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Are game critics even trustworthy anymore?


Niobium

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i believe i have come to a point where i can no longer trust mainstream game critics. i think i lost count of the amount of times nearly every game critic praised or criticized a video game when the entire fanbase has the exact opposite reaction to that game.

 

let's start with a game like... mass effect 3. when mass effect 3 came out, almost every reviewer gave this game a positive score, but very few of them even mentioned the atrocious ending. the ending that was so bad that fans petitioned to get it changed and bioware was forced to make a patch that wasn't even enough to fix the ending's writing.

 

then there was GTA V. when this game first came out, nearly every game critic was treating this game like god's greatest gift to earth and giving this game near perfect scores. but a large portion of the GTA fanbase were disappointed and felt like the game did not live up to the previous games in the series such as GTA san andreas and GTA IV. (in fact, fans resentment of this game only grew as time went on, with sh*t like GTA online, forgetting about single player DLC, going after modders, and the announcement of the PS5 port)

 

fast forward to today, and we have the last of us 2 getting near perfect scores from mainstream game reviewers while the fanbase is hating on this game's story because of the poor pacing, treatment of fan favorite characters, bad ending.... what the hell is going on.

 

and now we have fans loving the new remaster of spongebob: battle for bikini bottom because it stays true to the original, while mainstream critics are criticizing this game for the very same reason. what the f*ck.

 

it seems like game critics aren't the only type of critics that aren't trustworthy anymore. i no longer trust film critics either. everyone loved the new joker movie while film critics did not. film critics heavily praised the newer star wars films while fans hated them.

 

for the record, i do not believe mainstream game critics are giving these kinds of reviews to "push an agenda" or "spread SJW propaganda" or whatever. that's bullsh*t. the reason for them giving positive scores to games everyone hates is quite simple: they've been "bribed" in a way. if they give a AAA mainsteam game a mediocre or negative review, then they will no longer receive copies from that publisher before the release date, they won't get invitations to their events, and the publisher won't buy ads on their site.

 

the only game critics i trust nowadays are the ones that aren't mainstream game websites. people like jim sterling, angry joe, and videogamedunkey are more trustworthy, because even when i disagree with them, AT LEAST they are honest with their opinion. but with mainstream game sites like IGN, gamespot, PC gamer, and others, they act less like reviewers and more like mindless shills for the mainstream AAA game they are praising.

Edited by Niobium
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Agree. But I also think that they don't always intend on misleading us and as an example I would highlight GTA V. When I first read about it in a gaming magazine I used to purchase they gave it a 98%. And honestly everything looked awesome about the game and the novelty only started to wear off once I beat the game. So I feel like to truly gain an insight of a game one playthrough may not be enough and to fully see the flaws of this game in particular you would have to be a GTA fan because, for example, you would look past the story or the character design otherwise. This was just a simple example and may not hold true for every game but this illustrates that personal opinions often influence the review and the critic may not see things from a different perspective. But of course money, early copies and blacklists play a huge factors nowdays with review sites and I turn to independent reviewers too. With them I know what aspects of the game they could possibly overhype or underappreciate.

Edited by GhettoJesus
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Richard Power Colt

Former IGN employee Alanah Pearce actually made a video recently on the whole "game critics are paid off" thing and she says that at least based on her experience reviewers usually aren't thinking about game publishers when they write a review:

 

 

That said I do find the divide between critics and fans when it comes to certain games a bit weird. There's nothing wrong with giving the Last Of Us 2 a 10/10 if that's your opinion, but it's a bit surprising how many critics are giving such a high score when it seems like there's a lot of fans who aren't happy with the game (even if we ignore the whole anti-sjw crowd that gets upset over lesbians and trans people). It's a similar case with games like RDR 2 and Breath Of The Wild which while widely praised games even by fans, do seem to have their fair share of detractors as well, but just looking at the raving critic reviews on Metacritic you probably wouldn't think this was the case. It could also just be a case of a loud minority, but I do see people criticize Red Dead 2 for its gameplay quite often around the Internet. There's that video made by NakeyJakey with over 6 million views that points out many of the game's flaws.

 

In the video from Alanah above she actually suggests that some reviewers might be afraid to give hyped up games lower scores, because of backlash from fans which I can definitely see being a legitimate concern given how crazy some people are getting over TLOU2 right now. And without actually reading through all the reviews, we don't really know how well all the scores reflect the actual written reviews.

