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Are movie, TV, and video game critics useless?


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The recent 7/10 given for Cyberpunk drew harsh (some warranted and in my opinion much unwarranted) rebukes from players. Overall, Cyberpunk appeared to get glowing reviews... but the PS4 version has a score of 2.8 out of 10 on metacritic with over 5500 ratings! Apparently, this game is an unplayable mess (supposedly, at the moment). Is this just another example of the discord between the general public and so-called critics? Or is it a bunch of angry players review bombing? Perhaps Cyberpunk is too new to really fully comprehend the situation. But what about Last of Us Part II?

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93 from critics, BUT a 5.7 out of 10 from nearly 150,000 reviews. Is it really just "review bombing"? Heck, Last of Us Part II just won Game of the Year! So what does that mean? Anything? Well, as noted by Forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2020/12/11/of-course-the-last-of-us-part-2-won-game-of-the-year-whether-or-not-it-deserved-it/

There’s so much heft and gravitas and industry-wide groupthink with this sort of game. People say it’s super deep and so it is. People say it’s a masterpiece and so it becomes the critical darling, swept up in a wave of praise. It ticks off all the right boxes with all the right people, to the point where saying it’s not the best game of the year is almost verboten.

I think games are reaching (or have reached) the same point as movies. A HUGE divide by critics - who ultimately nominate this or that for this or that award - and the audience that care more about the overall narrative and experience than political messages (which are prevalent in games and movies) or similar messages. I fully appreciate that The Last of Us Part II was NOT written with me in mind. I fully understand that some people view it as a masterpiece. BUT, people do also have a right to criticize it - hopefully for legitimate reasons such as gameplay, character development, etc. and not for anything asinine. And, many of the reviews I read really did criticize it for legitimate reasons, and praised it when it deserved. Ultimately, while I would not call Last of Us Part II "a failure", I personally would not enjoy the game. I personally also feel there are far better games that are more deserving that never got the praise nor recognition nor awards as Last of Us Part II. There is this discontinuity between players and critics. Similar thing has been happening in movies and television for years. I would argue to even a far more obvious divide. Case in point, CW's Batwoman. It has been absolutely panned universally by viewers!

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But as you can see, it's "Certified Fresh" - what a joke, by so-called "critics"! So ultimately, perhaps the professional reviewer really is dead. Is it best to just look at an average score and go from there? Truth is, I do look at average scores, but I also read reviews to decide if the game/movie/show is something I might enjoy. That said, I often ignore so-called "professional reviews" because I do feel they are obsolete and out of touch with the rest of us. I value a review by someone who does not actually get paid to write one! There is of course danger in that, since most people either write reviews because they love the product, or more often, because they hate it - for whatever reason. At least with entertainment, my experience is that a place like amazon or steam actually have some very good non-professional reviews. Sure, lots of shallow/useless reviews too, but again nothing is perfect.

Thoughts?

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Editorials Team · Posted

I'd say the player/audience reviews are the ones that are useless...

Manchildren get their panties in a twist over whatever newest "outrage" and have to take out their frustrations in life against it on the internet.  I haven't played Cyberpunk, or TLOU2, or watched Batwoman Whatever, and maybe never will.  But I don't doubt for a second that the critics are the ones who are correct.

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Editorials Team · Posted
23 minutes ago, SilverspoonGaming said:

As far as movies, I never pay attention to Rotten Tomatoes because I have seen many, many movies that they rate somewhere below like 40%, so their opinions are useless to me.

That doesn't mean the movie is bad.  It means 40% of critics like it.  Nearly half of them.  You're in the segment of the population that likes it.

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My tastes are different alot of the time, and vary quite a bit.  I basically have to try everything for myself to see if I will like it or not.

Examples against RT:

Low Down Dirty Shame and Wagons East are ok movies.  Id give them each a 3-5/10.

Days of Thunder gets a 38%.  WTF!  That is one of the most quoted, and most beloved movies for almost everyone!

 

Metacritic is great for game reviews.  I trust the sources that the reviews come from, so when a game scores somewhere around 92% and above, I automatically buy it so that I can experience it for myself at some point.

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Just responding the OP, kinda but not really.  Usually its somewhat significant if its mass praised, or mass panned.  But I can't think of one single instance where any critic has either changed my mind on something, or made me want to buy or not buy something. I think a lot of critics think much more highly about themselves than they should. Or to convey, how they felt or their opinion on something, instead of saying 'this character was bland, the writing was horrible' without citing examples or how to improve on it.

I also kinda am in the camp where I wish critics were people who excelled in that field.  For example, when it comes to music, someone who I know personally has a lot of knowledge tells me something is good or bad, their opinion is weighted more because they're more intimate with the details of what they're talking about.

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Editorials Team · Posted
11 hours ago, SilverspoonGaming said:

Days of Thunder gets a 38%.  WTF!  That is one of the most quoted, and most beloved movies for almost everyone!

I've never met anyone who quoted that movie, or even mention it.  Could be a regional thing if you're in NASCAR country.

And 38% is, again, not a failing grade.  It just means different people have different takes.  I'd guess that most Jerry Bruckheimer movies are in that range.

