The dictionary defines the word objective as “expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations.”
By that definition, the term “objective review” is an oxymoron.
Yes, much like leprechauns and unicorns, objective reviews do not exist. And even if they did, you wouldn’t want to read them. Don’t believe me? Here’s an objective review of a recent fighting game that can be used as a template for any future release:
This game is called BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. It is published by Aksys Games and developed by Arc System Works. It costs $59.99, is rated T, and was released on June 30th. It is on a disc for play on Xbox360 and PS3. There are twelve selectable characters and online versus play.
There you go. A 100% objective review of BlazBlue. Not a single statement made above can be disputed as being biased or open to debate. Of course, there’s also no information about how the game looks, sounds, or plays, i.e., the factors that ultimately help you decide whether it’s worth your money. What would be the point of reading multiple reviews like this? They would all repeat the same useless information.
Objectivity does have its place in reviews. It’s crucial for the facts and features of a game to be accurately reported. However, that’s only half of the responsibility.
A good review should have the reviewer’s viewpoints concisely articulated with solid evidence to support them, instead of words frivolously typed for the sake of color and personality. It should also spark thoughtful introspection over differing opinions, instead of angry dismissal simply because a score was deemed too low or too high.
Most importantly, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, a good review should be the beginning of an open dialogue between yourself, other gamers, and other reviewers, not the end. It’s within that dialogue that experiences are shared, ideas are exchanged, misconceptions are cleared up, and gaming literacy is expanded. And with any luck, all of that leads to more savvy individuals who can recognize a great game for themselves and will settle for nothing less.
Of course, a good review could also lead to message board flame wars where accusations of fanboyism and homosexuality are flung around. That’s just a delightful side-effect.
Just be sure to duck when the bile is spewed your way!