It seems that within recent years players and reviewers alike have become way too fickle for their own good.
Lately, if a game is anything less than perfect (or deemed so, at least), with scores in the 9/10’s, it’s fast regarded a failure. Case in point, I picked up a copy of Dark Void over the weekend. Initially, I was looking forward to this one because I was a huge fan of Crimson Skies, the previous game made by several members of Void’s team. When it came out though, I stayed away because the general consensus was that the game wasn’t very good. If memory serves, the kindest review came from Giant Bomb.
Cut to me picking up the game this weekend. I can see that the game has issues in several regards, and if I was reviewing this game on a scale of 5, I’d give it a 3 (average all around). That being said, as a game centered around aerial combat and ground/cover combat, I don’t know what people were expecting from this one. It delivers on both fronts, and the result is an enjoyable experience for fans of either genre despite it’s flaws. One that’s worth checking out, I’d say.
Dark Void is just one of several releases in recent years to fall into this pit. Regardless of the fact that it didn’t get negative reviews per se, as the people reviewing it still seemed to have an enjoyable experience, there’s this aura of “eww” that surrounds it these days (literally, I heard a famed and respected game reviewer say eww when Void came up in conversation). The problem with this trend (besides the inflated sense of entitlement we all seem to be guilty of), is that when perfection becomes expected (demanded), those that develop anything less are often taken out behind the shed before they’re allowed to grow and develop as game makers.
Pandemic Studios were a great example of this. Mercenaries 2? Not so good. The Saboteur? Far better, but still not deemed an amazing game. The result? A studio that was clearly showing signs of growth and improvement, was shut down. My fear is that this pattern is quickly becoming the norm, and I think we’re very quickly going to find ourselves running out of fresh voices and concepts. Games should sometimes be allowed to be average, if only to allow developers and studios the opportunity to find themselves.
Just because it’s not God Of War 3, or Limbo, doesn’t mean it’s not worth playing.