 

Edit: As far as movie reviews go, I believe many movie critics are people who have actually studied filmmaking and that is why they understandably have a very different perspective than the average moviegoer. Personally I actually find myself agreeing with the critic consensus on Rottentomatoes more often than the audience consensus.

 

And for reviews in general, there can also be a different perspective between a fan and someone who's just reviewing the entertainment product as their job.

Edited by Richard Power Colt
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The N. Bellic Man
5 hours ago, Niobium said:

for the record, i do not believe mainstream game critics are giving these kinds of reviews to "push an agenda" or "spread SJW propaganda" or whatever. that's bullsh*t. the reason for them giving positive scores to games everyone hates is quite simple: they've been "bribed" in a way. if they give a AAA mainsteam game a mediocre or negative review, then they will no longer receive copies from that publisher before the release date, they won't get invitations to their events, and the publisher won't buy ads on their site.

But in the end that's pretty much the same thing. Money or ideology - does it even matter which - they are corrupt and can't be trusted. Other than that I agree with you.

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Anymore? With all due respect man, you say that as though it was any different around 2 or more decades ago.

 

There’s always gonna be titles in media that has a notable divide between audience and critics. That’s how’s it’s been, and how it’ll always continue to be. The only reason it likely seems like it’s changed is the rise of the internet, making said divide more noticeable

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Can't really agree with the whole 'mainstream reviewers are in lock-step, and must be getting paid off' angle - not when (using TLoU2 as an example) a bunch of mainstream sites/reviewers came to wildly different conclusions.

 

Maddie Myers (Polygon) and Rob Zacny (Vice) came away unimpressed by how unrelentingly bleak they found the game (Rob's last line is just *oof*: "It digs two graves, fills them with blood, and then just f***ing wallows in them." :blink:). But then you've got folk like Sam Greer (personal review, but often for PC Gamer) and Natalie Flores (Paste), who weren't enthusiastic during all the previews of the game (and I was fully expecting them to find the whole thing deeply unpleasant), but ended up finding the game surprisingly affecting on the whole - go figure.

 

And beyond that, you've got people who've simultaneously found things to like about, say, Lev as a character on the whole, but also find certain aspects of how his arc is handled to be a clumsy - that's neither "OMG 10/10, gimme that cheque, Sony!", or "this game SUCKS, and ND disrespected the fans by doing Joel dirty!". I just can't be doing with reductive, nuance-free, all-in or all-out takes on things, where there's an 'objective' 100% 'correct' opinion - and from my experience, the folks insisting that there is (or alternatively 'should' be) one aren't 'bribed mainstream critics' - it's militant folks on social media or in comment sections, who can't just leave things at "okay, let's agree to disagree".

 

 

I'd say "make your own mind up", and that's still true* (both mainstream critics and fandom at large put The Dark Knight on a pedestal as one of the greatest comicbook movies ever, and ...nah, I really dislike that movie), but honestly, I think the main issue is that it's not even about whether or not you should listen to 'the media' or 'the fans', like both sides are unanimously one way or another. In reality, critics have more mixed opinions than that - and fans too. But there's a certain conspiracy-minded segment of online culture that has to turn things into an 'us vs. them' narrative - and to do that, you've got to ignore any nuance and variety of opinions, because that'd make the 'critics are corrupt, regular people know the truth!' framing impossible otherwise.

 

*...but yeah, read a bunch of opinions, seek out ones that might not be saying the same things as other places (if you haven't found any, look harder!), and then see how those compare to your own experience. And if the conclusion you come to isn't "this is perfect!" or "this sucks!", but "these bits I liked, those bits not so much, and on the whole I like/dislike it", then that's okay! Odds are, most things are going to be mixed bags like that - not everything needs to be 10/10 GotY, and not everything needs to be GotY for you to find it enjoyable (and your enjoyment doesn't have to correlate with the majority consensus, positive or negative, either).

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8 hours ago, Commander S said:

Can't really agree with the whole 'mainstream reviewers are in lock-step, and must be getting paid off' angle - not when (using TLoU2 as an example) a bunch of mainstream sites/reviewers came to wildly different conclusions.

The big sites that get early copies agree on a perfect score though. Vice isn't a site that gets early copies or anything.

