At a certain point in my life, I became incredibly picky about where I get my fighting game coverage and reviews from.
Don’t get me wrong. I love sites like IGN, Gamespot, Giant Bomb, and Kotaku for their ability to provide news and reviews first. I will go to them to get a sense of what a fighting game’s broader feature set is. I love independent bloggers for being able to provide their personal insight and touch in ways that more generalist sites cannot. Will turn to them for stories about how they had fun with the game or logs of their personal progress in a fighter.
But when it comes to looking for information that will help me inform my purchase on a fighting game, these outlets are not adequate with answering the hyper-specific questions I have about a game. My most recent quests for information pertaining to Samurai Shodown and Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid served as a reminder of that.
During PAX East, a lengthy Samurai Shodown video began gaining traction from one of the larger gaming outlets. While one could take a gauge at how the graphics looked and what the story mode was going to be like, it was useless for me with regards to understanding how the game was going to play. It appeared that all of the matches were against AI opponents, and the person behind the controller was not very good at the game.
Later that day, pro fighting game player LI Joe did a live stream him talking over his gameplay footage from the time he played the game with the developers. The information and footage he shared was much more helpful to me. Due to his lengthy history with the franchise, as well as being a high-level fighting game player himself, he did an amazing job articulating the particulars of what makes Samurai Shodown unique. Without his insight, I wouldn’t have known that the game was purpose-built to be light on combos. Instead, you’re supposed to play much more of a grounded game where footsies is key and your arsenal of moves is mostly of the high-risk-high-reward variety.
With Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid having just released, I scrambled around the web to see if anyone had reviews up. Only found one that was hastily-written and it read like it came from someone who wasn’t particularly good at the game. Watching their gameplay footage confirmed that.
While I don’t necessarily think reviewers have to be the best at the games they play in order to have their voice matter (lord knows I have reviewed and streamed games that I’m awful at) this reviewer’s critique of the game didn’t help me because it wasn’t the type of information I was looking for. Specifically, I was looking for information on how the game played, which wasn’t really discussed in their review. Instead, they focused entirely on the game’s paltry feature set. While I agree with their issues on that front, it still failed to answer my specific questions about the game.
Though it was a live stream put forth by the development team behind Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, I got way more of the information I was looking for. With pro players like Clockw0rk, Shady K, and Justin Wong leading the demonstration (while all also pro fighting game players themselves), they went incredibly in-depth on the game’s mechanical nuances. It was more than enough to show me that the developers of the game took the time out to make a game that at least played well for the competitive crowd, even if its budget looks may be a turn-off and its feature set may be limited.
Odds are, there is no one stop shop for all of one’s gaming needs. Everyone will cover a subject a different way, and it’s up to you to find the voices that speak to you the best. For fighting games, I heavily lean towards the opinions of pro players and genre-specific sites like Shoryuken and EventHubs. Who do you turn to for your gaming coverage and reviews?
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