Reviews Part 2 - Are Numbers Important?

One of the central arguments about game reviews seems to be about the importance of review scores. An actual number. My opinion relates to my previous post. I don't think scores should be eliminated, but they also shouldn't be the centerpiece of a review, as they usually are. A number by itself isn't able to tell you whether or not you'll enjoy a given game. For example, Halo 3 is getting many 9.5s and 10s. Reviewers, for the most part, seem to love it. If all I see is that Halo 3 has gotten a perfect 10, does that mean I'll like the game? Not necessarily. What if I don't like FPS games? Or what if I just don't like any games that have lots of fast-paced action? But this doesn't mean the game can't be appreciated. I don't particularly like FPS games myself, but I do believe Halo 3 is probably one of the best shooters around, and I'd definitely play it if I had the chance.

And no, I'm not picking on Halo 3. A good score for a Final Fantasy game doesn't mean much if you don't like RPGs, just like a good score for the latest Madden iteration doesn't mean much if you don't enjoy football games. The same can be said of almost any big, high-profile, well-received game. Very few games are so good that almost anyone enjoy them.

The number only makes sense in the context of the written article. After reading a review, you should then understand the score and how that particular reviewer feels about the game. If the reviewer's beliefs and ideas match up with yours, then you'll probably agree with them. If not, well, you can always complain about it on any number of forums like everyone else. The actual score is just a handy way for the reviewer to summarize his/her thoughts. It's also convenient for the reader to quickly look at a score to get a feel for how the game was received. BUT, this is only useful if the reader also reads the entire review. The words and sentences provide the score with actual meaning, rather than arbitrariness.

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