Reviews of games are opinionated, but rooted in fact. In the spirit of transparency, here is how we conduct our reviews on the Enthusiast network of gaming sites which include Nintendo Enthusiast, PlayStation Enthusiast, Xbox Enthusiast and Gaming Enthusiast.
By nature reviews are going to have subjectivity in them. The goal is to separate the subjective things from objective things with proper analysis. If a game has lousy multiplayer, then it has lousy multiplayer. That’s objective. A game can have good multiplayer that one may not be used to because of innovative features, and therefore a reviewer can get killed more often than normal. “The multiplayer sucks” wouldn’t be objective in this case because it’s an emotional response out of frustration from not being used to the setup. A poor review on this aspect isn’t fair to players because it may be awesome once you get used it. It may very well end up being bad, but we ensure proper analysis and description of the issues prior to making that distinction.
Simply because one likes something doesn’t make it good. It also doesn’t make it bad if you don’t like it. This is a very important distinction we make in reviews. A good example would be to say “Billy Madison is my favorite movie”. This could be the case, and I love Billy Madison. But let’s be honest, it’s not the best movie by any means. After all, even if it is your favorite, do you really think it’s better than The Godfather? The same goes for video games. The main goal in these is to analyze what the game actually does, and whether or not it is good or bad, regardless of how one personally feels on it. Some of us here may not be a big fans of first-person multiplayer shooters. I’m not, because I’m admittedly not that good at them. We can still play and see what’s good, bad and what could have been added or removed, however. This is a key aspect in our reviews on the Enthusiast network of gaming sites.
We keep this in mind when we do reviews and analyze what the game does factually. It is good or bad regardless of opinion. Then we give opinions on what we would have liked in addition, what should have been removed, and why. That’s a complete review, and it gives a good baseline point of reference to our viewers for comparison.
Most importantly, we aim to write with a clear head, free of emotion. It’s hard to be objective if we write immediately after dying 25 times, or as soon as we stop crying from an emotional story.
Each section on the Enthusiast gaming sites (Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and PC) has a go-to staff member that communicates with PR representatives and major developers. This writer is generally familiar with the franchise or genre they are reviewing and has a solid baseline to compare it to. No financial or other reimbursement is made other than the review code.
How much of the game do we play in order to review?
The goal is all of it. Nice & easy. In multiplayer, we are sure to play a number of matches in each of the various maps and modes available. In single player campaigns, the goal is to finish the main story. While certain games may have various side missions and nearly 100 hours of content total, sometimes it isn’t feasible to complete all of them in the time frame provided for a review. As a result, the focus remains on completing as much of the story to allow for a complete analysis, along with allowing for ample time with character slots and upgrade abilities. After all, you can’t review a movie if you walk out in the third act. You can, however, review it if you skip the credits scene.
We do not do them. Our reviews are based on the game as is when we play them. If a bad score is issued due to awful loading times or another major issue, it will stay that way even if it is fixed later on with a patch. We may write a feature piece at that time noting the change after we test it out, and whether or not it is worth your time to go back to give it a shot. The same goes for the opposite. If a game with a high score gets broken from an additional patch, we will also not go back to change the score, obviously. These features will remain separate from our review.
10 – DOES NOT MEAN PERFECTION. Nothing is perfect. A 10 should be reserved for a game that everyone needs to play and experience regardless of whether or not they are fans of the genre. A game that transcends genres due to something such as an amazing story or incredible emotions. If this sounds rare, it should be. That’s why it’s a 10.
9 and 9.5 – Tops in genre. As close to perfect as you can get for the genre, but doesn’t transcend the genre. An amazing action/RPG could do everything well and be the best in its genre. If it stops at being the best action/RPG, but doesn’t escalate to something where someone who’s not a fan of the genre needs to play, than it can’t be a 10.
8 and 8.5 – So close to being tops in its genre. If it wasn’t for a couple of minor omissions/glitches/bugs/errors which set it back, it would be top. These minor flaws will impact gameplay slightly, and could also be something as simple as an omitted feature which would have improved the game
6.5 to 7.5 – Very good game that all players will enjoy. Non-fans would probably like the game, but shouldn’t rush out to get it. Lasting appeal and intrigue to come back for more. More positive aspects and few negatives, but enough in either quantity or severity to have an impact on gameplay execution. Range allows for analysis of the level of impact negative aspects have on game.
5.5 to 6.5 – Above Average – Decent game that fans of the genre will definitely enjoy. More positives than negatives that may make the game stand out initially, but that will fade and lose its appeal rather quickly with no lasting appeal or ability to lure players back in.
5 – Average. Switzerland. Doesn’t do anything to stand out or differentiate itself from others in the genre, positively or negatively, when it comes to high or low points.
4 – Below Average – Has potential but can not deliver although the idea of the game has premise. These are lost in the fray of negatives, which are not only higher in number but greater in severity. Possible to salvage if changes were made, but doubtful.
2 – 3 Bad – So much wrong with the game, both functionally and in premise, that there is no hope to save it. Maybe a couple of minimal positives, but that is all and nothing of substance.
1 – Awful. Not a single thing good with the game and impossible to salvage. Everything from premise to execution fails to deliver. If this also sounds rare, it should be. It’s terrible.
We hope this provides clarification on how reviews are formulated here on the Enthusiast network of gaming sites. As always, please feel free to contact us with comments or concerns.