More apt a name for the reviews

Video Games | Wednesday, April 12th, 2006 | 13 years, 4 months ago

Definition of “oblivion” courtesy of Dictionary.com: (emphesis added)

  1. The condition or quality of being completely forgotten: “He knows that everything he writes is consigned to posterity (oblivion’s other, seemingly more benign, face)” (Joyce Carol Oates).
  2. The act or an instance of forgetting; total forgetfulness: sought the great oblivion of sleep.
  3. Official overlooking of offenses; amnesty.

Here’s an infuriating quote from a review from, of all places, Gamasutra’s Critical Reception section:

Joynt also acknowledges neglible technical issues, saying, “The technical issues of the game are so minor within the rest of Oblivion‘s package that they’re barely worth discussing.”

I find this kind of blasé journalism to be thoroughly unscrupulous, and I surmise the problem with reviewing this game is the arms race between game news publications. Reviewers are so keen to be the first to review AAA titles that they don’t even bother coming close to finishing lengthy games. Many reviewers admitted to playing only about 30 hours (play the game to see how little is accomplished in this span), while others hint at focusing on the main plotline while skimming or skipping the anciallary missions which make up the bulk of the game.

Is it unreasonable to expect a thorough review of a 200-plus hour game? Hell no! Do restaurant critics leave after the appetizer? Do book reviewers retire after the preface? I understand that games are a different beast altogether since the content unfolds at the pace of the player, but this is an aspect games journalists must be prepared for.

Games journalists are not only critics of art, but also product testers. It is just as important for them to grade a game’s fun factor as it is to appraise the product’s monetary worth.

Obviously, RPGs are unique entities in that they are structured like unearthed ancient libraries where the player may optionally read as many books as they can find. This means that, moreso than other genres, RPG players’ experiences will be entirely unique in content, length, and quality. Reviewers of Oblivion purposefully abbreviate their own experiences to meet a marketing deadline and misleadingly label their limited omniscient as the whole shebang. Gamers purchasing an RPG are investing in an experience more than buying a quick prét-a-porter diversion, and it is in this sense of longevity that this game fails.

Before I invset in a gizmo that I’ll be relying on for a long time I take professional reviews and scores with a grain of salt. I also check other sources like vendor FAQs, tech support forums, and online store customer comments. Unfortunately these resources are difficult to come by in the games world, so we must rely on the say-so of our favourite review sites.

This problem won’t go away; professional games journalism is a business, not a favour.

The only advice I can give is to wait a few weeks before purchasing a brand new RPG. At least wait for the first patch, and have a look at user-supplied fixes and workarounds. More interestingly, check out Google Video to see just how laughable the game‘s bugs truly are.

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