CGM: No longer "subscriber for life"?

This discussion is one of the most inane I have perused in quite a long while. Let me see if I can summarize:

  1. Complaint that CGM no longer lists the publisher’s minimum specs

  2. Complaint that CGM no longer tests games on many different configurations and lists performance specs

  3. Assertion that the reader should be informed as to how the game will run on his/her machine

  4. Assertion that the technical specs are a deciding factor in a game review

Let me begin with issue #1. The magazine no longer includes information which can be found on the game’s web site, the game’s box, and in a multitude of other places. This is no big loss, and certainyl not a deal-killer.

Regarding issue number 2, I fail to see the relevance. If the game specs listed on the box are not accurate, then you are implicitly requesting that CGM test the game on many systems and give a performance review. Pardon me for being obtuse, but is performance the number one issue in deciding if you should purchase a game? I, for one, would rather have a more in-depth report on other factors, such as how enjoyable the game is. Battlefield 1942 suffered from horrible performance, and this was mentioned in the review. I didn’t need the extra space to tell me that, yes, my 1.4GHZ cpu and gForce 2 MX would probably not be running the game at 1280x1024 at 200fps. But the review also claimed it was an incredibly enjoyable game, and I had a great time playing it.

In addition, this breakdown of systems and performance requires two things in short supply: Time and Space. If knowing that Unreal II runs at 47.6 FPS on a 2Ghz processor with X details and Y card costs me a review on a game that is off the beaten path, I do not want those details. If the extra space taken up for the chart cuts 200 words, I do not want it. If the space is instead taken from one of the non-review, non-preview articles, than do not even THINK about putting it in. Issue #3 above goes hand-in-hand with this problem. There are things that are much more important to me than performance statistics, which can be found on any given gaming forum.

All in all, I question the amount of angst some people are displaying about the lack of either platesting the games on various setups (which is never done, and is patently a waste of time) and listing the publisher’s recommended hardware (which is a joke and a waste of space).

Besides, I would much rather read a 5 page article on griefiers in MMORPGs than a table detailing the framerates of XIII on our 15 test machines.

So while we are requesting changes in CGM’s format, I’d like to ask that even more columns are included that contain commentary, rather than publishing a giant advertisment for upcoming games like so many other news magazines (and websites). Because I really DO read it for the articles.

What. The. Fuck.

Nowhere has anyone ever suggested that a reviewer test a game on 15 individual setups. No one has demanded that game mags test the exact minimum required system the publisher suggests. No one has required a 100% warranty that a specific game will work with a specific setup. The only thing more ludicrous than demanding those things is the hyperbolic strawman arguments you game mag defenders are tossing out. “We’d need Ft. Knox to pay for all those systems and the NORAD Mountian Complex to house them all!” Whatever. We’re talking about a 1 column inch table, perhaps one paragraph in the body text, not a full page spread on Deer Hunter’s frame rates.

What DTG said was that he had previously commended CGM for it’s recent format update, but after seeing the loss of the system req information, he was less impressed. Half the board responded “But it’s useless info no one ever needs!” Hrm… DTG seems to have wanted it.

So what if I can find that information elsewhere? If I’m running over to a publisher’s web site to find out the min reqs, then I might as well hop on over to gamerankings.com to see the reviews, or gamefaqs.com’s message boards to get an idea of community buzz. A quick stop to FilePlanet gives me the demos that apparently are supposed to replace one line of text in the body of the review, so I don’t need the magazines’ cover CDs. If you’re pushing readers away, why the hell should they come back to you? You do understand that there’s damn little that magazines provide that isn’t already available in the web?

I’m amazed by the hostility you guys have towards anyone who dares suggest that performance on less than cutting edge systems be considered in reviews. Even though “a 1.4 GHz Athlon should be able to run EVERY game out there,” a Commodore 64 can emulate a Cray supercomputer, as long as you don’t care about speed. I guess what I’m trying to say is that system performance effects game enjoyment. I’m sorry, but, in reference to Halo, “You’d think a high-end PC could handle such a game easily, but this port, which was done by Gearbox Software, is surprisingly taxing even on very fast PCs with tons of RAM and the latest video cards,” doesn’t really tell me anything useful about performance on lower end systems. In fact, all it does is convince me to stick with the Xbox version because it’d be a slideshow on my PC.

BTW - Just to backtrack for a second:

I went and looked at the book review section of the NYTimes, the Christian Science Monitor, and Amazon.com. Each lists the number of pages. When I typed in “book reviews” in google, the reviews in four of the top five results include the number of pages, and the one that didn’t reviewed books in the span of one paragraph apiece.

