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Review Scores In Video Game Reviews - Good or Bad? Your thoughts, Please!


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Poll: Review Scores In Video Game Reviews - Good or Bad?

Review Scores In Video Game Reviews - Good or Bad?

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#1 CheapyD

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 11:40 AM

I'd love to hear the CAGcast listeners thoughts about video game reviews and review scores.

Do we need them or can reviews without scores stand on their own?

Do gamers get too wrapped up in the scores and pay less attention to the review itself?

#2 nharmon91

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 11:44 AM

Ill say what I said in cheap ass chat. Movie deserve reviews because they are shorter, more people watch movies than play games, and they are cheaper. In the case of Video games reviews should be either buy it or don't buy it, preferably from a respected reviewer. This way you know if you should get it with out thinking, well Marvel:UA got a 8.3 from gamespot but a 5.7 from IGN is it worth it. You should go by your own judgement instead of a random guys in California
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#3 biscuit

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 12:02 PM

I prefer seeing scores with reviews to have a feeling how the reviewer felt about the game before I start reading. Often when I am considering purchasing a newly released game I want to read a mix of the best reviews and worst reviews to see what people love and hated about the game.

One thing I would like to see though is more reviewers (in magazines) justify their scores. I have read many reviews in the last few years for games that have really good scores, and yet the reviewers write only about what they disliked about the game. If that's all you write about, why give it such a good score?

Not that it matters here, but CGW did away with scores, but under their new Games for Windows format they have added them back in supposedly due (I think) due to reader requests.

#4 BigShowB4

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 05:46 PM

Personally, I have no complaints with a review score. However, I think it does give most readers an 'easy way out'. Rather than reading the whole review to see why the game obtained the score that it did, most people will just look at the score and bitch and complain about that. So if a game tends to score 10's everywhere, and then someone gives it an 8, they immediately must be wrong. It would probably be better if the author just listed the pro's and con's of a game at the end of the review, and the user had to develop their own score. However, most people like to be told what to think. When a movie doesn't end with a 'This is what you happened, and how you should feel about it' conclusion (Memento, Donnie Darko, etc.), if you poll an average movie going crowd, I think you'll find that most people hated it.

#5 mik

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 06:23 PM

I'm sort of a proponent of keeping the review "score" to a simple: buy it, rent it, forget it.

Though, now that I think about it, a Cheap Ass Gamer scoring system would be handy. A scale from $0 to $60, letting you know just how much you should pay for this game. It's either worthy of purchase on release day and you'll get full value from playing it, or you should wait until it drops in price--and by how much.

#6 dopa345

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 06:41 PM

I think reviews are very helpful but I value the substance of the review more than the score. For example, a review will often ding a game for being too short or have lack of replayability or lack of online multiplayer but these are features that aren't as important to me (thanks to this site, my backlog will take me a lifetime to complete). An objective, accurate review is far more important than a simple number.

What I would like to see is an interactive review where a score may be given in certain categories (gameplay, graphics, sound, length etc.) but the reader can someone modify how those features are weighted so you get an individualized score. For example, if gameplay is twice as important as graphics to you, then you should be able to plug in a modifier which would tailor the score based on that preference; on the other hand, if replayability and length were more important, then you would have a different score for the same game.

#7 woxl

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 07:00 PM

I think scores are valuable as a summary of an author's opinion. With just a quick glance you get a good feeling of how much one person liked a game.

And really, the fanboys who bitch and whine about review scores also bitch and whine about the content of a review. "You don't think Zelda's the best game ever? You're dumber than a bag of douche!" I hear a lot of bitching whenever a site says something negative in a preview, and it's no different in a review.

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#8 kmartbum001

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 07:19 PM

Reviews are supposed to be objective but they can't help but being subjective. You can't entirely rely on reviews on deciding if to purchase a game or not, but it should be a big factor. School has sort of screwed up the rating system because we see 70% or 7 as horrible when that is usually a rating that should mean good or decent.
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#9 diaeresis

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 07:22 PM

I worked a few years ago as a game reviewer and still ponder this more often than I should. Scores can be helpful. Not everything is subjective; the later Tomb Raider offerings had much better graphics than the earlier games, for example. And it's not a stretch to say that the typical Final Fantasy or Gran Turismo game is objectively more fun than Superman 64, even if you "hate" RPG's or driving games.

