Contributions by: Tyler Nagata and Shane Patterson
Let’s be honest. You don’t need a certified games “journalist” to explain why Grand Theft Auto IV is awesome or that the Dirty Dancing videogame is shit. You’re intelligent. You know what kinds of games you love and which ones you despise.
But once in a while, there’s that rare occasion where you’ve got a few extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket and have enough leftover to splurge on a game that you’re on the fence about. And when it comes to these situations, it’s frustrating when the professional critics seem to be sitting on the same fence as you.
The average score on an aggregator site like Metacritic may seem like it’s giving you an accurate idea of how good or bad a game is. But dig a little deeper and you’ll often find that one overly enthusiastic review is responsible for letting an obviously awful title scrape by with a so-so seven out of ten score. All it takes is one or two rogue reviews with hyperbolic clichés and an inflated score to make these crap titles seem like fairly decent buys. In celebration of our seven out of ten week, we’ve listed what we feel are the worst offenders that managed to scrape by with an undeserved seven.
And because we hate how aggregators mush together reviewers’ scores into one meaningless number, we’ve also combed through the archives of our competitors – IGN, 1UP and GameSpot – to find the most average reviewers on each site. We’ve aggregated the last ten of these reviewers’ scores - just like how the industry would - to see who came closest to a safe seven. If we all turned to aggregators for reviewers instead of reviews, these would be the journalists we’d think were pretty good, but not great. Yeah we’re dicks, but just to prove we’re fair, we found our own ultimate mediocre reviewer on our staff too.
Metacritic Score: 7.8/10
Who’s to Blame: G4 TV for giving Rez a perfect score it didn’t deserve
We’ll let you in on a secret about games “journalists.” They love it when they have an excuse to talk about games as art. It gives them a chance to bust out the lame terms they learned from their art history and literature courses in college, and makes them feel like they’re writing about something that matters more than a videogame that’ll be on sale in a few weeks.
Is a rail shooter with a wireframe stickman and auto-targeting - that plays like something stuck in the 70s - worth having an orgasm over? No. But add some electronic music and a few bright lights and you’ll have those “journalists” blowing smoke up the game’s ass, calling it a “visual and aural masterpiece.”
Above: We don’t care if you got a minor in art history. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s a “visual and aural masterpiece”
Carol Vorderman’s Sudoku
Metacritic Score: 7.2/10
Who’s to Blame: Worth Playing for handing this pseudo-game a shocking 9.3/10. That’s over a point higher than what they gave Metal Gear Solid 4, which received a measly 8.1/10.
Want to hear another secret? Carol Vorderman’s Sudoku is a waste of money. If you like Sudoku, you can find fresh puzzles for free every day in this thing that old people read. It’s called a newspaper! Boy, do those things rock! Filled with extreme headlines about the latest in world news and tons of totally rad coupons for necessities like cat litter and eggs, these things are a godsend. On the other hand, if you’re afraid that reading something in print will make a luddite out of you, you can always find free sudoku puzzles here.
Above: Worth Playing’s 9.3/10 just goes to show how a few rogue reviews can help awful games score an undeserved seven out of ten
Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek
Metacritic Score: 7.3/10
Who’s to Blame: Just Adventure for giving a game marketed toward young girls a passing grade
Why do game reviewers continue to let themselves off the hook by tossing softball scores to niche titles that never graduated past the 1990s? Maybe they’re lazy and lack a pair. Maybe they’re worried that they’ve become jaded reviewers who only care about popular games like StarCraft II or Diablo III.
Or maybe they’re just like this guy and are overrepresented on aggregator sites like Metacritic. Just Adventure writer Ray Ivey gave Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel a flawless score and is “looking forward to the next troublesome situation Nancy gets herself into.” We can’t say that we agree with him or the reviewer who gave The White Wolf of Icicle Creek a similarly high grade.
Above: Niche games like these enjoy inflated scores from niche game review sites like Just Adventure