Chris Dahlen has an interesting post up on the issue of cheating in video games, in particular whether game reviewers can (or should) cheat. Of course, anyone is capable of cheating their way past a tough spot, but should reviewers be held to a higher standard? Dahlen points out that reviewers who admit to taking shortcuts or blowing past extra features or side quests tend to cause people to throw a fit; on the other hand, is galloping through a game at a blinding pace good for anyone, reviewers especially? Is there any hard and fast rule for this sort of stuff?
Here's what it comes down to, for me: we argue a lot about what game critics "should" or "shouldn't" do to be worthy of writing their review. But the most important thing in judging a game is to figure out what makes it fun, and then try to enjoy it for what it sets out to do .... Sometimes, you have to stop rushing and just not finish the game in order to actually enjoy the time you spend with it. Other times, if you're driving yourself nuts over one stupid puzzle, it's worth cheating your way around it - which is what a lot of your readers would probably do anyway. In trying to decide if it's "okay to cheat," I'm basically down to my core philosophy: you should just figure out how to have fun with the damn thing. And if you can take that fun and distill it down to a letter grade, you've got yourself a review.
I don't really care if a reviewer cheats on a puzzle or two, but if the game is maddeningly frustrating, it would be nice to have that noted.
Can Game Critics Cheat? [Save the Robot]