Metacritic: The Downfall of Free Speech?

Killzone 2 is a damn nice looking game. It looks like it plays fantastically, and the staff here at GamerNode seem to like it quite a bit. I’ve not played it and already, I don’t want to. Ever. This is all due to fanboys turning Metacritic from the Rotten Tomatoes of the gaming industry into a weapon they can use to bombard sites that give their prized games less than 100%.

In this review, CVG states that Killzone 2 is a fantastic title, citing aspects of the game using extremely complimentary phrases such as "audiovisual splendour," and "a stunning single-player campaign." All good so far, and then they make their first major mistake when avoiding baiting fanboys; complaining about the lack of a feature in a game, while comparing it to another title that does have said feature on a different platform. They then gave the game an 8.7, and their 87 went up on Metacritic.

Had they never used the review score site, I don’t think 90% of the horrid, hateful comments towards CVG, or Mike Jackson (the poor sod in question) would have even existed. This is the problem with the Internet; anyone smart enough to register on a website can instantly blast your opinion into next week with abuse and political incorrectness simply because they’ll never suffer the repercussions of doing so.

I remember a late-night AIM conversation with one Eddie Inzauto, a familiar staff face here at GamerNode, about Metacritic and the huge amount of negative publicity the website got when they decided that no, GTA IV wasn’t the best game ever, and didn’t deserve a ten out of ten, or a hundred percent, or two super-happy stars of wonder. Good for them, in my opinion. You hear that word? Opinion?

Opinion (noun);

A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

Reviews are not the be all and end all, they’re someone telling you why they liked or didn’t like the game, and why. I’ve seen some seriously poor reviews, giving no reasons for hating a particular title, just lots of abuse and destructive vernacular. But there’s still no logic in calling it wrong, because if they hated it, they hated it. There’s no reason why they should have to justify themselves, that’s just insecurity on the part of whomever chooses to challenge said reviewer about his opinion.

Metacritic encourages this horrid treatment of videogame journalists, and to quote Tycho of Penny Arcade, reading the comments pages of articles like the CVG Killzone 2 review is like watching "a fully three dimensional image of a stupid person." I’ve written previews of some seriously poor games, and reviewed some even poorer ones, but if they’ve got something good, something you know someone might enjoy, then don’t leave it out. However, I wish the gaming public would stop taking reviews as gospel. This isn’t an advert, or a press release; this is someone telling you about their own experience. It’s not an instruction to purchase said title due to said score, it’s simply a method of showing you what’s on offer that’s good, and what’s on offer that may be good but someone else happened not to think so.

Personally, if I was Metacritic, I’d publish an average score and nothing else. Don’t list sites and their individual scores, just use a big average green number, and that way unless the average outraged fanboy has enough time to scour every gaming site on the web who reviewed the title, there’s little chance of the reviewer being abused. Journalists are trained to take a lot of harsh criticism; I’ve had criticism that I’ve shown to other people who then shouted angrily about it for hours on end. But they don’t deserve to have homophobic labels thrown at them, regardless of sexuality. They don’t deserve to be called stupid, because the last time I checked, they were the ones writing professionally, not the abuser.

Most importantly, they’re the reason you even knew about the game in the first place, unless you work in or visit a videogames store on a daily basis. It would have been perfectly acceptable had someone criticized one small mistake by Obama in an article full of praise. Obama and journalists are both human, and both have feelings. His opinion is that the American people deserve better, and I don’t think he whispered "except people at GameSpot" under his breath.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Christos Reid View all posts by

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.