 

Although this image is not quite accurate because not all of these use a 10/10 scale but they all gave it a perfect or near perfect rating and none of them have strong complaints (I checked like 10 of these sites) in the summary sections. One had with the storytelling but even that was sugarcoated by saying "The storytelling is so ambitious that it sometimes loses focus" so it almost comes off as a praise.

 

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Edited by GhettoJesus
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5 minutes ago, GhettoJesus said:

The big sites that get early copies agree on a perfect score though. Vice isn't a site that gets early copies or anything.

 

Although this image is not quite accurate because some of the 10/10s uses a different scale (5 or a 100 scale or something like that) but they all gave it a perfect or near perfect rating and none of them have strong complaints (I checked like 10 of these sites) in the summary sections. One had with the storytelling but even that was sugarcoated by saying "The storytelling is so ambitious that it sometimes loses focus" so it almost comes off as a praise.

 

 

It's a bit beside the point, but they have cherry-picked sites that gave either 'perfect' scores or effusive pull quotes (as do most posters like that), which means you don't get Kallie Plagge's GameSpot review (8/10, with the game summarised as "messy, bleak, and brutal"), despite being much more in the realm of IGN than something like Paste, but you do get ...GameSpew and COGConnected (neither of which I'd heard of before looking at that poster). :turn:

 

But cherry-picking by Sony aside, I'm reminded of a point I've seen made by Chris Franklin (of Errant Signal), and how Super Bunnyhop's George Weidman noticed similarly universal praise for Metal Gear Solid V (despite not coming to the same conclusions himself, because his perspective was more that of a Metal Gear fan). Namely, that if a "AAA" game 'does everything right', with a story that apes Hollywood blockbusters or "prestige TV", a stab towards industry-leading 'realistic' graphics, enough combat/action gameplay to be considered a 'proper' videogame, etc., then that's enough get at least an 8/10 score. Franklin points out something that I've heard often enough about GTA IV: most folk (outside of GTA/R* fandom, anyway - I'm aware this is "GTAForums", after all! ;)) are a bit 'meh' about GTA IV, because of the drab visuals, dour tone, clunky handling, etc. - and yet it still has a 98 on Metacritic, making it the third highest-rated game on the entire site.

 

So yeah: does The Last of Us 2 do everything that most people expect of "AAA" blockbusters? I'd say "pretty much" - after all, if Metal Gear Solid V (a game that I do think is one of the best games of the last decade mechanically, but *oof*, that story... :blink:) can get perfect scores and glowing reviews (and a 95 on Metacritic) despite some glaring flaws, then the bar for 'perfection' is comfortably low... Same reason why, despite a few people (NakeyJakey, Mark Brown from Game Maker's Toolkit) criticising R*'s arguably-stagnant mechanical design, RDR2 got the same kind of reception - because R*'s tried-and-tested formula might as well be precision-engineered to meet the criteria for 'AAA game perfection' (Hollywood-esque storytelling, serviceable mechanics that do a bit of everything popular right now, expensive production values that aim to look "realistic" and "cinematic", etc.). Same too for Naughty Dog - I don't think anyone's ever described the Uncharted games as being the best at anything in particular, but they're competent enough in the ways people expect of "AAA" games to tick all those aforementioned boxes - and not just for mainstream review outlets, but the majority of folk buying games, too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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5 minutes ago, Commander S said:

It's a bit beside the point, but they have cherry-picked sites that gave either 'perfect' scores or effusive pull quotes (as do most posters like that), which means you don't get Kallie Plagge's GameSpot review (8/10, with the game summarised as "messy, bleak, and brutal"), despite being much more in the realm of IGN than something like Paste, but you do get ...GameSpew and COGConnected (neither of which I'd heard of before looking at that poster). :turn:

8/10 still seems to be a bit generous compared to the average user experience and when it is summarized as "messy". But then again, different strokes for different folks. I am not surprised if someone likes a thing that is universally disliked.

 

I guess there is a lot of bias and some sort of placebo taking place. Knowing that you are dealing with an established title you (probably) tend to view it favorably. Only a really huge screw up like Fallout 76 can get reviewers and gamers alike to speak up about the negative things in the game.

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Western Gunslinger

journalists and critics are around for us to mock. That's the only function that they serve. They are incompetent fools who sell no copies of games and are forced to whore themselves out for access.

Any company bowing to them is either incompetent or has the same ideology that they do. There is no press they can generate that gamers don't get from YouTube.

