Entertainment Video Games

Why I Care About Reviews, Not Review Scores

It’s difficult to summarize a person’s opinion into just a number. What is a 9 out of 10? Was the game or movie of the reviewer’s preferred genre? Far too many people focus on the final score given by a person rather than the road that lead to the number. It’s as if we picked up a book only to read the last page and say “Oh… so that’s how it ends”. Allow me to share why I believe reviews are important to consider, but the final score should be taken with a grain of salt.

GamePro Issue 084 July 1996 | Credit: Archive.org

As a gamer, I grew up reading magazines like GamePro and Electronic Gaming Monthly. Due to the absence of accessible internet in the 90’s, they were my only source to know about the new games coming out and – most importantly – if there was a recently released game worth picking up. We grew up with a tight budget which meant my mother couldn’t afford to pick up a random game hoping it was good. What if it was terrible? That would have meant $40 went down the drain (and even more money if we’re talking about Nintendo 64 games).

My favorite part of reviews were when they compared a new game to a similar one from the past. “If you like Doom, you may consider trying Quake!”. This was key because sometimes I’d read a review, only to be surprised by a low final score. “Why did it only get a 70 out of 100? It seems like something I may be interested in”, is something I often thought about while reading magazines. This lead me to taking risks and purchasing a technically “mediocre” game if I went by scores.

Legend of Legaia. PS1 Game released on October 1998. GameSpot Score: 7.3

Legend of Legaia (PS1) is the first game I can think of where I took a risk and purchased it knowing full-well it received average scores in most magazines. What made me purchase it? Despite an apparent slow-paced story, most praised it for its innovative battle mechanics and the fact you could capture monsters you encountered and could summon them in future fights. I was able to play a demo of it which allowed me to listen to its incredible soundtrack. The title screen theme still gives me goosebumps. Have a listen (click here).

Reviews [not scores] are incredibly important

Reviews provides insight about future products, as well as provide context to things from the past. There are hundreds upon thousands of movies, video games and music CDs that we can listen to right now. It’s not easy to decide what we should enjoy next but reviews can be a solid reference point that may influence our decisions. On this same note, the score given by a reviewer doesn’t age as well as they review itself. What if a game received a 6 out of 10 because it was $60, when maybe at $20 it could be a must-buy? Prices, graphics and context change every single day.

Watch Dark1 and I present 5 good games that received mediocre scores (Youtube)

We All Have Opinions

It would be ironic for me to sit here and write that you shouldn’t trust reviewers when I have produced videos recommending a specific game or movie. We all have opinions and our experiences with a piece of entertainment is completely subjective. The challenge is we often take other people’s opinions personally because their perspective could be dramatically different from our own. “There’s NO WAY that can be a 9 out of 10. They sold out!”. I once had someone tell me “Even the worst movie is someone’s favorite film”. That comment opened my eyes because it was true. I’ve had multiple scenarios between friends where I was the only person that had an opposing opinion, and as a result they thought I was just trying to be controversial.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

Next time you read a review don’t immediately scroll down to check out the final score. Get to know the reviewer, the genres they enjoy and actors or games that bring a smile to their face. This will make every word they write mean that much more to you because there’s a genuine connection and interest between both parties.

I give this blog post a 37 out of 68.

What’s your take on review scores? Reach out on twitter and let’s have a conversation about it. I also invite you to watch my Sonic The Hedgehog movie review so you can get a better sense of what I look for in a family-friendly movie and how I share my opinions without giving a score. Thanks for reading!

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