Five fool-proof ways to spot an average game

Most games, contrary to what you might think, aren’t truly shit or amazingly awesome. No, usually the majority are just plain average. Lying in the gooey mediocre centre between brittle pieces of really rubbish titles and crunchy bits of scarce 90%+ gaming gold, they’re rarely that offensive. Still, we thought it would be a good idea to produce a quick guide on how to pick out gaming’s most m’eh worthy titles, using indisputable console science.

Note: All following aggregate review scores have been taken from Metacritic.

It's got dragons in it...

Averagely appearing in: Dragon Valor (57), Dragon Rage (50), Dragon Hunters (56), Lair (53), The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon (62)

Dragons by their design should be the very by-product of awesome. C’mon, they’re dinosaurs that can fly and breathe fire. Shitting fire! How could any game that contains these winged win merchants not amount to the sum total of melt your face off brilliant? Well, it’s mainly because game developers think our scaley mythical mates are so chuffing great, they have to counterbalance said chuff-endorsed greatness with rubbish men. Rubbish men with beards… who wear cloaks… and enjoy pre-empting all their sentences with ‘ye’ and ‘olde’.

It's got Nolan North in it. And it's not called Uncharted...

Averagely appearing in: X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged Edition (73), Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (73), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (67), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (61), Crash: Mind of Mutant (60)

The linguistic ninja that provides his dulcet tones for Nathan Drake has such range and natural, dreamy charm he’s appeared in almost every bastard game over the last 12 months. Need a slightly sensitive, but grizzled marine dude? Get on the blower to the Northinator. A sodding big robot with just a hint of pathos, you say? Nolan to the rescue. Damn his multi-talented larynx. It’s graced so many games over the years that invariably a succulent, meaty slice of them are atrociously average.

It makes you solve a homicide...

Averagely appearing in: Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion (53), Murder in the Abbey (64), Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer (56), Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders (53)

Murder is great in games. Watching soon to be decomposing bodies writhe around thanks to Havok physics. Machete-ing endangered species right up in Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts. What’s not to love? Although, technically, killing in games only works if you’re the one dishing it out. Not the poor sap who’s got to solve the ensuing mystery of who chopped up the white rhino. Also, any game about solving crimes (especially if it’s on a Nintendo console) invariably turns out to be really quaint and English. With most involving a bunch of middle-aged woman sitting around eating Digestives, trying to figure out who used a ball point pen to stab Janice from down the street’s hubby in the jugular.

Above: Officially the best thing to hit DS this year. Probably

It's got LEGO in it...

Averagely appearing in: LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (77), LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (71), LEGO Battles (65), LEGO Star Wars (78), LEGO Batman (75), LEGO Rock Band (70)

Control yourself, man. Yeah, we all know anything pieced together out of little colourful blocks is automatically the cutest thing since newborn lambs. Y’know, before you plate them up and enjoy their backsides with a dollop of mint sauce. But in spite of LEGO Darth Vader’s charming, chubby Imperial legs or how homicidally huggable a plastic Joker is, every game stuffed with these toy bricks is ever so slightly mired in m’eh.

Its title's been plucked from the Random Name Generator...

Averagely appearing in: Gratuitous Space Battles (73), Roogoo Twisted Towers! (67), MEVO & the Grooveriders (72), Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches (67), Armored Core for Answer (62)

Ingenious Funk Fight. Stupendous Bongo Attack. Atomic Hair Salon Brawl! We swear 37% of all game designers just pluck titles for their babies from here. A barely related clusterf**k of words is a sure sign the developers know their game ain’t all that. Thus they can’t be assed coming up with a coherent name and instead cobble together a few vaguely related syllables, get the A-ok from Phil down in sales and then go out to get bladdered in celebration. Kudos.

Jan 28, 2009

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David Meikleham
Google AMP Stories Editor

David has worked for Future under many guises, including for GamesRadar+ and the Official Xbox Magazine. He is currently the Google Stories Editor for GamesRadar and PC Gamer, which sees him making daily video Stories content for both websites. David also regularly writes features, guides, and reviews for both brands too.