Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
"Literally, we've got a half dozen perfect scores and I've also gotten the lowest scores I've ever gotten on any game I've ever worked on. Of course you want everybody to think you made the best game ever, but if we were trending at something like an 8 out of 10? I'd probably have to kill myself."
The stir created in the video game community when a high profile game receives an unexpectedly high or low score from a major reviewer, especially when it significantly differs from the general consensus. Especially jarring because professional video game reviewers tend to give out very similar scores.
The Trope Namer comes from the unimaginable havoc created by GameSpot's review of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in November 2006, which awarded the game a great-but-not-amazing score of 8.8 out of 10. The Internet erupted in anger and chaos, as the game was one of the most anticipated games of all-time, and near-perfect scores were expected.
Whether or not an 8.8 furor is justified is up for debate. On the one hand, a reviewer shouldn't just automatically go along with the crowd, even for nigh-universally-loved games. On the other, sometimes you get the feeling that they're doing it intentionally to create controversyand attract attention or forgot to do their research on the subject.
Sometimes you get the feeling that 8.8 situations are simply the fans are making a mountain out of a molehill. It's worth noting that reviews tend to be published a day or two before the game is actually released, meaning that many people are decrying the score awarded to a game they haven't yet played themselves. Such is the behavior of a console or series fanboy: Complaining about People Not Liking the Show. Naturally caused by the fact that many gamers believe that Reviews Are The Gospel. Might lead to He Panned It, Now He Sucks.
Often, the score may be controversial because it adversely affects the game's overall average score on review compendium sites such as GameRankings and Metacritic (how anyone can average out arbitrary numbers and letter grades that represent opinions with no formal and consistent foundation is another question). Alternatively, animosity can be generated from detractors of the game who all start to act as if the low score is the only "correct" one, so no matter how many good reviews it got, if GameSpot says it's not that great, it's officially a rubbish game.
There is some internal logic to this and related tropes, however, as far as video game developers are concerned. There is evidence of a correlation that good reviews will in fact drive sales. In one study, three groups of people were to read a (fake) review of and then play the game Plants Vs Zombies for 45 minutes; at the end of the session, they could either take 10 bucks or a free copy of the game. The group that was given reviews that were positive tended to take the free copy. Those that were given reviews that were negative (or unflattering) tended to take the 10 bucks instead.
Note: This is not Complaining About Reviews You Don't Like. There has to have been a definite ruckus generated by the review for it to be counted as a 8.8 situation. In general, the review has to have either A: given a score very different from the general consensus ("Bad" when most reviews are saying "Good"), or B: given a roughly equivalent score ("Very Good" when others are saying "Perfect") that is being lambasted for not being positive (or negative) enough. Also, works which are getting reviews all over the scale generally don't belong here, unless fans are screaming over all the reviews they disagree with, in which case it may qualify as a type B situation.
This video provides a good explanation of the trope and its faults.
See Four Point Scale for an explanation of why 8.8 out of 10 would be considered a low score.
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Video Game Examples:
The Trope Namer review by GameSpot of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess gave it an 8.8 out of 10, which kicked off a firestorm on the Internet by fans who felt their beloved series was being Damned by Faint Praise. It only got worse when the GameCube version of the game received an 8.9, from the same reviewer. This was in spite of the fact that the review's text recommended buying the Wii version instead if the option was available. Repeat, he gave the game he thought was superior a lower score. Even for a tenth of a point, it was still a tenth in the wrong direction of his recommendation. Even holding higher standards for a Wii game over a GameCube game doesn't make sense, since the review bashed the graphics, as though it was supposed to be an enhanced remake, when we all knew it was a port.
This was seen as particularly odd given that one of his major criticisms of the Wii version was that it was an unimpressive port with tacked-on usage of the Wii's motion-sensing controls. So he thought the Wii version was a shoddy port with lackluster controls and gave it a marginally lower score, yet thought that the GameCube version was inferior. Confused yet?
The reviewer in question, GameSpot reviewer Jeff Gerstmann, was heavily criticized for this logical inconsistency, and reportedly received death threats. The number "8.8" has since become an Internet fad in some gaming circles. In fact, as proof of its infamy, typing "8.8" into Google and clicking "I'm feeling lucky" used to yield the review in question.
Interestingly, when Gerstmann was fired a year later, accusations started flying that he was fired for breaking the opposite rule: the Four Point Scale. See that entry for more details.
Completely inverted and played with and generally mocked by Dutch video game magazine, Power Unlimited, a couple of reviewers gave Twilight Princess a whopping 9.8, everything fine and dandy, you reckon? Nuh uh. Another reviewer, who wasn't in particular a big Nintendo fan as opposed to the two that did the game, was so pissed off that in his review of Dead or Alive Extreme 2 he gave it a 9.9 out of spite.
Interestingly enough as well, in hindsight, many fans agree with the assessment of it being an 8.8, as the game is seen by many as relatively lackluster. In fact, GameFAQs reader reviews for both versions of this game average to 8.8.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is given a 7.5 out of 10, the lowest score given to a 3D Zelda entry. Because the reviewer didn't understand the controls. In comparison, as of this writing the game holds a 94/100 average score on Metacritic. It's not too hard to find disheartened fans because of this.
Not to mention that some are hailing it as the best Zelda game of all time, with six high-profile gaming publications (IGN, Wired, Edge, Famitsu, Game Informer, and Eurogamer) all giving it perfect scores.
The Neverhood, to fans' despair, got only 4.9 out of 10. Even more questionably rated was its sequel, Skullmonkeys, which, despite still being a good game, has less popularity and respect among fans. Among Gamespot, it got 5.0. Only one-tenth point difference.
GameSpot and IGN's scores of Lair, which were 4.5 and 4.9 respectively. PS3 fans continue to insist that all reviewers that had problems with the controls are wrong and that the reviewers were probably 'paid off' by Microsoft or Nintendo.
Sony didn't help by insisting the former as well, to the point of even sending "clarified" manuals to show them how to play it right. Most people countered that if you have to go that far for people to play the game right, that's a problem in and of itself.
Rumor has it that when Lair was close-to-completed, Sony decreed that it should use the motion controls, since they had decided to make a motion-sensitive controller standard equipment. Adapting the game to motion controls ruined them in general; if released as intended, scores might have been much higher.
And much later, after most anybody stopped caring, a patch was released that allowed for non-motion controls. The game was still barely playable, if only for its dramatic lack of explanations in how, for example, boss battles were actually supposed to work.
GameSpot's 7.5 review of Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction. The complaint that the game had an "Identity Crisis" for having too much variety was the point of contention with most of the fans. It was quite confusing since the series had been known for its variety in gameplay.
The magazine Game Informer gave the game a 7 and a 5.5 for similar reasons.
The game was also given 76 by Australian magazine Hyper, for the same two reasons above. And its obscene difficulty. The same magazine awarded a 85 to Super Smash Bros. Brawl, contrasting with the 90+ scores it had been getting.
Spanish magazine N Gamer gave Radiant Dawn a similar 77, which didn't go over well on its forums. Oddly, they gave Shadow Dragon (generally seen as one of the franchise's low points) a 90 and praised it as being one of the best games on DS.
GameSpot also gave a similarly low score of 7.7 to Silent Hill 2, a game which received almost universal critical acclaim (average 8.9).
Game Informer gave the game a 6, and fans at the time were generally disappointed. Even though the rest of their staff loved Silent Hill 2, for some bizarre reason GI decided to pick the one guy on their staff who openly hated Survival Horror games to review it.
The average review score for the uber-anticipated Spore according to GameSpot is - wait for it - 8.8. GameSpot themselves gave it an 8.0, which turned out to be pretty much in line with most people's ultimate opinion of the game. Indeed people called the peeps at X-Play sell-outs cause they gave this game a perfect 5/5.
GameSpot awarded The Conduit 6.5 out of 10, which again is around 1 to 1.5 lower than what most other reviewers have given it.
And according to Metacritic, 1UP's C+ rating for The Conduit rounded out to 58.
Giant Bomb gave it a 2 out of 5. That review was also written by Gerstmann, who notably spent time ripping on the Wii in his Twilight Princess review as well.
The original Metroid is on GameSpot's list of the Greatest Games of All Time, yet their reviews for the GBA and VC re-releases were very negative, mostly owing to the fact that the game was already available as a free bonus inMetroid Prime, and could also be unlocked in its enhanced remake, Metroid: Zero Mission, so paying for the game separately was redundant at that point.
Metroid Prime 3 was also a victim of this, it received an 8.5 which by no means was a bad score (slightly lower than the 90 it has on Metacritic), but one of the negatives that knocked the score down was that the controls were so good it made the game too easy to play.
