Vladerag's Blog











For every good game out there, there are two bad ones and for every fantastic game out there, you have three good ones.  You should never buy something merely good, and should never rent something bad, but the odds seem stacked against you, as by this logic there are six bad games for every fantastic one out there.  The trick is recognizing which one is which, and before you actually sit down to play them.

So how do you do that?

The first part is to know yourself.  Regardless that IGN rates it a ten, if you hate puzzle games, dont play Closure.  If you know what kind of game you are looking for, you are going to have a much easier time at finding it.  Each game is defined in a certain class, almost its own species, and each species has several sub-species, which have even smaller branches themselves.  The better you know what you want, the more likely you are to not feel the pain of sixty wasted dollars.

For example, if you know you like action, you should decide on whether you want something fantasy/swords based, sci-fi/shooters based, or perhaps fist-to-fist combat.  For the sake of the example, lets say you chose shooters, but before you pick a random one off the shelf, delve a little deeper into it.  Shooters can be devided pretty well along the line of stealth, namely whether or not stealth is a factor in gameplay.  Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six Vegas II all have significant stealth elements.  A stealth/shooter game usually means that your enemies can kill you pretty quickly, that enviorments will be complex perhaps with multiple paths to your goal, and that you will often need to think of strategies and then modify them on the fly.  This is great for the more tactical player, who prefers to take everyone out quickly and quietly, like they were never even there.

Alternatively, you might decide to go with something more loud.  Left4Dead, Battlefront, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor rarely have stealth elments in them, and are generally not optomised for it, so dont expect to sneak through the levels and dont expect silenced weapons.  These games are often fairly linear, you are often affored more health than stealth types, and while some tactical thinking is useful it is more about quick reflexes and acurate shooting.

These two game types are pretty easy to identify, so you shouldnt have a problem deciding which one to play.  Without going into too much detail, here is a quick list and description of some of the more common types.

Shooter/stealth – It is all about killing quickly, quitely, and without being seen.  Tactical thinking is more important than brawn, and dont expect all that much health and ammo either.

Shooter/action – For the people who drown their enemies in lead.  You can think tactically, but generally all the tactics you need are an automatic and reflexes.

Fighting/wrestling(w) – Toe-to-toe mash ups.  This genre is more than just wrestling, also containing UFC as well.  Its all about punchs and kicks, not much thinking involved and you are limited to fighting in a small arena.  The (w) distinguishes this as the western style, the kind that doesnt have superpowers involved.

Fighting/wrestling(j) – Like UFC combined with the X-men, punches, kickes, and super energy plasma cannons.  Dont expect reallity and have some fun.

WRPG – Western-style Role Playing Game.  Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, etc.  Extremely open enviorments, you can often choose to do whatever you want, whenever you want.  The Elder Scrolls Series in particular is noted for that, since you have no real need to follow the main quest if you dont want to.  Great for people who dont want to be held down to a particular storyline, or just like to spread chaos.

JRPG – Japanese-style Role Playing Game.  Tales of the Abyss, Final Fantasy, etc.  Much more linear than their cousins, the wrpg, jrpg’s generally have closed fighting systems.  Meaning that unlike Skyrim, where what you see is what you fight and where you are is where you do it, jrpg’s often use the monsters only as models for groups that may contain many monsters and take place in an almost arena like area.  They focus much more on the combat aspect of the game, and a lot less on choice.

Those are just a few, but doing some research on what type your favorite games are may give you insight into some more types that would interest you.

Ok, so you know what you like.  But how to choose from the torrent of games in each genre?  It isnt like you can play each game ahead of time and see which one is best after all.  Fortunately, you dont have too, because the people at sites like IGN have already done it for you.  There are other places besides IGN, but IGN is a very reliable source of information, and the reviews they write are top notch.

When looking at reviews on sites like IGN before you do anything else, skip to the end and take a look at how they scored it.  IGN rates games across several aspects, presentation, graphics, sound, gameplay, and lasting appeal.  They then give a score which represents how well the game was overall, and keep in mind that it is not the average of the other scores, but rather a sum of its parts type deal, representing the entire experience. 

