Monday, November 12, 2007

Are games JUST THAT GOOD?!?!

There’s something about game reviews that has bugged me for a long while. It’s something that until recently I’ve not been able to label or even understand. It’s just been this little splinter lodged in the back of my brain, this little itch that would act up whenever I watched the most hyped games- usually-end up with the most impressive scores (including games I’ve directed…so I’ve benefited from this phenomenon as well, to be sure).

But why are game review scores for games in general, and hyped games specifically, always so damn high?

And does it actually make any sense?

I mean, you don’t see this phenomenon in other media. Yes, every now and then a crazy hyped movie or album or book will meet with unanimously positive reviews. But more often than not, this is not the case. Usually really hyped media tends to be a let down and it’s the out of the blue stuff (ex: Matrix vs. Star Wars Episode I) that gets the accolades. Sure, certainly it’s sometimes the case for one (and MAYBE two) movies/books/albums to live up to the hype. But it’s NEVER the case that over 90% of the hyped up movies/books/albums end up with 90%+ review scores from 90% of the critics.

And IF by the grace of God it does happen, it happens once every 20 years or so…like a perfect storm of movies or books. But it certainly doesn’t happen every year.

But with games? Happens all the time. ALL the fucking time. And I want to know why.

For some comparisons, check out the reviews of the top 12 flix on Rotten Tomatoes:

The highest movie ranks 90%....the pretty hyped up Michael Clayton.

The NEXT highest flick is American Gangster coming in at 79%. Now this is fucking Ridley Scott and Denzel and Russel in a bad ass story/setting/genre. Can you IMAGINE if the game equivalents of Ridley,Denzel, and Russel got together and made a game in a hot genre? It’d be GOTY! posts and review scores from here to timbuckfuckingtoo! But in movies, not even close.

Why is it the movie reviews and book and record reviews seem like they are a little more…reserved? Honest? Broken? Who knows…

But now check out the rankings that are starting to spring up for the season’s biggest games from some of the biggest reviewers! Check out the scores so far for Assassin’s Creed (9.5/10, 10/10), COD4 (95% from metacritic), Mario Galaxy (9.5, 10), Mass Effect, Orange Box, Metroid, Ratchet, Uncharted, Guitar Hero III.

It’s like EVERY fucking game- score wise- is a masterpiece!

Are games just that good, or is something odd going on? And it’s not a one time event…this happens EVERY year.

Some theories? Sure! Here ya go:

1- Games, while being technically challenging to create, are easy to make from a standpoint of if you just spend enough time on it and hire good enough people (not geniuses but GOOD ENOUGH people), you’ll end up with a great game. Not a classic, but a great game. Maybe this is not the case with other media? And why not? Are other media harder to create because the end product has the potential to be so much deeper and richer and games are pretty much one note? Or is it something else?
2- Game reviewers- by and large- are not as experienced/mature/discerning as reviewers from other media? Lots of accusations that game media buy into the hype and review accordingly. BUT this can be countered by the argument that game reviewers are more like reviewers for consumer goods and if all of the boxes are ticked on the consumer product, then it gets a great review. It could also be argued that game reviewers are more passionate and less jaded than reviewers of other mediums and this is why the scores are so high so often…because they love the medium more than other media critics and are passionate about it. Not sure if this is a good excuse as to why the scores are always so high, but it’s hard to knock passion…so there you go.
3- Games are just better than the other mediums?

Shoot, I don’t know…I don’t have an answer. Do you?

And is it just me or do you guys/gals also feel this is an odd discrepancy?