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Veteran Member - Level 13
Like many of you I find myself falling into the trap of getting ALL of my gaming news here from time to time. And don't get me wrong, this is a great site full of equally great people and opinions. When it comes to gaming news the place is top-notch and the reviews here come in a timely and well-written fashion. Sometimes however, it will pay as a consumer to check out the broader scope of the reviews the industry has to offer.
I'll be giving two examples for the purposes of today's blog. One was written by Kimberly Wallace and the other by Tim Turi. I'm not trying to say either of these people were wrong in the reviews they gave to certain games. I'm also not trying to stir up any controversy regarding why they scored the games the way they did. Both were doing their job and happened to have opinions that strayed from the over-all impressions generated by critics and gamers alike. I also don't plan on plugging any other site (saving metacritic) as finding people who's opinion you know you'll agree with is something everyone has to do on their own.
The point of the matter is that when I see comments or threads saying 'this game scored good/bad' based on the opinion generated by one review (generally from this site) I worry about the effect it may be having on the given game's popularity. Case in point is Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch. Kimberly Wallace reviewed this game recently giving it an 'average' score of a seven. Reading the review would make most believe that the game was repetitive, lacking substance, and frustrating which makes the seven feel more like a six.
I'm twenty-two hours into the story of Ni No Kuni and have found non of the issues she spoke of. The random battles that are made out as impossible or difficult to avoid are on-screen from the get-go and relatively easy to dodge if you don't feel like grinding. The limited save-point issues she had seem non-existent as you can save anywhere in towns or the over-world map and each specific area has at least two, one at the front and one prior to the obligatory boss. The fact that the game fines you ten percent of your gold after death is a non-issue as it's only happened three times to me and those times were prior to a boss battle with a save-point just before.
Again, I don't think that Kim was wrong in the case of her review. I do however think that reviews, by their very nature, revolve around the opinion of the writer. This isn't a good or a bad thing. ALL reviews are largely the opinion of the person writing the review. It's our job as the consumer to check our sources before making a purchase.
I had made the decision to purchase Ni No Kuni well prior to release as I know (sometimes at least) which games I'll like or not like based on years of experience and previews, demos, and videos. I started wondering about whether other gioers may be passing based on her score and decided to check out the metacritic evaluation for the game. The metacritic score for Ni No Kuni is an eighty-six with user-reviews sitting at ninety-one. Fifty-one critics responded positively with five (including Kim's) being mixed and none negative. The users posted sixty-three positives, three mixed, and three negatives as would be expected with quite a few tens and several teeny-tiny numbers.
What I'm trying to say is that you need to find reviewers (or at least do some homework) that have a similar history of liking or not liking similar games to you before making a purchase based on what you've heard. This brings me to my next example. A very recent review of Dead Space 3 by our very own Tim Turi. I've yet to play this one but for the sake of the blog wanted to find an example of the opposite variety.
While Tim gave Dead Space 3 a nine-point-seven-five and sung quite a bit of praise for it in his review I didn't find the reception to be quite as overwhelmingly positive elsewhere on the Internet. Every-one's got their opinion and I certainly don't begrudge Tim his. In fact I would assume he really did find Dead Space 3 to be a phenomenal experience. Over at metacritic however we find scores that are markedly less positive. Not bad by any means, just different from what was covered here at gameinformer.com. The critics give it an over-all score of eighty-two with nine positives and three mixed while the users (sigh) give it a four point seven with two positives, one mixed and one very low negative.
Trusting reviews (and reviewers) is a tricky thing. It often takes some time following their work to see what similar interests you may have. In the past I've both agreed and disagreed with both of the authors mentioned above. I can't say from personal experience that Tim's Dead Space 3 review is different from my own as I've yet to play it, but the gap from a majority of it's peers suggest that as consumers, particularly those on the fence, you should check out some other opinions before making a purchase. In the case of Ni No Kuni I would argue that my personal experience with the game has felt largely different from Kim's telling. And in this case the critics are trending in the opposite direction from what was presented here. It all comes down to taste but I urge all of you to keep yourselves informed and you'll always feel better about decisions to buy or not to buy. And don't blame the reviewer if you pass on a gem or don't care for a purchase. Blame yourself for not being fully informed...
Buyer beware right?
Don't forget that ALL reviews are ultimately just someone's opinion!
Am I alone or do other people check out the averages before buying?
Have a good one GIO!
(No editors were harmed in the writing of this blog...)