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Windows Phone 7 App of the Week: IGN

Date: March 12, 2011
App type: Entertainment
Publisher: IGN Entertainment
Release date: December 22, 2010
Price: FREE
Phone features used: Data connection, web browser, RunsUnderLock

Download IGN using the Zune PC software

People will occasionally ask me where I turn for tech advice, and the truth is, it's a pretty short list. I trust a small cadre of friends and associates for technical issues, some of whom you know--Rafael Rivera and Ed Bott, for example, both experts in their respective fields--and some of which you don't. I trust Laptop Magazine--and only Laptop Magazine--for hardware reviews. And I trust IGN for video game reviews.

The video game field, indeed much of the tech enthusiast community, is a disaster, dominated by foul-mouthed, juvenile minded simpletons with lots to say about subjects that often don't deserve any attention. For a short while, I had hoped to provide a respite from this behavior in the video game market, and while I do still provide at least several video game reviews a year--a new one is coming next week, actually--I've slowed down a lot since the first couple of years of the Xbox 360's life cycle because it's just too time consuming, and just too far outside the core mission of this site.

And that's where IGN comes in. IGN provides news stories, previews, reviews, and other content for video games, movies, TV shows, and other topics that are, as they describe it, interesting to 18 to 34-year-old men. I don't care about most of that. But what IGN does do well, very well, is review video games. And this is an area where game fans of all ages (and, I think, sexes) should be paying attention.

Unlike most video game review sites and publications, IGN steers largely away from kiddie-speak and foul language, and instead focuses on the actual game play. And that's why I love them, and follow their Xbox 360 reviews, in particular. They're on the web, of course, but with the advent of smart phones, IGN is also available in mobile app form. And the Windows Phone rendition of this app is a good example of what is quickly becoming the norm on this platform: The same content but with the superior Windows Phone Metro user interface.

The IGN app for Windows Phone presents a multi-pane interface with several useful content columns. The first, Platforms, segregates its video game content by platform, as you'd expect. Available platforms include Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (PS3), Wii, PC, Nintendo DS (DS), and PlayStation Portable (PSP). (On iOS, the IGN app also provides reviews for iPhone, iPad, and Mac games as well as Android and PlayStation 2, for some reason.) There aren't any Windows Phone game reviews, yet, though that would obviously be a great addition.

Dive into a category--I use this app almost exclusively to find good Xbox 360 games when, often when I'm in a Best Buy or other electronics retailer--and you're presented with a nice, color-coded UI that specific to that game machine type, with Reviews, Upcoming, Editor's Choice, and Top Stories panels marking the Xbox 360 section of the app.

Individual reviews include a similar multi-column experience, with About, Review, Videos, and Help panels, the latter of which will typically include cheats, codes, walkthroughs, guides, and other useful information. It's kind of a one-stop shop for all your video game needs.

IGN's video game reviews are thorough, of course, but they're also usually good reads, which again is unusual for this market. They're also usually pretty long, and interspersed with screen shots, and if that's still not enough, most new games will also be accompanied by a nice selection of videos, which include strategy guides and explanations of how to get specific Xbox 360 achievements.

The other columns off the main UI consist of Top Stories, Daily Fix (a short video overview of the latest news), Reviews (the latest reviews across all platforms), and Upcoming, which lists the next several important video game releases, linking to associated information. For example, next week's release of Homefront for the Xbox 360 includes information about the game (About), a preview, and a pretty large collection of videos. Once the game is released, the review will be added, along with other associated content.

If you're looking for an adult guide to highly-rated video games, and like me you often want this information when you're standing in the store, staring at a box and wondering if the contained title is any good, IGN is the right choice. I've used it for years, starting on the iPhone, and it's never let me down. In fact, it's prevented some poor purchasing decisions. We have a winner.

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