As this generation draws to a close, I’ve found myself scrambling to play several exclusives and “AAA” games that – thanks to life or other games – got relegated to the backlog. Despite picking these games based on my personal tastes, review scores, and player opinions, it’s been an unexpectedly wild ride that has me questioning the structure of modern reviews from established games media – the reviews and opinion pieces that get the most exposure and, presumably, are most influential for consumers. It’s rare that my own opinion deviates too far from consensus, however, I’ve walked away from several recent games confused by the scores.
The two games that really triggered this feature are 2017’s Horizon Zero Dawn and 2019’s RAGE 2. They both received extensive pre-release coverage, dozens of high-profile reviews and, if not for intense periods of work getting in the way on both occasions, I’d have considered them day-one purchases given my personal tastes. In hindsight, I’m glad I picked them up late and heavily-discounted, but the experience got me thinking about several other games I’ve played, the changing structure of modern video game reviews, and the problems those changes bring.
Now it’s worth stating up front that you’ll never find an “objective” review from a critic (or any individual). An objective review would look a lot like the product listing: a brief outline of the premise or player motivation, a list of gameplay features, some bullet point details on the audio-visual settings, the devices you can play it on, and perhaps the controls schemes on offer. It’s informative and important for would-be buyers, sure, but it makes for dull reading and every media outlet would report the same basic facts.
Scoring would make for even less interesting reading, as there would need to be some universal metric by which you compared and graded each feature. Would it be the amount of written or recorded dialogue equate to the narrative score? Would the number of mechanics equal the gameplay score? Does a higher resolution and framerate automatically mean a higher presentation score? Every critic’s viewpoint is ultimately informed by their own preferences and comparable experiences. The problem lies in trying to frame your own experience while still considering the ubiquitous elements that make up video games and – if the last generation has taught us anything – bigger is not always better.
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
Please login to post comments.
It's almost that spooky time of Halloween, and we have been bringing you weekly recommendations on some...
23-10-20 Read more
Miles Morales may be well-known now thanks to his explosion in popularity with the release of the Academy...
21-10-20 Read more
Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls series is one of the most popular RPG franchises in the world. Encompassing...
19-10-20 Read more
We’re halfway through October and I’ve mostly sustained my plan to binge exclusively on horror-themed...
16-10-20 Read more
Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War Open Beta weekend has come to an end. While it was significantly better...
14-10-20 Read more
Once again, October has snuck up on us like Ghostface alone in a house with Neve Campbell. The glorious...
09-10-20 Read more
Latest ReviewsBrowse All Reviews