Often when looking to buy a game I look up not only critic reviews, but comments from everyday users like you and me.  We all do it.  While the critics can give an overall “point scale” view of the game, it’s often family, friends, and even common folks on the internet who sway me one way or another on my purchase.  That’s why XBLAFans reviews games as though it’s a recommendation from a friend; we want you to know whether to buy, try, or skip it.

Still, there’s one thing that bothers me: when people don’t actually demo a game.  On the one hand there’s the age-old comment “I tried it for like two minutes and shut it off. The game sucks”.   On the other hand there’s the “Dude, I really wish I’d tried the demo first.  I’m out 800MSP and there’s no refunds on this crappy game!”   So what’s a person to do? The answer is simple: actually try the demo or trial.  Spend more than a few minutes in the game, and for heaven sakes, don’t make your buy or skip decision based on no-to-little time with the trial.

Developers encourage players to try their games

More and more you see trial versions of XBLA games allowing players to do more.  Take Monday Night Combat for example.  The original trial lasted a good 30 minutes, giving plenty of time to get a feel for the game and make an educated decision.  But with a recent title update to the game the trial time was extended, giving a full 60 minutes for players to make up their minds.

Achievements can carry over

So the game meets up to your high standards, great.  But before you back out of that demo consider making the purchase then and there.  The achievements unlock which saves time and effort.  Considering how far some trial versions allow players to go, this sometimes leads to over an hour of gaming and 2-4 achievements unlocked.

Online is a go!

Another thing to consider when trying a game is the online component.  I’ve yet to see a game with online multiplayer that doesn’t have it enabled in some form in the trial.  Can’t find quick matches in a search?  Ask an Xbox Live friend to get the trial so the two of you can see how it stacks up.

There’s no reason not to

So many games allow us to play through a good portion of it before making up our minds, so why don’t we do it?  It’s free gaming, after all.  Take the opportunity to put a trial through its paces.  In the end usually  less than an hour is lost, and the decision made will feel much more solid.