My engineering/architecture teacher once told us as a class that if we were to do our drawings on paper, we would never get a perfect score. “There will always be a mistake somewhere on everyone’s paper. We are human and we all make mistakes no matter how careful we are.” I think this should apply to the gaming industry as well.
There is no such thing as a perfect game/score. No, I am not talking about bowling a 300 at your local lanes. I mean games that are made to be played by a wide variety of different gamers. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on games, however it is how we express that opinion that determines if anyone will care to listen. There are several distinct groups of people that usually have wildly different opinions on games, and in turn, have different effects on how they are perceived by the each other.
First lets start with the most unprofessional and most verbose of the groups; the Fanboys. They are usually the ones that are quick to jump all over someone to either defend their favorite game or bash one because it doesn’t do the subject matter justice. As an example, I cannot count the number of Halo reviews that I have read from people saying that it is the end all be all of video games. The franchise as a whole is decent enough, but in my opinion it just doesn’t “do it” for me. That won’t stop someone from telling me that I am stupid for not understanding the majesty that is Master Chief.
Halo is not perfect. It has it’s issues. It’s always been a super linear game, same basic enemies, same basic weapons for the most part, and always the same story; save the world. That’s not to say that it isn’t a fun series, not at all. I have owned most of the major releases (Halo 1, 2, and 3) and may rent Reach. It’s just that the game doesn’t do it for me. Fanboy-ism aside, you need to realize that not every game is for EVERY person. Tell me all day long that the Titanic was the best movie ever made, I still think it was one of my top five WORST movies ever.
Then there are the reviewers. People that are paid (sometimes) to play games and give their honest and frank opinions on games. This time I will use as an example Metal Gear Solid 4. Critically acclaimed by most everyone that was able to get their hands on it before release. It garnered more awards than all of the PS3 titles at the time combined. It ranked seven perfect scores from seven different publications according to Wikipedia. Was that game great? Yes. Was that game “perfect” no. There were parts of the story that were “fuzzy” at best, and it never could decide if it wanted to be realistic or complete fantasy.
This is the inherent flaw in a rating scale. Generally speaking, no two people will feel the exact same way on a game, and how it portrays itself. Giving a “perfect” score is solely based on the person reviewing it, and their knowledge of the subject matter. If you gave Red Dead Redemption as a review title to someone that only played driving games or if you gave someone that only plays first person shooters Alpha Protocol, they would probably rate them both pretty poorly. You can tell someone till you’re blue in the face that “this game is perfect and you need to buy it right now”, but until they play it, its just words.
Fanboys read articles and see a score and immediately associate that score, game, and writer together. Holding them to some sort of standard they are unaware of. Give Halo 2 a 9 out of 10 great, but turn around and give say, Bayonetta a perfect ten and you unleash a mighty shit storm. No one stops to think that possibly the reviewer actually LIKED Bayonetta more than they liked Halo 2, they just see the difference in scores.
The personal opinion of someone else should not be the final word in weather or not you buy a game. The exception being that you follow one particular reviewer that has likes and dislikes close to your own. Being able to find that one person that you actually trust with a review is like giving a friend $60 and saying, “Buy me a game I will like.” It takes a while to build up that level of trust, because the first time you disagree, it’s all flaming suits and bunny stew.
I guess all I am trying to say is that no one has the right to tell you what you should and shouldn’t own. Do your research, watch videos, read previews, and reviews. Not just one, take in A LOT of information. If something seems like you might dig it, then pick it up. If the game meets your lofty standards then that is great, but if not, then you have no one to blame but yourself. Don’t be so willing to throw down your hard earned (I guess) cash on something just because “Joe Schmo said it was good.” That guy doesn’t care where you spend your money, and most of the time he didn’t pay for it. But if you’re a fan of this kind of game then you have already bought it…