I think that games should be judged alongside other visual media such as film, and not as products. There are many elements to a game that can be ranked on an objective scale, and the task is to decide which factors the readers of the review will want to know. Judging a game within the context of its intended audience and possibly its genre should be important; even the graphics/story should be valued by keeping in mind the question of whether or not these things add to the gameplay. I think that audiences should be divided into ages, and also by the platform of the game, as this is usually suggestive of the demographic; i.e. a game for the Nintendo Wii will often be aimed at families and a PC game aimed at an older demographic. Those things such as graphics and visual elements are all subjective, people have different opinions on what looks nice or what is or isn’t necessary, but I believe that gameplay can always be judged as good or bad. This could be done by assessing how effective the gameplay is at conveying the designer’s intentions and how enjoyable it is for the player. Issues such as how immersive the game is, or if the rules are consistent can contribute to this. Length and re-playabilty should also be considered; though the genre of the game should be taken into account, e.g. an MMO or linear narrative.
I found the examples of New Games Journalism rather interesting, as it does make the exclusive task of reviewing games accessible to any player. I like the fact that the opinions of the reviewers are going to have less bias, but I would personally prefer to read a magazine article which directly deals with the various parts of the game. My own experiences involve reading several different reviews to see what kind of rankings the game of my interest would receive, and generally anything in the 6-10 area I’ve enjoyed, even if my opinions on the specific elements vary.
I stopped reading game reviews in printed media a while ago, mainly due to the price for a small coverage on maybe 1 or 2 games out of the many the magazine would review, most of that information I could find for free on the internet. Professionally published reviews [online or printed] can easily sound like promotions rather than unbiased opinion, and even though all opinions contain some amounts of bias, I think it’s wise to read more rather than less if you’re looking to become informed about a game and make a decision on whether or not its worth buying. To become more engaged with the review, media like video is useful for showing examples of specific features by demonstration rather than description, which I think may become even more popular in the future. With the prices of games, researching before investing is becoming more important than ever.
Not particularly surprising, but I like to look at the stuff on Gametrailers, Gamespot [though less than before since they lost a lot of rep], IGN and pictures on Famitsu.