As a frequent peruser of video game reviews, I often feel swayed by the opinions of reviewers. My perusals don’t vary in source a great deal. I mostly focus on the titan of game news sites: IGN, the mega giant of online video game news. By contrast, my secondary source of critique is a small independent reviewer known as Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw, who runs a little known (perhaps that’s underselling it) review/rant series known as “Zero Punctuation.”
These two sources represent vastly different perspectives on the industry. One holds with the popular opinion and has a tendency towards glorifying Sony first-party titles (a tendency I’m wholly on board with). The other despises modern shooters and most AAA franchises. Between reviews from these two sources and a smattering of other sites: Gamespot, Game Trailers, and the like, I’ve amassed many of my opinions and biases in the video game sphere.
I think back to before I frequently perused video game reviews, to a time when the potential of generic titles on the DS were exciting. This was a time where I indiscriminately bought movie-tie ins, aging GBA games, and Pokemon Diamond, viewing them all the same. With my modern perspective, I would buy few of the games I purchased when I was first getting into gaming. Today, I focus solely on first party, AAA, and the most esteemed indie games. I can’t help but blame reviewers for my narrowing of scope.
True, movie tie ins are generally bad, and there are plenty of mid-tier games that aren’t worth the consideration, but I feel as though I lack independence in my game selections. I have also been known to consume reviews retroactively (after playing the games), but many of my opinions on games have been shaped by reviews and hype. I was incredibly excited for Bioshock Infinite, entirely because of IGN’s pre-release coverage of the game; I’d never even played the original before I picked up Infinite (and tragically still haven’t to this day). Fortunately, I was not disappointed, but can’t help wondering whether my impressions were shaped by the hype and IGN’s impeccable score.
Overall, part of me desires a time when I wasn’t aware of the vast expanse of online video game sites. A time when I bought games freely, heedless of the constraints of value, features, or franchise. It was a simpler time, and one that far better captured the joy of discovery. However, nostalgia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent games I’ve purchased, even if I was motivated by the opinions of critics. How about you? When did you transition from freely buying games to checking the metacritic scores?