I’m sure this has probably been mentioned here before, but I recently stumbled upon the Computer Gaming World Archive, and I’ve been having a blast reading through old reviews of some of my favorite games as well as developer interviews at the time, etc. Thanks, Jeff - and pass on my thanks to whomever else it should be directed.
One thing hit me pretty early on in my reading that I thought might be worth discussing here. It’s how reviews have changed over the years. The Ultima II review, for instance, was as much (if not more) about how to play the game as it was about the game itself. There was little to no critical examination of the title, either. I think we’ve made great strides in reviews compared to the Ultima II review, but compared to Scopia’s review of Ultima VI, for example, we’ve taken quite a lot more steps backwards.
She talks in detail about the gameplay and mechanics, improvements to the series, downsides to this or that, etc…and then she goes into the plot and the rest of the game and how it all fits together. We so rarely see any of this type of examination of a game anymore that it bothers me a little.
I realize that space is a large concern, so long verbose reviews are out. Still, I would love to see a magazine that offers full critical analysis of the games it reviews.
I’m not saying it’s all the journalists’ fault, however. Maybe there’s less time spent on gameplay mechanics today, as an example, because so many games play so much the same. There’s not much to talk about between the gameplay mechanics of FPS X and FPS Y, after all.
So which is it? Have the games themselves moved us towards the thumbs-up/thumbs-down review pattern we’re in now, or has the changing marketplace of gaming periodicals and the perceived demand of the public had more to do with it?
Thoughts? Opinions? Piercing barbs of hate and consternation fired at my heart?