Unfortunately, Metacritic has a large influence on the industry. It's sick really. Take Persona 3 for example. The original scored like an 85 average. People like me and you then went and played the game and found it to be in a class all of its own. Metacritic reacts when FES releases and the game goes up 2 whole points to an 87, despite receiving heat from the fans that the second episode lacked any story 'til the end. Then the PSP version comes out and scores a miraculous 92 when all they did was change the MC's gender and open up a couple new social links.
Basically, what I'm trying to say is critics are pandering to the vocal minority. Just look at Modern Warfare. The original was a huge success, then the sequel came out and received major flak from the online community, but casuals still ate it up. Metacritic didn't have time to adjust as the feedback came after release and all the broken mechanics became widely known. But you can bet they took notice when Black Ops released. And even then that wasn't enough and fans began to protest.
Critics have no idea what to score a game. They want to hop on the bandwagon, and try to score games accordingly. That's why FFXIII was "poorly" received here in the west. When XII came out, a vocal minority protested the changes. It was all over forums. They were ragging on it at every opportunity. Critics took note despite the fact that they were just that... a minority. An extreme one at that as most fans actually loved the game. Too late, though. Critics used it as an excuse to bring down XIII despite all the positives.
I remember playing it when it first came out, before all the backlash. I thought the game was exquisite. Definitely one of the finer points of the series. While I wish they added more choices and paths, I was happy they took out the towns. They were simply just not that exciting. I'm playing through VII and am bored out of my mind wandering through Slums 5-7. They all feel the same and the citizens don't offer much to the story.
With X and XIII, the team was smart enough to cut out the extraneous and get right to the story. VII's story was fairly good and even intense at some points, but the towns really brought it down. That said, XII made the best use of towns as it actually added value to the story and setting, but I still didn't see why XIII caught so much flak for cutting them out. I imagine most of the citizens would have ran away anyways as they were all l'Cie. I would've hated listening to 1000 different variations of the same dialogue.
Before reviews started coming in, I was a part of a group of five who played the game so we could share our notes with the rest of our game design group. I found the experience riveting throughout and hardly took a note, save the mental ones I made in my head. Once we all finished the game, we met back up and shared the notes. We had all agreed it was one of the best games we've played in recent memory. We encouraged the rest of the group to pick up a copy and play the game. And then the reviews started rolling in. It was as if we played an entirely different game. As a result, I believe the hate for XIII is actually just another vocal minority.
Whatever, I wish my words had an impact on our online community, but I doubt it. People should play games for themselves and never look to other people's opinions unless they agree with a particular critic (and cut down with the hyperbole). I can't wait for XIII-2 personally. I don't think the story will be nearly as good, but it looks like they improved the gameplay without sacrificing any of its creativity that I fell in love with.
Thankfully, Metacritic doesn't seem to have a huge influence on FFXIII-2. I believe the moment artists take note of critics (read: too much) they sacrifice everything personal about the art form, and they turn the industry into a well oiled machine. Hence the West becoming the Holy Land of FPS's.