On this site, I review films, TV series and also, on a rarer note, games. Each form of entertainment requires a different set of criteria to mark. Films are simple: did I enjoy the film? Was it well made? TV programmes are a little trickier, as a great episode could be weighed down by five terrible ones. You need to consider how well the TV series works as a whole. Video games are the trickiest in my book. There are several factors that get in the way of reviewing a game, which have to be taken into account. Below are three of those factors that make games different to analyse.
3 – SEQUELS ARE USUALLY BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL
This one is a bit of a subjective topic. Personally I think the original Gears of War, when it comes to pacing and story, is the superior. It had no bar to reach, so it gave us a smooth game. Gears of War 2 and 3 feel a bit all over the place, in comparison. Not bad, just not as good. Then how come when I play the original I find myself wishing I had chosen to play the most recent Gears game. Most gamers would think this is a no-brainer and they put up a good argument. The more modern the game, the better. Gears of War 2 has all of the elements in the first game, when it comes to gameplay, but they have added new things. In the original, despite having a better story, I cannot use any of my enemies as a human shield, like in Gears of War 2. And in Gears of War 3, I have a wider range of weapons and enemies to face off against.
This is something I always struggle to incorporate into my reviews. When writing up how good a game is I often judge the context of the game as well as the content. Gears of War 2, therefore, is rarely marked on the original elements, or if it is, they won’t be as high-marking as they were in the original. Sure, Gears 2 would have been an awesome game if it simply stayed the same, but I wouldn’t let myself mark it as a five star game. It would have lacked originality and played it safe.
2 – GAMES ARE FORGETTABLE
I was playing the Official King Kong game the other day on the Playstation 2. I remember the hype it caused when it came out. It was one of the only games to tie-into a movie that was any good. Also, its graphics were superb, boasting the most impressive backdrop to any game to date. It had the critics raving about it. And do you know where I found this game after all these years? In a bargain bucket, being sold for a pound coin.
You see, games are always being topped and replaced. With the exception of the really early ground-breaking games, like Mario and Zelda, old games rarely stick around. With movies, the old movies often are celebrated, as we can see film-making at its best and purest, like ‘Jaws’ and ‘Cool Hand Luke’. Even the TV shows from the 80s and 90s are remembered in a positive light. People still say ‘Friends’ is the best sitcom ever made. However, games don’t have that. Going back to the ground-breaking graphics of King Kong: when playing it through, I had to admit that we had over-taken that ages ago. Graphics are always going to be a short-lived success. Once, we thought Spyro the Dragon was visually impossible to beat. Therefore, I can be sure that no matter how much we cherish our copy of Skyrim, it will be promptly forgotten as soon as Elder Scrolls VI comes around the corner.
1 – EVERY GAME AIMS TO BE THE BEST
With movies, we often treated to a handful of amazing summer blockbusters like ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’, ‘Iron Man 3’ and ‘Man of Steel’, while the rest of the year is made up of rom-coms and dramas. It is how Hollywood recuperates its money. It can never know if its $150 million budget superhero movie will succeed or crash and burn, so to play it safe, they put together a couple of cheap horror movies and comedies that can be filmed quickly and in a handful of locations. Those movies are pretty much guaranteed to make at least a partial budget, without much risk being involved. Therefore, if the blockbuster the producers were investing in fails dramatically, it won’t break the bank.
Games don’t have that. Every game costs an insane amount of money to make. There is a rumour that Bioshock: Infinity cost $100 million to make. Therefore, every game being made right now has to have the goal of being the best game. That’s why almost every game out there is made out to be the next biggest thing. They have to be; otherwise that company will not make a profit. It also means that games play it safe. Every game seems to be a rehashed version of Battlefield or a sequel to a previous success. It is also why we have to end up spending several hundreds of pounds on the next generation of gaming consoles. It’s one of the sadder facts of gaming.