This year, I played a game called 3D Dot Game Heroes on my PS3. If you were to believe reviews, it is a game probably not worth playing. Gamespot and Destructoid gave it a 75/100. 1Up gave it a 67/100, and Eurogamer, Edge, and Giant Bomb all gave it a 60/100.
However, I played 3D Dot Game Heroes and loved every minute of it. Not once did I lose interest. To me, it's a great game. But the reviews would say that I should have been disappointed by it.
Later this year, I played a game called Call of Duty: Black Ops. The single-player suffered from a few glitches, but it was the multiplayer that was downright broken. I first played it on the PS3 on loan from a buddy, and then - to see if it was just the PS3 version - I also played it on my neighbor's 360. Both versions were a mess, and I can't imagine how broken it is on the PC.
Yet, this game received a great deal of 9/10 and 10/10 scores, leading readers to believe that this game is excellent and should be played by everyone.
Nowadays, reviews are less about informing the reader and more about getting hits and advertising dollars. As "journalists", those who write video game reviews are obligated to inform their readers about game-breaking glitches, graphical problems, bad gameplay mechanics, and so forth. It's beyond me how 75% of the glitches in video games never seem to get mentioned, as it's beyond me how in the world a broken game like Fallout: New Vegas ever managed to get scores above a 5/10. And then, we have reviews that are poorly researched or even state false information (Gran Turismo 5 reviews are a fantastic recent example).
The inconsistency of reviews makes it even worse. I'll use IGN as an example, since they're so popular around here: their reviews of The Fight and Tumble would make you believe that those games aren't even playable. However, having played both of these games, I am confused. Neither of these games are broken. Not even close. It's their opinion, though, and I suppose they didn't like those games. Oh, but wait. This same "opinion" that dislikes inaccurate controls, lack of content, bad menu organization, and whatnot apparently vanished when it came time to review Kinect's games like Kinectimals, Joy Ride, and Kinect Adventures. These Kinect games suffered from many of the exact same problems the IGN reviewers claimed The Fight and Tumble suffered from, and yet these games get a pass. This has also happened with multiplatform reviews, when in one case, there will be big differences between two multiplatform games (Final Fantasy 13) yet the scores will be the same, but in another case there will be slight differences and the reviewers feel the need to mark one version or another version down a few points. Huh? How can we take reviewers seriously when they pull stunts like that? And when IGN is advertised on Xbox Live dashboard and belongs to Gamestop, it gets even harder to take their views as objective.
But it all goes back to 3D Dot Game Heroes and how listening to review scores could have robbed me of playing one of my favorite games of the year. I'm sure many of you have similar experiences with video game reviews. As gamers, we've been idiots by siding with various reviewers in "teh console warz" and using their arbitrary and useless numbers as our ammunition. Instead, we should be telling "professional" reviewers to shut the hell up and let us gamers enjoy our games. Sure, if reviewers actually reviewed games and gave us important information such as...
- any game-breaking glitches?
- is the online mode smooth?
- roughly how many hours of content is there?
- are the controls sloppy?
...we'd be inclined to lighten up. But reviews are covering these topics less and less.
"Professional" reviewers need to wake up and do their job. Yeah, I know that's really tough to do when Konami is flying you to a private playing of Metal Gear Solid 4 or when Microsoft is handing you free video game consoles, but if reviewers want gamers to take them seriously, then reviewers need to start taking their job seriously.