GameSpot slapped Persona PSP with a 5.0 review score. Most sites gave it much higher marks. The user score for Persona PSP is 7.9.
While on the topic of Persona, Gamespot has also reviewed the remake of Persona 2: Innocent Sin for the PSP and have also given it a 5.0. The main complaint from the reviewer was the gameplay and graphics felt outdated, also it as a lot of menu navigation. It also panned it for not being enough like Persona 3 and Persona 4. The average user score is 8.8.
Worth noting is that this review was written by the same person that reviewed Persona PSP.
GameSpot also handed out a really harsh 6.6 review to the highly acclaimed and award-winning Diddy Kong Racing for being too similar to Mario Kart 64. For most reviewers, this was a good thing, but for Jeff Gerstmann, it wasn't.
For some unknown reason, GameSpot seems to have a severe, burning hatred of Monster Hunter, and has given every single one of them (that made it stateside) extremely low scores. Except Monster Hunter Tri, which scored an 8.0 (with the review stating it finally made the series worthy in their eyes).
The Splatterhouse remake, which so far has received decent to great reviews, has been slapped with a 4.5 by GS, who complain about the platforming, overreliance on the gore factor, and Loads and Loads of Loading.
Gamespot's review of ZombiUreceived a 4.5 right before the release of the Wii U. Since many were hyping this game up until it got leaked, a war began with many convinced the game was not worth it. The Metacritic score turned up 74, showing the polarizing reviews the game would receive. It essentially boiled down to whether the review found the combat made gameplay tense (as intended) or frustrating. However Gamespot's review was indeed the harshest and lowest.
Resident Evil 6 received a mere 4.0/10.0 (well below the average critic score), causing an enormous uproar, with disgruntled fans vindictively bringing it up in the comments sections of unrelated articles for months afterwards. Feedbackula, a weekly GameSpot video series about mocking the worst comments for a given article, used the frequent complaints about the review as a Running Gag as they became less and less relevant to the site over time, yet kept popping up.
IGN's 7.6 score for Kingdom Hearts II. Made especially enraging to fans of the game since IGN gave Kingdom Hearts Chain Of Memories, which is widely considered weaker due to being on a handheld system and featuring card-based battles, a much higher score.
IGN's reviews of Assassins Creed range from 6.8 (IGN UK) to 7.7 (US). It would appear they're not quite pleased with the game's AI. The fans would appear to not be quite pleased with IGN.
IGN's 3.0 review of cult favorite beat-em-up God Hand, a rating a full five points lower than the reader average of 8.0.
IGN's review is nothing compared to GamePro's, though. This one also got a deserved banhammer smashPRO-TIP on the above mentioned paragraph.
The Imagine series always has had flak from most 'traditional' gamers (i.e., male and liking to blow things up), and there was shock, dismay, and laughter when a freelance reviewer on IGN gave Imagine Party Babyz a 7.5.
It should be noted that few of the major game review sites will touch games NOT aimed at the young-male market, meaning there's not much with which to compare that review score. IGN reviews a number of Imagine games, and generally gives them scores from abysmal to mediocre, which is much appreciated by people who actually buy these games and would like to know which ones are less crap.
In a bizarre inversion, IGN awarded scores of 9.1 to both WWE Raw for Xbox and its sequel, way out of sync with the games' average scores of 6s and 7s.
Suspiciously, the review for the first Raw game had quotes from the developer in the text of the review. Think about what would happen if a film critic had a conversation with Uwe Boll in the middle of a review of one of his movies.
Even the IGN reviewer (Greg, the wrestling guru of the site) who reviewed rival WWE game WWE SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain for the PS2 said the person who reviewed RAW 2 at IGN's XBOX page overrated it by a lot.
IGN's 7.6 review of No More Heroes. Different sources gave scores in the 8.5 range (Gamespot gave it 9.0, N Gamer gave it 9.4, X-Play gave it a 5 out of 5; hell, even IGN AU gave it 8.9).
IGN's 6.7 score for Disgaea 3 compared to the average score of 8.13 (before review) primarily for its graphics and lack of improvements. Controversial enough to warrant a second opinion immediately after the review.
Their 6.5 score of Sonic Chronicles (Same average as Disgaea 3 before their review) is another example
IGN re-opened the can of worms by placing Disgaea 3 on the "tears" list of strategy games to avoid.
IGN has been getting hate-mail over their 8.8 score of the DS port for Chrono Trigger, citing its lack of extras which were otherwise found in other, similar, ports. Others are just noting the irony of the meme actually being applied to a game often heralded as one of the greatest of all time (including by IGN).
IGN and Gamespot's reviews of Sonic Unleashed for the 360, giving it 4.5 and 3.5, respectively. They blamed the Werehog levels and the hub levels for ruining the entire game. And with the Gamespot review, it was rated lower than the widely-hated Sonic 2006 (which got 4.0).
In fact, Sonic fans have been going apeshit over Unleashed's scores in general, being lower than expectations. They even find it outrageous that the supposedly "inferior" Wii version is statistically superior to its HD counterparts. (Just to set the record straight for you non-Sonic fans, Sonic Unleashed for the PS3/360 is generally considered great by fans, while the Wii/PS2 version is generally felt to be somewhat of a mediocre, watered-down version.) They also rated sound for HD versions lower than SD despite being almost exactly the same thing.
The score was not the only issue fans had with IGN. The review itself was deemed to be of poor quality as for instance, there is one section in the video review in which the reviewer slows down and lets Sonic fall into the pit, then blames the game for being hard to control.
IGN US gave Football Manager 2009 2.0, IGN UK gave the same game 9.1. Far from simply reflecting the varying popularity of the game in different regions, the IGN US review compared the game with action football games rather than reviewing it as a management sim. Amazingly, the US reviewer actually recommended it for management fans, while clearly hating the game and having no idea of what makes a good one in its genre.
IGN gave Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Reshelled a 5.9/10 and cited "unavoidable traps" as a design fault, when, in fact, all the traps are avoidable; it just takes skill to do so. Perhaps the reviewer is just blaming the game for his inadequacies?
Simply put, they think Sequelitis ruined the whole series. Backyard Baseball '07 got a 1.0 from them.
Inversion: IGN gave Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 a 9.5. But the reader average (of the PC version, the console versions are a lot more in line) as of this writing? 4.7, being as low as 1.5 closer to launch.
While we're at it, IGN gave the Wii port of COD4 a 7. The reader average as of this writing is 8.4 (and you can guess the reaction from those IGN readers' comments), and NeoGAF immediately followed suit and called the reviewer out. It doesn't help that the review uses screenshots from the alpha.
IGN reported that Final Fantasy XIII apparently fell short of expectations when Famitsu reviewed it, with the title of the article being "First Final Fantasy XIII Review Score Not So Perfect". Famitsu gave it a 39/40. IGN's score? 8.9. Someone better get the hose.
On the flipside of this trope, Dengeki gave the game a very suspiciously enthusiastic 120/100. So it's better than perfect? How does that work?
IGN's review of Spore was done by a writer who admits in the review that he cares little for customizing content and instead of making his own content (the game's main appeal) just plucked it out of the pre-existing library. Tasking a writer to review a game the most basic concept of which he has no interest in? Brilliant!
IGN's 8.9 review for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is shaping up to be another superb example. The comments section totals over 1,000 angry posts railing against the reviewer's apparent pro-Modern Warfare bias, along with threats of never visiting the site again. There's even an e-petition thrown in for good measure.
In quite possibly the most extreme instance of fanboys blowing a perceived "low score" out of proportion, many readers were angry that in IGN's early review of Starfox Adventures, it was "only" rated a 9.1. They received so much hate mail over the review that they dedicated an entire mailbag update to answering some of it (and keep in mind, this was before the game was even out). The most ironic part of it all is that in the end, IGN's score was among the highest that the game received.
ICO & Shadow Of The Colossus Collection for the PS3 got an 8.5 despite both games scoring higher originally. Several people point this out in the comments. Many feel the improved games deserved to score higher.
The very same day IGN put up the Batman Arkham City review and gave it a score of 9.5 (the second highest possible score on the scale) they released a video featuring the reviewer defending his score, not to people complaining it was too high but to people complaining it was too low.
Not long after, they gave Kirbys Return To Dreamland a 7.5. Specifically, they praised the game before because it was a return to the series's roots. They condemned it in the review for being too similar to previous entries.
In a reverse way Gears of War:Judgment, which barely got 8's with other reviewers as well with the public, was acclaimed by IGN, receiving a really outstanding 9.2.