 

Also, they are irrelevant. They are less they are irrelevant, they are widely mocked in the gaming community. Nobody, absolutely nobody, uses them for purchasing advice, takes them seriously or actually give a sh*t about their dissertations about skimpy female armor or representation in games. Let me reiterate: Gaming journalists are a bloated appendix, an evolutionary endpoint that will eventually be excised because they are useless.

Daniel Varva was called a bigot, a misogynist, a racist and a bully. His game was blacklisted from review sites and largely ignored by the gaming press. You know what that got him? His Kickstarter game selling more copies than Wolfenstein 2, a AAA title.

If you have a quality, or even a half-way decent product, it will sell, especially with bad exposure from Game's Journalists. You know what I do? If they say something is good, I tend to ignore it because 1) Its generally good, so they serve no purpose or 2) Their dwindling salaries have been buffed by a AAA studio to give the game a good rating. The ONLY time I pay attention to what they say is when they say a game is bad or problematic, which means its too complex for their small minds.

 

The fact that they think they have any power is f*cking laughable. The only thing the publisher will do, especially if they understand the market, is issue a half-assed apology and do nothing. Because Kingdom Come: Deliverance has proved that the gaming press is utterly useless. You can black-ball a game, call the creator the worst things in the world, and it will still sell amazingly, beyond any sh*t coverage they can do.

 

Here's a challenge: Have a major gaming outlet cover a game for a week. Wait a week. Have the top twitch streamer cover a game for 25 minutes. Which will sell more copies? (Hint: It isn't the gaming outlet).

Edited by Western Gunslinger
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Most game critics are pretty worthless, imo. They're not specialized enough in a type of game to make their criticism of a game be relevant towards you or I.

And because the game critic style hasn't evolved that much in these decades of games.

 

You take film critics, for example, the good ones each have their own style, their own way of reviewing a movie, talking about the positives, the negative. A Pauline Kael review was completely different from a Roger Ebert review, which was completely different from any other review. You can read two contradictory reviews, and make sense of what the movie is about, and whether you will enjoy it or not.

 

With games? It's so sh*t. "Oh this game makes you feel like Batman!"... Ok? That tells me literally nothing. Tell me about the mechanics, about the gameplay, about the interesting points, about whether the story feels complete and makes sense, a bit about the performance, about any potential issues.

 

You know what I would love? A game reviewer that would review games like SavageGeeese reviews cars. He's reviewing all these different kind of cars, but he's not comparing them with the others directly, he's not straight up going "this car is so fast, so it's good!". He evaluates each car based on what they were trying to achieve. He'll drive a Supra and tell you why he thinks this is a good Supra, what it does well, what it does wrong, what it failed short of based on what they were going for. Then he'll drive a Mazda CX5, and do the same thing. He'll go into the technical details of it, the mechanical aspect, the decisions, and understand why they went with X and not Y.

 

Whereas a lot of car reviewers end up reviewing in a pointless manner. "The CX5 is slow" someone will say, "therefore it sucks". Well, no, because the proposal of the CX5 was never to be fast. They end up reviewing any car as if they were meant to be fast, great handling, feel sporty etc etc.

 

And the same happens 99% of the time with games. Just cookie cutter throwaway lines. "You feel like spiderman" no sh*t, it's a Spiderman game, that's literally the lowest bar possible.

 

Maybe I'll do that.

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Here's an interesting video

 

 

Sheesh, just saw it was posted before, but since I'm at work I couldn't read everything 😅

Edited by KarimNTerr
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8 hours ago, Tchuck said:

Most game critics are pretty worthless, imo. They're not specialized enough in a type of game to make their criticism of a game be relevant towards you or I.

And because the game critic style hasn't evolved that much in these decades of games.

 

You take film critics, for example, the good ones each have their own style, their own way of reviewing a movie, talking about the positives, the negative. A Pauline Kael review was completely different from a Roger Ebert review, which was completely different from any other review. You can read two contradictory reviews, and make sense of what the movie is about, and whether you will enjoy it or not.

 

With games? It's so sh*t. "Oh this game makes you feel like Batman!"... Ok? That tells me literally nothing. Tell me about the mechanics, about the gameplay, about the interesting points, about whether the story feels complete and makes sense, a bit about the performance, about any potential issues.

