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What’s actually being reviewed? The Game or The Box?

We all read reviews. We want other people’s opinions on a game before we spend our money on it. It makes sense. There are times where we play a demo, and that is more than enough to sell us on the game. Other times we rely on experts to tell us what they think of the game, touch on the high and low points, and pump out a point or star score. A lot of reviews will include text that are Pros and Cons, Good and Bad, + and -.

What I have a problem with is, WHAT is being reviewed? The Game or the Box?

A very recent example is GameSpot’s Review of Dead Space 2. The Xbox 360 version received an 8.5 and the Playstation 3 version was rated a 9.0. If you compared the text, the only difference is the inclusion of Dead Space: Extraction (previously a Wii exclusive). Now I know that the Xbox 360 version of Dead Space 2 has 2-discs and that might even warrant the 8.5 score. But to rate the EXACT SAME GAME a lower score just because it includes an extra game should not factor in to the final score. It should be noted like it is in the review, but it has no bearing on the game you’re reviewing.

I mean if you’re going to start reviewing games on what it comes with, why stop there? Why not review the achievements or whether it can support a custom soundtrack? Obviously trivial things like that for a videogame review, but just as meaningless as rating a game because it has a bonus game. Yes, it has a greater value but it doesn’t make Dead Space 2 THE GAME any better or worse for it. Dead Space 2 alone is what should get reviewed, anything extra is just that – extra.