Should We Change Our Game Reviews?

Written by Joe Martin

April 25, 2009 // 12:35 p.m.

Tags: #bit-tech #feedback #games #graphics #readers #ryan

This is a blog post I’ve been thinking of writing for a long time, but I’ve chosen not to get around to it until now because it hasn’t really been very relevant.

There’s not been that many good PC games coming out lately that have required an in-depth look at graphics. Well, not from me anyway. A good thing about being part of Dennis Publishing is that delegation is nearly always an option.

The crux of this blog post rests on one question; how useful is the graphics coverage we give in PC game reviews at the moment?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about then, well I guess that gives me an answer right there. You see, before I joined bit-tech the site had a policy of doing very in-depth graphic analysis for each and every PC game review that came along and console games were mainly ignored. Tim, Richard and co. would even graphically analyse new patches for games and game reviews would focus heavily on graphics.

Should We Change Our Game Reviews?

As far as I’m aware that started to change when my predecessor Ryan joined bit-tech. Console games started to get a bit more attention and the graphics coverage of specific games became less quantitative and more comparative – like in this Darkstar One review.
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When I joined bit-tech two years ago I carried on this method, comparing the different graphical settings of a game to each other in a subjective way. I didn’t look at performance all that much and that was probably for the best – I’d be the first to admit that I’m the least technically minded member of the team and I think that stuff belongs in GPU reviews anyway.

I also started covering more console games. My basic belief is that if the game is good then it deserves to be covered regardless of platform in most cases. An awful lot of very bad PC games come across my desk – is it really worth covering stuff such as Conspiracy Island 2 when we could be looking at GTA IV? That’s one question I’d like feedback from the community on.

Should We Change Our Game Reviews?

Lately though, I’ve been thinking that how we cover graphics in game reviews isn’t really all that helpful anyway. A quick look at the presets is all well and good – but I’m certain that the average bit-tech reader knows what a scene will look like with AA off and proving that things are blurrier with texture quality lowered is an exercise in futility. Is that information actually useful to anyone? For Crysis yes, but not for most games I’d wager.

Part of this is...well, not laziness, but certainly a desire to free more time up on my behalf. Taking all those screenshots, resizing them, comparing them and then writing a good 600 words for each page about them takes up a lot of time and that time could be spent either playing the game or polishing the review. Which do you prefer – less spelling errors or more graphics analysis in the game reviews?

There’s no agenda here and I can’t promise that anything will or won’t change, but I am very curious to see if my opinions align with yours and if there’s one thing we pride ourselves on at bit-tech then it’s listening to our readers. Drop your thoughts in the comments below.

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