 

You know what I would love? A game reviewer that would review games like SavageGeeese reviews cars. He's reviewing all these different kind of cars, but he's not comparing them with the others directly, he's not straight up going "this car is so fast, so it's good!". He evaluates each car based on what they were trying to achieve. He'll drive a Supra and tell you why he thinks this is a good Supra, what it does well, what it does wrong, what it failed short of based on what they were going for. Then he'll drive a Mazda CX5, and do the same thing. He'll go into the technical details of it, the mechanical aspect, the decisions, and understand why they went with X and not Y.

 

Whereas a lot of car reviewers end up reviewing in a pointless manner. "The CX5 is slow" someone will say, "therefore it sucks". Well, no, because the proposal of the CX5 was never to be fast. They end up reviewing any car as if they were meant to be fast, great handling, feel sporty etc etc.

 

And the same happens 99% of the time with games. Just cookie cutter throwaway lines. "You feel like spiderman" no sh*t, it's a Spiderman game, that's literally the lowest bar possible.

 

Maybe I'll do that.

 

 

See, that's why I like Doug Demuro's car reviews - because overall, he's about looking at what makes certain cars interesting, rather than simply doing buyer's guides. Sure, he'll give an MX-5 a lower score for 0-60 than a C8 Corvette, because the car's slower - but he's not saying it's a worse car, because he knows that they're doing different things. And he's also not afraid to go against the grain with his opinions - same reason why I like Chris Harris' takes on stuff, where he's unvarnished about what he personally feels.

 

I also quite liked some of Regular Car Reviews' videos - the knockoff Mr. Plinkett routine gets old for me, but I do like how they'll take something like the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe, and talk about what it was trying to be in terms of historical context for Ford and the Thunderbird brand.

 

But to be fair to game critics, there are plenty of folk doing good, interesting, more in-depth stuff than just IGN-style 'here's the latest "AAA" hype machine - here are some previews, and where it falls on the 7-10 scale", both in print and in videos. Paste, Waypoint, etc. let their reviewers go more into their personal takes on things, and their writers (Rob Zacny, for example) come with more knowledge about other artforms to draw upon, which gets you more interesting takes, with more to say than just 'this mainstream game is good by the standards of mainstream games'.

 

Another such writer, who's sadly walked away from games crit now, is Nick Capozzoli - he actually works as an architect as well, and that informs how he views games, like in his last piece, on Control:

 

"I’ll offer one architectural term, though: a “falsework,” which is a temporary frame that holds a structure up until it can support itself. A certain subset of falsework lends the texture to Brutalism’s concrete walls, in fact. Shooting is the falsework of Control: built first, defining its form, supporting its architecture. In the end, we’ll dismantle all that scaffolding so the beautiful pillars and the coffered ceilings can settle into their new positions on high. It’s needed somewhere else next week."

 

 

And there are a fair few YouTube channels that do the same - I've already mentioned Chris Franklin's Errant Signal series, but there's also Ian Danskin, who did this absolute belter about ...well, a whole lot of thoughts regarding how CoD: Advanced Warfare was marketed/reviewed/made:

 

 

 


Then there's Noah Gervais, who ...look, you'll often need to set aside an hour or two (or just watch them in chunks) because he covers entire franchises in the one video, but likewise, he's a great example of someone bringing insight and a lot of interesting alternative perspectives, rather than just churning out 'get hype/buy it/rent it/wait for a sale' recommendations:

 

 

 

 

So yeah, there's actually a lot of good stuff out there, and we've thankfully moved on from the days where everything was basically IGN, doing the game review equivalent of Carwow. But I think part of the problem is that ...a lot of gamers still want reviews/coverage to be about telling them the stuff they hope is good is indeed good, the stuff that they think sucks does indeed suck, and that the hot new "AAA" monolith looks super-cool, and here's an exclusive preview! :sigh: And so the IGNs of this world are still the places people think of when they look for 'game reviews', and not more interesting alternatives from people who put out stuff with more substance.

 

Ian Danskin actually addresses that in "Blood is Compulsory":

 

"They [the average gamer] expect a highly-polished AAA game to be generally well-received. [...] This is what they’re used to; this is the kind of review I was raised on. They go in with certain expectations and are unconcerned when those expectations are met. But I have to ask: if they go into a review with an expectation of what it will say and what they want to find is more or less what they expected, what was the point of reading it?

Edited by Commander S
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I think it's less a case of bribed or influenced by the publishers, at least for the mainstream press (IGN, Kotaku etc), and instead something closer to bias or a general lack of real knowledge or insight into various genres - for the most part anyway.

