Lazygamer Feature – Why do we defend bad games?

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WhyDoWeDefendBadGames.jpg

Get a big cup of coffee, because this is quite a long one folks so bear with me. I have a very straightforward question to ask gamers everywhere: Why do we defend bad games?

The game that I am going to be picking on here is Too Human. Is it the hype generated by the marketing campaigns? Or is it the deep wanting that we have to like the game and inability to accept that maybe, just maybe, the game isn’t what we had hoped it would be.

Too Human has been generating a lot of buzz on the internet lately. Mostly because it has been hyped up for quite some time now and with its long development cycle and legal issues with Epic Games’ Unreal 3 Engine, it’s mediocre reviews are causing quite a stir.

Let’s take a deeper look into this phenomenon and try and figure out why, even though Too Human is pulling in mediocre reviews left, right and centre, some people are still trying to defend it and tell themselves that they will still like it no matter what.

Most of the buzz started because a lot of online sites and publications actually took pleasure in announcing to the world that the long awaited game is actually just not good and that all the hype was for nothing. Then came the counter-arguments, stating that the game is actually good and that most people just aren’t willing to accept the “minor” flaws in the game. Add to this the fact that Dennis Dyack from Silicon Knights has been flapping his mouth so much about the game and how great it is and we really have ourselves a full-blown circus.

So let’s take a look at the facts. Metacritic, with a total of 33 reviews has come out with an incredibly less than spectacular score of 68/100.

68 out of a possible hundred, that’s not great. Where does that stack up in the gaming world, what other games have fallen into the same scoring bracket.

Well, I have checked through the scores on Metacritic and Too Human stands side by side in the 68 score range with the following games:

  1. Joust
  2. Band of Bugs
  3. Space Giraffe
  4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  5. Viking: Battle for Asgard
  6. Juiced 2: Hot import nights
  7. 1942: Joint Strike
  8. Golden Axe (XBLA)
  9. Jewel Quest

Now ask yourself the question, have you ever had lots of your fellow gamers say to you “I don’t really care what people are saying about Harry Potter, I think it’s the type of game I will like so I am going to buy it anyway!”

TooHumanMetacritic.jpg

The reason that I ask is because that is what I have heard from quite a couple of people with regards to Too Human. They try and justify that its a genre that they like, or that the control scheme and camera just take some getting used to.

Now while I don’t believe that we should all hang on every score that Metacritic pumps out, I do think that the fact that after 33 separate reviews were released, the average score was only 68, which means that the game is obviously not that great.

So why are people defending the game so much? What is it that is making so many people want to like it, want to love it and say that it was an experience that they thoroughly enjoyed. I am still in a position where I have not yet laid eyes on this game running on a console yet. I haven’t played the demo, I haven’t had any hands on time with some early code, I have only seen a few trailers and a couple of screenshots.

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Now, I feel the need to explain my situation a bit more now and how I fit into the category of the casual gamer who may want to pick this game up. I am a huge fan of looting games, especially Hack and Slash RPG’s. I played the living hell out of Diablo 1 and 2, I enjoyed Titan Quest and I even had quite a great time with the very buggy but ultimately quite enjoyable Sacred 1.

That was from my PC days, now I am a console gamer but I still love those types of games so when I heard that something like Too Human was coming to the Xbox 360 I got very excited. Now I sit with a dilemma. Do I go and buy this game because I am a fan of these types of games, or do I just stay away and wait for something like Diablo 3 to come out on PC and play that instead, saving myself the possible agony of realising that Too Human might actually not be all its cracked up to be and be left with a feeling of disappointment.

I want to like it because I crave this sort of gaming experience. I want to think that the controls will be be great and the camera will not affect me and that the story isn’t that important in the whole scheme of things. So many people have told me I should buy it anyway and I am very tempted, especially with the gaming draught that we are having at the moment but then, something creeps back into my head, the number 68.

“Dammit”, I think to myself, “the score is still so low, what is wrong with this game”. Who do I trust, do I trust most of my fellow gamers who have only at most, played the demo, or do I trust all the reviews on Metacritic. If I ignore the Metacritic scores then I am rendering the entire concept of reviews pointless but if I don’t then I feel like I am just following the system and am unable to make my own decisions.

