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.

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.

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.

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