 

Fan/player perception around titles pre-release is also a huge thing, games like Fallout 76 and Anthem were doomed before they released no matter what, with many critics seemingly going all in just so they can take the chance to write up a whole review where they get to curb stomp Bethesda and BioWare for issues they glossed over in previous games in the franchise or in games from entirely other developers, all while being able to please fans to boot.

 

On the flip side to that you have something like The Outer Worlds where there was a whole unspoken but very much obvious "f*ck Bethesda" vibe going on that inflated the scores of many, many journalists despite it being one of the shallowest and least interesting RPG's released all generation.

 

Then there's bias. Studios like Naughty Dog, Rockstar, Blizzard, Bethesda and various others have enjoyed this in large parts over the decades now. To give an example, I saw multiple tweets from reviewers posting photos of the TLOU2 start screen when they got their review copies, coupled with some pompous comment about how it's here and how excited they are and all that. Not exactly going into the game with a fair and honest point of view there, are they? Bias also tends to lead to issues that are prevalent in the game getting overlooked, despite the same issues often being wildly criticised in other games, with, IMO, multiple Sony and Nintendo games being an example of this in recent years.

 

Also, story these days seems to push game scores up real f*cking high, especially if said story is grounded, gritty and filled with tragedy. You know how there's a whole subsection of movies that get described as Oscar bait? Video games have the exact same stuff and games like TLOU2, with all due respect to the game, play up to that. God of War received widespread acclaim in large part due to the father and son element of the story, which hit home with the male dominated review journalist circle with many of them now in their 30's with young children and while it is a fantastic game, it's not without it's issues, but they were all glossed over in reviews for the most part.

 

Saying all this, it's never been any different and most likely will never change. Not everyone is going to agree, which is why the general recommendation is that you find critics that you trust or whose tastes and opinions generally align with your own and stick with them.

 

However I would always err on the side of caution when it comes to smaller, independently ran YouTube and Twitch channels when it comes to reviews. Mainstream media these days I don't think are as easy to bully, they'll just gladly out you for it and cause a PR sh*tstorm generating them a ton of clicks. Independent critics however, especially young YouTubers, are a little easier to influence. Many of them are cautious to really rip into something on the chance that the publisher might not send them another key. Lot of these people are also too giddy at the idea of getting free games early to want to jeopardize that.

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Certain game websites, like Gamespot and IGN, have been sh*tting on certain franchises like Sonic and Mega Man for some time now, with the latter website even stating that Sonic "was never good".

 

Let's be honest here, game critics have not always been trustworthy. Atari was particularly guilty of this, as back in 2004, while Reflections were working on DRIV3R, they gave Future Publishing review copies of DRIV3R in exchange for 9/10 scores on their magazines, PSM2 and Xbox World, with those reviews being published 2 months before the game's release. When DRIV3R was released to the public and got negative reviews, it led to the controversy known as Driv3rgate, which Guru Larry talks about in the video below.

 

 

The "publisher gives the game to a certain magazine in exchange for positive reviews despite the game's quality" thing was true even back in the 1980's. Stuart Ashen did a great video on a terrible game from the days of the 8-bit microcomputers, titled Renegade III: The Final Chapter, which he said he bought because it got a good review score on Crash magazine.

 

 

 

Edited by Ivan1997GTA
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On 6/24/2020 at 10:29 PM, Richard Power Colt said:

Former IGN employee Alanah Pearce actually made a video recently on the whole "game critics are paid off" thing and she says that at least based on her experience reviewers usually aren't thinking about game publishers when they write a review:

I'm inclined to agree with her. Her logic seems sound. 

 

Reason for a lot of games with high scores: They're (uses IGN as example) reviewing more AAA and high quality games. So on average games his a 7 and 8. 

10 isn't perfect, according to 10 but really hard to achieve. I think this accounts for a least a part of it. 

 

I would have to agree completely with Jason's comments about bias too. Reviewers, and especially game reviewers are so closely mixed in with devs and the culture it's like they can't step back from it. Take YongYea for example. Not a reviewer but he's reporting news on certain games. Anyone following him will know how much he reported on the Fallout 76 debacle. During the height of it, the receives a generous gift from Bethesda. Now, YongYea was public about it. He expressed confusion because he had been really ragging on Bethesda so hard. But thankfully, YongYea is a very straight guy. I think he has integrity. For someone not easily persuaded, they might have not been so public about the gift and changed their tune towards the dev. I know thats a bit more anecdotal but I can only imagine how easily one can be buttered up to lean more favourable to a certain game. Especially when they're flying you out, giving you behind closed doors access to the game to review it. 