Neptunia fans never have high expectations for reviews, since most agree its not a game that would go beyond a 7. However many popped a blood vessel when IGN gave Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory a 5.4, despite the fact they gave the first game, one that it universally agreed to be crappy in comparison to the sequels (Due to No Budget), a 6.
Jim Sterling from Destructoid is frequently accused of going against the grain (in regards to review scores) in order to get the site more page hits, especially in regards to highly-anticipated games. Just the mention of his name in a review (and even some that he didn't even write) will invariably lead to long-term site posters yelling "inb4 shitstorm" and "RAGE IMMINENT", followed by an influx of new users who bash him for either being fat, elitist or an "unprofessional journalist". His reviews have since taken a mocking tone, and he frequently goes on the comment sections of his reviews to personally deal with trolls by ridiculing their faulty logic. His reviews frequently run into this:
He gave Heavy Rain a 7 out of 10, saying that despite having moments of brilliance, it was lucky to be a video game and not a movie, because if it were a movie, "its naive conclusions and impossibly weak characters would get Heavy Rain laughed out of any serious film festival." He also wrote a sarcastic response to the inevitable Internet Backdraft. Of course, Sterling was not alone in his rating, as Edge Magazine and Gamesradar gave it a 7/10.
He also caught quite a bit of flack for giving Vanquish a low score.
Assassins Creed II got a score of 4 from him, and led to a sitewide meltdown that resulted in over 800 negative comments and user registration temporarily being closed down.
He gave The Witcher II Assassins Of Kings a 6, noting that it had a ton of potential and some truly great moments, but a handful of weak gameplay mechanics and bugs brought the final product down. Of course, to the game's fanbase (who hadn't even played it at the time the game was released), you would have thought that Sterling desecrated the homes of the developers and hated the game with a passion.
His scathing 2/10 review of Duke Nukem Forever. Not only did he get fans of the Duke riled up over it, but the PR department for the game's developers wound up getting fired after tweeting about how they would be more careful who they send reviews to, as well as leading Jim to create a series of articles about why he didn't like the game (or Duke Nukem in general) and a more in-depth look at how reviews worked at Destructoid.
When Sterling gave Gears of War 3 an 8/10, fans complained and then Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games got upset.
Sterling also wrote an article on how certain games are required to get high scored based on their name and the marketing behind them after the response to his Gears 3 review. In his words:
It remains utterly, completely, intellectually insulting to me that we’re in an industry that has decided 9/10 is the manifest destiny of certain games. Based on marketing, name value, and sequel number, there are certain games now pre-ordained to receive near-perfect scores and nothing but the most glowing of praise.
After giving Battlefield 3 a 7.5/10, the site was besieged by fans demanding to know why Kirby's Return to Dreamland was a "better" game than the aforementioned Battlefield (in spite of many people stressing how they were two totally different genres with different expectations).
While getting relatively mixed, yet mostly positive reviews, Destructoid's 5.0 for Asuras Wrath really stood out, particularly because of the Jim Sterling connection.
Resident Evil 6 received 3.0 from, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, Jim Sterling. No eight points for guessing what fans felt about it.
Quarter to Three reviewer Tom Chick has given games such as Max Payne 3 and Journey very low scores, while they have been praised elsewhere. However, the shit really hit the fan when he reviewed Halo 4, and gave it a 1/5. Chick's site is aggregated on Metacritic, and his star ratings are directly interpreted as 20%, 40%, and so forth. Afterwards, he gave Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 a near perfect score, and proceeded to further mock Halo in both that review and by labeling it the most over-rated game of 2012. To say he angered the Halo fanbase would be a massiveunderstatement.
Chick also gave The Secret World a 2/5, while largely praising the game and continuing to play it in a series of blog posts. When Funcom started to blame Metacritic ratings for the game's lack of sales, the MMORPG's very loyal fanbase started screaming for his head.
Screw Attack's Jared Knabenbauer gave The Last Story a 3.5 out of 10. There wasn't that much of a shitstorm as much as there was surprise, particularly since Jared went on record saying that was the game from Operation Rainfall he was looking forward to the most.
Eurogamer caused all hell to break loose when they gave Uncharted 3: Drake's Deceptionan 8/10. The following day, they gave the Xbox Live Arcade port of Daytona USAa 9/10. NeoGAF in particular saw mass hysteria over a port of a 18-year old arcade game get a better rating than a hyped PS3 exclusive.
Eurogamer.com has a review up for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, to which the site gave the game an 8.0 rating. The fans decrying the review as lies, as well as being biased towards the Xbox 360 in the article's comment section (over 1700 replies and growing) were especially troubling, as many of them hadn't played the game yet at the time of review, since it hadn't been released at that time.
MGS4 is a particular magnet for this because not-perfect review scores are almost universally in agreement that the game falls just short of perfect for just one single major issue: long cutscenes. Naturally, since long-time fans of the series with emotional investment in the plot view the long cutscenes as a good thing, they're not liable to understand why others might consider it a flaw. The fact that professional reviewers seem like they never have that same emotional investment in the games they review is only gas on the fire, too.
It's been argued that the UK's Edge magazine makes a living out of this, with its notoriously strict scoring system. Some are lamented goofs (Doomgot 7/10 because the player could not "talk to the monsters"◊ for example), but in most cases, it's simply because the magazine hates to give out anything higher than an 8/10 score. Inverting the trope, when the magazine gives a 10/10 score, all hell breaks loose.
Edge Magazine rated Mario Kart Wii with a 6/10. Average on Metacritic: 84/100.
Edge gave Metal Gear Solid 4 an 8.0. Revealingly, the praises and criticisms in the 8/10 reviews are the same as those listed in the 10/10 and 9.5/10 reviews given elsewhere, so clearly it's just the numerical stamp of approval the fanboys are gagging for.
Judgement Day: Tommy Tallarico had a VERY nasty habit of this. One of many examples was his review of Psychonauts, giving the game a 7.5 because its protagonist (Raz) was "annoying." Then Raz went on to be nominated for several "character of the year" awards. The game holds an 86% positive rating on Metacritic for its PS2 version (considered the worst version available).
It didn't help that he gave a game that he worked on an 8.0 because of the music (which he worked on) and the fact that it didn't have "annoying footstep sounds." That game? The massive critical and commercial flop Advent Rising.
Then of course there was the time that he gave Super Smash Bros. Melee a 3.0 simply because Kirby was in the game. He didn't care about anything else, just that the cast included Kirby.
Another example was his review of Ninja Gaiden for the X-Box, to which he gave a 5 out of 10. Never mind the fact that the game was pretty much given high/respectable scores by other review outlets. What's worse is that the game was reviewed head-to-head with I-Ninja which Tommy for some bizarre reason gave an 8 or 9.
EGM gave the Gamecube version Phantasy Star Online three 9s and a 7.0, denying it a "gold" award and preventing it from becoming game of the month. The Dreamcast version received a 7.5, 8.0, 8.5 and 9.0 from the reviewers.
2003 saw another instance of a single 9.5 preventing a game from getting a Platinum Award, this time from Mark MacDonald, for Wind Waker. Naturally, he caught crap over the issue. Strange, considering that MacDonald himself seemed to genuinely like the game more than probably anyone else on the Review Crew at the time.
Shane of EGM gave Kingdom Hearts II a 10, calling it perfect, while Sofía, a reviewer of EGM en Español (the Latin American version of the magazine) gave the game a 7.5. The magazine then got letters either praising Sofía's review and disliking Shane's 10 or asking for her to be fired.
Brandon Justice of EGM's website gave Halo 4 a 7 out of 10. While some people may have been upset by the score itself, the reviewer's main complaints were a lack of "Iron Sights" Call of Duty style aiming, a lack of big setpiece sequences, and how the Halo series is "addicted to slow, methodical combat in unnecessarily large environments". The reviewer was then torn apart in the comments section and accused of wanting to turn Halo into just another CoD clone and of being a CoD or PS3 fanboy.
Another review by Brandon Justice gave Aliens Colonial Marines a 9 out of 10. The next highest review (23 reviews) on Metacritic as of 2-12-13 was a 6.5 out of 10. Yet again he was torn apart in the comments section, and accused of being bought off by the developers so he would give a positive review.
1Up.Com's Jeremy Parish found himself the target of a surprising amount of fan hatred after giving Golden Sun Dark Dawn a score of 'B', as well as giving several criticisms against the first two games. He took it in his stride, and even mentioned how much of a "monster" he was for not calling Golden Sun a masterpiece in a subsequent interview with workers from Camelot Studios.
