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By its own admission, PC Gamer is Britain’s best selling PC games magazine and its easy to see why. At £4.99 it may seem a little expensive, but there are always 1 or 2 Cds on the front cover which are packed with the latest game demos as well as being plenty of reviews and useful information inside which makes it worthy of the price when compared to some of its less worthy competition. The magazine is split up into 6 main sections, those of First Look!(news of games which are in the very early stages of production), Previews(a look at some games which are soon to be released but have only had the beta version tested), Reviews(reviews of games which have already been released), Hardware(reviews of gaming related hardware add-ons for the ultimate PC gaming experience), Tips(hints, tips and cheats for all popular games) and Regulars which covers numerous regular sections including such thigs as reader’s letters, games charts classified sections etc.
Weighing in at £4.99 it may seem a little expensive but for this you get over 160 pages of gaming info and either 1 or 2 Cds packed with the latest games and patches which in my view makes it worth it - and the competition is pitched at around the same price anyway so there’s nothing to choose between them really.
This is the major reason for purchasing this, or any other magazine like it and therefore this review will concentrate mainly upon the quality of it as opposed to the others, it is also the section to which most of the magazine space is devoted. I like the way the reviews are laid out here. Each is accompanied by loads of screenshots and some good honest advice on the product which lets you know in no uncertain terms whether the reviewer liked the game or not - and why you may feel the same or indeed disagree completely. The text is always black on white, or vice versa with none of that writing over a picture nonsense which some other gaming magazines try to use which often makes the review difficult to read. These reviews are written in a no nonsense fashion, telling you exactly what you need to know about such things as genre, playability and who it would appeal to as well as giving an honest opinion on system requirements - which are usually against the manufacturers own specifications, these often being pitched at the bare minimum requirements to play the game no matter how blocky the graphics and jerky the animation. There are some gripes though. Each game receives a final percentage score out of 100% for its overall quality and appeal, yet there are no separate scores for graphics, sound, playability etc which could have been mroe helpful. Instead you get a comparison chart to similar games with a bar graph to compare against...which I’m not convinced is very helpful. Furthermore, sometimes the reviews are very short, the bulk of the space being taken up by screenshots of the game which although always very helpful, do not always aid decision making, in the same way that a deeper review might. Admittedly, nobody wants to read a gaming magazine which has 2000 word articles on each game, but a little more than 150 words is perhaps not too much to ask.
These gripes aside though, the quality of this section is in general very good when compared to other similar magazines.
Often this section only contains perhaps 1 or 2 games but is still interesting to read. Most is taken up by screenshots as the games are very early in development but there is also information about how the game will play, be styled etc. as well as interviews with memebrs of the production team which are quite interesting and offer a useful insight into whether the game may be of some future interest...or not. To be honest, I feel that they always hype the games in this section up rather than saying wait and see which is a little strange when you consider they have often not played them and are only goin gon the say-so of the production staff and some screen shots or at best and incomplete game.
This section consists of games which are floating around the office but awaiting their full product review. As such, its a like the previous section but with a little more hands-on information, which is often more in depth than the review which follows in later months.
This section consists of a number of reviews of gaming related devices and readers queries on hardware answered and helpful hints on troubleshooting etc. This is a rather small section but the hardware reviews are quite useful if a little short and meaningless, apart from the overall percentage scores, there is little helpful information here, and far less than can be found in magazines devoted to usch matters. But as this isn’t the main focus of the magazine what you get here is pretty good.
This section is split into two main areas, that of Foulplay and Q&A. The former, gives the usual hints and cheat codes for popular games whilst the latter answers readers letters begging for help on specific games. Both sections offer the usual info. and are there fi ou want them, although I have never had cause to use them yet so I can’t really comment on the usefulness of the advice...my advice - get through the game yourself rather than looking for ways to cheat your way through otherwise where’s the sense of achievement?
This section encompasses all the areas of the magazine which are regular miscellaneous features which cover such things as regular quizzes and competitions as well as charts, general computing news and events classifieds and a look ahead to next month. There is a wealth of information in the news section and the sections on online gaming and the best game sin the genre are also very useful. In all, the additional areas of the magazine which fill the criteria for this section are all good, but generally regular features of all other similar magazines - well the good ones anyway.
Overall, great attention to the needs and wants of computer gamers is paid in this magazine covering all aspects and areas of interest to the average gamer. I can’t think of anything missing from the mag at all which is great and it is easily the best of its kind on the market. The writing style is informal whilst at the same time not degenerating into purile nonsense as well as being on the whole entertaining even through the sometimes more serious issues. f you are looking for a magazine which devotes around 99% of its pages to games and matters related to games on the PC then you can’t go wrong with this one.