Column: Going in blind – Why reviews may have ruined gaming

For the longest time, it was my ultimate aim in life to be a video game reviewer. Being a professional footballer came in a close second, but having spotted my obvious lack of talent, my parents (rightly) thought they should push me into a line of work where I might actually make money. So I ended up as a writer. Lot of good that did, eh mom? Anyhow, a part of me has always wanted to make a living off writing about video games, and that’s why I write these columns whenever I can.

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Just like what lies beneath Poonam Pandey’s bikini, a video game experience is quite subjective.

I tend to read more video game reviews than I write, and while it’s great to know what to expect before investing (E)Astronomical amounts of money into a game, I’ve found that reading reviews can often be an unfair gauge. Just like what lies beneath Poonam Pandey’s bikini, a video game experience is quite subjective. The truest test of what a video game title might mean to you is going in blind. If you’ve been intrigued by previews, or heck, even the features on the back of the box, pick it up and play it. Do it before you see what IGN (or IVG; which I’m contractually obliged to say, is better) has to say about it. Pee into the wind! Be your own video game critic. Even if it’s an average game, you’ll appreciate it a lot more than you would after seeing a 6/10 review.

I think back to one of the first videogames I played – a Microsoft title called Deadly Tide. I loved the shit out of that game. Heck, I completed it almost 15 times. It was the only game I owned at the time, but that’s just a statistic. It means something to me, to this day. I chanced upon a Gamespot review of Deadly Tide a couple of weeks ago, which told readers to give it a skip, awarding it a lowly 6.3/10. IGN rates my favourite shooter of all time – Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway (pictured below), at a mediocre 7.6/10. Would I have played and replayed those games if I had read those reviews? Probably not.

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You may just find the most enjoyable game you’ve ever played hidden under a Metascore rock of 73.

When I get an advance review copy of a game (which is exactly never), my excitement isn’t just about getting to review it, but the fact that I’m going into the game without knowing what to expect. It’s kind of like the first time you have sex. You’ve wanted it all your life, but she isn’t into it. Wait, I think I have the wrong anecdote here. But you get the point. The excitement of the unknown is a large part of the video game experience.

It seems counterproductive to be writing a piece telling you NOT to read reviews on a website that primarily does just that, but it’s the truth. Stay away from reviews when you can. And even if you do find a bad review, give the game a chance. These days, I usually complete a game and read reviews later to see how much I agree with them. Experiment. Venture into the wilds of XBLA, PSN and Steam. There’s an entire world of unheard-of indie titles out there waiting for you. And you may just find the most enjoyable game you’ve ever played hidden under a Metascore rock of 73. Believe it. For the younger kids who didn’t get the message in plain English, what I’m saying is YOLO, thug life, Skrillex, etc. A videogame experience is about what you want. Don’t let a review tell you otherwise.

If I happen to mysteriously disappear after this is posted, I beseech you to seek out my body on the IVG forums and tell my family I went out with my head held high.

azeemAzeem Banatwalla is a writer and stand-up comedian. He spends bewildering amounts of time and money adding things with fans and blue lights to his gaming rig, refusing to play any game below the maximum visual spec. He’s a PC gaming snob, but he does occasionally miss playing old-school Sonic on his Sega Mega Drive 2. Views expressed are Azeem’s own and do not reflect those of IVG’s editorial staff.

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