When Game Review Criteria Hits the Floor Hard

April 27th, 2008

wii fit workoutIt wasn’t too long ago that I posted up my opinions about game reviews and my great frustrations with them. I want to talk more about this issue at a later date but for now though I would like to further substantiate the previous article with a final conclusion, courtesy of IGN.

Before I start I want to share a little bit of context. When it comes to standardize, routine video game news and reviews I am subscribed to two sites to provide me with such content. They are IGN and for a wider, more down to earth scope Video Games Blogger. I am aware of such issues with IGN and fortunately I can filter out there content worthy of my time from another paid DS review or hyped up preview. Despite this there is a certain authority about IGN that I am bound to which I ought to ditch sometime. So if any of you readers have any suggestions then fire away.

In anycase, since I have an Australian IP address, IGN sees fit to send me all of their Australian (brought to you by Cam Shea!) and UK based content which is fair enough. The following is a review of Wii Fit which I would like to briefly analyze.

I genuinely have no beef with IGN, they are fine and this is by no means an attack at the site or their reviews. What is presented here, is as I see it a good example of a common problem within the industry. With that in mind, lets dance:

My Previous Article

Wii Fit IGN UK Review

If you want to skim though then just focus on the intro and conclusion as that is where the meaty bits lie.

If you have read my previous article and then the review you should be able to very easily pick up on the connections. The reviewer, self admiringly has a hard time dealing with the fact that he is reviewing Wii Fit under the requirements of a video game review. He doesn’t even consider Wii Fit to be a video game! There is a great misunderstanding of audiences going on here which is why the reviewer is so dumbfounded. Instead of continuing on and deeply analyzing why this review is so problematic (which would just be a whole bunch of regurgitation anyways). I want to leave this with you readers and let you think about what this represents. Here are a few quotes which I find most interesting:

“Despite certain similarities, this isn’t a game and standard review criteria aren’t going to have much sway here.”“Admittedly, nothing here really pushes the Wii to its limit”

“But such is the hard life of your videogame reviewer. Still, for the sake of completion, let’s break the whole thing down into its component parts and slap a great big number on the end anyway. Actually, sod it, it’s going to get an 8.0. Anything else you want to know? Then read on.”

  • Supa

    The best way I’ve found to describe this ignorant gaming press phenomena is “completely missing the point” of certain casual games. Like you mention Daniel, it’s not even always that the scores are bad, but the scoring system itself is flawed.

    It’s quite flattering to hear our VGB news is considered down to earth to you, because we aim for neutrality and such. Point and case is my Endless Ocean review.
    http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2007/12/16/endless-ocean-wii-review-takes-you-on-a-relaxing-dive-in-the-sea.htm

    The game is clearly aimed at both casual gamers and people who just like to relax and swim around a beautiful underwater world. We take the target market into consideration for the fun factor, which is our total score for each game and not a decimal summation of the parts games are judged on. A quick look at Gamerankings.com shows the average rating puts it at a 74% and the reviews I read in newspapers and magazines all said it was a crap game, not a game, that they deducted a point from the score because the graphics weren’t as nice as the latest Xbox 360 game, etc. Whereas I rated it 85% because it put a big smile on my face and I lost track of time when swimming around in the game. That’s not to say I consider my review the end-all option, but it shows perfectly what a bit of open-mindedness can do… it can make you enjoy more gaming experiences.

  • Hey Supa, yeah I totally agree. Being open minded with anything really (I have found this to be a similiar case with music) can be of great self benefit.

    You really have to review a game for what it is and not jam it through a bunch of preconcieved ideas and variables. I hope to share my own ideas on how to properly review a game at a later date. I’ll take your review and what you have said into my thoughts on this.

  • I’m not a big fan of IGN. Why? Because IGN can be bought (see those Today on IGN displays? They’re paid for!). Because IGN gives “exclusive” reviews on a game’s launch day, which can only be done when said game was played under optimum conditions in the developer or publisher’s offices. Because IGN’s reviews aren’t as hard-hitting as I want it to be.

    This latest example adds fuel to my IGN vitriol.

    “You really have to review a game for what it is and not jam it through a bunch of preconcieved ideas and variables.”

    Very well said, Daniel! Many reviews have taken this “I’m-a-grizzled-veteran-with-high-standards” approach lately, so a fresh perspective is definitely welcome.

    I also agree with Supa that open-mindedness could really help when reviewing a game. Target market is another definite factor to consider when mulling over a game’s ability to entertain.

  • I definetly agree that their reviewers seem water weak. Its all very mechanical and of a checklist structure. I might check out the 1UP Network as judging from their podcasts they seem like a hardcore bunch of forward thinkers.

    I think that IGN’s review of Boom Blox is similiar to the Wii Fit review; a total disconnect. On the flipside, I saw a review round up video from 1UP just before and they seem to perfectly understand how this game should be critiqued.

    http://au.wii.ign.com/articles/872/872031p1.html

    BTW ‘grizzled’ was a great word selection.

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