Sunday, 18 September 2011

Gears of War 3: The Reviews That Stick Out Get Hammered

The reviews have been flooding in for this anticipated blockbuster as reviewers receive their review copies. As of writing this, the game is sitting on a '91' on Metacritic. Good, right? Yes, the game is looking like a critical success.

Critical sites such as Gamespot have given the game no less than 9.5/10, where they would not shy from giving games 5, 6 or even 7 out of 10 where deserved.

Review scores aren't really going to sway the vast majority of potential game buyers, especially those who've decided on Gears 3 ever since the beta was open. However, that really isn't the issue that bothers me. Looking at the review scores on Metacritic, what immediately stick out are the set of reviews found at the way bottom, the '80' scores.

Allow me to entertain you with my collective semi-rant about this, seeing as though it has garnered serious interwebz activity the past few days.

The first review that sticks out among the plethora of 90's and 100's is by The Telegraph. There's not much really to be said about them and their reviews. It's a tabloid newspaper, holding a small section on games. They gave it an 8/10, a sub-standard review in my honest opinion. Moving on.

The Escapist's review was written by Steve Butts. This was his first review as Editor in Chief for the Escapist. You can see that he had to stamp his authority and stamp his presence on his first review, as most of us probably would.

There are two sites that really take the cake though. Eurogamer and Destructoid are both guilty of journalistic negligence and dishonesty.

Eurogamer is a site that used to be solid. Their reviews were spot on both in writing and in the final score. When they reviewed Mortal Kombat though, I noticed that they were becoming more about the controversy and less about honesty in their game journalism. Particularly in comparison to their written undying love for the Street Fighter franchise. The MK9 review read no less than an '8' score (given a 7) in all honesty; I'm not the only one to note this according to their comments section.

There's definitely something fishy going on with their reviewers. The guy who reviewed Gears 3 has no solid review history with hardcore titles. I don't know why such things escape many review sites. Surely its obviously sensible to allocate certain games to more pedigreed reviewers right?

Brink also scored an 8/10. Doesn't that paint a rosy picture of what's going on with these sites?

Destructoid's review was written by a guy called Jim Sterling, a self confessed Gears 'fan'. As if that makes his views any more valid...

He gave Gears 3 an 8/10 score. When questioned by readers of Destructoid, he proceeded to defend his view that he had written heaps of praise upon the game. He claims in a piece solely about developer entitlement written by himself that readers and developers simply see the 8/10 score and think that the review contained nothing but criticism.

He may have half a point, but it is congealed in a cloak of snobbery and an attitude of self entitlement.

You see Mr. Sterling, maybe if you wanted your linguistic mirage to be gazed upon with merit, you should have discarded the score system altogether. Better yet, try writing a reflective score in your review.

You also claim that 8/10 is not a bad score and I agree. But this is Gears of War 3, the conclusion of a trilogy that has set the bar for every third person action shooter out there.

It is far FAR superior to any of its predecessors; Epic have listened to the community when creating this game. The beta itself had a multiplayer component vastly superior to that of Gears 2. Yet, it was the multiplayer that you griped about in your review. Any gamer will tell you how much better dedicated servers make Gears 3's multiplayer compared to anything before.

What I found most entertaining was your belligerent hounding of a DICE developer on twitter for his unsurprising astonishment at the 8/10 you so proudly served Epic. See below and laugh at how Mr. Sterling seeks to affirm his credibility through cowardly hounding, while David Goldfarb of DICE just wants this guy off his back.

How does it feel Jim, that a developer of an unrelated studio could not restrain himself from astonishment at the likes of your review, joke or no joke?

Was that separate piece ready well before your review was published in preparation for the backlash? Do you have a smile on your face at the number of hits your review will receive from this manufactured controversy? Destructoid seems to have no problem fuelling the fanboy war before for site hits. Surprise surprise, that was written by you as well.

I can only come to one conclusion. Scores are being assigned by a few 'review' sites without any journalistic integrity. Some critics of critics claim that Gears 3 may get 8's as opposed to 9 (what Gears 3 was scored by the same sites) because the bar has been raised. I beg to differ.

What game exactly has raised the bar in the past 3-5 years?

I haven't seen the bar raised in the FPS genre, as saturated as it is, let alone in the TPS genre where Gears reigns supreme. If you're going to make a claim, at least illustrate it with solid examples. The bar doesn't raise itself just on your say-so. Nor does the bar arbitrarily rise with a standard passing of time. It takes an actual game to do that.

It's not about "entitlement". It never was. The game has the merits to garner an excellent score, not an '8'. At the very least, a score equal to it's flawed predecessor is deserved. You only make it seem like entitlement because it is the only way you can sleep at night while you commit journalistic suicide for hit based controversy.

I hope that the rest of the reviews coming in keep the likes of Destructoid and Eurogamer at the bottom of any metascore. They will be treated as anomalies, not to be taken seriously. Pathetic excuse for journalism.

Roll on Gears 3, to hell with the haters. Well done CliffyB for standing up and telling it how it is.

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