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What to play

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So people are playing more video games – but with dozens of titles released each month for consoles, portable players and PCs, how are people deciding which games to rent and buy?

The answer of course is reviews. In recent years most news outlets and gaming websites have hired in-house video game reviewers to play new titles and give their opinions. And while it will be a while before the video game world has its Ebert and Roeper, video game reviewers are quickly building their own followings.

With the sheer number of titles out there, the fact that games cost three to four times as much as movies, and the fact that people often have more than one gaming system, reviews may be the best tool you have for determining what to buy.

Rotten Tomatoes game review section is new, but give it a look anyway at www.rottentomatoes.com/games/ .

A more experienced place to go for reviews is GameSpot ( www.gamespot.com ). All games are professionally reviewed, then assigned a score out of 10 based on an aggregate of reviews from actual players. There are also screen shots, movie trailers, interviews with game programmers, and more.

The reviews, although presented in a confusing way (why are Overall and Highest Ranking lists different?), are fairly comprehensive and you can usually find all the top selling titles at the top of the lists. You can also find almost any game title using the search engine.

Another key site to keep in mind is IGN.com ( www.ign.com ). This is a comprehensive entertainment site with movies, music and more, but video games have become the main focus. It’s a lot like GameSpot with a mix of professional reviews and reader reviews, and games are once again scored out of 10. There is also an Editor’s Choice section, message boards, and more.

For another Rotten Tomatoes-style approach, visit Game Rankings at www.gamerankings.com . Judging by the high rankings for soccer, this site probably has a large following in Great Britain.

A neat site to check out is The Video Game Critic at www.videogamecritic.com . Not only do they have reviews from all the current titles out there, they also have reviews for almost every video game ever created, going back as far as the Atari 2600.