Thursday, July 10

What's in a 10?

The recent spate of high scoring AAA titles has me perplexed. I've played a few of them...

GTA IV (98 by metacritic, 79 rated by 'us')
Bioshock (96 by metacritic, 87 by 'us')
Oblivion (94 by metacritic, 87 by 'us')
Mass Effect (91 by metacritic, 87 by 'us')
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (88 by metacritic, 88 by 'us')
Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction (89 by metacritic, 89 by 'us')
MGS4 (94 by metacritic, 91 by 'us')

Yeah, I suppose it's debatable as to whether all the above are in the AAA category, let's just go with critical acclaim for now, okay?

It amuses me that game critics are more generous with their scores than the great unwashed masses. I'd expect the opposite. Fans of the games are naturally inclined toward excessive bias, surely? Games journalists, or whatever they are, are more likely to assess the game in light of such criteria as broad based appeal, or innovation, or even technical specifications. Yet, reading through these reviews, most if not all are biased in some direction or another. Judging by the scores above, one can see that the backlash that all these games and their reviews have experienced is because the games aren't really worthy of the scores given them by games journalists. Except perhaps Uncharted, and RnC.

If one tracks the forums, blogs and gaming sites, it is possible to notice the following trend. AAA game receives massive amount of hype (varies depending on budgets and skills of publishers), anticipation for game grows, critics release previews, then they release reviews, and then the great unwashed gets their hands on the product. Many of the great unwashed agree with the hype engine, but many more, growing as time passes were let down by the industry. Backlash ensues.

This pattern repeats itself time and time again.

How can game critics be so consistently wrong?

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