As a race, we seem to have a natural, innate requirement to evaluate things. In the context of the capitalist world, this translates to our insatiable need to know how ‘good’ something is. Be it a film, book or video games, the first thing we must be assured of is its quality.
This is determined largely by consensus, as a hive-mind of popular opinion forms. Agreed-upon judgements are easier than ever to identify, with sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic readily available to place a numerical score on a game to indicate whether or not it’s worth your time.
There is a potential negative to all of this scrutiny, however, and that is the pushing aside of games that are deemed good, but not great.
Agents of Okay-hem
The last truly mediocre game I played, for instance, was Agents of Mayhem. Released in August of last year, it was met with a decidedly lukewarm critical response. A massive fan of Volition’s previous work with the Saints Row games, I was thoroughly disappointed. On this one occasion, though, I bravely decided to bite the bullet and ignore the reviewers. Big mistake.
I’m sure I’m not alone in liking to think of myself as a well-informed consumer. This is most true with the games industry in particular. I rarely pre-order and try to avoid the hype, patiently awaiting official confirmation of a game’s quality before making a purchase.
But this has led to me missing out on a lot of titles that I’m fairly certain I would have loved. One such release was the Attack On Titan licensed game from early last year. Leading up to release, my interest was maintained as an avid viewer of the anime. The gameplay looked like solid fun, and the novelty of playing as my favourite characters was a very appealing one.
The second reviews started coming in, though, and it achieved a fairly average 74 on Metacritic, I knew I would never play it. To some, this may sound ridiculous. Perhaps it even sounds a bit elitist and dismissive. Unfortunately, I’m a willing victim of our ‘if it’s only good, why not pick something better?’ attitude. My time is finite and precious.
We Have Too Many Nice Things
And that’s another major part of the problem: there are simply too many amazing games coming out right now. A good problem to have, admittedly, but it results in many competent and enjoyable titles being left out in the cold.
Games are also constantly increasing in scope. More often than not, with that comes an expansion length and, hence, in time investment. Essentially, then, high quality, massive adventures are releasing all the time, and nobody has the free time, or indeed money, available to play all of the ones they want to. And so it becomes a battle of quality, and the in-the-middle candidates lose out.
I started thinking about this issue when watching a video discussing the best Marvel games. X-Men Origins: Wolverine came up, and the gameplay looked like something I would love. However, I soon realised that had I known about the game at the time of release, I probably still wouldn’t have got it, because of both its reception and the baggage that movie tie-in games carry.
It honestly makes me quite sad to think of all of the good games I must have ignored over the years in favour of more conventional, critically lauded titles. I’ve resolved, therefore, to stake a little less in reviews and give some more average experiences a chance in future.
Add Some Strings to Your Bow
There is much to be said for having an expanded repertoire of titles with varying degrees of quality that you’ve experienced. Even if not every single gameplay element is fine-tuned to perfection, there may still be plenty else to love. If nothing else, playing mediocre games allows us to appreciate what works so well with their superior counterparts.
It’s also important to remember that no review is objective truth. Reviews are no more than one person’s opinion. We each have our own individual likes and dislikes, and the content of games can vary greatly. I don’t like repetitive gameplay and lifeless open worlds, but if you do, maybe try Agents of Mayhem. You may find your new favourite game. Who knows?
So perhaps I will finally get around to playing Attack On Titan. And maybe you, too, should be adventurous, and try a game that isn’t quite the next Breath of the Wild.
Interested in Attack on Titan? Buy it here!