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Editorials Team · Posted
10 hours ago, guitarzombie said:

Just responding the OP, kinda but not really.  Usually its somewhat significant if its mass praised, or mass panned.  But I can't think of one single instance where any critic has either changed my mind on something, or made me want to buy or not buy something. I think a lot of critics think much more highly about themselves than they should. Or to convey, how they felt or their opinion on something, instead of saying 'this character was bland, the writing was horrible' without citing examples or how to improve on it.

I also kinda am in the camp where I wish critics were people who excelled in that field.  For example, when it comes to music, someone who I know personally has a lot of knowledge tells me something is good or bad, their opinion is weighted more because they're more intimate with the details of what they're talking about.

Hah.  If any critics are useless, it's music critics.  Spend all of their time dissecting lyrics instead of the notes being played.

imo

 

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The reviews that read like the back of the video game box and rate on 7-10 scale are useless. If you find a reviewer or source with similar tastes or special expertise I think they're useful.

One that stands out recently is IGN's Flight Simulator 10/10 review. MSFS is an amazing sim, but launched with and still has numerous issues (autopilot is messed up and will frequently try to kill you, ATC needs a ton of work, it has framerate/stuttering issues beyond just being a graphically demanding game). An informed review from enthusiast would fairly point all those things out. The IGN review is just like "Wow it uses Bing Maps! I can see my house! You should play with a real joystick, it's COOL! The flight model is so realistic compared to Ace Combat, my only frame of reference!"

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1 hour ago, Reed Rothchild said:

Hah.  If any critics are useless, it's music critics.  Spend all of their time dissecting lyrics instead of the notes being played.

imo

 

Im a big Nirvana fan, and people always put so much emphasis on his lyrics, when he's said theyre almost meaningless.  They're just bits of interesting phrases, word salads etc.  One song could have lines of lyrics that all mean different things, instead of one coherent form like a more traditional song. 

The problem when it comes to music is how the listener appreciates it.  Most people don't want to put in 'work' to understand the complexities of harmony especially when theres a lot of tension, or deceptive cadences etc.  They want something they kinda dont have to think about.  But on the other hand, as someone that loves that stuff, I can understand how people WONT like that stuff so if you're critiquing something, its important to address both sides and not that its bad because you cant understand it.

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14 hours ago, guitarzombie said:

I also kinda am in the camp where I wish critics were people who excelled in that field.  For example, when it comes to music, someone who I know personally has a lot of knowledge tells me something is good or bad, their opinion is weighted more because they're more intimate with the details of what they're talking about.

YES! an excellent point. This is why I trust "the audience" more than critics. Consider Roger Ebert. I'm old enough to have actually seen the man speak in person (back when I was living in IL), and there was no doubt in my mind that he was a bit brash, and I definitely disagree with him on quite a few points, but that said DAMN the man knew his stuff! He brought up points I did not previously consider, and although I may have disagreed with him on various topics/movies I respected him. Now consider Gamespot's infamous reviewer, Kallie Plagge. I watched part of her discussion regarding Cyberpunk, and I have to say, eloquent she absolutely was not, thoughtful she did not appear to be either. Her Gamespot staff profile notes "Kallie Plagge is GameSpot's Reviews Editor. She loves Pokemon, inventory management, and Grunt Birthday Party." Okay, so how is she different than any other young person who just plays games for fun? As far as I can tell, the answer is she is not. Yet, I'm supposed to respect her and Gamespot? NO. Why should I respect her? Did she go college and study art? Does she offer a new perspective or ideas regarding games? I'm guessing she just checks off the right boxes for Gamespot to have her as staff. That said, many "audience" reviews are terrible. However, I certainly have come across many on places such as steam and amazon which were excellent. Clearly, the person writing the review knew his/her stuff and they communicated it well. I also feel that many such reviews do not have any particular agendas, and so they tend to be more genuine, which again is why I trust them more.

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There’s only one game reviewer I take notice of and that’s Chris Carter on Destructoid (except his review of A Link Between Worlds). That dude lives and breathes games and I actually think he may have cloned himself to play so many. He plays all genres from retro to AAA and gives a lot of valid praise and criticism.

I think user reviews can be very helpful but you have to learn to filter out the trolls and manchildren. 

As long as a game scores a 6+ I’ll give it a go. If there is a diverge in reviewers vs public I will do further research.

As far as Awards go though, absolutely as worthless as the movie awards. 

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16 hours ago, Reed Rothchild said:

I haven't played Cyberpunk, or TLOU2, or watched Batwoman Whatever, and maybe never will.  But I don't doubt for a second that the critics are the ones who are correct.

Seriously, you haven't played any of those games nor watched Batwoman but you have no doubt that the critics are correct? Why? I watched as much of Batwoman as I could stomach and it was horrendous. Terrible acting, worse dialogue, cardboard characters, laughable at best. No, the audience score is entirely accurate - the critics, I honestly suspect they're just paid to be positive, or they have their own agendas and Batwoman checks the boxes off. To dismiss all gamers/audience as "manchildren" or to say something like "they're not mature enough because this or that character is gay/lesbian/etc" is disingenuous and insulting to many. There are of course immature reviewers and lots of idiots, but the majority of players/movie goers etc. are not like that. Life is Strange has a slightly higher user score (86) than critics score (85) and that game deals with queer relationships and other "hot" topics - guess what? The audience loves it because it's a great game and great art! Not simply because of the subject matter. Same thing for numerous movies such as The Handmaiden which are universally acclaimed by the audience. 

