About Our Reviews
Reviews are inherently subjective and we don't try to hide that fact here at GameXplain. Our reviews are not an objective take (as if that were actually possible)--instead they reflect our reviewer's personal stance on their gameplay experience. These reviews are not intended to reflect the opinions of the entire staff or even of the site itself, but only those of the individual reviewer. The purpose of this is to combat the sort of "review-by-checklist" trend that has become so popular recently. Games are not just a list of features; quite often, the whole is better than the sum of its parts (although sometimes the opposite is true).
GameXplain uses a simple 5-star system, with no half-stars. Why only 5 stars? We believe a scale of 5 is adequate to convey our gut feelings on a game without breaking it down to arbitrary distinctions. Unlike some other outlets, we plan to make full use of this scale, with the scores breaking down roughly as follows:
5 Stars = Awesome
4 Stars = Great
3 Stars = Good
2 Stars = Meh
1 Star = Terrible
Remember, this system is intended to represent how much we enjoyed playing each game. Because of this, you'll never see us rate a game highly simply because it is technically proficient or because it has a robust feature set. First and foremost, we are looking for games that provide players with an enjoyable experience.
Have you ever read a review and wondered where the hell the reviewer was coming from? Yeah, we have too. Our goal with Background Check is to provide a glimpse into the reviewer's history and stance on games similar to the one being reviewed. We do this so that the reader (that's you!) can determine whether the review might be applicable to them or not. Specifically, Background Check focuses on the reviewer's experience with games in that same franchise, by the same developer, or of the same genre.
Now we don't believe it's necessary for a reviewer to have played every game in a particular series or genre before writing a review, just as not every gamer is able to play every game before making a purchasing decision. And that's the entire point of Background Check, to provide an at-a-glance rundown of whether the review may be applicable to you. For instance, if we were reviewing the latest Zelda game, Spirit Tracks, and stated that we liked Majora's Mask, but disliked Twilight Princess, the reader might be like "well, I loved Majora's Mask too, so maybe he's right about Spirit Tracks" or "the reviewer disliked Twilight Princess?! What's wrong with him! Well, he's probably wrong about Spirit Tracks then..." We don't pretend to be "right," we merely wish to convey our subjective feelings within an appropriate context so that you can be more informed on where we're coming from and why.
Now everyone has genres that they like and dislike, and we here at GameXplain are no different. This is why we simply won't assign a review to someone who is incapable of liking a game within that genre. For instance, if one of us just can't stand simulation sports games, then naturally that person won't be reviewing the next MLB game.
Another difference between GameXplain and other publications is that we give games a separate score for both single and multiplayer. Far too often, singleplayer-focused games are penalized for having a shoddily thrown together multiplayer mode or visa-versa. We view our separate scores as a way of better representing both developer intent and the end user experience. If a game is geared more towards its multiplayer modes, why should the overall score suffer just because the singleplayer mode wasn't up to snuff? In addition, many gamers purchase games with the sole intent of only being either single-player or multi-player (such as Call of Duty). A single review score is completely meaningless to both of these groups and offers little insight into whether the game is worth their money.