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I think Gamespot needs to take a second look at reviews that either don't jive with their community's consensus, or, more importantly, don't jive with the community's utter lack of consensus.
Like many gamers, I visit Gamespot to get the latest news about anticipated new releases and information (or at least links to information) about games, platforms and hardware. But arguably the best and most important of Gamespot's work goes into the critical reviews of new games. In my estimation most Gamespot reviews have been conprehensive and fair, and I put a good deal of weight on such reviews when making (terribly important) decisions on which games to purchase and play. Of course, not everyone will agree with every point of a review, and opinions will naturally verge on the finer points of a particular game experience or genre. We often see the exasperated commentary below a bad review. Fans of a panned game alternatelypuff up the gameorimpugn the reviewers intelligence, while others vouch for Gamespot. Sometimes we think a score is too high, sometimes too low. We like it when our own beliefs are confirmed by others. Tastes differ. This is to be expected.
While it is also fun to read a scathing review of an ignominous dud of a game, what excites me most is hearing what will be said about a game that has received (or widely expected to receive) a high score, because that's much more likely to drive my purchase. However, a high Gamespot score alone will not sell a game to me, nor, perhaps, to any sensible person. This too is to be expected. Once I've ticked the "high Gamespot score" box in my mind, I next want to see what the rest of the community says about the game in question. If it largely reinforces the Gamespot opinion, my decision one way or the other feels justified. If it largely disagrees, then I'll have to dig a little deeper for the quality community reviews to see if someone can cogently "overrule" the Gamespot score.
The third and most disturbing possibility is that there is no agreement at all about a game's quality or about the review score it has received: I'll call it a "bi-polar review". This is when there is almost no middle ground of agreement about a new game. Roughly half the population loves it, and the other half roundly condemns it.It's one thing if the community score is a 7.0 because everyone gave it that score. It's something else when the 7.0 is a result of half of them giving a score of 3.0 and the other half a 9. This almost never happens. But when it does happen, I think it would be useful for the wise elders at Gamespot to take a second look (feel free to create a new segment and call it just that: "Second Look!") and try to tease out the middle ground. Gamespot owes it to the publishers and to its readers to provide us with enough information to make an informed judgment about a new game, and a "bi-polar review" lacks that information.
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