A shocking inversion of this and Hype Backlash occurred when 1Up gave Wii Music a 9.0. Fans immediately jumped down the reviewer's throat due to their massive buildup of negative hype accumulated over months.
An episode of 1Up's Retronauts discussed Chrono Cross. The review in question was positive, though it discussed the game's flaws and noted its Contested Sequel status. The webmaster of the Chrono Compendium responded with a front-page tirade (later mirrored to the forums) deriding the credibility and intelligence of the reviewers and ending with a crude image promoting Cross featuring "YOU ARE WRONG. SHUT UP." as a caption to a man flipping the bird.
Inside Pulse's game reviews often fall into this category, due to their complete and utter rejection of the Four Point Scale. This has earned them a number of threatening letters from video game companies. After having been caught between their ethics and the game companies, they finally stopped doing numeric ratings at all, instead having a set of clear, unambiguous adjectives to use to rate games.
A spate of seemingly-lenient 10/10 ratings didn't help things. Xbox 360's Halo 3: 10/10. Wii's Mario Galaxy: 10/10. PS3's Metal Gear Solid 4: 8/10. Uh-oh.
Although the general consensus on aggregate sites is that Halo 3 and Mario Galaxy are deserving of those 10s. Which calls into question the 'seemingly-lenient' nature of those scores.
PC Gamer's review of Dragon Age II. Comments on the site still ask whether a review is a real 9.4 or a DA2 9.4.
An issue of PC Gamer printed a letter from a reader decrying their score of "only" 90% for Quake while awarding Duke Nukem 3 D a score of 93%. Their response - "only?" Note that at the time, a game with a score of 88% or higher was recommended without reservation. Even now, that line is at 90%.
The magazine Game Pro gave the cult classic Xenogears an unusually low 3.5 out of 5, a score usually reserved for completely horrible games. It didn't help that a game with a less fanatical fandom, Kagero: Deception II, was given a 4.5 on the other side of the page. Their major complaint about Xenogears? That most of it didn't have much of a plot. As per the trope, they received lots of angry reader mail about it.
Game Pro in general had a ton of these, especially when Role Playing Games were concerned. Nobody on the staff had any real appreciation for the genre, so they tended to give poor reviews that admonished the very traits of the genre. They gave Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete a 2.5, complaining that the game was a remake of an older game and making a point over how the auto-battle system is flawed. Then, in what can only be interpreted as a cynical review, they gave Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete a 4 star review without really describing the game.
Their incredibly poor review of Breath of Fire 1 by a non RPG player is widely blamed for the games poor sales results.
Not so much lampooned as harpooned by the comedy site Something Awful. An infrequently updated section of the site called "Truth Media" publishes excessively critical and factually incorrect reviews of hyped games, films and so on. They then harvest the delicious backlash for the amusement of their readership.
The show gave Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core a 2/5. Then, in a Crowning Moment of Funny, they "re-reviewed" it due to the backlash only for the review to actually be the same as before, but with an angsty teen fanboy's voice complimenting the game dubbed over any criticism.
X-Play's review of Killzone 3 met similar flak, this time from irate PS3 fanboys. The game got a 4/5, and yet was considered better than Killzone 2. Pages and pages of people complaining that X-Play was paid off by Microsoft to lower the score. They obviously hadn't watched Sessler's video explaining why exactly superior sequels sometimes get lower scores.
X-Play gave Metroid: Other M a 2 out of 5, with the comments being that the game was misogynistic and that the controls were bad. Given the generally positive reviews, this rubbed some fans the wrong way. Even the reviewer elaborating on her opinion provoked exactly the same reaction. To add harm to insult, they gave it a "Golden Mullet" which is only given to their worst games of the year; stating it is a "series killer".
X-Play was called biased toward the Xbox and against Killzone 2 for its review. The score? Five out of a possible five. This led to Adam Sessler devoting an entire rant against console fanboys where he read and mocked several of the comments and begging intelligent people to start grouping up on message boards just to raise the level of discourse by drowning them out. The comments itself included:
One who accused them of not sounding happy enough while reviewing the game
One who stated that a different review company was biased, because they gave a competing game a score that was 0.1 better, and "... [it wasn't] even a first person shooter!"
When Edge gave it a 7, however, shit got real. To put it in perspective, Penny Arcade sided with the people who said it was a sign that Edge had royally screwed up.
A Final Fantasy review site reviewed all of the different party combinations forFinal Fantasy I. However, his blatant dislike of the Black Belt made him refuse to see any good of having one, and he rated any party with a Black Belt unfairly low. In fact the all Black Belt party was rated at 0, even lower than all Black Mage or White Mage parties who do not have the defensive/offensive power (respectively) to win the game. After public outcry he reluctantly gave them a better score, but after brooding he went back and gave the all Black Belt party a -9999 on a scale of 0 to 10. It was later revised to a -43/10 as of March 13th, 2009.
Even though he doesn't actually give out scores, Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw's Zero Punctuation review of Super Smash Bros. Brawl managed to cause mass amounts of controversy as soon as it was released. The fact that he actually made a video responding to it for the first time doesn't help either.
The aforementioned response made even funnier by Yahtzee hammering one enlightened young fan who had criticised him for not using numbers in his reviews. Yahtzee proceeded to expound his opinion that a complex explanation of one's opinion cannot be reduced to a simple number, culminating in his final comment "You like numbers so much? Alright then, how about four? As in "FOUR-K YOU!" Complete with a giant number four falling from the sky to crush a cartoon of the commentator.
The situation seems to be repeating itself again in his review of Bionic Commando Rearmed (and again with Monster Hunter: Tri), where he said that the remake could have been better had it not followed the original game as precisely as it did, and that nostalgia in itself is a futile emotion.
Yahtzee is noted for his tendency to rip into games that many people and magazines find to be good, accentuate their faults to what some would call disproportionate levels, and generate quite a bit of backdraft. (His review of Ocarina of Time's 3DS version stands out as one of the more prominent examples.) But Zero Punctuation's whole shtick is making comedy out of accentuating the negative. He has the "Extra Punctuation" columns for more nuanced opinions.
Another example worth noting is in his The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword review. Most games that achieve critical praise, he typically likes to some degree. With Skyward Sword being widely praised as "the best Zelda game ever made" by many critics, Yahtzee called it the worst Zelda game he had ever played in his life (and then proceeded to troll the game's fans by saying "bear in mind I haven't played the CDi ones").
"At this point, you might be wondering whether my monitor was about to die anyway. All I can say is that why don't you try using that same logic on the surviving family members of people killed in a plane crash and see how it holds up there."
"Thisgamesucks." (Though, as the Nerd points out himself in an interview, it was a joke review, with a lot of mistaken viewers taking it seriously.)
Another instance was when James Rolfe (as himself) reviewed all the Batman films made to date. Naturally, the fact that Rolfe gave the 1989 Batman 5/5 and The Dark Knight 4.5/5 (as well as criticising the action sequences in Batman Begins, even though he conceded the main cause of that was Christopher Nolan having no real experience with action scenes prior to that film), led to the Cinemassacre site being besieged by angry Batfans who eagerly told him that his opinion was worthless and that they would never watch another AVGN video.
This happened again regarding his review of the PS3's DVD/Bluray player. Long story short, he makes a comment about how he likes his DVDs (upscaled through the PS3) but doesn't care much for the Blurays (saying unless you have a big HD tv, it's not worth the prices). Cue shirtstorm on Cinemassacre calling him an amateur or hack or saying he knows nothing about movies.
NGamer faced heavy criticism after "only" giving Super Smash Bros. Brawl a score of 93%. In response, they gave away a free gift of a 95% sticker to paste over the next review score you disagree with.
They performed a similar action following their 75% for Star Fox Adventures.
Gametrailers' 6.7 for Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts compared to the average 8.
When PSM was under the command of Chris Slate, they'd sometimes have a highly-anticipated game wanked over in the reviews and, come review month, it's on the cover. And it's rated lower than the game of the month (the game that scores the highest that month.) Lampshaded when a guy sent a letter to them asking why they had GoldenEye: Rogue Agent on the cover, and gave it a six-point-five. One of the editor's responses? "Never... EVER... trust a preview."
Lost Odyssey, 36/40 from Famitsu and and average of 78/100 from Western reviewers. Apparently, the copies that game reviewers receive from Microsoft to review is not identical to the retail version that they sell to gamers. The main difference is major load time reduction. While that is exactly the common criticism about the game, no review site bothered to adjust their score.
