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Video Game Reviews 101

I know that some people may wonder how I’m going to be able to obtain enough money to keep this blog current regarding the video games I’ll be playing. Well, it’s simple: I’m going to use GameFly.

GameFly, for those who don’t know, is a take on the now hugely successful NetFlix business model applied to video games. You order games off of their website and assign them to a queue. GameFly then sends you the games in your queue in the order in which they have them available. The games are rentals, but you can keep them out for as long as you like while being charged a flat monthly fee. If you like the game a lot, you can arrange to keep it for a slightly discounted rate as opposed to buying it in the store. You get the box and manual in the mail. I’m actually very satisfied with that aspect of the service, and it’s well worth the $15.95 from folks like me.

It’s not without its flaws, however. I used the service last summer and was not particularly enthused with the order in which I was sent games. My queue would be full of games that they listed as “Available Now!” and yet I would receive titles that were dead last. WTF? Once I was told that a game near the top of my queue was available, but instead I received one that was near the bottom. I fired off an e-mail to their online support center asking why, and received an answer that went something like this: The game I wanted more was in a warehouse in Pittsburgh. The other was in California, so they just sent me that one to pocket the savings on shipping. I had to stop myself from asking why they wanted me to rank my queue in the first place if they were just going to send me whatever they wanted to send.

So, that said, my first review is going to be a game that’s a couple months old: Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 for the Xbox 360. It’s a game that I’ve wanted to play for a while, so we’ll see if it lives up to my expectations.

Now, because the games are rentals (and because I have other priorities besides game reviews), I’ll be establishing a few ground rules on the criteria on which I will be judging them.

  • One game, one playthrough. For sports titles, that will mean playing through one season of matches and one postseason. For traditional fighting games like Tekken, I’ll beat the story mode once with every character. This is to save time, so that I can quickly push out reviews and get on to the next one without jeopardizing my grades.
  • “Normal” or “Medium” difficulty. This is to prevent frustration and to ensure a balanced judgment on the game’s overall challenge level. I will not prognosticate on the virtues of the harder difficulties. If you’re looking for a challenge, play the game yourself!
  • I will try to play online multiplayer on applicable titles, finances permitting. A little background: I do NOT enjoy online multiplayer on most titles. This started due to my own bad experiences with getting brutally destroyed by more skilled and experienced Halo 2 players, most of them annoying twits under the age of 12. Justifying the expense of an Xbox Live Gold subscription is really difficult, because I almost never use it. That said, I cannot deny that a significant number of games published today have online multiplayer as (one of) their biggest draw(s). It would be unfair to judge games like the Gears of War and Call of Duty series on their single-player campaigns alone because that’s not where a majority of the developers’ attention is. Therefore, I’ll be doing what I can to put money aside for Gold. No guarantees, though.
  • I’ll be grading on a scale of 1 to 10. The higher the better. No decimals allowed, because what the hell’s the difference between a game that’s 5.0 and a game that’s 5.5? They’re both mediocre, so splitting hairs about just how mediocre (or terrible, or awesome) they are seems silly to me.

If there’s one thing I wish I could do with this blog, it’d be my own personal screenshots. I don’t think any sort of description that I could give for a game’s graphics would possibly be better than seeing it for yourself, and of course I’d love nothing better than to tack wacky captions onto my own screenshots. However, I lack the recording technology to do so, so you’ll just have to make do with captures from sites like GameSpot and IGN and videos from YouTube.

So yeah, look forward to that review, it’ll be coming soon after I down MUA2. In the meantime, I’ll try and load up some other subjects that pique my interest.

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  1. Ishkamsha Phoenix
    November 11, 2009 at 9:16 PM

    “I had to stop myself from asking why they wanted me to rank my queue in the first place if they were just going to send me whatever they wanted to send.”
    Why didn’t you? It’s a valid question to ask.

    Regarding I will try to play online multiplayer on applicable titles, finances permitting: Does it have to be /online/ multiplaying, or would doing it with me suffice?

    • November 11, 2009 at 10:59 PM

      Well, the whole point of playing it online is to get a feel for any issues that might be arising with the game connecting to the internet. Lag spikes, etc. We could both play online, but you’ll have to log in as a guest and not as your Ishkamsha gamertag. That is, unless you also want to pay for a Gold membership…

      And I didn’t ask the question because I didn’t think it’d change anything. It might make me feel better, but that’s about it.

  1. November 16, 2009 at 6:55 PM

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