Resident Evil 6 is a very special game, not because of quality or anything of that sort, but because it has incredibly mixed reviews. Normally, review scores from various sites vary as much as three point deviations, meaning a high of 9 would often have a low of 6. However, Resident Evil 6 has had a massive range with some reviews being as low as three and other reviews being near perfect. This had led to an explosion of controversy as proponents and detractors try to justify the low/high reviews while simultaneously boosting the reviews that favour their preconceived opinion. The accusations levied upon reviewers have been extreme as is normal for the internet, and include bribery, trolling, fanboyism, and unjustified hatred. These bold accusations are not uncommon for reviewers, but it is usually not of this magnitude. So while people decry Resident Evil 6 like it is Final Fantasy XIII and others praise it like the second coming of Resident Evil 4, I think it is time to look at whether or not the attacks against reviewers are just, or if they simply follow a long line of poorly thought out paranoia, boosted by crushed expectations and malicious sourpussery.
|Wait, a popular game’s reviews are controversial? Unheard of!|
Firstly let’s look at what is at stake. Why are gamers so eager to attack certain reviews and praise others? The reasons for this is that Resident Evil’s fanbase is a divided one. The fourth Resident Evil changed the entire series from survival horror to action, and this left a whole slew of gamers dissatisfied with the series they once loved. This means that there is a large amount of people who actively want newer, action-based Resident Evils to fail. Combine these people with internet trolls and you have a large contingent of people who were rooting for Resident Evil 6 to fail from the beginning, who grinned mercilessly upon seeing the sub-5 reviews. On the other hand, Resident Evil 4 brought the series to the mainstream and, consequently, brought a whole section of new fans, who much prefer the action-based style. On the far spectrum of these people are the hardcore fans, who desperately want this game to surpass their wildest imagination. These people have a tendency to get their backs up, as well as to minimize any negative press, including reviews. So, as it stands, you have two overly committed groups that had generally already made up their mind, and are looking for any way to undermine the other group. In the middle of this controversy lies the reviews, which act as fuel from one side or the other and the reviewers, who have to face attacks from one side or another.
|The last old-school Resident Evil, and the beginning of the end of fan unity.|
The first review we are going to look at is the lowest review that the game received. Destructoid’s Jim Sterling gave Resident Evil 6 a 3/10. This is understandably an inflammatory gesture, and he has been called a troll trying to drum up views for Destructoid through controversy. Doing a little research, Jim Sterling has been accused of this many times, and several of his articles can be read to be troll bait; however, this does not seem to be the case with this review. What I see in his review is passion, as in a passionate dislike of the game and its problems. The review is full of embellishments and exaggeration, but these serve simply to highlight his major point: he passionately does not recommend the game. The score is, truthfully, inaccurate, but it is definitely not unjust. In the end a review serves a twin purpose: first, to act as an assessment of a game, and second to act as a reviewers recommendation. Both of these points are accomplished in the review. Clearly, Jim Sterling hated the game, which he saw as a mess, and a messy, tedious, unplayable game deserves a sub-5 review if that is what the reviewer took from it.
|You can always trust a guy with a monocle, right?|
The second bad review we are going to look at is the 4.5 from Gamespot, written by Kevin VanOrd. This review is markedly different from the Destructoid one. There is no overly inflammatory language or exaggeration to prove a point. What is stated are the major concerns the reviewer had with the game, that he decided made the game unplayable. Citing various excellent reasons such as technical difficulties, camera issues, pacing problems, design choices, and tedious gameplay, the low score is justified. While the review downplays the good things in the game, and the admission that there are highlights is not reflected in the score, might seem odd, the simple fact is that if a person cannot get past certain major issues, a game’s best elements will shine a little less brightly. It is this reason that many reviewers couldn’t get past Fallout: New Vegas’ bugs to see the excellent game within, and it is a completely natural reaction.
|This amazing game is buggy as hell, and guess what? Some people can’t look past that.|
So what would make a real troll review? In this specific situation, if a reviewer simply talked about Resident Evil’s of old and denounced all new ones without giving them a chance, the odds are that they are bad reviews. In conjunction with this, an obvious preconceived notion that is pushed by exploding minor issues into mountain, and minimizing all advantages is likely a bad review. However, there are two major hallmarks of a troll review other than the fact that it irritates people. Firstly, they are often lacking in detail, or take major liberties. This way, little work has to be done for major payoff. This can also relate to a majorly underdeveloped review paired with an outrageous score. Neither the Gamespot or the Destructoid review lacked for reasonable justifications. The second hallmark is opinion clothed as fact. Look at two statements and tell me which one is trolling.