The now-defunct Gaming Intelligence Agency gained some infamy for completely rejecting the Four Point Scale in its review of Legend of Dragoon, which they gave a 1 out of 5, with the reviewer specifically saying he'd have given it a score of zero if their scale allowed it. While LoD usually isn't regarded as a great game, few gamers considered it anywhere near that bad. The GIA's letter column raged with debate over the validity of the score (and the rest of the review, which was every bit as negative as the score implied) for months afterward.
Computerandvideogames.com have given Killzone 28.7. Stand back and watch the fireworks in the comments.
When NGC Magazine gave Star Fox Adventures 72% when most other Nintendo magazines put it somewhere in the 90s, people perceived it as 'punishment' for Rare being bought out by Microsoft.
The magazine's previous incarnation, N64 Magazine was notorious for severely reducing the rating of multiplatform games that they felt didn't somehow look or play better than the PlayStation or Saturn versions. Notable examples were FIFA: Road to the World Cup '98 only scoring 78% despite their admission that it probably deserved 90% or so, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy getting its rating halved from 62% to 31%, because it actually had less features than the PSX version.
NGC also gave Sonic Adventure DX 38%. Needless to say, fans were outraged and accused the magazine of anti-Sonic bias, even citing the fact that they'd given Sonic Adventure 2: Battle 70% as 'proof'. The magazine lampshaded it in their first look at Sonic Heroes.
A review by RPGamer of Star Ocean: The Last Hope resulted in a 2.5/5. This resulted in a slough of people spluttering rage, including several who had migrated from GameFAQs and started up an account on the RPGamer forums specifically to denounce the review, and resulting in what may be the longest discussion thread on a "site update" ever. There was also a coincidental forum bug that changed everyone's avatars to the same Star Ocean 4 avatar, leading some to speculate that the site had been hacked before it was revealed to simply be a recurring problem with their forum software.
Similar uproars in the past have stemmed from the likes of Operation Darkness and Phantasy Star Universe, both of which were heavily panned. While all three games were critically panned anyway, the RPGamer scores were dramatically lower than other sources.
The now-defunct magazine GameFan had a rather infamous pair of Final Fantasy reviews. When Final Fantasy VII came out, they couldn't stop gushing about it. Reviewers called it "the best game of all time," "The best entertainment product ever produced," and "a possible life-altering experience for all who play it." Perfect 100's all around. Okay, fine. A year later, Final Fantasy VIII came along, and the same reviewers trashed it with low scores and general derision. Why? Because it was "the same as FFVII." Especially ironic in that while FFVIII is seen as the black sheep of the franchise in some circles, its detractors dislike it because it's so DIFFERENT from the other titles, not because it's the same. The review also complained about the heavy sci-fi influence compared to earlier games, even though Final Fantasy VII had just as much, if not more, sci-fi influences than its successor.
Similar to GamePro's dismissal of Lunar and Xenogears, GameFan gave Suikoden II a score in the 60 range and no preview whatsoever. This is very odd considering their editor in chief would and still does go crazy over any game that is 1) Japanese, 2)2D, and 3) is heavily story based, even at the expense of gameplay.
As far as FFVII is concerned, the TV show Flights Of Fantasy (who many tropers now know as Gaming In The Clinton Years) originally gave the game an extravagant thrashing, and even made a special rebuttal to angry fanmail where they contested their fans' disagreements, mostly focused on the game's design similarities to previous Final Fantasies, the tedious and slow combat system, and overarching plot (which, according to them, is too dialogue-driven and broken up by gameplay).
America is just unkind to the Dynasty Warriors series, giving it lower ratings than they do in Japan. Apparently it has gotten so bad that the third Warriors Orochi game has been allowed in North America only by digital download (supposedly, mostly due to it only being a cosmetic update).
Now that it's out, with a retail release, Warriors Orochi 3 seems to avert this somewhat. With many of the reviewers who gave the Warriors games bad reviews, liking this game. Still, some reviewers are still playing this trope straight with this game.
For some reason, American reviews for Dynasty Warriors games are often misleading or even blatantly false. A review of Bladestorm: The Hundred Years' War claims that it's more of the same as Dynasty Warriors because it's by the same development team and has a similar art style... despite not even being in the same genre (it's a Real Time Strategy game in a Hack And Slash series.)
Similarly to the above, the UK Official Nintendo Magazine gave The Conduit an average score — 76% — calling it a fun game but no classic. The commentators on their forums basically ripped them to shreds for it, calling them biased towards Nintendo and pretty much everything else, then celebrating IGN's score.
They gave Super Mario Galaxy a 97% because "it has to end sometime," with no other criticisms. Cue letters asking why it didn't get 100%.
When Black And White came out, it was heralded as the best thing since World War II ended. Consequently, almost all game magazines gave it a perfect 100% score (or equivalent). Those who dared to give anything lower got some nasty letters. Then Hype Backlash settled in.
Curiously, when it came time to review the expansion, many reviewers took a moment to apologize for their unwarranted praise of Black & White before proceeding to rip the expansion to shreds.
Gamesradar drew some criticism for their 7/10 scoring of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The review called it too simplistic and easy for longtime players, detracted the 4-player mode, (while calling the two player mode the best way to play) and said that the motion controls detracted from the experience. The points made were actually understandable (except for the "easy" part, that game is anything but easy), so the review wasn't baffling or unfair, it's just that everybody else was giving it scores in the 9 range.
GamesRadar also gave Catherine a 5/10 on a Import Review. Their main complaint with it was the Nintendo Hard difficulty and bad AI. Apparently, the only thing the review meant is that the game isn't worth importing. Mind you, when it actually got released in North America, it was re-reviewed into an 8/10, though not by the same reviewer.
The review of Skyward Sword also got a lot of hate, with fans saying their critics on following the typical Zelda formula were way too harsh and complaining that the reviewer said that Twilight Princess is better. Skyward Sword's score was 9/10, and no, GamesRadar doesn't use fractions.
They did it again, by giving Gran Turismo 5 a 7/10. Gran Turismo fans are a defensive bunch. This isn't going to go over well, especially when you consider their response to the IGN review mentioned above.
Gaming site Gaming Age (now NeoGAF) was accused of this back when Ninja Gaiden was released, being the only "major" site to give the game a C- instead of the A-s and A+ s everyone else was giving it. The supposed reasoning behind this was so that a game on the Xbox, which they considered a filthy American console at the time, would not overshadow The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on GameRankings.com as the number one highest rated game.
Official PlayStation Magazine gave the PSX release of The Phantom Menace 9/10. Other reviews typically ranged between 'ugly but playable' and 'utter pants'. The review even spawned conspiracy theories as to why it had been rated 9/10. The magazine's 'Grower and Wilter' feature (where a formerly high-rated game was demoted and a low-scorer was promoted) retconned it to 6/10 and acknowledged the former score was influenced by the general hysteria surrounding the film.
The same magazine rated the two games of Final Fantasy Anthology separately. They gave Final Fantasy V a generally agreed-with 8/10 and Final Fantasy IV 6/10, claiming the game was graphically inferior to FFV (it was developed before) and the gameplay was, to paraphrase, 'So Bad, It's Good', but only just. After backlash from readers and at least one rant letter, they acknowledged that more of the team had now played the game and it should have been 7/10.
PSM2 Gave the game Driv3r a 9/10 despite critical panning everywhere else it led to what is know as Driv3rgate.
The indie game Eversion was given a controversial review from indiegamemag.com. The fans were not happy in the least, because the reviewer apparently played for approximately one minute. The review was then taken down and replaced with another one, much more accurate.
N64 Gamer gave Perfect Dark a score of 101% and despite a box out section of the review explaining why, the reviewer and the magazine became a subject of ridicule in other Australian gaming magazines, even today. Their excuse was that they had previously given Super Mario 64 100% and Perfect Dark was better than Super Mario 64, so they really had no other choice. Dan Stains from Hyper magazine said this about it: "...One reviewer going so far as to give it 101/100, which really isn't so much a score so much as a logical paradox. Better than perfect? Is that even possible? I mean, even Jesus Christ - The Son of God - was only perfect. Was the author of this review saying that Perfect Dark is better than Jesus?"
A finnish gaming magazine called "Pelit" (translates to "games") is a strange inversion of this, by sometimes giving 80-88 out of 100 scores for games like Transformers: Revenge of Fallen, and Velvet Assassin. Then played out straight by giving 87 out of 100 to Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metroid Prime Trilogy.
Uncharted 2 has secured a spot as one of the greatest games of all time. However, Gametrailers' score of 9.3 didn't intiailly spark outrage, just questioning. It wasn't until they said in the podcast it didn't score higher because it was "safe" - favouring picture stunning graphics, great writing, excellent pacing and so on over a gimmick - that there was major backlash.