But most situations are less clear. Once you get into, "I really enjoyed FFIX's throwback to earlier games and don't like FFX's return to the newer feel," reviewing the game's plot objectively is difficult without a degree in literary criticism and stretching the review to 20 pages. It's difficult to decide what to write and what to edit out, and then you're expected to summarize all of your thoughts on the matter with a number.

I don't believe a rating represents much more than:

1) what is self-evident within fifteen minutes of playing the game, which anyone can infer, and

2) the game's consistency. So if it's great in the beginning and broken after, or vice versa, people can know it without spending their own time and money. However, if the game changes arbitrarily, like an RPG turning heavy on puzzles, or long cinemas, in the middle of the game, trying to "rate" it is an invitation for hate mail.

So, I don't know. I really liked Daily Radar's old "really bad, bad, good, really good" scheme. I might prefer a five point scale, and reserve the fifth point for an instant classic rating, like what you would give SMB 3, or for a more recent example, Guitar Hero.

As for sites like IGN having, what, a 101 point scale, I could never figure that out. No one sits down with a friend and Freaky Fliers and talk like, by George, clearly this game is a 73. Then when you consider that nothing ever gets below a 7.0 or so, over half of the range is completely neglected and it really makes no sense.

Ultimately, I'm not sure that a "professional video gamer" is the best measure of anything. Very few people play video games for a living unless you count the fairly lucky fifteen year olds of the world, and even they have school. Games aren't intended for that kind of play; I want someone who lives in the real world to review my games. And I don't think it's at all paradoxical because it's what you get whenever you ask your friends. Penny Arcade has been my closest, online approximation to this.

I mean, they don't give scores, but no one ever comes away confused about what they think. (honorable mention to Gamers With Jobs, too.)

#10 Whipt

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 07:24 PM

I'd love to hear the CAGcast listeners thoughts about video game reviews and review scores.

Do we need them or can reviews without scores stand on their own?

Do gamers get too wrapped up in the scores and pay less attention to the review itself?


Both Gamers and companies pay far too much attention to the score of a game than the review itself. I've enjoyed some games that just aren't that good, like UFC: Sudden Impact or most of the 3D brawling games, and can mention that over and over again in the review and still get hatemail because the score was too low.

Thanks to sites like IGN, score standards are also set way to high for the general gaming community. Anything below an eight is generally considered a disappointing score by many people, which makes you wonder why some places even used a ten point score as most don't use 1-4/10 anyway unless the game is complete garbage.

I do like another posters suggestion of listing how much the reviewer thinks the game is worth. Under that type of scoring I'd bet there'd be less perfect scores(paying full price) than what you'd find on other sites.

#11 Dr Mario Kart

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 07:26 PM

the review score is a base score that you adjust based on reading the review and seeing what factors he marked the game on and how much you agree with them.

For instance, if a game gets a 7/10 and it seems that the particular reviewer docked the game for having PS1 graphics, then I bump his score up to 8/10 because thats a not a valid concern to me.

#12 Reality's Fringe

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 08:36 PM

Scores seem to be arbitrary. You can have someone rag the dogshit out of a game for everything from plot to text size, and then at the end have them pull a "7" somewhere out of their ass. I think the only review system we need is "Would you spend 'x' dollars on this game?" The lower the price you'd pay, the shitier the game. Easy.
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#13 Guest_Apossum_*

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 08:41 PM

As a former avid reader of reviews, I have to say that I have no confidence in review scores at all. They don't help sway my opinion since the scores accumulate mostly in the top half of the 10 point scale. It's even more concentrated in the 7, 8, 9 area. You might see one low rating (5 or below) per issue of a magazine, with everything else at 7 and above. My only evidence that the review system is biased towards higher ratings is the top 100 media outlet page on gamerankings:

http://www.gameranki...kings/sites.asp

if you look at the site review averages, they're mostly in the 70s. To me, that's weird on a 10 point scale. They have the scale, but they don't use the whole thing. When you go to read reviews, games with 5s read like they deserved 1s and 7s read like they are average games (which is what 5s should be), and 8s and 9s read nearly identical to each other. They might as well switch to a 5 point scale.

but there's no way this could be changed. People are conditioned to it-- Halo 2 got a 9.4 at gamespot and people flipped because it wasn't higher, Zelda:TP got an 8.8 and the reviewer is now enemy #1 to all Nintendo fans. the written portions of these reviews were mostly positive and somewhat true. it didn't matter-- internet game fans flipped the Fuck out over the score.

It seems that the interpretation of the individual score is just as subective as the score its self, rendering it useless to me. Might as well just play it for myself or get a very wide variety of written opinions to see what the generally agreed upon strengths and weaknesses are in a game.

So I don't take "professional" review scores into account at all. Honestly, I even find the written parts to be somewhat questionable...these magazines get all their ad money from game companies. That's a big conflict of interest to me.

Most importantly though, I have a very honed taste for games and so do a lot of forum goers who will post impressions the day a game comes out, so I don't really need the pros.

#14 dopa345

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 08:51 PM

As a former avid reader of reviews, I have to say that I have no confidence in review scores at all. They don't help sway my opinion since the scores accumulate mostly in the top half of the 10 point scale. It's even more concentrated in the 7, 8, 9 area. You might see one low rating (5 or below) per issue of a magazine, with everything else at 7 and above.


I have no problem with that. People are used to grades like in high school whre most grades are in the 60-100 range so it makes intuitive sense to rate games like that too.

#15 Guest_Apossum_*

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 09:17 PM

I have no problem with that. People are used to grades like in high school whre most grades are in the 60-100 range so it makes intuitive sense to rate games like that too.


but if you look at school averages, they are usually in the C range. Outside of the white middle-upper class, the averages are even lower. C is actually average on a nationwide scale. That works, because a C is the middle of the scale.

there isn't a comparison there though-- reviewing media and school grades are different things on different scales. If you have a 10 point scale and everything is 70 and up, you're saying everything is better than average. It just goes against the idea of an in-depth critique. they might as well not call them reviews.

#16 Whipt

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 09:22 PM

I have no problem with that. People are used to grades like in high school whre most grades are in the 60-100 range so it makes intuitive sense to rate games like that too.


I personally don't understand this line of thinking. School grading and reviewing products are like comparing apples and oranges. Testing a students understanding of the english language is just different than deducting points from a game for bad camera angles. Besides, using that scale to judge games the numbers 1-60 become pointless since then they're just varying degrees of failure.

#17 SpreadTheWord

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 03:01 AM

but if you look at school averages, they are usually in the C range. Outside of the white middle-upper class, the averages are even lower. C is actually average on a nationwide scale. That works, because a C is the middle of the scale.

there isn't a comparison there though-- reviewing media and school grades are different things on different scales. If you have a 10 point scale and everything is 70 and up, you're saying everything is better than average. It just goes against the idea of an in-depth critique. they might as well not call them reviews.


Maybe most of the games that come out are "good"?

If a game gets anything lower that a 7, I don't even read the review. Unless I hear good things about it from people I trust.

Review scores are a good guideline for the age old question "Is this game worth my time?". The first thing I do is check gamerankings, If the average is over a 7 then I'll read some reviews. If not, I'll move on to the next game that looks cool.

I don't have enough time to read every review, or enough money to try every game. A simple, thought out, score gives me a first impression that I can act on.

#18 FriskyTanuki

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 04:04 AM

I don't take each review as the definitive review for that game, but as part of the larger opinion on the game. I don't believe I've found a reviewer out there who has my exact taste in games, so looking at aggregators like Game Rankings helps out a lot in seeing the general opinion on how good the game probably is. I also couple that with how my friends like the game and just am able to make a decision about whether or not I'll get that game. I also have an intuition about games, as well, where I can tell if I think the game will be good or not and whether I'll like it which is usually on the mark.

I love seeing people being able to discredit a reviewer because they remember previous scores that they've given other games that they may have loved or hated the opposite score. :lol: It's like they're opinion is somehow wrong and all future and past opinions are also wrong and any reviews on that site are biased because of that one review. This also applies to people that just take a look at the scores and assume about what the review actually says.

The "Perfect 10" is also another assumption that gamers have about review scores. It depends on what a 10 means to that specific reviewer and their scale. I know 1up's talked a lot about how 10 doesn't mean the game's perfect, but that it's a part of that upper echelon of games that stand above all others.

As for whether reviews should even have a score? They definitely should because gamers would riot if they see otherwise. Ziff Davis' PC mag tried that and the readers just couldn't handle it, so now they score their reviews. The bad thing about having scores are the reviews that don't seem to justify the scores, whether they talk about negative aspects for 80% of the review but give it an 8.5 out of 10, but gamers (maybe they're just the whiny fanboys that always criticize every review?) cannot handle not having some value to associate with that score.

In summation, scores are good, but gamers can't handle them and take them way too seriously.

#19 Ikohn4ever

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 04:09 AM

i think in general reviews suck, but i think if you take a large sample size of reviews like at gamerankings, you get a better idea of an actual review score
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#20 G33

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 04:18 AM

To me, review scores are a double-edged sword. By having them, you have a number that is supposed to be an accurate representation of the overall quality of the game (gameplay, graphics, value, etc.) and gives readers a quick representation of how good they can expect the game to be. On the other hand, opinions between reviewers differ, and can result in very skewed scores that may not accurately represent the game. If one reviewer needs next-gen graphics in all of his or her games, but reviews a nice looking, but old-school 2D game, he or she might dock an extra point or two because the graphics aren't shiny enough, or vice-versa (a reviewer loves 2D graphics and adds a point or two extra because of it). In addition, if there's a reviewer that hates or loves a certain series, bias will be reflected in the score.

However, if you don't have scores, then reviews can seem abstract and it will be hard to quickly determine what's a good game, or even a good review site. A game could be almost perfect, but if a review nitpicks and writes a half-page of minor flaws, it would make the game seem worse than it actually is. If a game is completely horrible, but the reviewer praises the innovation and certain gameplay mechanics, then it makes the game seem better than it actually is. Without a baseline score to give a reader a general opinion about the review, you'll have a bunch of people who'll buy bad games (and may encourage more bad games) and a bunch of people who'll skip good games (and may impact future projects for that company) because of the way the reader interpreted the review. Of course, reviews may end up influencing nothing but informed gamers (as the contrast between scores and sales between Enter the Matrix and Beyond Good and Evil show). Even if only a small number of people are thrown off by the absence of scores, that's still more people than if there were scores in the first place.

I believe scores are completely subjective and aren't absolute on whether a game is good or bad, so I prefer having them rather than not having them. Seeing a game that recieves many good scores will pique my interest in it, and I see that a game I was interested in recieves bad scores, it won't cause me to immediately drop it. In either case, I'll read through a few reviews from trusted sites to see why a game got a good or bad score, and I'll make my decision based on that. If a game is heavily degraded for having (slightly) underwhelming graphics, (slightly) slow loading times, and a few, minor quirks, but everything else seems good, I'll think about it and see if I can deal with the bad to enjoy the good. If the review had no score, then I'd have to meticulously analyze each review to see if the reviewer actually liked or disliked the game, as everyone knows how hard it is to convey true meanings (like sarcasm) on the internet. I'd also miss out on all of the good games that I had previously known nothing about.

In short, while scores aren't an absolute definition of good or bad, they are needed to give a general overview of the reviewer's opinion.

#21 CaseyRyback

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 05:54 AM

I look at the games I want and use review scores to validate whether a game is a worthy purchase. Basically I will already have a desire for the game and just want to make sure it is worth the money before throwing down the cash.I also use them to gauge interest in stuff I may have missed.

I hardly ever read a review, as I think they usually give away too much and I like to be suprised about what takes place.

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#22 ramatut4001

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 05:59 AM

Although your concern is valid, scores themselves are not bad. It's up to the individual to read further and know what kind of gameplay they enjoy, not to mention try something new now and then.

#23 KaneRobot

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 04:15 PM

I've said this before, but I'll repeat here:

There's nothing wrong with reviewers adding a score to their games. The problem is with the gaming fanbase who lives and dies by the number given it. People flipping out over the Twilight Princess review is one of the most ridiculous reactions I've ever seen to a game review. If a highly anticipated game isn't given a "9," it's a huge disappointment and a disaster. Well, either that or the site is just biased and has an agenda. Yeah, ok.


Those little numbers they put on a review should be a seen as a suppliment to the review text, not an all-encompassing summary of it.
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#24 botticus

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 04:20 PM

The problem with review scores is their inconsistency. One review can have a similar opinion about a game as another review, but the scores might be two points different. That annoys me as I like to use GameRankings as a decent guide for what to look for, then reading a few reviews; these outliers can really throw off averages for some games.

Even in the same magazine, each reviewer has their own opinions. Since the same reviewer isn't writing all the reviews, any direct comparison between scores of two games is suspect.

