Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably seen the recent influx of new video games that have recently hit the market. With each new game comes a flood of game reviews from hundreds of sites and thousands of people. Most people use these reviews to decide what games they will or will not buy, myself included, but it is important that multiple sources should be checked before making a decision.
Some games, such as Bungie’s recent title Destiny, receive fairly similar reviews across the board, and the overall reception of the game can be seen with little effort. But with some other games, such as the even more recent Alien: Isolation, the reviews can vary greatly. Now this poses a very important question for the consumer as well as the reviewer, and that is, why can reviews vary so much?
Why Game Review Scores Can Be So Similar
To answer the question of why some games’ review are so different, we should probably look at why some games’ scores are so similar. Many AAA titles such as Call of Duty, Destiny, Halo and other big names tend to get fairly standard review scores, that is, most reviewers tend to agree upon their experiences and upon similar scores whether or not those scores are good. While there may be hundreds of things that could explain the common-felt reception of these games, the biggest reason why these games are scored so similarly is we know exactly what to expect.
Most of these games, especially those in a series, are predictable and in many cases are simply a slightly different iteration of the last. We all know what to expect from the next Call of Duty game; perks, an action-packed campaign, killstreak-led multiplayer. Games that release demos or some other form of an early test-run also set a sort of standard for themselves, such as with Destiny, the game presented itself with a specific attitude, one which most people became familiar with before release, and gave them an idea of the game before reviewing. Most of these high end games are expected to follow a specific formula, and so they are judged based on those expectations.
Why Game Review Scores Can be So Different
So why do some games receive entirely different reviews from different sources? Take Alien: Isolation for example, over here at The Gamer Headlines we thought that the game deserved a 9.0/10 for it’s intense gameplay and immersive atmosphere. Some other sources, such as Joystiq’s 4-star review of the game, tend to agree. But on the other hand there were many, such as IGN and Polygon, who completely disagreed with us and gave the game far lower scores, and there were many more scores all over the place. And of course this is not the only game with scores at both extremes of the spectrum; I Am Alive, a survival video game developed by Ubisoft Shanghai, also received very mixed reviews with both extremely high (100/100) to extremely low (40/100) scores.
These games, as opposed to the tried and true AAA titles from the likes of Activision and EA, evoke different expectations from different people, and as people, each and every reviewer is subject to bias and different emotional responses. For instance, if you went into Dead Space 3 looking to be terrified, you’d probably be disappointed, and your review would most likely reflect that despite the possibility that it was simply a well-made game.
The biggest difference between the games that have fairly uniform scores and those that have a more polar range of reviews is how the game is perceived before it is experienced, and the premature ideas that reviewers have about a game. The only way to be truly unbiased is to go into a game with no preconceived notions whatsoever which is, in essence, impossible. So, before you invest in your newest game check it out from multiple perspectives.
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