Gamespot's new (awful) review format

Gamespot’s review of All-Pro Football 2k8

With poorly written reviews, I often skip to the end of reviews and read the closing paragraph. Gamespot appears to think that the way to fix this is to bring the last paragraph to the top and add a bunch of “cute” icons that only nominally effect an individual’s thoughts about the game. I think that a well written paragraph can express more about the essence of a game than a clump of brightly colored icons and a bulleted list.

I hate it. Either hire better writers that can make the entire review worth reading, lower the word count so that there’s less filling, or both! Whatever you do, please change it.

GameSpot’s had those two “Good” and “Bad” paragraphs for a long time, the only new thing here is the icons.

Personally, I think Gamespot has set the bar. Again.

Their new system reflect a lot of feedback from the gaming community. Just do a search on these boards and see how often people gripe about the straight number system. At least under their new review model, you can, at a glance, figure out not only what a game’s score is but also the good and bad elements that were factored into deciding that score.

The review you posted is a classic example of how this system works. Under the good, Gamespot praises APF 2K8 as having “an exciting, highly realistic gameplay engine…” An under the bad, they criticize the ads, the recycled commentary from 2K5 and the lack of features.

Well, I think that’s a fair summary. As a consumer who really enjoyed 2K5, but really didn’t get into the “crib” or “franchise mode” or most of the extras in the game, that review tells me that I’ll enjoy it more than the reviewer did - and I do.

And in fairness, while I have had some gripes with Gamespot’s writing (by habit, I can’t help but criticize the writing of others), on the whole, the writing on the site is not only well done but head and shoulders above most other gaming websites.

Bottomline - I guess I don’t understand how you can dislike there being a summary for a game at the top of a review rather than at the bottom. If you want to relish the writing, read the review in its entirety.

Really Jake? Gamespot sets the bar by putting little icons next to a summary they’ve already been doing for 2 years now? You have a pretty low standard of excellence.

They would in fact be setting the bar if they improved the text of their review so that it was so informative and entertaining to read, that you wouldn’t want to skip it. People like Tom Chick and the majority of the folks over at Eurogamer and Edge are in fact setting the bar, not Gamespot.

By your standards, Cliff Notes are setting the bar for literature.

I really kind of like the icons, they seem like a fine way of distilling down the main pros/cons of the game. Obviously you will never get criticism that way, just reviews, but I think that is all Gamespot is shooting for.

It could allow some interesting data mining in a few years to see how much (if any) correlation there is between certain common praises / complaints and the effect they have on review score.

If, and only if, you can figure out what the cute li’l icons mean. The hover tags are blocked by my office’s security settings and GameSpot hasn’t seen fit to provide a legend.

Jeh-sus. Take deep breathes and try to be less angry.

To state the obvious: I wasn’t referring to icons.

I’ll certainly check out Edge and give Eurogamer another try. Maybe they’re better. Maybe there are a number of smaller sites that delve into reviews like Woodward does a story.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that for a site that produces the number of reviews that it does, as quickly as it does I can find nothing better than Gamespot. Like most people here, I own multiple systems and so I’m not just interested in consoles, but in consoles, PC titles, handhelds and mobile games. Gamespot covers all of these and has find a way to not only produce quantity but to do so without sacrificing quality.

I was personally fond of the separate scores for Graphics, Sound, etc.

There was nothing angry in my post, some I’m not sure what you’re getting at Jake. My point still stands that tacking little “achievements” on your reviews to appease the lowest common denominator of your audience who can’t be bothered to read isn’t setting the bar for anything other than mediocrity.

The icons are definitely stupid, I can’t figure out what purpose they serve, other than to look kinda cute and make the user do annoying mouse work to see what they mean. Icons only work as a concept when the user is working with them constantly, for something like a game site they are just needless obfuscation.

I mean, compare the icons to just writing out their meanings:
The Good: Radioactive microphone, stack of xbox controllers (or possible a controller animating downwards)
The Bad: AD, spilled ice cream cone, construction sign

The Good: Great Sound, Strong Multiplayer
The Bad: In Game Ads, Half Finished, Disappointing

The icons could only be better/helpful if the user was intimately familiar with their meanings, which most users never will be. Back in the dark ages of the web, all kinds of sites tried doing their navigation as icons (with text that came up on rollover – aka “mystery meat navigation”) – it’s pretty much the same bad idea.

That said, the good/bad format is nice, and I think Gamespot is definitely one of the better review sites. Comparing them to Edge is totally not fair. Don’t get me wrong, I love Edge and think it’s worth my pricy subscription, but it’s pretty much half a insider trade magazine (notice all the ads in the back for industry jobs?). Gamespot has a much more general audience in mind.

I like the idea behind the icons, but they need to be better-designed by someone who understands iconic communication.

I think it would be great, once you are used to what all the icons mean, to just look down a big list of games and see that summary for each one (no words).

I am with angrycoder and Deathmonkey. I wish instead of a clear concise list of the good and the bad, I was forced to read a 300 page novel by the reviewer where he encodes his views on the game within metaphors of the novel.

Kids these days with their want for clarity…

Yes! In the inevitable future when all games are made by EA this will perhaps finally be possible.

Again - if you don’t like the icons, skip 'em. Read the review.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with a summary at the top of any document I have to read.

My only problem with the icons is that they give a horrible first impression. It’s like somebody recommending a book to you and when you open it up there’s a full color cartoon picture on every other page: once you know there’s meat there and that the pictures can be ignored, you’re fine. But chances are you’ll never get that far.

Yeah, but when you need a rosetta stone to read the summary.

I like the summaries, but would prefer a quick blurb; “Bad points: Over-active AI makes the game overly difficult” is much better than a picture of an electric chair I need to mouse over to see it.

Agreed. I also find it a little annoying that the icons sometimes don’t match the summary text. See link at the top for an example of this.

But on the whole, it’s a good idea that needs to be tweaked.

Who the hell reads reviews?

Icons rule.

I like the icons. My hope is that it lets the review skip some of the common stuff instead of wasting a paragraph talking about advertisements, for example. Use the review to say something interesting instead of paragraphs and paragraphs of the same old shit.

Now if only Gamerankings would translate all reviews into icons!