Many people recently have been complaining about aspects of the Game Informer site, and one of the major complaints are the user reviews.  Too many people posting reviews that are short and completely irrelevant.  Sometimes the game's not even out yet and there are reviews up (sounds like, actually).

I've been reviewing books, as well as the occasional movie and game) since 2001.  Not professionally, of course, but for various web sites (like Epinions and Amazon among others).  Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean anything, as everybody's tastes in both review styles and content vary.  Some people like short, punchy reviews.  Some people like as much detail as possible.  Others like something in between.  Thus, there are no definitive "best way to review" answers out there.  

For me, the cardinal rule for any review is that it give enough information so that, even if I don't generally agree with the reviewer, I'll still have an idea if I want the game or not.  Somebody can rip a new a-hole into a game, but if they give enough information about the gameplay, I might still decide that it sounds cool and I can put up with the negatives the reviewer mentions.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll feel the same way about the game as Tactical Rash does about Prototype (this fulfills my Tactical Rash mention quota for the day).  That game made GI's Most Disappointing Games piece today, but he really likes it.  I feel kind of the same way about the CSI games, though not enough to pay anywhere near full price for them.  However, I get just enough of a feel for being a part of the show that I'm willing to spend $15-20 on them when they come down to that level.

So that's the first thing I look for in a review.  Information that will help me decide whether to buy, no matter what the reviewer actually thinks of the game.

The second thing I look for is that it's interesting to read.  I'm on record (I think I've mentioned it in a couple of blogs, or comments anyway) as lamenting the loss of the sarcastic low-scored reviews in GI, as I used to love to read them.  I would laugh my ass off sometimes, especially when they *really* ripped into a game.

Reviews don't have to be excessively negative or funny in order to grab my attention, but they should be interestingly written.  Humour definitely helps, but it's not 100% mandatory.  Just write something engaging.

I'm afraid this means "HALO RULZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ! THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" doesn't really qualify as a good review.

As a review writer, I am kind of jealous of how much information magazine and games web sites reviewers can fit into what is really a pretty short review.  I'm working to try and do that for myself, though it can be difficult. I always feel like I'm leaving something out.

So what do you look for in a game review? And do you find the reviews on Game Informer helpful to you?  I'm speaking mainly of the professional ones, or at least the "normal" user reviews.  Not the idiotic ones that we've been seeing lately.