either - it accurately gives a description of the game, and conveyed my enjoyment of it, but I really struggled to get across just how The Witcher is distinctive. If I ever converted the posts into a full review I would try and do better on that front.)
    Last edited by kalniel; 07-11-2007 at 03:06 PM.

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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    I'm with you there kaniel, i really think a game should be completed before a review. I know that can be hard because say games like oblivion can take many many hours but hey if its your job...

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    No more Mr Nice Guy. Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Hehe, Oblivion is an open ended RPG, it has no end, so how would that work? Similarly, World of Warcraft, no end... so no review then? Lineage? No end.

    Completing a game within a reasonable timescale is frequently not possible. How would you know when you've reached the end of the Sims? Or Championship Manager? Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08?

    Sure, there's plenty of games that do have definite endings, but be honest, do you sit down and play a game ALL the way through and then say to yourself 'That was crap?'

    Of course you don't. You stop playing.

    But believe it or not, Steven and I both spend more time on poor games than on the good ones, to make sure they are as bad as we suspect.

    Take Infernal on the PC, I played that bugger all the way through, just in case it got any better. Stranglehold is another.

    If either of us are doubting a game, we'll crack on with it.

    The thing is, when you're reviewing a game, you usually get a feel for it pretty quickly whether it's a worthy title or not. I emphasise usually as this isn't always the case, as with The Witcher. I was just about ready to start writing on that but something made me play some more and it really started to open up, maybe I do need to go back and delve some more into it but I reckon, on balance, that I've got the gist of the game down pretty well.

    What we do is play a game until we feel we can write about it authoritatively. Of course, this will always be subjective and based on personal opinion, but we never base our decisions on a quick play of a few hours or even, as in some cases I've seen, incomplete BETA code or, in one case, a demo.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dareos View Post
    "OH OOOOHH oOOHHHHHHHOOHHHHHHH FILL ME WITH YOUR.... eeww not the stuff from the lab"

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    TiG
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    I have to say that the discussion of the Witcher review was something I was aware of having discussed this with several hexus people, having got the feeling that there was some slight differences between my view of the game, and my slight tendancy to rave about something I like.

    I still maintain that the Hexus review is somewhat low compared to my view of the game, but even so the main points of what is good and what is bad do come out overall. I can cope with these minor differences, and I agree that Hexus should probably avoid a score in terms of percentage.

    Letting people make their own mind up on whether they want it by giving the pro's and con's is good.

    I've personally never understood the hexus review medals, i've chosen to simply ignore them as they don't add anything at all. (sorry my view)

    I'm wondering as Hexus is tending to get the review up after release, whether Nick or Hexus in general should be interested in putting up a section for people to put their thoughts on the game, to get some more Hexus user feedback on how people have found the game.

    Such as Kalniels review, which i found the most useful for actually committing to purchase. It should hopefully allow hexus to at least take a summary of some actual opinions of people who have invested some money into the game and allow some enhanced opinions from the community in general.

    Food for thought maybe?

    TiG
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    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Well there is already a readers-reviews section in the forums.. I've just been fairly remiss in ignoring it (and my posts were specifically not reviews, yet.)

    The fact we have these forums, and that Hexus guys comment on our posts shows that they do value user opinions and of course people should be encouraged to view the forums as well as the reviews. Any opinions posted on the review thread are also put up on the final page of the review, so I think overall Hexus do a good job of giving people a chance to have their opinions seen

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    TiG
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Well there is already a readers-reviews section in the forums.. I've just been fairly remiss in ignoring it (and my posts were specifically not reviews, yet.)
    OOoo when did that turn up....
    TiG
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    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    Over 3 years ago..

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    Re: Gaming reviews - recommending the mediocre?

    True, there are games that just wont end and thus a review can be written when the user feels they have played enough, but with the withcher being a fairly big rpg 10 or 12 hours is still getting started, but if it's a game with a story and an ending (single player), then i do believe it should be completed before a review is written.
    Plus when hexus reviews a game do they tell us what platform they played it on, i didnt realise the review for time shift was on 360.

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