 

It's different in the film industry. Film critics usually more removed from the whole thing. It's different to game reviewers. They all seem a bit too close for there not to be an environment that fosters bias. 

 

 

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Yeah critic reviews are usually worthless, I don't trust them as far as I can spit..

But so can be user scores on Metacritic etc.

 

I'll never forget Total War: Rome 2, where they flew journalists over to Italy for a big preview event,wined and dined them and most of them gave this broken, fraudulent trainwreck of a game the thums up.

 

 

I'd say a decent Youtube reviewer is your best shot unless you want to dip into Let's Plays/Twitch etc.

Edited by Candy_Licker
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Richard Power Colt
11 hours ago, Candy_Licker said:

But so can be user scores on Metacritic etc.

 

User scores on Metacritic can be skewed by trolls or joke reviews and people who just review bomb due to some controversy. I think they're generally pretty useless.

Edited by Richard Power Colt
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Metacritic user scores are completely and utterly useless. Far too many people vote 10 for a game they like or 1 for a game they don't like.

 

Personally speaking I find that the average score for a game is for the most part fairly reflective of a games quality, with some exceptions now and then. Also, regardless of the actual score, the great parts and the bad parts of a game will usually be similar stuff in the majority of reviews, stuff like controls, performance, story, RPG stuff, combat etc. I usually have a look into that stuff and combine it with my own personal judgement of gameplay footage when it comes to deciding if I want to buy a game or not. The only reason I usually go deep into reviews for a game, usually video reviews or first impression videos, is if it's a game in a genre I don't have much experience in. Haven't had to refund a game in basically forever doing that.

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There's a difference between games criticism meant to answer the question of "should I buy this game?" and games criticism talking about games in a broader way than just that, right? The stuff that really hits for me usually is made a while after the game is actually out and itself talks about how well and how effectively the games in question hit the notes they're trying to hit

 

 

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Richard Power Colt
8 hours ago, Jason said:

Metacritic user scores are completely and utterly useless. Far too many people vote 10 for a game they like or 1 for a game they don't like.

 

Yeah this is true for user reviews in general. If you look at the reviews for many mobile apps, there's hardly any nuance or middle-ground in people's reviews.

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What I find funny (and I realise this is basically me paraphrasing Thought 2 from "Blood is Compulsory", but whatever) is when people decide that a review is so 'wrong' that someone must have been paid off.

 

Metal Gear Solid V got almost unanimously near-perfect (or in some cases, perfect) reviews, for a game where many of the reviewers were wined and dined at a cushy Konami-run "boot camp" event, where the game was played under controlled conditions (although to be fair, there were just as many glowing reviews from people who didn't attend that review event) - but because the general consensus among fans and players at large was that the game was mostly good, you didn't see anyone start any conspiracies about bribery and corruption.

 

Meanwhile, Jim Sterling famously gave Breath of the Wild a 7/10 and criticised stuff like weapon degradation, and Nintendo/Zelda fans flipped their sh*t - and then started going on about how he was a 'paid Sony shill', or how he had an 'anti-Nintendo bias', or whatever. Oh, and then sent death threats and DDoS'd his website. :turn:

 

Seems to me that in most cases, the trustworthiness of reviewers only ever comes into question when reviewers give a good review to a game that dedicated game fans (not the game-buying public at large) have decided is bad (even if they haven't played it themselves yet...), or when a game that fans have already decided is good/great/GotY gets a less-than-perfect review. I mean, good luck to the first poor schmuck who dares take more than .5 off their Cyberpunk 2077 review score... :sigh:

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1 hour ago, Commander S said:

Meanwhile, Jim Sterling famously gave Breath of the Wild a 7/10 and criticised stuff like weapon degradation, and Nintendo/Zelda fans flipped their sh*t - and then started going on about how he was a 'paid Sony shill', or how he had an 'anti-Nintendo bias', or whatever. Oh, and then sent death threats and DDoS'd his website. :turn:

One of the things with that score as well is that Sterling uses the full 1-10 of the scale unlike many modern reviewers who typically use 6-10.

