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Doom and Why Review Scores Suck

Doom and Why Review Scores Suck

Doom’s been for over a week now, and as you might have noticed it – whether you played it or not – a lot of people are finding the game awesome. Though I haven’t gotten around to writing a review (yet), I can attest to that. Almost across the board, the game’s getting praised, and its scores are reflecting how great… the single player is.

Then we have the multiplayer. It’s fair… at best and mediocre at worst. There’s really no better way to put it. It’s faster than a lot of other shooters out there, especially the popular ones, but it doesn’t fully embrace old school arena FPSs as it probably should’ve. The single player is being praised for just the right mix of old and new, whereas the multiplayer’s mix is off – too much new and not enough old.

So reviewers are left with but two recourses: either you review Doom as a full package, or you gush over the single player and leave the multiplayer mostly ignored, and that’s how most people have done it. There’s really no right choice to this quandary, and every site – and as such every person – is going to score the game differently. I’d say Doom is worth $60 for the single player experience alone. Anything extra is just gravy, however stale and moldy it is.

The issue isn’t so much with the reviews themselves, but the people reading it. A lot of them put so much stock in the score that they lash out if anything goes against their personal position on a game. Just look at IGN’s Doom review. Their 7.1 came from reviewing the game as a full package, and there are 1000s of comments that took great issue with that. The review didn’t gush over the single player as some others have, but on the whole, the reviewer thought well of the single player, and agreed that the multiplayer was a disappointment.

Then you have the people who gave Doom high or perfect scores, seemingly focusing solely on the single player experience and letting the rest of it slide. Giant Bomb gave the game a 5, but agreed that the multiplayer isn’t anything to write home about. You can be ho-hum on half the game and still think it’s a 5? Obviously every site scores games differently. Brad Shoemaker of Giant Bomb didn’t give Doom a 5 because it’s a perfect game; he gave it a 5 because he liked it that much. Of course a lot of other sites use a much more stringent review scale, taking of points for every nit-pick and issue. No two review systems are equal (even if sites like Metacritic try to lead you to believe otherwise).

I can’t imagine how many people buy a game based solely on a score, or worse yet, a metascore, and don’t bother reading the actual reviews. It’s a lot, that’s for sure. Is it more than half? Who knows? But you can bet some people saw the IGN score, and thought, “I knew it, the new Doom is modern trash. Skip.” Or there’s the people who saw the 9s and 10s and ran out to buy the game, expecting a stellar old school shooter in both single and multiplayer only to discover half the game is a disappointment.

As much as I’d like to, I know how silly it is to suggest that scores be abolished, at least for now. Metacritic has become such a behemoth solely because review scores are important to both consumers and the industry as a whole. Coincidentally, the most hilarious thing is that the current Metacritic score for Doom, 85, is actually quite accurate if you look at the complete package. If the single player is at least a 9, the multiplayer is a 6, and Snapmap is somewhere in between, 85 is about where the score would land.

This isn’t even touching on the scores themselves. Video game reviews are commonly scored on a scale of 1 to 10 (or 1 to 100), but it’s really a 7 to 10, and anything less than that is reserved for truly broken and unplayable messes. If a AAA game is polished, has no major bugs, and performs well it’s going to get at least a 7, no matter how good or bad it is. This has been an issue for years, though, and criticizing it is nothing new, but it’s worth mentioning. And if someone even considers giving a good game less than an 8, the proverbial shit will hit the proverbial fan.

If only people would start reading reviews and not scores and bottom lines, we might actually be able to phase them out entirely. One day, perhaps, but as long as so much resides on a double digit number, those very numbers aren’t going anywhere.





About Josh Price

Josh Price is a writer who probably spends too many hours of the day playing video games. At some point he decided to put the two together to (hopefully) great effect. He also wrote some fiction. You should check that out if you're into such things, which you should be. Reading is FUNdamental.

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