a.) Final Fantasy XIII is a horrible game.
b.) Final Fantasy XIII was received poorly by many longterm fans of the series
The first statement is clearly opinion geared to provoke fans into a flamewar. The second statement states similar information, but it lacks an opinion behind it, relying on pure facts. Gamespot clearly did not do this. Destructoid definitely took liberties, but these were mainly for emphasis and entertainment, and did not feel like taunting, to me at least. Still an argument can be made due to the language used.
|My statement that Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t horrible was controversial, so I don’t even know anymore.|
The first good review I will be looking at is IGN’s. Even though Richard George’s 7.9 is far from the highest review that the game has received, IGN has been attacked for being paid to write a positive review. This charge comes up against IGN fairly often. Without comment on other instances, this is entirely unjustified in this case. The review opens itself up to attack by using statements like certain parts are the best in the series. However, both the written and video review make it clear that the game has major short comings that stop it from fully taking off. Going back to the purpose of reviews, this review highlights major issues, and ends with a general recommendation. Enough information supports the good and the bad that none of it comes from nowhere. The major disparity between IGN’s and other good reviews can be explained by the fact that some people can get past certain short comings such as a reliance on quick time events, set pieces, and tunnel vision campaign syndrome, while others cannot.
|This joke was old a decade ago. Stop it.|
The last review we will be looking at is Famitsu. The famed Japanese publication gave Resident Evil a 39/40. The way that Famitsu works is that four people review the game out of ten, with the idea that this would remove personal bias from the review procedure. Famitsu sued to be very well regarded, closely guarding its 10s; however, people have grown suspect of them as of late. I have no justification for this one. A near perfect score for a game that admittedly has problems is unrealistic, and, at best, they are simply not doing a service to gamers, who will pick up the game without knowing the issues. It could be that certain cultural issues make the issues less of a problem, but I, personally, feel that something underhanded must have gone into that review.
|Although they gave Baynetta a perfect score, so how bad can they be?|
Every time a major game like Call of Duty, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Madden, or the like gets released to high reviews, there are those claiming that the review was purchased by the developer. This does happen, but with far less occurrence than people think. The complaint is common because high reviews often go to high profile games, and high profile games often cause people to hope that the game fails, or causes disappointment in gamers, which leads to them thinking that the review is not accurate. A real bought review is one that completely overlooks all problems or minimizes them to the point that the reviewer is doing a disservice to the customer. Once again, this is not common, no matter how paranoid the internet is. It is always in the back of the mind of critical gamers, but the written review often makes it clear whether the reviewer really enjoyed the game or if he or she is simply trying to shill for the developer.
|If you have nothing bad to say about this game, maybe you were bought.|
So what can we take from this situation? With such mixed reviews, how can any of them be believed? The truth of the matter is that at times of seriously mixed reviews, the gamer is responsible to educate themselves. Read Gamespot’s review. Do you think that the problems outlined would bother you to no end? Read IGN’s review. Do you think the good outweighs the bad? Read Destructoid’s review. Is this the kind of game you want to play? Read 1up, Joystiq, etc. Look at the best reviews, look at the worst and see what they have in common and why one reviewer disagrees with the other. DO NOT simply look at a score and declare it the truth. Scores are great at a glance and useless in situations of mixed reviews. When a game has been vouched for as being great by one group of people and abysmal by another, it means that enjoyment of the game is very personal, and you have to take into account your own personal likes and dislikes. If you do this, you can buy a game you enjoy and avoid buying a game you would hate. If there is no consensus, you must determine what end of the spectrum you fit on.
|And being a uninformed consumer is one of Leon’s turnoffs.|
Resident Evil 6 may be a good game, or maybe it is a bad one. At this point, I cannot levy an opinion. However, I can say that his controversy is somewhat ridiculous. There is little reason to attack reviewer credibility at the drop of a hat, especially since most attackers do so based on the score alone. I have read many reviews and most of them back up there points well. In many regards, both low scores and high scores are accurate, but depend highly upon personal preference. Trust me, I play a lot of under-appreciated games. There are times where personal tolerances to certain tropes or gaming issues determine the score just as much as quality. In situations where no true consensus exists, be smart, find what you want, and stop pretending like all reviewers are out to get you because you disagree with them.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer