I'm an analytical guy. I like numbers and statistics and using them to compare things directly and find relationships. For the past 72 first hour reviews I've assigned each game an overall score out of 10 along with scores on specific categories like gameplay. This was useful for me because I could easily think, "if Game A was a 6 and Game B was an 8, and Game C's first hour is better than Game A's but worse than Game B's, then that means it gets a 7." And I could look at all the games I gave a 7 (a lot) and see game's with decent first hours and all was right with the world.
Of course, there is a certain vocal minority who like to complain that this game got a 2 or that I shouldn't just review the first hour because it is unfair, and I actually started thinking about my review process and asking myself some questions (not just because of these guys, though they did get my thought process going).
Is a number really useful for scoring one hour of gaming, let alone five numbers?
What is it that readers are really interested in? A number or my real thoughts?
What would be useful for developers or publishers actually making and releasing the games?
I've come to the conclusion that assigning a game a number between 1 and 10 or 1 and 100 or A through F is simply not useful to anyone. Sure, it's great for starting flame wars and other pointless discussions, but deep down, I believe readers come to the First Hour because they're honestly curious about a game. Does me giving it a 7 help them at all? Probably not. But does me saying I would actually continue playing the game help them? I think so.
I started looking around the web for different review styles and came across a few that I liked and didn't like. I'm really not a fan of sites like IGN and Gamespot who ramble on for four pages and then end up assigning the game a number like 7.9 - what's the difference between 7.9 and 8.0 anyway? But the reviews I did find extremely useful were from sites like Kotaku and Gamium where they lay out very simply their likes, dislikes, and conclusion. They're easy to read and actually informative.
So starting now I'm going to be moving away from my IGN style reviews and start moving towards Kotaku's, at least for first hour reviews. No more numbers but hopefully at least as much informative text as before, now laid out so it's easy to understand and consume. You can kind of get a taste of things to come in my DS M-rated Blitz, but the reviews will be much more informative forthcoming.
Thanks for reading and I hope you stick around at the First Hour.