Editor’s note: “Wild Bill” Stealey is chief executive officer of iEntertainment.I have been looking at all the good review sites on the Internet.

There are some really good ones many with very different views of what makes a good game.

Having received great reviews and bad reviews, I have a pretty good idea what effects the review a game gets. The attitude of the reviewer, the types of games the reviewer likes, any advertising that is done with the review site, and any personal relationships greatly figure into what the review score will be.

Reviewers are just normal folks, and they all have their favorite games, their favorite companies, and their favorite development teams. I have seen games that are not very good, but get good ratings because the company is big and the company provides some perks to the reviewers.

When we had a big company, MicroProse Software, we made it a point to visit every major review source personally a couple times per year. We could take them out to dinner and a movie (I remember being embarrassed at a rock concert one of our industry friends wanted to go to. Turned out to be terrible. Sometimes it was a real challenge to do schmoozing right! LOL!)

Small companies without big budgets or big reputations are always held to a different standard; their games are generally better than their reviews. The bigger companies generally get a bit of a break for their reviews. It is the way of the world in almost any industry.

Sites to check out

Generally by checking out many different reviews you get a picture of what the reviewer’s attitude is, and what makes a good game for that reviewer.

I have read reviews of our games that were just wrong! Our games have always required a significant learning curve. (Flying a Jet fighter is not normally something you can jump into.) I always believed that our players missed out on more than 75% of the neat features we tried to put into our games.

(I have been playing WarBirds III, our online simulation, for seven years. I just learned how to take a flight of B-24s and have them all drop simultaneously on the target! Very helpful.)

Here are some of the sites that I go to in order to get a sampling of reviews of games.

1) Gamerankings.com
2) Gamespot.com
3) HappyPuppy.com
4) Avault.com
5) GameSpy.com

Some of the sites that are not big corporate sponsored sites but really fan sites run by some pretty hard-core gamers include the following.

1) www.WarGamer.com
2) www.Worthplaying.com
3) www.Gamershell.com
4) www.Gameshark.com
5) www.Gamezone.com

Many of these sites require you to sign up for a free account. Some of them have premium accounts to get a few bucks from you every month. Many of them are trying to sell you games or send you to a retailer from which they get advertising revenue or a commission from your sale. Signing up is up to you, but I have signed up for them all and it does not seem to be an issue.
It would be interesting to have our readers help me rate all these sites.

If you have a favorite site or think the reviewers are better at any of these sites, please email me.

Best of the best

Here is my list of the military games that are getting the best reviews and the best hype. I have tried to give you two suggestions in each of the following categories. I will use the PC version as the version I have looked at. Most of the X-Box and PS 2 versions are similarly rated. (If you see one on the list that you think is not as good as the PC version, please let me know!)

  • First person shooters
  • Real Time strategy games
  • Simulation games
  • Sports games
  • Best of the rest
  • I will put together a list of the “Game Oscars” for all of you to lobby and vote for during the real Oscars in February and March 2004. If you would like adding to this list, send me your suggestions.

    1. First person shooters

    a. Call of Duty from Activision
    b. Medal of Honor Allied Assault from Electronic Arts
    c. Halo: Combat Evolved from Microsoft

    2. Real Time Strategy

    a. Command and Conquer: Generals from Electronic Arts
    b. Rise of Nations from Big Huge Games
    c. Warcraft III, The Frozen Throne from Blizzard

    3. Simulation

    a. Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight from Microsoft
    b. IL-2 Sturmovik: The Forgotten Battles from Ubisoft
    c. WarBirds III from iEntertainment Network and Wild Bill!

    4. Sports Games

    a. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 from Electronic Arts
    b. Madden NFL 2004 from Electronic Arts

    5. Best of the Rest

    a. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic from Lucas Arts
    b. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time from Ubisoft
    c. Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark from Atari

    Be safe, be proud, and take care of business!

    Cheers, Wild Bill Stealey, Gamer, Aviator, Lt. Col. USAF Retired, CEO IENT.com

    IENT: www.ient.com

    Send email to jwstealey2@aol.com