 

The reason it upsets people so greatly is really f*cking sad but it's the literal reason: MetaCritic/OpenCritic scores. The 6/10's and 7/10's can have a pretty big impact on them, even if there's only two or three, so they lose their sh*t. "Wah wah the game is really a 99/100 but poo reviewer X gave it a 6/10 in a rubbish review so it's now a 97/100", basically lol.

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3 hours ago, Jason said:

The reason it upsets people so greatly is really f*cking sad but it's the literal reason: MetaCritic/OpenCritic scores. The 6/10's and 7/10's can have a pretty big impact on them, even if there's only two or three, so they lose their sh*t. "Wah wah the game is really a 99/100 but poo reviewer X gave it a 6/10 in a rubbish review so it's now a 97/100", basically lol.

The weird thing is that with many major gaming outlets 7 seems to be the average where 6 is the below average. Only the worst abominations exist below 6. So many people probably interpret it the same way and think "well this game isn't average, this game is way above average, I am giving it a 9". But yeah, the fanboys contribute a lot to the problem.

Edited by GhettoJesus
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Richard Power Colt
9 hours ago, Commander S said:

What I find funny (and I realise this is basically me paraphrasing Thought 2 from "Blood is Compulsory", but whatever) is when people decide that a review is so 'wrong' that someone must have been paid off.

 

Metal Gear Solid V got almost unanimously near-perfect (or in some cases, perfect) reviews, for a game where many of the reviewers were wined and dined at a cushy Konami-run "boot camp" event, where the game was played under controlled conditions (although to be fair, there were just as many glowing reviews from people who didn't attend that review event) - but because the general consensus among fans and players at large was that the game was mostly good, you didn't see anyone start any conspiracies about bribery and corruption.

 

Meanwhile, Jim Sterling famously gave Breath of the Wild a 7/10 and criticised stuff like weapon degradation, and Nintendo/Zelda fans flipped their sh*t - and then started going on about how he was a 'paid Sony shill', or how he had an 'anti-Nintendo bias', or whatever. Oh, and then sent death threats and DDoS'd his website. :turn:

 

Seems to me that in most cases, the trustworthiness of reviewers only ever comes into question when reviewers give a good review to a game that dedicated game fans (not the game-buying public at large) have decided is bad (even if they haven't played it themselves yet...), or when a game that fans have already decided is good/great/GotY gets a less-than-perfect review. I mean, good luck to the first poor schmuck who dares take more than .5 off their Cyberpunk 2077 review score... :sigh:

It's weird how people get upset by that. It's not like Jim Sterling didn't like the game, 7/10 is still positive. But oh no he didn't like it as much as other people did, how awful.

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That kind of reminds me of how Carolyn Petit got a lot of flak for docking one point from GTA V's score on her gamespot review for the series' tired humor and still miserable treatment of its women characters which are, lets be real, pretty good points

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On 6/24/2020 at 6:42 PM, Niobium said:

mainstream game sites like IGN, gamespot, PC gamer, and others, they act less like reviewers and more like mindless shills for the mainstream AAA game they are praising.

That's not really fresh news. That's been going on for a long time, even longer when it comes to the movies and TV shows. But the thing is, you really can't ''trust'' anyone when it comes to a review because everyone is different. That's why I never read reviews and ratings, neither for games nor movies and TV shows, until I've seen the movie/TV show or until I've played the game.

 

Nobody can tell me what's good or bad and what I will or won't like. 10/10 rating doesn't mean a thing in my book. Neither does a 1/10 or any other rating in between. A lot of times, I got really surprised by either ratings and/or reviews. There have been countless instances in my life where I found a 9/10 IMDB rated movie to be absolutely horrible and 4-5/10 to actually be really great. Same goes with the games. We all have different preferences, but the problem with a lot of people, especially today - A LOT of them are VERY impressionable and pliable. That's a problem too. So, whether it be critics' or fans' reviews, I don't care. The way I choose what to watch/play is simple:

 

For movies/TV shows - I watch the official trailer and sometimes read the logline.

For games - I watch the official trailer (if there is one), read a short summary and usually just watch a few minutes of raw gameplay on YouTube.

 

I've been using this strategy for years and it has worked for me like a charm so far. Reviews and ratings don't really matter.

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Reviews are nearly always bought and paid for IMO. Even something like fear of not getting early access for future products can affect reviews.

 

It's always best to wait a month or so until the initial hype has died down and the real product appears.

 

Edited by jje1000
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