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4 minutes ago, Shmup said:

There’s only one game reviewer I take notice of and that’s Chris Carter on Destructoid (except his review of A Link Between Worlds). That dude lives and breathes games and I actually think he may have cloned himself to play so many. He plays all genres from retro to AAA and gives a lot of valid praise and criticism.

I think user reviews can be very helpful but you have to learn to filter out the trolls and manchildren. 

As long as a game scores a 6+ I’ll give it a go. If there is a diverge in reviewers vs public I will do further research.

As far as Awards go though, absolutely as worthless as the movie awards. 

Someone that really studies and loves games is the critic I can admire and would read their review. By the way, I did read his Cyberpunk review and he gave it a "low" score of 7.5 🙂

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Editorials Team · Posted

Yes, it's an editorials conspiracy.  I'm watching out for my brothers-in-arms 😅

Seems to me you had your own agenda with this thread.  If you want to convince me that The Last of Us 2 is a worse game than Cobrai Kai - based on the user metacritic scores (5.7 vs 5.8) then be my guest.

But I'm gonna go out on a limb, without playing either one, and say that lower score is a direct result of a review-bombing agenda because petulant basement dwellers don't have a better use of their time than attacking nerd media that triggers them in some manner.

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1 minute ago, Reed Rothchild said:

Yes, it's an editorials conspiracy.  I'm watching out for my brothers-in-arms 😅

Seems to me you had your own agenda with this thread.  If you want to convince me that The Last of Us 2 is a worse game than Cobrai Kai - based on the user metacritic scores (5.7 vs 5.8) then be my guest.

But I'm gonna go out on a limb, without playing either one, and say that lower score is a direct result of a review-bombing agenda because petulant basement dwellers don't have a better use of their time than attacking nerd media that triggers them in some manner.

Good to hear you're loyal 🙂

I'm sure you realize that a AAA-game with millions and millions of dollars in development will not be judged in similar fashion to a much much lower budget game. Also, a game such as TLOU2 or Cyberpunk which are 20-100+ hour games will again not be judged in the same manner as a 2-4 hour beat-em-up or such the like. Roger Ebert was once asked why he gave a particular movie (don't recall the actual movie) a higher score than some artsy film by a famous director (I think it Ingmar Bergman) and he said that when he saw a Bergman film he expected a masterpiece. Well, Naughty Dog and Sony promised us a masterpiece, and the audience clearly didn't see a masterpiece. They saw a mediocre game that had potential and never really lived up to it. The critics on the other hand, as noted by Forbes, had already made up their mind it was a masterpiece long before the game was ever released.

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Deciphering game reviews these days requires some nuance. There are wrinkles in both the gaming industry and the current toxic af gamer climate. I agree with @Reed Rothchild, I think user reviews can often be just as useless. TLOU2 is a great example. It wasn’t bad from a technical standpoint. You can dislike the direction the story went in, or the movie-esque gameplay, but the game itself works as advertised and has great production value. The rest is subjective. Capital “G” Gamers™️ got their tighty whities twisted because they believe the game is “forcing the LGBT agenda” on them and because the story writer is a feminist, etc. 

CDPR has got to be the most circlejerked game company in existence, so Cyberpunk was already decided to be a masterpiece long before it released. Now that it’s got bugs falling out of its ass there are people are trying to say “Hey, this isn’t what we thought it would be” and are getting shit on for it.

The current gaming community is so shitty I don’t see how anyone can be bothered to keep up with it. If you want to know if a game is for you, find a smaller reviewer with similar tastes as you or just know your own tastes and look at gameplay footage.

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27 minutes ago, The Strangest said:

The current gaming community is so shitty I don’t see how anyone can be bothered to keep up with it. If you want to know if a game is for you, find a smaller reviewer with similar tastes as you or just know your own tastes and look at gameplay footage.

Exactly, and those "smaller reviewer[s]" are NOT critics, they're players like you and I.

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12 minutes ago, avatar! said:

Exactly, and those "smaller reviewer[s]" are NOT critics, they're players like you and I.

Yes, but my point is still to draw your own conclusions rather than rely solely on what others say. We should be using game reviews to supplement our own decision making, not decide our opinions for us.

For example, there’s a large portion that have said that the Witcher 3 is the most masterfully written game of all time. But when I hear those romance dialogues and watch the scenes in the game, I have a hard time believing the people who wrote/programmed them have ever been intimate with another person. They’re all just so awful, something a dude in high school would fantasize his first time being like. Which brings up another point about user reviews on places like Metacritic: who is giving these praises or critiques to these 60 hour long stories? Someone who played through a game in its entirety and digested the entire experience objectively? Or some 15 year old kid who has hardly developed his own personal opinions/philosophies in life?

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