Mastering the Art of the Blind Buy

After slaving over and consuming all of the reviews/previews/etc available for every game I was interested in purchasing, I started getting the same feeling I get when I watch a movie trailer that’s way too revealing.  By the time the game actually comes out, I know what the game’s “beats” are, and I knew exactly what to expect.  Sure, I was more informed and knew that the game was worth a purchase, but it left me with a shallow experience with the game in the end.

Being so well informed made the game’s flaws ever more apparent.  Perhaps something that would have been a mild annoyance or perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed at all becomes the main thing on display because I read four different reviews that points out the same flaw.

Sometime last year I decided to say fuck it, and started purchasing and playing games using the same criteria I used to when I was younger…I went with my gut.

The first game I tried this new approach with couldn’t have been a better choice; Batman: Arkham Asylum.  It’s pretty much a given now that the game is awesome, but before its release, Batman: AA’s anticipation amongst fans was positive with a heaping dose of pessimism.  Seeing as there hadn’t been a great Batman game…well ever, gamers had every right to feel that way.

So I literally went into the game blindly, I didn’t wait for any reviews, and didn’t read any hands on impressions.  All I had to go by was the very first screen shots of the game and a gut feeling that told me the game might end up being good.

It couldn’t have gone any better.

Batman: Arkham Asylum became one of the biggest surprise hits of last year and I couldn’t have been anymore blown away by it because I had no clue what the game had to offer going in.  All of the added touches, gameplay wrinkles, and story elements were experienced for the first time through my own two eyes instead of someone else’s…it was fantastic.

Since then, I’ve taken this approach with all of the games that I purchase.  Obviously some games have more hype than others or are part of an already established franchise so it can be easy to spot a good game, but this approach has led me to play quite a few games that I loved that had disparate opinions amongst the gaming press and some that ended up having positive reviews unbeknown to me at the time.

Games like Ghostbusters, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Spider-man: Shattered Dimensions, and (a game I just picked up the other day and still need to crack open) Cursed Mountain get their due without me knowing exactly how each game will disappoint me once I start playing it.

Not only that, but this method keeps you spoil free!  Experiencing Batman Arkham Asylum and God of War III’s opening with virgin eyes was a great experience.

It’s also backfired a few times (thank you Prototype and to a much lesser degree Final Fantasy XIII) but more often times than not, this approach hasn’t steered me wrong.

I know that some gamers will state that games are expensive and that not everyone has the luxury of taking chances like that with their hard earned dollars and I can totally respect that.  For my money, opening a game and loving, liking, or hating it based on its own merits and solely on your own opinion makes it a risk worth taking.

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4 Responses to Mastering the Art of the Blind Buy

  1. Jed says:

    I think this is somehow connected to a feeling that it is you who finds the game, you are not just following the current flow of AAA-titles, but the experience you get is somewhat self-created. I agree, totally. I have been following gamepress for something like 15 years, always keeping attention to what the great games are, their pros and cons and their scores. Currently I dont care, maybe I check the metascore, but thats about it. Personally I can just look back at games I liked, and learn that its not as easy as saying “I always like the games with a high metascore”

  2. I know what you mean. I try to avoid comic reviews also, until I’ve read something. Same with movies – I actually refuse to watch trailers.

    As it goes I just pretty much check the metacritic percentage to make sure that something isn’t an absolute bomb and then dive in.. if my gut agrees.

  3. John Nieves says:

    That’s some pretty good insight. I think finding the game without someone telling you how good it is gives you an extra sense of ownership over your experience with it.

    Metacritic can be a pretty good tool to use in that manner.

    There’s other alternatives that I use as well. If it’s too much of a gamble, I’ll use either Gamefly or Goozex and play the game that way so I don’t commit a $60 purchase.

  4. Kello says:

    Hey John, my friend Marc from the “With Great Power” blog sent me this link and said you’re interested in finding a site that talks about comics.

    I just started a blog called “Legion of Losers” and was wondering if you want to be one of the authors. Check it out over at http://wearethelegion.blogspot.com and let me know.

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