Not surprising, however, when the same reviewer gave a higher score to Modern Warfare 2 because only games with 'originality' can score higher than a 9.3. How much originality could you expect from a sequel?
In the case of Gundam, well, the reviews were right - Gundam vs. Zeta Gundam was mostly a slightly enhanced version of its predecessor, and the headline feature (Universal Century Mode) would have been fun if not for the fact that about half of the stages are rehashes of one another told from the other characters' points of view. Of course, the real shame is that following that game, Capcom got their act together and started producing sequels that actually were good and probably would have gotten decent reviews had they hit American shores.
And a 5/10 for Final Fantasy XIII. Actually, it appears that the scores for this game are all over the place, simply due to the fact that it is not "Their daddy's Final Fantasy".
It should probably be noted that when called out on this, they acknowledged that it was one of the most interesting plots they'd seen in an FF game, but as a games mag they felt they should concentrate their review on the gameplay.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: Reflex was given a score of 80% by UK Official Nintendo Magazine's Simon Bramble. The review criticsised poor graphics, late arrival and framerate issues. The forum backlash was immensely hostile, with COD fanboys ferverently demanding that the game be re-reviewed (despite the the fact that it hadn't been released yet so nobody would've known what it was actually like). The event was notable for the appearance of a user named 'simonbramblesux' and was a point of the discussion for the following ONM Podcast.
Screw Attack's VGR segment is about reviewing games based on three ratings - Buy It, Rent It, or F' It, in descending scale of quality and/or opinion. Professional Jared was assigned Final Fantasy XIII, and while he wasn't hating on it especially hard, he commented that he just didn't have as much fun as he was hoping, and he's the site's RPG enthusiast. His final verdict was a Rent It, borderline F' It. Craig, you might wanna lend him your Flame Shield for a while.
On another segment, Video Game Vault, a playfully vitriolic review of an Astérix game was widely criticized by non-Americans, who interpreted Craig's slew of light-hearted gay jokes as one big insult. Their response was a video which opened with an apology, and then went to a rewritten review that's basically the same, but with unending praise instead of gay jokes (i.e. "Asterix and Obelix might be the gayest characters in existence" > "Asterix and Obelix are the manliest motherfuckers in history!")
The word Epic gets tossed around with reckless abandon on occassion, but the level of vitriol and outright hatred directed at VideoGamesDaily reviewer Edwin Evans-Thirlwell over his giving God Of War 3 an 8 out of 10 on account of it being a good yet in no way revolutionary entry into the series is truly worthy of such a lofty description. Strangely fitting, considering the subject of the review. It's too bad that there was no internet Flame Shield power up or Golden Fleece he could've used to protect him from all of those heated barbs.
The opposite has happened as well. He received quite the backlash for heavily praising Ninja Gaiden 3 (2012) for being a mindless beat-em-up, the very thing fans and critics decried.
The magazine had an infamous incident in which they gave the second Paper Mario game a 6.75, despite the fact that the actual text of the review was pretty glowing and complementary. Their reason was that the game was "not for everyone". They might as well have just held up a sign that said, "shoot down this argument".
As a rule, GameInformer pans any FPS made for the Wii. This trope really came into play when they gave Golden Eye Wii a 6.5 out of 10.
Sonic Generations is a Milestone Celebration that features characters and locations from across the series's history. GameInformer, which has been highly critical of the 3D Sonic games, gave it a 6.75 and criticized it for including things from the later games.
Vanquish, a futuristic, adrenaline-junkie game has received 9's from most magazines, but a 7.75 from Game Informer.
GI also seems to be very inconsistent with their reviews. At the time Resident Evil 4 was released, they gave it a great review. Years later, they added it to their list of the Top 200 Greatest Games of All Time. Then, in an article about the worst modern-day games, they listed RE4 as one of them and ranted on and on about how they hated it (and no, that wasn't an April Fool's joke, in case you're wondering)...only to give the HD re-release (which came out almost a year later) a good review.
Gertsmann, big surprise here, managed to do it again a few years ago on his new site, Giantbomb.com, when he gave Super Smash Bros. Brawl a 4/5. Let's just say Nintendo fans were once again peeved that he didn't give a Nintendo game a perfect score again.
Amiga Power was famous for its "honesty above all else" policy and using the whole range of the percentage scale (50% was average, 60% better than average, 75% was a pretty good game — at a time when most other magazines gave a game 80% just for existing), which its readers loved. Game publishers, however, felt differently. Responses ranged from not sending any review copies (the review for the Akira game mentioned they had to buy it with their own money) to accusing them of killing off the Amiga games industry.
Iconoclastic "new games journalism" website Action Button Dot Net loves being provocative, with negative reviews for popular and/or critically acclaimed games and positive reviews for obscure and/or quickly-dismissed titles being commonplace occurrences; reviews that have particularly placed them at the epicenter of fanboy ire include The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess (1 out of 4 stars), BioShock (2 out of 4), Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2 out of 4), and Metal Gear Solid 4 (2 out of 4). Worth noting is that the site's owner and editor, notorious (for a number of reasons) games journalist Tim Rogers, seems to absolutely love trolling gamers and the game industry.
An at-the-time famous incident from many years ago where in 1995 Gamefan magazine gave Lunar Eternal Blue a bad review without playing it all the way through. Working Designs complained and withdrew all advertising. Gamefan's response looked even sillier. Eventually, in 1997, Gamefan had to print a retraction admitting they only played 1/3 of the game.
The day Quinton Smith on Rock Paper Shotgun reviewedFallout New Vegas, ohhh Lord. It continues to be a source of memes, especially when anything related to Fallout comes up.
Another backlash over New Vegas came when Chris Avellone revealed that Bethesda had pegged Obsidian's bonus to the game's Metacritic score, and they missed the target of 85 by one point.
Japanese gaming mag Famitsu gave the game Geneology of Holy War a rather low score. While exact response can be difficult to find for a game from that time, it was one of the best-selling Fire Emblem games on the Super Famicom. Years later, it also became hugely popular with foreign fans.
Uncharted 3 was sitting at 93% on Game Rankings. Then Honest Gamers came along and gave the game a 4 out of 10, causing its score on Game Rankings to drop by almost a full percent. Cue Internet Backdraft.
Modern Warfare 3 has become a big case of this. Taking the stats from GameFAQs, the Metacritic average for the XBOX 360 release is at 89. Reader review and rating averages, on the other hand? 7.1 and 6.0, respectively (and on Metacritic, about 67% of user reviews are negative).
The US edition of Official Xbox Magazine rated Dead Space a 6.5 out of 10, where elsewhere it was getting extremely high rankings. In the same issue, they gave Legendary (often considered one of the worst games on the Xbox 360) a 7.5 out of 10. Cue ridicule.
And, Angry Joe got some criticisms because when reviewing Saints Row The Third, he gave it a six instead of the eight or nines it was getting from anyone else. Did he have a reason for this? Yes, many. Did he praise the gameplay, which was what the game's main draw was? Yes. However, those who liked the game certainly didn't like him much after that.
Just like the Saints Row example above, people are up in arms again over Joe giving Sleeping Dogs a 6/10. It was so bad that DarkSydePhil accused him of not playing the game because the video was uploaded on release day (sounds like he's never heard of early review copies).
Even Nintendo Power magazine isn't immune to this kind of backlash. In one issue, they had to quell fan complaints that they had "only" scored Majora's Mask a "measly" 9.4 out of 10. They even pointed out that it was the third-highest score they had ever given under their present rating system, behind only Ocarina of Time and Perfect Dark.
Most review presses and websites gave Sonic and the Black Knight very negative, scathing reviews. Nintendo Power, on the other hand, gave it an 8.
Because video games are big business these days, the Wall Street Journal, of all publications, now does reviews of major releases. Their reviewer reviewedBorderlands 2 and compared it unfavorably to Call of Duty and Battlefield. Cue a string of comments from BL2 fans trying to explain to the reviewer that he's comparing apples to oranges: multiplayer-centric military shooters (COD and BF) versus a story-driven, single-player-centric shooter with RPG Elements (BL2). (They also noted that he apparently missed the fact that the game is rated M, since he played it with his 14-year-old.)
Kotaku's Owen Good gave a rather scathing review of Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, his main point essentially boiling down that he found the game to be too hard. The oncoming shit-storm was bigger than anyone could've expected, but this was a case where the fans were right, as it was considered to be a very good kart-racer, and rather challenging in a positive way, by most other review sites.
