Often these critical reviews are less to do with the stock levels of the company involved than with a mixture of misfortune and inexperience on the part of the reviewer. If you want to get the best from a rental service, then you need to use a little strategy. No one gets their top choice all the time; everyone gets their bottom choice on occasion. That's the nature of the system. Plan for it.
To go with today's review of LOVEFiLM, I've put together a few tips that should help maximise enjoyment and value for money when using an online games rental service. (Plenty of the tips apply to online DVD rental, too).
- Only add games to your list which you really want to play. There's a temptation to bung anything which sounds half-decent into your rental queue. Resist. By all means, try something new, but choose carefully.
- Don't add games you know you won't like. Which sounds obvious but... I've never got past level three of any game with Tom Clancy's name on it and yet I keep being impressed by great reviews and gorgeous screenshots. I keep renting them. I keep getting bored. I'm going to stop. (T.C.'s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 does look good, though. The reviews are great and the screenshots look gorgeous...)
- Rent more than one game at a time. Three is a luxury but two is essential. Otherwise, if you rent a game you don't like and send it back straight away, you'll have nothing to play for a week or more.
- Play one game at a time. Finish a game, send it off, play the next while the Royal Mail does its thing. You really don't want to keep swapping between two games, finish them both early on a Thursday evening and have nothing to play until Monday at the earliest.
- Try a new game as soon as you get it. Yes, I know this contradicts what I just said but it's the single exception. If you don't like a game then it's important to find out and send it back as soon as possible. Don't wait until you've got another game finished and sitting on the shelf ready to post.
- Never give a game a second chance. If a game hasn't got you at least interested within five minutes then proceed with caution. If it hasn't got you hooked after an hour or so then it's just not going to. Don't leave it a few days and try again - put it back in the envelope and get something else. There's no point playing a game that spends its entire time promising to be good at any moment when you can swap it almost painlessly for something that actually is good.
- Don't add games just to make up the numbers. You'll need to add a certain number of games to your list to activate your account. If you can't manage this then don't bother renting. However, if your list drops below this level later on, don't panic. Chances are that nothing bad will happen except you'll have to wait an extra day or two for them to have one of your listed games in stock. This is less time than it will take for you to receive and send back a game added to your list for the sake of it.
- Buy more consoles. As a housedad, time is limited, so why waste it playing rubbish games? Convert the money you save from renting into a new console. This way you'll have a wider choice of quality exclusive games.
- Finally, whatever you do, don't give the kids any indication you've rented a game they might be interested in. They will want to see it. Then they will want to play it. Then they will want to keep it. This cannot end well.