The analogy to reviews films in other theaters and reviewing different versions of a book isn’t valid. But if watching a movie in a old theater meant that it would run at 5fps instead of of 24fps, or if reading the paperback meant that you have to turn off adjectives, then those things would be valuable information that would be expected to be included in the review.

As I’ve said, I stopped reading gaming mags long ago, and for reasons not related to whether or not minimum specs were listed in the review. But if you want to know what would really entice me to buy computer gaming mags again, I’ve got two words for you. Shoot Club.

Clearly I’ve entered an alternate reality where game engine performance has no impact on gameplay or enjoyment. I’ll get Riff working on his Dimensional Flux Agitator post-haste.

How amusing. To those of us with analytical capabilities, this would seem to indicate that performance on a machine that is not a very fast PC with tons of ram and the lastest vdeo card would be, in a word, abysmal. It seems apparent, nay, blatantly obvious that on an older machine, it would run even more slowly.

What information, exactly, are you wanting? The quote shows that Halo runs like a dog. Do you want FPS? In that case, I would like them to tell me how fast it would run on my system. Also, I would like to know how it will run on my friend’s system. And my grandmother’s.

The truth is apparent; if a game has unusally high or low performance, it will be mentioned in the review. If it has average performance, there is no need to mention it.

Do I amuse you!?! :wink:

Yes, it would seem logical that way, but to listen to all of the “we don’t want to give out information” crowd, you can always trim down the frills to get decent performance even on the min spec system. So the question is, how much game to you get when you pare it down to the bone?

I suggest playing demos because it’s really the only absolute way of knowing how a game will run on your system, regardless of how detailed a review might be.

And I certainly don’t think I’ve been hostile, just a bit baffled at what, exactly, you want. Maybe you could give an example so we have a better idea. My previous post was just to point out the futility in trying to empirically show how a game will run because there are so many variables to test for.

I hate to keep beating this dead horse, and I apologize in advance, but here goes. I have no idea where you got 1 through 3 from my posts. But yes, I agree with #4. How can the technical performance of a game NOT be a deciding factor in whether or not to buy a game? I have decided NOT to buy several recent games because my system probably could not run them. But CGM rarely helped me make that determination.

Example: This month I have before me reviews of Halo from PCG and CGM. (side note: I subscribe to CGM, but I was traveling today and picked up PCG at the train station). The CGM review simply states that “…Halo also has some significant performance issues. It’s at best sluggish and at worst downright unplayable during big action scenes, even with bleeding-edge hardware…”. That’s fine, and helpful. But what has Steve determine to be “bleeding edge hardware?”. A P4 2GHz? 3 GHz, 4 GHz? What video card?

The PCG review has its small box on the side that says the “recommended” system is a P4 2.6GHz and a 128 MB 3d video card. Furthermore, it provides a paragraph describing framerate issues with 2.4 GHz and 2.0 GHz machines with GeForce3 and Radeon 9700 cards. Now I know for sure not to go near this game. I could infer that from CGM’s review, but why should I have to? If the CGM review just said in a side box “Game reviewed on: P4 3.0 GHz, 128 MB Radeon, 512k RAM”, I’d have a frame of reference in which to put CGM’s rather vague statement.

I don’t think PC information is worthless. I think it should be a fundamental part of writing about the topic of PC games. But if the magazine is going to just preach to the choir of hardcore PC gamers, then maybe it is worthless for that audience. Some of you have said how this is all such a non-issue, and how ridiculous it is to want this info. I think you need to realize that not all readers live and breath this stuff. I’ve played PC games since 1986, albeit a whole lot less now that that pesky life thing has sucked all my time away. I honestly don’t know if my PIII 800 with a GF 4 will run Tron 2.0 - - and I don’t appreciate being made to feel stupid because I don’t know. I’d like the review to let me know without having to be privy to some secret language of some elite club.

Anyhow, great job on everything else, CGM. (And, I guess, PCG too…I haven’t read that mag in a while, maybe I’ll start picking it up again)…

No, you are not. While I upgraded about a year ago to a Geforce 4 4200 card, my processer is still a PIII 600. So far, I can still play everything I want to play.

However, I may upgrade soon, just to finish Gothic 2 “maxed out”. But even now I’m still playing it at 200%(max is 300%) except in Korinis.

Up until a couple of months ago I was playing on an AMD 750. I always checked minimum requirements on games before playing them. Why does everyone always think gamers are going to have the fastest stuff? That stuff costs money. I still have a middle-of-the-road machine now. I don’t plan on upgrading until 2005 unless it breaks down and I need something new.