If the game is less than a seven overall, dont bother with the review, it isnt good enough to merit the attention and only read the ones from seven to eight if the game looks interesting to you.  You want the best, so look for games in the eight to ten range, with ten being the most perfect game that the reviewers at IGN could have hoped for. (at the time of its release.)  A quick note is that IGN gives out tens very sparingly, with only a few games every taking that title.

If the overall score is good, check the other scores too.  The important ones are presentation and gameplay, as these are the ones that tell you how the game feels and how the game plays, good scores indicate a very playable game, you want to look for eight to tens in this range as well.  Scores less than eight indicate that the game may have stellar graphics, sound, or some innovative feature that warrant its overall score.  Nevertheless, in general you are probably not interested in just looking at pretty pictures with pretty music if the gameplay sucks.  The reviews are helpful besides the scoring as well.  They can alert you to difficulties in controls, graphics, or gameplay that might not be enough to hurt their rating but are still annoying nonetheless.

Reviews are great, and a fantastic way to check a game before you buy it.  At the same time, they are no the end all and be all.  Some of my favorite games have only merited low sevens, even though I throughly enjoyed them.  Which brings us to the concept of a demo.

Demo’s are possibly the best of all for learning whether or not a game is for you.  Since you actually get to play a sliver of the game, you get the best chance to see how it plays, what it looks like, and whether or not you want to buy it.  If a demo is available, you should always play it before you buy a new game.  Of course, that isnt always an option.

When considering buying a game, it is also a good idea to check who makes it and if it is in a series.  If the game has eleven titles, then that means it sells.  If it sells, it is probably a good game.  They wouldnt make it if they couldnt sell it.  By the same token, the “they” is pretty important, as it also will show a track record.  Bioware, Bethesda Softworks, and Blizzard have been making best-selling hits for years and they know what they are doing.  Anything they make will likely be quaility work, if not fantastic.

The second to last test is looking at the package itself.  By this time, you should be practically sold on the game already, since you would have researched it pretty thourghly, but it never hurts to take a look at the package.  Read some of the stuff on the back, check to see if it requires special things for the full experience (like a PS move or Xbox kinect), check to see if it requires an online pass, and double check the descriptions on the back.

Finally, you are at the counter, prepared to lay down some hard earned money to get some well earned rest and relaxation.  There is only one final thing that you should do, ask the clerk.  The people who work at Gamestop know the games fairly well, and can tell you if this game just sold was rated highly by reviewers but low by the actual buyers. 

If it all checks out, congratulations on your new game.  If not, well, consider that at least you havent wasted money on something that makes you want to rip your hair out.

Renting isnt a wholly different animal.  The same things still apply, except that you can lower your standards a bit and take a chance.  Services like Gamefly can allow you to try new things, without major consequences.

Still, why waste your time if you dont have too?

Again, it is important to know what types of games you like, and what you might be interested in.  If you like Battlefield III, you might like Rainbow Six Vegas II, or try Deus Ex: Human revolution for a taste of the sci-fi and rpg type genres.  Dont try and jump from one to other in one go, you might regret it.

Reviews are a good way to decide as well.  You have much more leeway when you arent buying, but you still want something better than a six.  IGN recommends that you only play games from seven to ten, and in their description of ratings, declares that some of the lower rated games are painful to play.  Something rated less than five can be compared to moonshine, it burns and will make you blind.

Unlike when you buy games, demos are of no use in renting.  For the time it takes to download, you could just rent the game play for an hour, and then send it back if you dont like it.  Dont even bother.  Similarily, there is no clerk to talk to, and no package to check. 

Honestly, if you feel you need a second opinion after the description offered and the review, it probably isnt worth the time.

You should pretty much avoid everything that doesnt pass these tests, because some of the games on the trashy side of the scale really are painful to play.

Happy Gaming.



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