It’s no secret that over the years review scores, especially in the gaming industry have changed drastically in the last 5-10 years. I can remember reading PlayStation Magazine (when I wasn’t staring at the pictures in the annual swimsuit edition) and actually trying out Guilty Gear X2 when the game got a 9 out of 10. I read that magazine for a while up until that point and so few games ever eclipsed a 9.0 or more, let alone a fighting game and a fighting game I’d never heard of before.
Why was this 9.0 such a big deal though? Because the magazine constantly had games rated in the 6s, 5s 4s, 3s and in the very rare cases, the 2s.
Why is this also a big deal? Because today in the gaming industry through the way people review games now, rating a game anything below a 7.0 is like saying it’s the worst game ever made.
The problem today with review scores have two sides to it. One, the numbers aren’t being used properly, as in a 9 is supposed to be for a phenomenal game that is one step away from greatness, while today a 9 is basically for a game that is super popular or an indie darling. Scores are used more often now as a way to keep fans from getting “offended” by their reviews and so no game is looked at as not worth buying. You know that if a game on the level of Final Fantasy XV got a 6.0, every Final Fantasy fan would start a riot, refuse to give the site or channel any traffic ever again and the sales of the game would hit monstrous lows and Final Fantasy would never be made again.
But the reality is that in my opinion (and I’ll have a full review of the game soon), Final Fantasy XV is for me a 6.5/10 and nothing higher. Why am I rating a game so many people like so low? Well because it’s more of a realistic score. The game itself is enjoyable but the game’s main attraction is its story and its story is terrible, so the score is affected heavily. If this was a game like Street Fighter V however, a bad story (which it certainly has) does not affect its score remotely as much, since the game isn’t known for having a good story. The same would be for games like Mass Effect and then The Crew. Mass Effect is a game that relies heavily on its story, while The Crew is mostly about its gameplay. So for Mass Effect, a bad story SHOULD lower its score at least a full point, if not more depending on the severity, while The Crew’s score at most should go down a half point, because any amount of story shouldn’t affect the game since that’s not what the game is about.
The second problem with review scores is in the reception of them. We have a massive generation of gamers now that “rely” on game reviews to determine the games that they buy. Which in the end means that a lot of players won’t discover games that are secret hits or guilty pleasures. They won’t find games like my The Bouncer, Final Fantasy X-2 or Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, instead they’ll play the super popular AAA titles that get the 8s and up. Sometimes, the mainstream doesn’t apply to your tastes and watching people just assume a game’s garbage because IGN gave it a 7.4 is absolutely ridiculous. There’s a clear lack of console gamers in particular taking chances with games that might be hidden gems. On PC because of Steam, there’s a better market out there for indie titles that aren’t be touted by every gaming journalism site out there, but for console gamers, the majority seem to listen to what the major sites are saying, rather than trusting their own instincts.
I’m not saying don’t trust reviewers, but find the ones that work within your tastes the most. And most importantly, don’t trust Metacritic. Ever. The scores are an average across all reviewers, which includes those who probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the game anyways when it’s a 10/10 game. Then there’s also the user score, which is basically an endless parade of 10s by fanboys and 1s by trolls. If you are using Metacritic to decide which games to buy, you’re basically playing a craps shoot. Metacritic doesn’t take into account your own personal tastes in games, it just takes everything, puts it together and attaches a number to it. And that number is not indicative of its actual score, it’s merely an average.
When it comes to game reviews, trust only those who follow your tastes in games, as close as you can get it. And even then, don’t take the numbers too seriously, take them as a “buy it now” or “wait for sale” kind of decision if you planned on getting the game. But most importantly, don’t take the numbers in the meanings they have now. When a game has a 6 or a 7, it shouldn’t be a terrible game, but that’s how it’s done. An 8.5 isn’t a masterpiece, yet it’s treated like so. If someone really wants you to understand that this game is bad, they’ll have the balls to give it a score lower than a 5. Because that’s how it’s supposed to be.
A 6.0 is a bad game? On a test, that’s 60%, it’s a pass. Fuck off!