So what does this all mean in the whole scheme of things? It means that we are possibly promoting the sales of games that aren’t that great but have been hyped up for whatever reason. I want to sympathise with Silicon Knights for the amount of time that went into this game and I want to feel bad for them because they had so many issues with the Unreal engine. The thing is, that I can’t because no matter how much of a back story there is and no matter how much time was put into it and how much hype there has been, the game is still being reported as mediocre and nothing special.

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So why should I buy it? Why should I support it? I have nothing against the developers, I don’t even know them and if the game is looking like nothing spectacular in a market where games only have limited time and funds, games like this are supposed to just disappear into the ocean of forgotten titles while all of us go back to playing our favorite games again.

As you all know, game prices are getting slightly ridiculous and not only that but the fact that we really do only have a limited amount of time to dedicate to playing games. Maybe we defend games like this because marketing does actually work and hype is hype for a reason. Maybe it’s just because we get frustrated when there is nothing new to play and we are bored with the games we already have. I also realise that there are also those out there that want to defend the title because, like with Too Human, it is an exclusive title and people don’t want to see games on their favorite consoles failing.

The reasons we defend bad games is still a mystery to me and it’s something that many gamers will continue to do. Whether it’s down to marketing or just straight fanboy antics I will never know.

What I do know is that we as gamers should not defend games that haven’t lived up to their hype. We have been promised certain things and when they don’t come through then we should feel cheated and make it very clear to the developers that we aren’t going to spend our time and money on their products unless they shape up and release a title that’s worthy of this great hobby that we all love so much.

It’s nothing personal, It’s just the way that it is and we can’t fork out so much money on games that don’t deliver on their promises. An attitude like this will ultimately push developers to realise that this market really is that tough and only the strongest titles will stand out and be noticed.

If you are still reading, I appreciate your patience (or boredom). Leave a comment below and let us know what you think about situations like this and whether or not we should be supporting games that haven’t quite delivered on their promises.

Last Updated: August 26, 2008

Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since ’08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

  • j4nr1k

    Both me and the missus have been at Too Human Coop for 5 hours
    non stop now.

    It is a amazing game for people that like looting rpg’s, and doing so
    with a friend.

    Have not touched the SP yet, might never do… the coop is that
    good!

  • darthdad

    Joust only got a 68? πŸ™

  • Syph1n

    So you dont trust your own review staff who gave it a 8.9 or something? sis on you lazy. πŸ˜‰

  • j4nr1k

    And Viking was at least a 75 or 80 by todays scale on reviews.

  • Check who wrote the story… also Editorial and Reviews are sepereate πŸ˜›

  • nice article, and I agree with a lot of your points, however I have a problem with a lot of reviewers in the sense that “sometimes” it feels like they’re doing a review more out of a job than a sense of wanting or passion for the game (I’m not implying that Lazy’s team are these people) so when a reviewer looks at a game I think everyone has to realise that these guys are looking deeper than most gamers (Harcore & Casual gamers would ever look) and some people may not be expecting the game to perform to the heavens and back and that’s why the gaming experience is always good for them. I think the hype engine has caused many casualties but that’s what marketing is about I guess getting the brand out there and known to the people! There are small bits I take out of a review mainly the stuff i’m interested in, I don’t really take the score anything to go on… however whne I do see a game has done badly I want to play it just to find out why!:P

  • Goose ZA

    Personally, I think this game is getting undeservedly slated. It’s NOT perfect. There are issues here and there but having played it until 2am this morning I can honestly say that the game is a TON of fun and I’m going to be playing it for a long time to come.

    Maybe it hasn’t lived up to the hype but really, it was hyped into touch! For me, personally, I think this game deserved a solid 8.5 (and I’m a HUGE fanboi). I think it’s been undeservedly hammered because of the hype and Dyack’s mouth and so comparing it to other games with the same metacritic score is unfair.

    But at the end of the day, I’m going to get endless hours of awesomeness out of this with my friends and that’s all that matters. It’s not the perfect game that Dyack has been advertising, but it is the most fun I’ve had on my 360 in a long long time.

