Monday, October 1, 2012

Whuh-oh, here come the RE6 reviews [The problem with numerical scores]

at 3:16 PM
And they're pretty bad! For a game like that to be getting a bunch of 7s and 8s (and even the occasional 4 or 5) is basically an utter condemnation from the gaming press. Luckily, everyone knows that games that review poorly in the mainstream tend to be those with the best ideas that stand the test of time, versus the forgettable 9s and 10s like God of What and Halo and Unchartable that no one will every play or talk about again a month after release.

NOT that I am passing any judgment on RE6 without having played more than the demo or even pretending I have a clue where the game will stand or how it will look in five or ten years time. I just wanted to remind you all, hey, remember how stupid reviews are? Like, No More Heroes averaged an 82? Knights in the Nightmare a 79? El Shaddai a 76 and Muramasa an 81? These are some of the most visionary and memorable games of the past generation, yet the scores indicate something average and passingly enjoyable. Isn't it the beautiful if strange or flawed works that define an artistic medium, not those that perfectly execute the standard accepted rules? What is it that should be valued higher, ideas or execution? We're probably even verging on a formalism versus realism debate but who fucking cares, there certainly aren't any answers to be found there. That's for every man to decide on his own, or, better yet, not a decision that needs to be made. It IS, however, and should be noted to be, a decision that HAS been made by our current press, and their verdict is that Execution, Execution, Execution is all that matters. So keep that in mind when you make the mistake of caring about GameRankings or Metacritic. 

Hmm maybe this was uncalled for
Ah I don't really give a shit about this philosophy nonsense, especially not when it has to do with numerical scores. Everyone knows I think they're a horrendous idea in the first place and obscure everything it is that allows artwork to flourish. They're an economically-driven stigma that will in our time unfortunately never go away, because the majority of game-players - just like the majority of moviegoers and music listeners - are engaged solely as a means of relieving themselves of time and money. They aren't expecting to take anything away from the experience. They don't pick up a game and ask "is this worth playing?", they ask "is this worth sixty dollars?" And while there's blah blah blah something something something to be said here about bowing to economic pressure and scrutinizing product quality, that's a point that's been addressed a million times by other writers who probably care about it a lot more than I do, and who are still approaching games as a commodity, not an art form. Obviously that's not entirely unfair because probably some X% (not gonna pull a number out of my ass) of releases are developed entirely with this business mindset; you can't cover your ears and pretend it doesn't exist. Perhaps it's not the consumer this marketplace needs, but it's the one it deserves.

And the route that comment was going down is probably a dangerous communist tirade that Newt Gingrich might find and shoot me for, so I'll leave before I have to write a novel about how art has become entertainment and entertainment is a commodity and thus must cost money and therefore art has become currency and this seems, eh,  kinda bad. You don't need me to be that cynical, I think everyone is already. Go yell about it on Friendbook or your local Internet forum community, I'm sure they care. I definitely don't. 

Wow hey I managed to drone that long for a post where I originally came to say: fucking reviews are pissing me off acting like Resident Evil 6 is taking the series in a new direction with its divided campaign. Did any of you assholes play a little game called RESIDENT FUCKING EVIL? OR THE FIRST LIKE EIGHT GAMES IN THE SERIES (anything numbered less than 4)? They all start with a character select screen that provides for (at least) two separate and intertwining stories. 
Factual inaccuracies or oversights like that bug me because beyond the fact that it means writers aren't doing their homework, it indicates they have absolutely no clue of the context in which they're reviewing. This would be okay if they were making a clear point to review without context - some people think a game should be evaluated as a standalone piece regardless of the number at the end of the title (I myself think that some days, but other days I completely disagree) - but they AREN'T, they're referencing the old games in the series and talking about how Resident Evil isn't survival horror anymore and so on. If you're going to do that, try to get at least the most basic facts right. Or actually, don't, because every single review that called the split campaign a "new" element, I knew to immediately disregard.

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