They very well could be. You see, many people, myself included, only buy games that get good reviews. However, I have bought games that get bad reviews, and, the thing is, they often deserve better. I’m going to pick on IGN a little in is post, but that’s because they’re one of the biggest culprits. Don’t worry, I will discuss other reviewers, but since IGN is the gaming site I use (and love) the most, they’re going to come under a little fire here.
For example, last year, I bought this game called Universe at War. It’s something I would never have bought, had it not been on sale for 1.250 KD, which is roughly four dollars. Anyways, it was made by Petroglyph, and I’d played Empire at War, another Petroglyph game, and I loved it.So I bought the game, and discovered I actually really liked it. It was a strategy game on console that worked. It had a great story and excellent gameplay. Sure, the graphics aren’t the greatest, and the soundtrack is subpar. But, all in all, it’s a pretty fun game. And IGN gave it a six. Had I read the review before buying it, I probably wouldn’t have ended up buying it.
It’s really sad, actually. So many games are underrated by review sites. But it’s not the big titles. All the smaller games will be underrated, while the big games get amazing reviews. Granted, some of those games definitely deserve awesome ratings. Dishonored, Halo 4, Mass Effect 3, to name but a few recent ones. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Black Ops II certainly does not deserve a 9.3. IGN praised every aspect of the game, despite the fact that Call of Duty games haven’t changed anything since the first Modern Warfare. I’ve talked about how much I hate repetitiveness before, so I won’t get into that now.
But, at the same time, they gave Lego Lord of the Rings a 6.8 because it was too similar to all the other Lego games. Yes, I understand that having too many similarities in a game is bad. I’ve pointed that out many times on the case of many FPS franchises. But there’s a lot of hypocrisy there. The hypocrisy levels are off the charts. Let me get this straight. You give Lego LOTR a 6.8 for being too similar to previous games, but you give Black Ops II, a carbon copy of every COD game since Modern Warfare, a 9.3? I really do not understand. At all.
IGN isn’t the only reviewer guilty though. I recently stumbled across a website (can’t remember the name) while looking at Halo 4 reviews on metacritic. So this site gave Halo 4 a 70, which I strongly disagree with, so I read the review. It was a lot of “Halo hasn’t changed” “it does nothing new”. Which isn’t really true. Sure, Halo 4 uses a similar formula to that of previous games, but there’s a lot of change in gameplay as well.
That’s not what irked me though. What really got me annoyed was the fact that they gave Modern Warfare III a ten. They claim Halo does nothing new, despite the fact that Call of Duty hasn’t changed for years.
Another case of an underrated game is Yager’s Spec Ops: The Line. I have reviewed it, and if you haven’t read that review, please feel free to read it. Personally, I thought it was an excellent game, and probably one of the greatest shooters of the past five years. While all the other MFPS franchises (Medal of Honor, CoD, Battlefield) are busy glorifying war, and making it look awesome, Spec Ops showed it to us as it actually is. And reviewers… Didn’t like it that much. IGN gave it an eight, which was lower than it deserved.
The thing is, games that get lower scores from reviewers generally don’t sell as well. The hypocrisy makes me mad, for sure. But some games get a lot less credit than they deserve. Many games, actually.
A prime examples is Star Wars: Republic Commando. Republic Commando is an older game (released in 2005) that follows a squad of Republic Commandos. On Metacritic, it has a score of 78. How that is possible, I’m not quite sure. But it’s portrayed as being “generally favorable”. Well I’m sorry, but it’s more than generally favorable. It’s an awesome game. But because of it’s reviews, the studio didn’t feel it merited the sequel it deserved.
Meanwhile, critics pour praise onto inferior games. Yes, Republic Commando is not without it’s faults. But, then again, games like Battlefield 3 have more faults, and gets better reviews. It’s meta score is more than 10% above that of Republic Commando. That really gets on my nerves. Because now developers will feel encouraged to conform, and make more and more MFPS’s.
Especially new developers and creative thinkers. Everyone who has an idea for a new game will be crushed. Why? Because they run to much of a risk of getting bad reviews. Developers and publishers are to scared to get behind something new. Sure, games like Dishonored offered something (relatively) new, but with a similar formula to other games published by Bethesda. And it did get good reviews.
But then again, reviewers are scared. What would their readers think about them if – heaven forbid – they gave a CoD game a bad review. Both sides are, in the end, scared of the other, as well as the audience. Developers are too scared to take risks, and reviewers are too scared to give big games bad reviews. Creativity is dead, except in indie games and a few AAA games. And, yes, reviews are killing the gaming industry.
The gamer needs to be the judge of a game, not have someone tell them what to think. Reviews do make me mad, but, in the end, I formulate my own opinions about games. However, while many certainly do that, many just listen to reviews. Asa result, they just fall in line and pour money into developers that lack creativity. And we really need something new. Hopefully the next console cycle will provide us with that, and I can’t wait to see what comes with the new consoles.