  • Goose ZA

    Oh, and Lazy, if you can’t get past the 68, TRY the demo to get a feel for the gameplay. If you’re not hooked after 2 or 3 playthroughs then perhaps it’s just not meant to be =)

    IMO if you haven’t at least tried it then you are in no position to wonder why peeps such as myself and J4nr1k are defending it =)

  • Goose ZA

    Whoops! I see now Nick wrote it. Well then in that case, Nick, play the damn game first πŸ˜‰

  • I find myself in exactly the same situation, Nick. I soooooo want to get this game, but because of the various reviews I’m a bit
    hesitant…

    Haven’t played the demo (can’t afford the waste of bandwith), but seen a bit of the game.

    Just wish we had proper rental shops so I could give the game a proper test drive.

  • OddSockZA

    sepereate? :/

  • Bboy

    heh, that article took me so long to read – I probably could’ve made my R600 in that time and have TH to show for. πŸ˜‰

    I think TH is just one of those games that either you like or don’t depending on what you value in a game. TH mimics so many genres that it has gotten a whole bunch of gamer types interested, but hasn’t delivered equally for each genre.

    – If you are coming from the “God of War world” then you’d be disappointed by the combat, and the looting is just an irritant. (score 5.0)
    – If you are coming from a “WOW world” then you’d be loving the loot and the combat is seen as a bonus. Might not be so happy with the setting.
    (score 8.5)
    – etc, etc the average = 6.8

    Most would argue that even mentioning God of War is ridiculous in this context, (they are probably the ones defending the game) – If the combat was superb but the l00ting was kak then people would be saying that comparing it to WOW is ridiculous. What have I learnt from all this… I think i prefer beating up little monsters with blood rather than robots… if I gotta battle machines – put me in a mechwarrior suit

  • new software… couldn’t figure out how to edit comments πŸ™

    I’ll leave the typo now though

  • j4nr1k

    It is more like diablo or baldurs gate (PS2 version) than anything
    else.
    And it is bloody amazing!

  • It makes me want to go mad. There is still a big part of me that wants this game. I am finally going to get a chance to try it out soon now and see if i like it. To be honest the idea of decent co-op sounds quite awesome. I just dont know what to think anymore. argh

  • Jonni

    I have not been following the hype at all. I only defend the game because of the demo. Once I tried the demo I was hooked. Retail copy is waiting at the PO :smile:. I’m sooo excited!

  • Goose ZA

    Why don’t you grab Philip’s review copy?

  • PillsburyDeeBoy

    It is not that people defend bad games. It’s that people defend bad games they are “married” to. This defence occurs in hindsight and foresight, too. The pain of something you expect to be good or atleast solid being that way is too much to bare for most, resulting in one convincing themself that it isn’t so, that it isn’t bad.

    Look at it this way – anybody who is very honest with themself will admit that Duke Nukem was an awful game with an immature (not witty) narrative and irritating character…yet, people are so in love with their memories of the past, they aren’t willing to make those kinds of assertions.

    A simple example in my world would be McGuiver. Growing up I thought that show was the absolute cream of the crop but when I watched a re-run on series a few years ago, it was absolutely awful.Would it be easier for me to admit that I was just wrong in my initial liking of it, or is it simpler to excuse it some other way (by saying, oh, it’s just aged badly)? Obviously the latter, when the former is actually very true.

    Too Human is the new Duke Nukem.

  • JimBob

    Too Human might satisfy the looting itch for some, but frankly, I’d rather go back to Titan Quest or Diablo than play this game with its rubbish controls, laughably bad story and poor animations/ b ackdrops.

    People who defend it are mostly fanboys who are emotionally invested in a platform, just like those defending Lair and Haze.

  • I don’t mind people defending games that get less that stellar scores. 68 still means there’s something there.
    Too Human is a Marmite game, it’s either your 80 or your 50. looking at metacritic there isn’treally a middle ground.

    Personally I’m more annoyed by people defending overhyped games, like GTA, MGS,Halo etc because it totally polarizes the spectrum.
    10/10 has no meaning if all it means is “doesn’t completely suck + big marketing budget”.

    doobiwans last blog post..Nintendo are officially evil again

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