A word of advice that most of you probably know already.
When I went out and bought my nice shiny XBox a couple of years after the system was released I made myself a vow. "XBox games are expensive", thought I, "and I don't have an awful lot of time to play games so I'm going to make sure I only pick the very best games to play".
To aid me in my search for only the very best games I enlisted the help of www.gamerankings.com to help me out. That site collects game reviews from all over the place and collates them into one handy overall rating. There's also a stats organiser that lets you find out what the top 10, 20, 100 games are on Xbox (or PC or whatever).
So, for the past couple of years I've resolutely only been buying games that are in the top 20 XBox list on game rankings. The only exception was Brian Lara Cricket and I figured that was allowed because not enough US outlets would review a cricket game to give it a fair rating. But I own one other game which, when I bought it, was in the top 20 but which has now plummeted to position 42 as of time of writing. That game is Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30.
I only heard about BIA by chance. I'd wandered into a shop in search of something not-at-all game related but the shop happened to sell games and had a big advert for the soon to be released BIA game in there. I don't know why that particular advert caught my eye but it did and when I did a little research about the game I caught myself salivating with desire. Combining FPS action with small unit tactics in a genuinely well-researched historical setting? Ooh, suit you sir!
But I stuck to my guns. When the game came out I clocked up the rankings on www.gamerankings.com and sure enough it was top 20 material so I snapped it up. And I wasn't disappointed - I loved the game. It's the best game I've played in years and certainley the best I've played on the XBox - only GTA3 and Halo come close. I still love it so much that I'm dragging myself through the game on "authentic" setting which is absurdly hard and, with no save points, a horrific excercise in futile repetition. But I don't care about that because I love playing the game so much.
The point of this long-winded entry is that had I come upon BIA weeks after it's release and found it languishing at number 42 on the all-time list I'd likely never have bought it and missed out on a fantastic game. So now I've decided that my rule is worthless and that if I like the sound of a game I should buy it - providing of course that it's got a fairly decent overall rating, maybe 75% or over. On the flipside there's a couple of well-regarded games I've bought that I didn't get really massive enjoyment from - Crimson Skies for one. Top Spin for another. Neither sounded like they'd be really outstanding games for me but because they were highly rated I bought them anyway. Both were good fun, but I'd still rather have been spending my time playing BIA. Or Brian Lara for that matter. Shame neither was available at the time.
But this leaves me with another, horrid dilemma: I now have no useful criteria for thinning out the games I want to play! The BIA sequel Earned in Blood I'd originally rejected due to it's slightly lower ranking (position 70) but I enjoyed the first game so much that it's back on my wants list. but I don't have time to play it! The new Call of Cthulhu game sounds unique and I'm a Lovecraft fan but I don't much like the sound of all that trial-and-error adventuring, it's not a style I'm fond of. So do I buy it? Far Cry: Instincts is another game that sounds great but got mixed revews, so what to do?
Come back www.gamerankings.com, all is forgiven!