Nobody likes being disagreed with, and nobody enjoys having something that they like besmirched. However, when it comes to differences of opinion, there is a marked difference between debating the issue and becoming a stupid, whiny crybaby.
Ever since Jeff Gerstmann was fired from GameSpot for his unforgiving review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, the subject of honesty and integrity in games media has been a hot button. People were at GameSpot's door with torches and pitchforks, demanding answers and screaming about the broken trust between reviewer and gamer. From the outpouring of support for Gerstmann, one could easily imagine that gamers wanted their reviewers to be frank and open about their opinions, to be able to express themselves without reprisal and share with you their personal thoughts about the videogames they have played.
If you believed that, you were wrong. It seems that gamers don't want honesty at all. They read only what pleases them, and blindly attack anything that contradicts their blinkered views. In truth, there is no difference between them and the game publishers who pull an advertising deal over one bad review.
There's a stink of corruption coming from the world of games media, and for once it's not coming from the writers. It's coming from the readers.
Destructoid is a Web site that prides itself on brutally honest review scores, and while it has to be said that a fair few of our readers respect that commitment to integrity, all over the Internet I read complaint after dismaying complaint attacking us for our work. It should come as no surprise that two of our most recent reviews -- Patapon and Condemned 2 -- have proven the inspiration for this article, as the "controversies" surrounding both have reached nigh unprecedented levels of stupidity. Let me tell you a little bit about them.
In the case of Condemned 2, my colleague Reverend Anthony was, shall we say, merciless in his scathing opinions. He wrote an excellent review which very clearly explained his perception of the game and discussed everything he felt was wrong about the title. He rated it a 3, a score which perfectly reflected his writing. He was attacked for it.
Almost exclusively on the basis of the score, his review was called "bad" by people who hadn't even played the game. There were those who accused Anthony of pretending he hated the game for hits, which is about the most ludicrous assumption I ever heard. Nobody who disliked the opinion could seem to grasp the idea that Anthony just didn't like Condemned 2 and rated it accordingly. They had to accuse him of ulterior agendas, they had to insult his ability as a writer, they had to failingly attempt to discredit the entire Web site -- anything to escape dealing with the fact that one man wrote something bad about a videogame they liked.
Patapon was perhaps even more ridiculous, a review which caused outrage even though it gave the game an above average score. The reaction from some of the Dtoid members was laughable enough, but outside of the site, a few of the comments were even worse. There were people who were legitimately stunned by the review, unable to comprehend a difference of opinion, and those who suggested the game needed a higher rating purely because it was "innovative" and that anybody who would dare give Patapon an above average score now "hated innovation."
The Patapon "controversy" pretty much highlights the hypocrisy of the gaming community. People poke fun at IGN and its ilk for sticking to the "seven point scale," where they don't rate a game truly from 1 - 10. Seven is considered "terrible" and eight to nine is "good." People mock this scale and the silly amount of high scores it produces, yet when Destructoid introduces and uses a true ten point scale, where ten is near perfect and one is truly terrible, we are instantly shat upon. On a true ten point scale, Patapon's 6.5 marks it out as above average -- good, but flawed. That's exactly what Patapon is, a good but flawed game.
But hypocritical gamers contest it because it opposes their personal opinion of the game, and this threatens their frail egos. The lesson we have learned here is that it's great to have a ten point scale, unless it contradicts your own petty little view of a game. If you have ever mocked the "seven to ten" scale and had a problem with our reviews, you're a lying bastard. End of.
It's simply astounding, the depths of idiocy some people will sink to in order to complain about a review. I actually read someone complaining that Super Smash Brothers got a 9.5 instead of a 10 in Edge magazine. This was also before the game was released. Let that sink in for a moment -- someone complained because a game they hadn't played yet was deemed NEARLY perfect instead of COMPLETELY perfect. Since when did the games industry become an episode of that Sweet Sixteen show? Must so many gamers really act like spoiled brats?
It's become almost epidemic, ever since people went insane because GameSpot (ironic) gave Twilight Princess an 8.9 instead of a 9.0. It seems you can't review a high profile game honestly without incurring the wrath of a lynch mob of angry geeks. Of course, these are the same pricks who threw a tantrum over Aaron giving Halo 3 an 8.5 -- why am I still surprised at their imbecility?
When I read people whining about review scores, I see a bunch of excuse makers. They cannot handle the idea that someone could hate a game that they enjoy, so they make up reasons as to why the game scored below their expectations -- the reviewer sucks at the game, the reviewer is after hits (which they ironically provide anyway with their crying), the reviewer doesn't matter so hey, let's ignore it (which again, they ironically do not do). In truth, there's no difference between these butthurt readers and the Julian Eggebrechts making excuses for Lair, or the Jeff Minters pulling a hissy fit because Space Giraffe didn't sell.
And maybe I'm "whining" too, but that's fine because I'm a gamer and that's apparently what we do now. However, when I see such blatant hypocrisy, it makes me really disappointed in our "culture." When I see someone demanding a higher score for a game, that's someone essentially begging to be lied to. They WANT everyone to be like CNET, just pleasing whomever they can in lieu of providing honest commentary. Seriously, do you want to be lied to? With some of you, it sounds like this is the case.
If you want honesty in your games media, then prepare to hear some things you don't like. And if you don't like them, that's fine. Nobody is asking you to enjoy our opinions -- what we ask for, and we once tried politely, is for you to be constructive in your disagreement, and to take the opinions of reviewers as simply that -- opinions. Don't quibble over the difference between a 0.5 point discrepancy, that's retarded. Don't make excuses for a bad review, that's pathetic. Just explain why YOU enjoyed the game, and be happy that you DO enjoy it. Is that really so hard? Must you resort to telling us how "furious" you are? Why are you furious? What was actually so enraging about a gamer's opinion being different from yours?
Obviously, the group of people (and this isn't aimed at everyone) I address in this article is made up of mewling spastics, so let me make it very clear -- it is fine if you don't like a review, just stop being fucking RETARDED about it.
I don't know how much more plain I can make it. The point is, people are different, we have to accept that. I never much agreed with Nex's review of Call of Duty 4, myself. I think he'd given the online perk system more heat than it was due, and I informed him of this -- intelligently and with some class and respect. What I didn't do was say he was a crap writer and demand a "better" reviewer who would "give it a higher score." I didn't hurl stupid accusations, like the person who implied Nex's review had negative points in it because he was a "Halo fanboy," which is hilarious in its own right. Sometimes I think a game gets more praise than it deserves, sometimes I think a game is unfairly rated -- what can ya do? Get personally offended? Are you that sensitive?
So there you go. If you actually want some honesty, then actually learn what a review is -- it's someone's opinion of a videogame. Stop treating it like its your sole emotional crutch and stop getting so angry, as if you've been insulted personally. Decide what you actually want from your games media -- you either want a real ten point scale where all the numbers are used, or you want everything to score an eight. You either want to hear what someone really thinks about a title, or you want to be lied to. Either you want Jeff Gerstmann, or you want CNET.
I'm almost on CNET's side sometimes, when I think about the way some of you react to real honesty. Considering the stupid bullshit we've had to read regarding real videogame reviews, accepting cash for a glowing appraisal suddenly doesn't seem so bad.
So, if you were one of the bitches who acted like morons over Condemned 2, Patapon or anything else, don't ever complain if you one day see us accepting a check from EIDOS.
You waived the moral high ground on that one.
reviewed by Jim Sterling