Game reviewers used to be so much better

Posted on December 20th, 2011 in Video Games by andrija

I keep saying it to my friends but now I have a vindication. The old editor in chief of Gamespot back in its heyday when it was the ultimate authority on gaming (along with PC gamer but also for consoles) – Greg Kasavin – appears to have successfully transitioned into a designer / writer role in actual game making industry. Bastion, the game he was involved in, is excellent. It has all the right ingredients, the gameplay is just right, it flows well, the variety of gameplay and upgrades is well done, difficulty is well balanced, and some small things that mean a lot to real gamers but often get lost in the shuffle are there as well (hello Game Plus). You could almost say it has a design by committee because it looks like it goes after just about every item on the checklist – except that the finished product actually works like that. Yes, people like these were doing game reviews back then – which is why the reviews were good and well valued, why Gamespot Game of the Year awards were something to eagerly anticipate and why you could take the scores “to the bank”. Today’s reviewers – well, let’s just say they have no idea what a good game is.

I suppose the quality of today’s reviewers goes hand in hand with quality of the websites in general. As in, they’re measured on quantity, not quality and are expected to obey the guidelines where advertisers are more important than honesty. Or even worse, page hits are more important than honesty – every bad game getting a middling review is far preferable to good games which don’t drive the site’s revenue getting bad reviews just to get more hits. It is not surprising that anyone who’s any good would want to go do something else. So the people that actually end up doing reviews often aren’t suited for the job.

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