A little game by the name of Heavy Rain came out recently. So far I have seen nothing but glowing reviews and people tweeting about how great the game is. Then the news changed from praise to complaints as the game started freezing on people at very inopportune times (not that there is a good time for a game to freeze), and in some cases corrupting game saves along the way.
The people that have finished the game are saying it was an incredible experience. The people that have freezing issues seem to be loving it as well. This brought me to a question. Can a game retain a high score (on the critical end), and stay in the GOTY running if it is plagued with issues such as freezing and corrupt saves?
This console generation has brought a lot of innovation to the console space. One of the main points of innovation is developers can now patch a game after it has launched, fixing problems or even adding features. It has been a boon for gamers who love downloading DLC, but the sword cuts the other way. Developers can make their release date and follow it with a patch to fix something that would have otherwise caused a delay. Of course, not all bugs can be found until the game is released into the wild, which is where Heavy Rain seems to be in this equation.
Other games have released and one of their main features is unplayable. Castle Crashers comes to mind. The patch came many months after the game actually released. This never seemed to affect the opinion of most people who lauded the game as a great beat-em-up. I don’t think the game should be given a 5 out of 10 for being a little messed up on release, but should it be considered GOTY material?
This brings me to the big one. Modern Warfare 2. This title has been patched multiple times in an effort to curb the exploits and glitches in the multiplayer portion of the game. A lot of people, including many websites, gave their GOTY nod to Modern Warfare 2 last year. All the while, one exploit would be squashed with a patch and another one would pop up almost immediately. Shouldn’t these type of issues be solved by the time the game releases? If they can’t put out a game with out serious multiplayer problems, can you give it the GOTY trophy?
Personally, I haven’t played Heavy Rain, nor do I ever expect to. That being said, I hope the developer is able to fix the freezing issue so people can experience the game the way it was meant to be experienced. When these things happen, I always think about the guy that doesn’t have his console connected to the PSN and doesn’t frequent message boards, Joystiq, or Twitter. His $60 is spent on a game that he can’t play, or at the very least is causing him a lot of frustration.
Can we judge a game based on the code that comes on the disc, or do we reserve judgement until the developer gives us the game we paid for via a patch? I think games are expensive enough without waiting for a fix because the developer cut corners in the testing phase.
What do you think?