This is all well and good for me, it just makes me shake my head at why a game received a score after I read the review, but it's not good for the industry in general, when the general populace (and therefore publishers) are swayed a lot more by numbers than by a page of text that they probably don't read.

Even though it required an adjustment as I read through them, I liked what CGW tried to do (as Frisky mentioned) when they removed scores from the reviews. But reader complaints forced them to restore scoring.

#25 Mookyjooky

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 04:37 PM

I'm sort of a proponent of keeping the review "score" to a simple: buy it, rent it, forget it.


I agree, also, I'm a huge fan of replayablity, and I feel that you should wait a month, before reviewing it and tell everyone your thoughts on its lasting power.

IGN is ALWAYS going to beat you, so why not try something different.

#26 Guest_Apossum_*

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 10:36 PM

Maybe most of the games that come out are "good"?

If a game gets anything lower that a 7, I don't even read the review. Unless I hear good things about it from people I trust.

Review scores are a good guideline for the age old question "Is this game worth my time?". The first thing I do is check gamerankings, If the average is over a 7 then I'll read some reviews. If not, I'll move on to the next game that looks cool.

I don't have enough time to read every review, or enough money to try every game. A simple, thought out, score gives me a first impression that I can act on.



I don't think all games are equally good and deserve a 7 or above. If every movie or CD got a 7, nobody would pay attention to what critics say (which might be a good thing in some cases..) How can you decide if a game is worth your time if most of what comes out gets a high score?

When I look at movie review scores at Rotten Tomatoes or music reviews at pitchfork, I can look at the score and know whether the reviewers liked it or not and can guess the general flow of the written review. Reviews are supposed to be critical, scores should reflect that. When you go to IGN or gamespot etc. etc. and see a game with a 7 or 8, you never know what you're going to get in the written article. Sometimes they go off on a game's flaws and sometimes they praise it entirely, all while giving a very middle-of-the-road and consumer-stroking 7 or 8.

#27 bo0

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 04:11 AM

This is a repeating ethical issue in gaming/science/literature/movies. Review scores are numbers; numbers that represent real integers. Plainly they are just freaking numbers. Numbers are quanitities. Games as words are of quality or qualitative. To give more real value to a review on multiple levels of thinking people will give a quality a number based on personal experience.






For example...
How is your mood today on a scale of 1 to 5?( 5 being the happyest and 1 being the saddest) how would you rate yourself at this moment?



Honestly, read the review. The number does not mean anything unless the persona that is writing the review matches up to what you have to say. If there was a gaming review site out there that had any cajones it would not have a quantitative review section.


I say CAG should be the ones to do this. Do something different. I am tired of quantitative measures for lazy readers.
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#28 Ricochet

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 02:51 PM

I've said this before, but I'll repeat here:

There's nothing wrong with reviewers adding a score to their games. The problem is with the gaming fanbase who lives and dies by the number given it. People flipping out over the Twilight Princess review is one of the most ridiculous reactions I've ever seen to a game review. If a highly anticipated game isn't given a "9," it's a huge disappointment and a disaster. Well, either that or the site is just biased and has an agenda. Yeah, ok.


Those little numbers they put on a review should be a seen as a suppliment to the review text, not an all-encompassing summary of it.


Bingo. KaneRobot nailed it - or at least, nailed what I wanted to say. The score is merely an addition to the review, in order to compliment it, not summarize it, because if you can summarize an entire 40 hour game with one number, there's something wrong.

The entire problem lies within the fanbase, as Cheapy was mentioning on the latest Cagcast. They are entirely too fanatical, and instead of quoting why games are good, or bad, or whatever, most just stick to spouting off review numbers in their overzealous diatribe.

The meat of the review - the words - are what's important. So while Cheapy's Motorstorm review may be "50 pages long," I'd rather have that than a short, one paragraph summary. I understand that games take much longer to review and all, but if all reviews could be in depth ones, I think the score could be done away with completely, in favor for a more critical viewpoint.
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#29 davidjinfla

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Posted 09 January 2007 - 08:42 AM

of course I think it should be like the NYT and how they do reviews. Talk about strength and weakness and leave it up to reader to decide.

#30 mkg12

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Posted 10 January 2007 - 04:40 AM

For audio reviews I don't think a review score is needed. Just talk about what you thought of the game and that is good enough.