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The purpose of a review is to evaluate a game by providing a critical statement that is indicative of the title’s merit or lack thereof. As much as some may try to provide an objective opinion, leaving personal feelings, interpretations and prejudices at the door, providing an unbiased opinion based merely on facts is nearly impossible. Even if it were done, it sure as hell would not be very interesting.

The preconceived opinions, attitudes or feelings that make up our prejudices influence how we think about what we perceive. It is because of this that two individuals can come to entirely different conclusions about the exact same experience. One person’s terrorist is another’s vision of a freedom fighter. Similarly, one person’s idea of a perfect game could leave another wanting.

Reviews not only contain bias in order to formulate a subjective opinion on a product, but also within the structure of a review itself. The majority of videogame reviews are rated on a scale of zero to ten. However, it seems the prejudices formulated by the academic background of reviewers and readers have influenced both the use and reception of this scale, giving rise to complications and creating grave inconsistencies in the process.

Our personal biases and life experiences certainly affect who we are and are a crucial part of formulating our opinions. The blending of the academic and critical mindset in ten point reviews does not make a lot of sense and is something that needs to change.

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iPhone Graduation Day
By: | August 16th, 2010


Prior to the purchase of my first iPhone, I did not take it seriously as a gaming platform at all. In fact, I actually recoiled at the idea conceptually. I’ve also never been one to subscribe to the hardcore gamer tendency of dismissing social games and so-called “casual games.” On the other hand, I couldn’t look at the iPhone and consider it in the same category as my Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, or PC. Those are all “platforms.” The iPhone, however, was “a phone with games you can play on it.”

My wife won her iPhone two years ago in a raffle, and fell in love. She’s a blogger and social media junkie, which is what she mostly used the phone for. When I discovered the existence of Mass Effect Galaxy, being a junkie of the franchise, I ordered the game up on her phone and gave it a whirl.
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Last year, I played H.A.W.X. for something like three hours. It was an experience that I have to struggle to remember, buried amongst the many superior experiences I had that year. I found myself impressed more by the graphics on the ground than the action in the air, which was far more uninteresting than I ever imagined flying a fighter jet could be. For me, it was the final straw. Air combat was over.

However, a trailer emerged just a few days ago that changed all that, rekindling the flame of excitement that I felt was lost forever. The short announcement trailer is full of visceral action, enormous explosions, and even helicopters! I want to play the game I saw in that trailer, and I want to play it now.

The question is, will I ever play that game, or will I just play the lifeless, tired game that the trailer is meant to conceal?

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Stop It: Selfish Gamers
By: | August 11th, 2010

["Stop It" is a weekly feature which serves as a forum for me to express my opinions on things in the video game industry or community that need to stop. Despite the fact these things may never stop, this will, at the least, fuel discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

Gather around gamers. Yes, I am especially looking at you whores of all kinds – selfish gamers if you prefer the more socially acceptable term. Pick your poison: achievements, trophies, points, kills? What will it be?

Whatever your choice is, I am sure it makes you feel uber leet. Multiplayer games are both collaborative and competitive, and the former is being ruined by the likes of you. All so your epeen can be slowly stroked. Stop it!

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This is not a piece about Starcraft II reviews. I want to make that very clear; but I do take issue with calling the authors of these reviews “critics,” and Starcraft II is merely the latest title to bring this inappropriate verbiage to light.

To wit, the headline of the GameSpy article was “Critics Praise it, But a Number of Players Have Some Big Complaints About StarCraft II.” The video game media uses the words “critic” and “reviewer” interchangeably, as though they are synonymous. Most of the current reviews of Starcraft II have absolutely nothing to do with criticism.
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The Grand Theft Auto series is often credited with the popularization of the open-world genre. For over a decade, Rockstar’s infamous series has been at the center of the evolution of sandbox games. The most recent major title in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV, is currently the highest-rated title on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and is one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time.

With such a stellar reception, one may be forgiven for thinking that Grand Theft Auto IV is the pinnacle of the genre, a shining example so near to perfection that developers looking to make open-world games would do well to look to it for inspiration. Sadly, that is not the case. Grand Theft Auto IV has a myriad of problems.

