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Hakael avatar 8:28 PM on 03.18.2011
Fear and Loathing on Metacritic

It's been a week since PAX East, and I'm just now finally recovered enough to start playing titles I held off on before the convention. I had been looking forward Dragon Age II to since finishing Origins and its currently getting a deserved healthy rotation along with the occasional MvC3 bout. I'm enjoying my rogue a lot, and while the gameplay isn't as micromanaged as the first, I dig how fast I can tie in various skills instead of pausing every three seconds to make sure everything is perfect. The characters in this are a step up from the first game, where I was perfectly fine just rolling with Morrigan and Alistair (quality) and whatever throw away I felt was required for any section. In DA2, I honestly feel bad about leaving certain characters behind because I enjoy them so much. While I'm not quite done my initial playthrough, it certainly has the makings of a great and memorable experience... but the user reviews on metacritic don't necessarily share the same opinion.

To speed up the back story here, the current metacritic user rating is largely a result of backlash from a Bioware employee posting his own favorable user review. Morally dubious, certainly... but the purists that are now posting low reviews and scathing comments (often with horrible spelling) are guilty of the very thing they claim to be fighting against. They're slanting the score out of spite, and not how they feel about the game itself. So one review is biased, it's only going to take one bad review to balance it out... not 500+. It'd be one thing if a marketing division at EA had its hands in multiple reviews in some kind of giant conspiracy... but that's just not the case... this is one guy making his own choice. So why the outrage and the user review crusade?

Metacritic as a whole is a website I don't encourage. It can be a good resource for finding reviews quickly from professionals, but the manner in which it has become a kind of metric goal for publishers leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't like reviewers having power over how publishers allocate resources, even if this is only a small consideration in comparison to sales in most cases. If a game has a promising premise and the gameplay/sales aren't quite there yet I'd love to see them take another crack at it to fix and improve instead of saying "Well, this only got an avg 78 on metacritic... lets drop it in favor of another Generic Military Shooter...those are safe". The user reviews are another animal entirely, oftentimes giving a score of zero because of trivialities. Or a 10 for similar reasons.

Certainly EA didn't help matters by essentially supporting the idea of their employees posting reviews for games they're involved in, and saying its how it goes. But lets face facts here, the game is good. If you're on the fence, there just happens to be a free demo available... who the fuck needs metacritic? Decide for yourself. When I think back on this game I don't think I'll remember it for "the controversy"... something tells me i'll remember the hours I put in and the characters I enjoyed.


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