Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Sifter3000, 25 Apr 2009.
Concentrate on gameplay, graphics are all well and good but come second to gameplay in my opinion.
It depends on the game really. Reviews of games like Crysis should include a section about graphics. But most games today are a (more or less crappy) port from a console, so hardware demands and graphics are more or less the same anyway. Plus most people do have the hardware to play on highest settings. So you could just say "similar to game xy" and be done with it.
It might be a different matter when the next generation of consoles come out and games start to be demanding again though...
Graphics aren't, and shouldn't be, the be all and end all of game reviews. Sure they're important to a degree, but I think they have become less important to me in the last year or so. I'd like to hear about graphical glitches and anything that is wrong with the game in that respect, but if a game has good graphics, then just say they're good - they don't need much more saying about them than that. Much more important, in my opinion, is how you feel the game plays, how much fun it is, how hard it is, whether multiplayer modes are up to scratch, and just a general opinion of the gaming experience, that sort of thing. That's what will sway my decision on whether to buy a game, not a detailed description of how good the game will look on my screen.
As for console games, I don't mind seeing reviews of those, certainly not the bigger console exclusives, as I do own a PS3. But I'd still like to see more of a slant towards PC games, as I'd always buy the PC version of a game given the choice (even with all the warnings of the demise of PC gaming), they are generally graphically superior, after all.
Yeah I think that pretty much sums up my opinion too.
I think you should still have graphics settings reviewed, but rather than every single setting, have a go with the high, medium, low presets? Just a broad overview of the scope the settings can afford would be useful, it'd be good to know how it runs on the review machine (and the specs of that machine too, come to think of it).
Basically just a broad idea please.
Could also be worth noting which settings have a high performance hit for next-to-no perceptible difference, and vice-versa
But basically yes, keep graphics in the reviews, but not too much of it.
EDIT: and mention any obvious missing settings, such as the far too many games lately that have no AA at all, forcing you to mess round in the graphics driver control panel to try and force it on.
Broad overviews of graphics presets are crucial. Not everyone can run every game at highest settings, despite the fact that this is an enthusiast-oriented community. In the case where a graphically-demanding game comes out, I think you owe it to your PC-oriented readers to do some sort of analysis, for the purpose of showing people with lower-end or higher-end systems what they can expect the game to look like for them. Obviously every screenshot officially released has tons of AA and AF on, and the highest settings are ticked, and Photoshop has made it look a bit nicer than normal as well, but if you're just using a mid-range PC from a year or two ago and can't crank everything up, it's nice to know whether or not the game will still look okay.
For example, you recently reviewed Riddick on the PC. The texture and post effects comparison are very, very useful, because they show that users who just hit the game's minimum requirements will be stuck playing something very ugly, whereas if you simply have to turn off post effects, you may not be missing that much. Focusing on either presets or the most important settings for overall image quality (i.e. shaders in Crysis rather than shadow resolution) is where it needs to go.
I've always enjoyed bit-tech's reviews, compared to a lot of other sites, even if the gameplay discussion isn't always quite as in-depth. I think you've carved out a niche for yourselves as catering to a specific PC audience with your game reviews, and you should keep doing that, but just be mindful of the importance graphics play in a game and that you don't need to post comparisons of every little setting.
I quite like to get an idea of how good looking a game is, however personally I think it's a bit of a flaw to just use the "low", "medium" and "high" settings, as such this gives us no clue of how well it will play on our own systems, and at the end of the day I assume that is what we are interested in.. "how good will this look on my system".
I know this will add more work (as opposed to less) but would it make more sense if you gave us the settings at which you can play the game on the systems you suggest in your monthly buyer's guide? This way I think we would have a much better chance of figuring out how the game might look on our own systems.
As mentioned by someone else, when a game like Crysis (or any other PC only or PC centric game) comes along with a respectable amount of configuration possibilities, it is always worth writing about the settings. Obviously, not every possible set up should be discussed, as this would be silly and a waste of time.
Using Crysis as an example, Very High, Medium and Low settings should be applied across the board and then the differences discussed and shown in pictures. Maybe some AA if it really makes a difference (but I'm sure ost of us know what the differences will be like anyway).
Overall, what I am saying is that where it matters, it is definitely worth doing a section on the graphics. But with the console ports etc, there are usually so few settings to change that a simple "The graphics are excellent/good/average/mediocre etc" would be more than enough, along with a short list of what can be changed.
I always love reading the graphical analysis parts of reviews, as it gives me a greater appreciation of the work that not only you, bit-tech, put into reviews, but also the developers making the game. If a game scales very well along with graphical settings changes, then that is surely worthy of mentioning and goes a long way towards making a game great. Just look at the Source engine; it scales excellently, and that only improves my opinion of Valve and the games they make, since everyone and their nan can enjoy them.
I think the only time a deep look into the graphics is required when a new, significantly better engine comes out, Crysis needed that attention because that's what all the excitement was about, same applies for Bioshock, as that was the first game on the PC (i think) to really show off the power of the Unreal 3 Engine. I didn't think an in depth look was needed in the Episode Two review or L4D review as we all knew what to expect from Source, despite the upgrades
You should concentrate on the graphics engine only when there is actually any hype that this game is going to look good. If the game has been waited by gamers for its gameplay then concentrate on it, if its physics concentrate on physics and so on. Just follow the hype of games.
If there is no hype for a game, keep doing what you do, it's more than good enough already
I think you should talk about how well the game plays on different hardware, ie does the game still "feel" the same on low end rigs? I've got my decent setup now, but others haven't.
it's more than decent tbh ,,,
a while back somebody wrote a great post on how presentation is more important than graphics. it basically sums up my opinion on reviewing graphics. the art and design of a game is more important than how sharp the edges are. don't knock the graphics unless it actually takes away from the gameplay.
i also agree with jenny. testing the game at 1024/low on a high end system to see what the low settings look like isn't much use, but testing the game on a dual-core and 8800gt to see if it's still playable would be quite useful.
that should be *fewer* spelling errors. Tsk!
Graphics aren't everything, but it would be nice to hear how stuff runs on a medium spec machine from say 12 and 24 months ago. Not many people have the very latest hardware that often tends to be used in graphics comparisons making them of limited use. Giving a view on older machines would also give the bit-tech review something unique that other reviews don't capture.
I like your games reviews as-is. Most of the games I play go trough the same way:
- change keyboard settings,
- verify that screen resolution is my screen's native,
- just check if game automatically set low/med/high settings,
Simply I don't have time to change one setting, check if it looks better (means - if I can see this ) and if I still can play on this setting. Bit-tech's reviews show specific options, performance impact and how much changes on the screen. To say it short - you make me to fiddle with some options
As was said already - it would be great to know what hardware is required to play on specific set of settings.
Oh, and please don't forget to write about game playability. I didn't check all the games you've reviewed, but bit-tech usually says what every player says about a game (this includes me ).
P.S. Joe, FarCry 1.3 patch review wasn't a patch review - it was a technology review In my opinion such articles are really worth their time, if there's a real breaktrough or at least someone tries (as with 1.3 patch - it was about to bring real HDR, but it was... erm...) you should write about it.
Agree with most of the above:
Graphics are important but should only be described in length if there is anything wrong with it. I don't want to hear for every shooter how amazing the new detail for faces is ["YOU CAN SEE EACH HAIR IN THE NOSE!!!!!1111one"] but if there are many clipping problems or slow-downs in console games [WTF?!?!] then please feel free to tell me.
Other than that, as mentioned, focus on how a game feels. The "The Path" review was a great example of how to make a game review fun while still telling you all you need to know.
Again, for that, Joe.
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