Edge magazine, the UK’s best games magazine, has undergone a redesign, starting with the December issue.
First reaction: OMG! WTF! The new interior fonts, the block-outs, the sidebars, the review titles…they’ve turned into OPSM! They’ve increased the page count from 130 to 146 pages, and although I haven’t done an exact count, I think that most of those extra 16 pages are advertising. Also, it feels like it’s printed on lighter paper.
Edge has always distinguished itself by looking different than other games magazines. Its sleek, sparse layout and design has matched its editorial ethos perfectly. Here is a magazine that doesn’t apologise for being cerebral, and for not grasping at mass-market appeal. It doesn’t carry a cover disc. It doesn’t carry back-cover advertising. It doesn’t try to review every game that hits the shelves every month. It regularly reviews games that will never be published outside of Japan. It’s a serious games magazine.
Critics of Edge tend to renounce it for being arty, pretentious, and stuck up its own arsehole. True, it is prone to the occasional bout of navel-gazing, but I’ll take that over hasty “exclusive” reviews, publisher hype, and comedy filler features any day.
I understand the urge to redesign as well as anyone. The editorial note in this issue says:
“We haven’t reinvented the thing (which will be a relief to all those of you who’ve written in telling us not to do that–as if we would), but, as we prepare to accept the change that comes with another new generation of gaming hardware, we thought we’d get ourselves into better shape to do it justice. And that’s meant a tweak here, a tuck there, and a comic strip ostensibly about a pudgy little alien slapped on to the end of the letters pages.”
A comic strip about a pudgy little alien? I don’t have anything against game-related comics per se, but…but…FOR ZELDA’S SAKE WHY, EDGE, WHY???
Edge underwent a major editorial reshuffle last year. For an issue or two the quality of reviews and articles suffered (their spellchecker seemed to be out of order), but they got back on track. It is still the only magazine I consistently read cover-to-cover every month, and the only games magazine whose reviews I trust. I can only hope that the editorial direction of the magazine stays the same, and that I’ll get used to the new design.
The throwaway 1000-word review of Half-Life 2 doesn’t fill me with hope, though. It pretty much says, “Wow, this game is really good. It’s really pretty, and all the scripted elements really work well together. Physics engine. Like, wow, man.”
Uh…one of the most eagerly anticipated games of all time, and this is all you can manage, Edge? I suppose it’s also just a coincidence that this month’s issue sees its fifth 10-out-of-10 review score in ten years of publication. (The other four went to Super Mario 64, Gran Turismo, Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, and Halo.)
Benefit of the doubt time. I’ll give it a few months, and see how it goes. I would be extraordinarily sad to see Edge disappear from my reading list.
Update: I just noticed that they’ve stopped writing out the issue number in words on the spine! Noooooooo…..!