A reviewer for Common Sense Media gave Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos two stars out of five because he thought the game was too dark and violent for children. To be fair, this was one of CSM's earliest game reviews, and they appear to have learned their lesson with their Star Craft II review (four stars out of five, with a review for the actual game rather than just a criticism of its mature content), but needless to say, their Warcraft 3 review garnered a TON of controversy from both kids and parents when published.
ANN reviews get this a lot. For example, quite a few people were irritated at their Voltron review for holding the show to today's standards. One that caused a lot of talk on the forums, though, was when one reviewer bashed current eroge games and the anime based on them.
Related, their Spring 2010 preview saw many reviewers criticizing harshly the controversial treatment of incest in Kiss×sis. The backdraft wasn't widespread, but very vocal (vocal enough for Anime News Nina to make a strip about it). It were mostly "just because we like this show it doesn't mean we're creepy people who practice/support incest" protests. When it came Yosuga no Sora a few months later, the staff toned down the anti-incest comments.
In another Ebert example: not unlike Yahtzee and Brawl, he wrote a rebuttal towards the response to his Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen review that criticized the fanbase of blind devotion ("Those who think 'Transformers' is a great or even a good film are, may I tactfully suggest, not sufficiently evolved"), but despite what many believe, he never phrased anything to say that simply enjoying the movie makes a person an idiot ("If you enjoyed the movie, there is no way I can say you're wrong.")note this is the key dividing line between admiring a work for its quality and enjoying it as a Guilty Pleasure. Never have we seen Ebert being so scathing since North.
Ebert also got saddled with the inverse of this trope when he called Knowing, which most other critics hated, "among the best science-fiction films I've seen."
Ebert awarded 2012 3.5/4 stars. His reasoning was that the film basically achieves what it sets out to do - blow up stuff - without, seemingly, becoming as annoying as Revenge of the Fallen.
Also related: while picking his "Worst of 2009" list, James Berardinelli chose 2012 instead of Transformers "because it is marginally more tedious".
One of the biggest Ebert examples is the film The Usual Suspects, which he gave one-and-a-half stars. Today it's considered one of the greatest Plot Twist films ever made and the film won various awards, including Kevin Spacey winning an Academy Award. If you go to his review page for the film, you'll see how pubic opinion gave the film three-and-a-half stars, compared to Ebert's very low score.
Ebert does this a lot. His reason is basically that he compares films to other films of its type, rather than to everything generally. To quote The Other Wiki: "Ebert has described his critical approach to films as "relative, not absolute"; he reviews a film for what he feels will be its prospective audience, yet always with at least some consideration as to its value as a whole."
To quote Ebert himself, repeatedly: "A movie is not about what it's about; it's about how it's about it."
It's not just Ebert who has been prone to do this. Gene Siskel has notably gone against the grain in regards to near-unanimously praised science fiction films:
The original Terminator. Siskel ridiculed the film for "not having enough suspense", (in spite of the fact that several of the scenes have been chosen for numerous "scariest moments" lists of the last two decades), and believed it should have been a much more involved love story.
In their review of Aliens, Siskel gave it a "thumbs down" for having relentless action for the last hour (the same thing many other reviewers praised it for) and that main star Sigourney Weaver was "beneath" the film's writing - which was later trounced by her garnering an Academy Award nomination for her performance.
Ebert gave Cop and a Half three stars in 1993. The same year, Siskel gave a positive review of Carnosaur. Both films were generally critically panned.
Movie example: Plenty of people have gone apeshit over IGN giving Coraline (the movie) a 6/10 even though the movie wasn't even out yet so none of the people complaining had actually seen it. note Actually, it ended up becoming one of the best reviewed movies of the year, so that may actually be a straight example. Must have had something to do with the 3D.
People do that all the time. On websites where it's possible for users to "rate" games before they're released, it's entirely possible to see games that aren't even officially completed yet with 10.0 scores.
Other users will often try to counter these early reviews with 0.0 reviews which, if they even have text, generally consist of rants against people who give games early 10.0 ratings.
Something to this effect happened on Metacritic, where thousands of users rated LittleBigPlanet with 0.0 scores without having actually played it. For revenge, thousands rated Gears of War 2 with 0.0 scores without having played it.
Happens all the time on Rotten Tomatoes. If a movie receives a large amount of positive reviews before its official release to the public in a row, putting it at 100%, the first review to kill its perfect rating will earn no less than 100 comments of people defending a movie they haven't seen and overall slinging personal attacks.
The reverse happened with Seltzer and Friedberg's Epic Movie, which had been rated at 0% until Entertainment Weekly's Owen Glieberman gave it a middling-but-not-totally negative review, leading a majority of "Seltzerberg" haters ripping into Glieberman and his "lack of taste in movies".
Similarly, Michael Ordoña's review of Vampires Suck awarded the film only one-and-a-half stars, it was still positive enough to be proclaimed "fresh". He's gotten a lot of flak for it from members of the RT community - most of whom probably haven't seen the movie.
Leonard Maltin infamously gave Laserblast 2 and 1/2 stars. The film was later riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Maltin was mocked along with the terrible film. He also gave The Undead 3 stars, and was again mocked along with the film, with Mike Nelson dressing up as Leonard Maltin and talking about how stupid he was for giving the film such a good review. To his credit, Maltin appeared on a later MST3K episode and had a sense of humor about it.
Maltin is famous for his recognition of the fact that all his reviews are subjective and based on his own opinion of the film and that other people will probably feel different. Combine this with his legendary sense of humor and good nature and you get the reason why despite not agreeing with his reviews people still generally like and respect him, including the guys over at MST3K.
Maltin gave 2 and a half stars to The Shawshank Redemption, ranked as the best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.
Maltin also praised the Andrew Dice Clay concert film Dice Rules, favorably comparing his controversial material to Jerry Lewis. Dice Rules received negative reviews from critics, and was nominated for several Razzies.
Empire, an influential British movie magazine, will never quite be allowed to live down giving Attack of the Clones a 5-star rating (which they don't hand out lightly).
Alison Gillmor of the Winnipeg Free Press dared - dared! - give Titanic a poor review (.5 of 5 stars); her columns for the next three weeks all had sections responding to hate mail (something which she did not otherwise do); her column immediately following the review (the next week) was entirely devoted to making the point that her opinion was her own, and that it was based on some pretty solid cinematic theory; and she was called on to write an editorial for the paper on that subject as well, featured in the front section of the newspaper. All a very big deal.
A buzz started up due to two reviews on Toy Story 3 on Rotten Tomatoes, which brought the film down from a 100% to 99%. To be fair, this has to do with ruining the almost hat trick of all three movies having perfect scores, and many complaints against the reviews were valid.
Also infamous for being the half-brother of Sonichu creator Christan Weston Chandler
wasn't much better, with his criticism directed mostly at the fact that it had a G instead of PG rating. (He didn't directly address any way in which the G impacted the film's quality, and he only touched upon another complaint about how the 3D was utilized.) (There was a third as bad as the others, but it came later and got less flames.)
Other than the Toy Story 3 controversy as seen above, Armond White has received a lot of flack for his seemingly deliberately contrary reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, he agrees with the general opinion 52% of the time, and his reviews are not counted in Metacritic. In fact, his reviews are often a reliable gauge for determining whether or not a movie is good — if he pans it, go see it; if he praises it, don't. As Roger Ebert said after reading a list of movies White likes, "White is, as charged, a troll; a smart and knowing one, but a troll."
Brazilian movie magazine SET gave The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers an 8.5 on theater release. Minor outcry. Then, on DVD, they gave a 7. The fan reaction wasn't pretty. (On a minor case, Return of the King received a 9.5. The following month the editor stated: "36 people complained we didn't give a 10!")
Mike Jittlov, in his Wizard of Speed and Time, mocked himself with one of these. After his (literal) self-insert character lights the Olympic Torch by carrying the "runner's torch" on a super-speed, banana-peel-assisted dive into the "big torch"'s basin (really, see the movie), we cut to the judge's table, where all but one judge holds up cards reading 10.0. The last judge is Jittlov himself, who gives it an "8.8" level score. The other judges promptly pummel him with their placards.
And you can see him smiling/giggling as they do it.
Brad Jones wasn't exactly a fan of Rises either. While the vitriol in the comments wasn't too bad, there was still an air of tension.
Later printings of Terry Pratchett's books have good reviews printed on the cover, but they also all have just one bad review — the review that infamously called him an amateur for not writing in chapters. It seems to be something of a Running Gag at this point, and nobody takes it seriously.
Some of the later books actually do have chapters. However, like the chapters in most novels, they begin and end arbitrarily and have no effect on the narrative whatsoever.
