From where I’m comfortably sitting, it seems to me that the biggest detriment to society in terms of the internet is the fact that everyone has a voice. Thus, some of the worst parts of the human condition come to light. Since this is a video game website, I’m not really in the proper place to comment on rampant racism or sexism, but what I can speak on is irrationality. Since the release of Dragon Age II, many folks out there have completely flipped their lid. In fact, there was some controversy in regards to the game’s user score on Metacrtic, which is essentially the result of a large group of entitled fans throwing temper tantrums. Being someone who was accused of taking bribes from EA (which makes no sense, considering I was the one who bought the game to review), I wanted to take a look at exactly why casting Bioware as Emmanuel Goldstein in this particular two minute hate literally makes no sense whatsoever.
The base criticism from a lot of people seems to be “I don’t like it, thus it sucks.” Being a critic, I have to shake my head at that form of logic. Why, praytell? Because it insults the way that our universe was put together. Fact of the matter is that absolute truth exists. No matter how hard O’Brien tortures you and makes you say something different, two plus two will never equal five. My cat will never be a hamster. Mindjack will never be anything other than terrible. No matter how much you cry, flail your arms, and cry to the heavens, Dragon Age II will never be a poorly designed game, and will never be deserving of a low score. To say otherwise is simply outlandish and incorrect. Now, as riddled as this article already is with 1984 references and negativity, let me say something positive on the flipside. I’ll also discuss a different game that’s mired in a little less controversy for the sake of mood.
A game like Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is excellent. Same can be said for Fallout 3. However, the big gap between critics and readers is that I can’t hit everyone’s taste. The goal of the written review is to try and dissect a game for a massive number of people, and see if it appeals to the majority of fans within that genre. The best example of that would probably be when I reviewed Dead Money last month, declaring it was something only fans would enjoy. Judging by the DLC’s content and design, I figured only die hard Fallout fans would enjoy it. However, a few of my friends on Xbox Live told me they enjoyed it, and New Vegas was their intro to the franchise. Now, does this make my review or their enjoyment wrong? No, but the big thing is the difference between taste and quality.
Let’s use a hypothetical situation for a moment. Say that Dant, Yousif, Eli, and Myself go into a Buffalo Wild Wings. After Yousif, Dant, and myself have all placed our orders (side note: boneless honey barbeque wings are awesome), Eli goes into a huge rant about how it’s outrageous that they’re not serving liver and onions. Would there be a single person in that restaurant that didn’t tell him to shut up? Yet, it seems that in the world of the internet, people would prefer to join Eli’s liver and onion revolution, and start punching waitresses in the face. There isn’t a single civilized culture in the world that would react in such a manner, because common sense would dictate that a restaurant called Buffalo Wild Wings would be selling (duh) wings.
We live in an age driven by information. Most, if not every, game released these days usually shows several trailers, multiple news articles, previews from multiple gaming sites, multiple gameplay videos, and a demo. Beyond that, many have associated Facebook pages and Twitter feeds! For the last ten games I’ve reviewed for this site, I have a really good idea of what I was getting myself into. Being as honest as humanly possible, it takes a large amount of ignorance to go into a game half-cocked and not expect something these days. You’ve either got to have no time whatsoever to catch up on things, or you’re trying your best to not buy into hype. Either way, the information is right there for the taking.
Truthfully, there are no excuses, but no one can tell you what to like and not to like. Thing is, the reactions of game fans to the differences from the first Dragon Age to the second are very telling of our maturity as a community. Most moviegoers that I come across know the difference between quality and preference. Same goes for most music lovers (with the exception of the worst heavy metal and punk purists). It doesn’t speak well for us to go forward and start bitching like a bunch of twelve year olds when mommy didn’t buy them a popsicle. Bioware has the right to make whatever kind of game they want. You have the right to not buy it. Either live with it, or shut up. Your third option is “look like a jackass.”