One may think that a game that largely revolves around stealing cars, crime, and random acts of violence would at least have competent driving and shooting mechanics. It doesn’t. However, Grand Theft Auto IV and the countless other open-world titles that look to Rockstar’s flagship franchise for inspiration and guidance  have a flaw far more substantial than such superficial problems – poor mission design.

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[We Need to Talk is a weekly feature that puts you in the driver's seat of the discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

A few short years ago, we hadn’t even begun to fathom the idea of downloadable console games. We previewed our games by subscribing to official console-branded magazines that included demo discs, and we awaited new console releases with a measure of uncertainty, asking employees in stores like Babbage’s when their stock would come in.

Today, games exist that cannot be preordered, resold, or placed on our shelves. They’re becoming as much a part of our gaming lives as major disc releases, and their quality is often comparable. Yet a strange thing occurred to me recently: I don’t think the gaming world is ready to crown a downloadable game as the year’s very best game, even if it is in fact the best.

Well, why the hell not?

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["Stop It" is a weekly feature which serves as a forum for me to express my opinions on things in the video game industry or community that need to stop. Despite the fact these things may never stop, this will, at the least, fuel discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

As a completionist, more often than not, I find myself trying to do and get everything in a game. In the good old days, time and commitment were the only things between me and that very goal. Now, I have one of the most absurd obstacles to overcome: pre-order incentives.

What was once an afterthought has now snowballed into a giant nuisance. Stop it! Read more… »

[We Need to Talk is a weekly feature that puts you in the driver's seat of the discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

I continue to be astounded by the things that people say. It seems that whenever a videogame company announces a new product, or announces a price to go along with it, angry people come frothing forth hoping to get a slice of the “I’m a spoiled brat” pie.

This week, official news of Microsoft Kinect’s final price point appeared, and at $149.99 USD, absolutely no one was surprised. But pissed, yep, they were definitely pissed. The funny thing? The vast majority were, and are, pissed for stupid reasons, and it’s just getting pathetic.

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I have only pirated one game in my life. I had picked up the Xbox version of the Star Wars game Republic Commando, expecting it to work in my new Xbox 360. That’s when I discovered that the 360 hadn’t been updated yet such that Republic Commando was backwards-compatible, and there was no information about when the next title update was coming which would allow me to play the game. Angry and frustrated, I downloaded a copy of Republic Commando for PC from a bit torrent site. Just a few days later, the Xbox 360 received the needed update to allow me to play the console version, and I deleted the pirated PC version from my hard drive.

The only way I was able to deal with the qualms of Catholic conscience generated by pirating Republic Commando was that, in my mind, I’d already given the appropriate parties my money for the privilege of playing the game – and I was angry. It’s easy to justify this sort of thing when you’re angry.

I was discussing Starcraft II with a friend last night, and he told me that it wasn’t a game he’d be willing to buy, but he might pirate it. As the owner of copyrighted material, myself (a trio of screenplays written in my sordid youth), I am generally in favor of the arguments against piracy. Anyone who works hard to produce a product should be paid for the right to use said product.  In this case, however, I found it difficult to chastise my friend, because I understand his perspective.
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The online PSN service has long been heralded as one of the PlayStation 3’s greatest assets, principally because, unlike its arch-rival the Xbox 360, it is available without the need to pay for the privilege of online gaming. Imagine, then, the faces of bewilderment as SCEA President Jack Tretton announced with enforced enthusiasm PlayStation Plus, a new premium service available exclusively for the charge of a subscription fee.

The idea is that hardcore PSN users will be showered with a stupendous supply of freebies, discounts and early demo and beta privileges, which sounds jolly spiffing on internet paper. But is it such a tantalising prospect in practice?

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[We Need to Talk is a weekly feature that puts you in the driver's seat of the discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

No videogame genre can survive without evolution. Hell, nothing can survive without evolution. Over time, something bigger and better will appear, and survival of the fittest dictates that one must adapt or die. There are no exceptions. Whether it takes a year or a century, the weak will fall and the strong will take their places.

So, what videogame genre is in greatest need of a lesson in natural selection? There are countless answers, and your own is likely colored by your own experiences. For me, it’s the fighting game. Despite a couple of somewhat important evolutions, my own preferences are issuing an ultimatum: try harder or lose me forever.

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