Chapters are felt to be contrary to real life, and so were not used for most books. The Tiffany Aching books were meant to be more from a younger outlook, and so had chapters to visually/semantically support that outlook.
Live Action TV
New York Times critic Ginia Belefonte wrote an extremely controversial review for the HBO series A Game Of Thrones. The review didn't cover any of the plot lines or characters, instead insulting the fantasy genre. (Among other things, it accused the sex scenes of being additions specifically to draw a female audience, since, according to her, women wouldn't otherwise watch or read works of fantasy.) While no score was given, it is in contrast to the largely positive reviews the series is getting.
Slate's review of the series was similarly dismissive, essentially panning the series for being fantasy - not because fantasy was inherently inferior, but because their reviewer didn't like it. Their reviewer also tried to write in a pseudo-mediaeval style, writing a cheque his writing ability couldn't cash.
Pitchfork Media. They have been known to give negative reviews to what are otherwise well reviewed albums, although many times this has more to do with it conflicting with their hipster tastes. It occasionally goes the other way, though. They're one of the few websites who thought The Final Cut was a better Pink Floyd album than The Wall.
In 2009, one of their reviewers gave a surprisingly low 6.8/10 rating to Sonic Youth's otherwise critically acclaimed album The Eternal, causing a huge Internet Backdraft. It was only made worse because the review was intended to be the kickoff for a whole Sonic Youth Week at the website.
Some even accuse Pitchfork Media of deliberately giving out 8.8s so as to play up their reputation, especially with bands they didn't "discover". But this is mostly speculation, and besides, there's even some nasty backlash towards bands they did discover. Witness this alleged "review" of Partie Traumatic by Black Kids, a band which Pitchfork helped bring positive attention and buzz to mere months earlier.
Their "Top 200 Albums of the 2000s" list is riddled with reneging on past reviews. The most notable instance is Andrew W.K.'s I Get Wet (originally a dizzying 0.9). Similarly, Daft Punk's Discovery landed on #13 on that list. Its original rating? A mediocre 6.4.
It's well-established that Pitchfork does not have an explicit ethics policy, which leaves considerable room for speculation about how they arrive at album ratings.
Pitchfork did it yet again with A Place To Bury Strangers' 2009 album, Exploding Head. Many reviewers gave the album favorable ratings and reviews. Pitchfork's score? A lukewarm 6.8/10.
One of their more controversial ratings was Nine Inch Nails' The Fragile. Of the major reviewers, the lowest score it had was an average 3/5 from Allmusic, with most other ratings more favorable. Pitchfork, on the other hand, gave the album a low 2.0/10.
Steely Dan's Two Against Nature was extremely well received by everyone but Brent DiCreszenso of Pitchfork, who gave it a 1.6/10 in a rambling review that mocked Steely Dan's target audience and gave precious little space to actually reviewing the record. A comment near the end of a review eleven years later of the "Yacht rock"-inspired debut album by Heidecker and Wood by Matthew Perpetua alludes that either DiCreszenso is/was alone in his Steely Dan hate or that the Pitchfork editorial staff no longer hate the music their parents like. Due to the fact that the band's "Deacon Blues" appears in their 2008 book The Pitchfork 500 which lauds the site's 500 favorite songs released between 1977 and 2006, the former is the most likely option.
Another infamous example is giving Tool's Lateralus, largely hailed as their best album, a 1.9.
They've pretty consistently given the Silversun Pickups much lower reviews than most other major critics, the most bizarre example being giving their much-loved debut Carnavas a 5.0.
An example infamous on 4Chan's /mu/ board is Animal Collective's Centipede Hz, which was given a mediocre 7.4.
They also gave Childish Gambino's debut studio album Camp a rating of 1.6, despite most critics giving 3 or 4 stars. This is funny because one song on the album makes fun of Pitchfork.
The 9513, a (now defunct) country music review site, used a thumbs-up/thumbs-down for singles, and a five-star scale for albums. The site constantly got lambasted for giving thumbs-downs to singles that most other critics like (e.g., most Carrie Underwood songs), or giving thumbs-ups just beacuse they like the artist, without really commenting on the work and what makes the song good (most of their reviews for Miranda Lambert or Gary Allan). At times, they just seem to be nitpicking. To wit:
A review of Brad Paisley's Play (a mostly instrumental guitar album with a couple non-instrumental songs) got one star, with the reviewer constantly defending himself in the comments. Although a couple fans agreed with the reviewer's opinion towards Brad's style of playing, this is an album that otherwise got good to great reviews. Even Slant Magazine (see below) gave it 4 out of 5.
The review of Rascal Flatts' "Why" says nothing negative about the song at all until the last paragraph. Apparently, the reviewer gave it a thumbs-down entirely for being too long.
The same 8.8-ism applies to their album reviews. For instance, George Strait (usually a darling of the critics for good reason; he really is that damn good) got only 3.5 stars out of 5 for his 2009 album Twang, which was almost universally lauded being a little "different" than his previous albums. One notable diversion was the fact that he co-wrote three of the songs on the album, and covered the mariachi song "El Rey" on it (the latter being a serious departure for him — it'd be comparable to Lady Gaga doing bluegrass). While most critics seemed to agree that Strait should try writing more often, and most considered the mariachi cover a gamble that paid off, The 9513's reviewer was pretty indifferent towards those tracks.
They also gave 2.5 stars to Sugarland's Love on the Inside, which was otherwise critically acclaimed; while most critics said that it had a broad musical scope, The 9513's reviewer thought it was mostly homogenous and bland. They also gave "thumbs-down" ratings to the singles "All I Want to Do," "Already Gone," and "Joey," with almost nothing good to say about any of them (although they didn't review "It Happens," the reviewer of the album described it unfavorably).
In a similar vein, Slant Magazine can get pretty bad about this at times. They gave Faith Hill's Fireflies a zero-star rating. Most of their review is just the reviewer whining about how he thought she was always overrated; the tone of the whole article is very, very bitchy and nitpicky. Consensus from other critics is that the album is good to excellent, especially given that it was her return to her more established mainstream country-pop sound, compared to the more bombastic adult contemporary that caused a sudden alienation from country radio a few years previous.
On the other hand Slant's writers tend to give much-better-than-average reviews to anything by Mariah Carey or Gus Van Sant.
Upon release, Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" was given 4 and half Mics out of five by the Source, although they would later admit it deserved a 5 mic rating. It was only given that score due to the magazine's policy against giving perfect scores at the time.
Nas almost fell victim to this with Illmatic, but the Source reviewer assigned to that album had a friend who had bootlegged the album before its release date, and would play it incessantly and constantly insist that it deserved a perfect score.
Metal Archives, its reviews being written by users who tend to have passionate opinions about music, often have wildly varying review scores, sometimes with one user giving an album 100% and another user giving the album 0%. Some reviews are well-written, some are not, although moderators tend to catch the worst offenders.
Allmusic gave Bon Iver's otherwise-acclaimed second album just two and a half stars. This is a fairly rare case, though - Allmusic usually has the opposite problem.
Rolling Stone magazine has never been kind to 311 and are often accused of Bias Steam Roller by the fans. Their critics never give otherwise critically acclaimed albums more than two and a half out of five stars.
8.8-ing even happened before the modern day. In the late 60's, Richard Goldstein from the New York Times didn't like a particular album that had just been released. He called it "A Spoiled Child", saying that "It reeked of horns and harps, harmonica quartets, assorted animal noises, and a 41-piece orchestra". He went so far as to call it an album of sound effects, which according to him was "dazzling but ultimately fraudulent", although he did like the last song. What was this album? Why, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles! The reaction was so negative that ol' Richard had to write another review, explaining his original review.
The US Military has a 5-point ranking system for its personnel. Since promotions are more likely for those with 5/5, it has become common practice to ALWAYS rate at a 5; not to do so is a punishment in and of itself.
The New York Times resturant reviewer, Pete Wells, delivered a scathing review in November 2012 of Guy Fieri's 'Guy's American Kitchen and Bar in Times Square'. It consisted entirely of hilariously pointed rethorical questions to Guy asking if he knew how horrid his eatery was and had a rating of zero stars. Guy responded saying that the reviewer seems to have gone in "with his mind already made up." The internet went mad with people supporting both Pete Wells and Guy Fieri. In the meantime, business at the resturant actually went up as many customers came in to see whether or not the food was really that bad.
Pete Wells: "Hey, did you try that blue drink, the one that glows like nuclear waste? The watermelon margarita? Any idea why it tastes like some combination of radiator fluid and formaldehyde?"