MoH: Warfighter – The People Versus The Video Game Industry… - subsaint Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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MoH: Warfighter – The People Versus The Video Game Industry…

Injustice seems like such a harsh word to describe how I felt when I read review after review for Medal of Honor Warfighter from the many different video game journalists who evaluated the game, especially when so much of the feedback from the community was positive...or should I say, not as negative. I couldn't help but think of a court proceeding...

The bailiff steps forward and announces, "All rise. The Honorable Judge Phoenix Wright (he was recently appointed) presiding. Case number MH-W-2012, the People versus The Video Game Industry, one count defamation of character."


I always chuckle when I read a user review posted by a disgruntled fan of a particular game. The review will sometimes result to name calling, accusations of drug use...and in the most extreme cases, demands to cancel subscriptions (if applicable) and vows of never returning to the company's website who posted the review. What I realize though, it isn't so funny when it happens to you. When you read a review that you couldn't disagree more with. Then what do you do?

Now I'd like to think I'm a mature adult, above name calling and slandering those who I, on any other given day, admire and respect. But I'm also a passionate gamer devoted to certain principles and particular games; and when I vehemently disagree with something I have been known to resort to blogging about it to voice those concerns. In case it isn't obvious it's probably worth stating, I realize the audience I might reach is significantly smaller than those who read these same industry reviews...and yes, I'm aware that saying "devoted to certain principles" can be loosely translated to mean I am biased. It's true, I am. I am biased towards video games, especially military shooters...that essentially emulate or capture what the military does in a positive light and pays tribute to those accomplishments and sacrifices. Well, in response to all of the opposing views, the following blog was born.

As I discuss the stark contrast between the video game industry's professional reviewers and those opinions offered up by the regular every day gamers like you and me, please allow me to introduce a concept that I know exists in the military and might even exist in the civilian workforce too. As gamers, when we hear the term "headshot" we instinctively associate it with a shooter game where "one player scores a hit, usually fatal, in the cranial region of another player, real or otherwise". But in the realm of military jargon, at least in my branch and field...and at the management level, a headshot takes on an entirely different meaning.

In my professional experience a headshot is a label associated with the actions taken to make a sharp point especially when it is to ensure someone isn't competitive for promotion; typically it is a mark or comment made on a performance evaluation such that whoever sees or reads it knows this individual has issues and shouldn't be promoted or retained. It can be subtle, the person it refers to might not even be aware, but to those who know where to look and how to interpret the sign, it is typically a fatal blow to that person's career - it's accurate and deadly.

Imagine if you will...you are transferred from one department to another and your old boss bumps into your new boss and the new boss says, "Hey...HR sent me one of your former employees to help us out...what can you tell me about him?" And the old boss says something like, "He has a lot of potential."

Ah...the ole "he has a lot of potential" kiss of death. It sounds kind of positive, right? For those that don't know, potential means the following:

po·ten·tial

adjective

1. possible, as opposed to actual.

2. capable of being or becoming.

So in this case one can conclude it's either possible you're a good worker or you're capable of being a good worker but you're not necessarily a good worker at the moment. Not a very strong endorsement, eh? In my experience...that's a generic example of a headshot. Regardless of how good of a first impression you make with your new boss, you still have this negative mark against you...and that is often hard to overcome (but not impossible).

I say all of that so when I ask this question, you understand my position...

Did the video game industry give Electronic Arts a headshot?

And if so, why?

Now it might seem like I am specifically targeting Game Informer's review published by Matt Bertz that awarded the game an abysmal score of 5.0 out of 10. I think we can all agree that score can be classified as abysmal, can't we? Well, I'm not attacking Matt Bertz or his review. I happen to really like his work. I have analyzed the score as I try to come to grips with it and understand it, but I respect the integrity and capability of Matt and if that's his score, then so be it. Besides, the truth is, the collective whole of the video game industry's professional reviewers (the one's getting paid to do it) overwhelmingly reported similar scores as demonstrated by this quick snapshot I pulled from Wikipedia. So it wasn't just Matt Bertz, it was nearly the entire industry.

This is wildly different from a majority of the user reviews I've read here at Game Informer; from discussions I've had with a handful of gamers; and perhaps even more than that, my own personal experience with the game. Now, I've already admitted I'm biased, so take this for what it's worth, but in 25+ years of being a gamer, I don't think I've ever disagreed more strongly with a review of a game than with the industry's assessment of Medal of Honor Warfighter. Then again, I'm not the expert. I'm just a simple gamer with a slanted view. Guilty as charged.

If it were just me that saw it so differently I'd be compelled to keep my mouth shut and go play some Halo 4 or Black Ops II...but having witnessed the disparity between perspectives and seeing the damage it has caused with the reception of the game, I am so inclined to at least mention it.

So, I'm here to discuss how and why the game scored so low and whether it was justified or if it was indeed a headshot, the video game journalists sending a message back to EA. My goal is to remain as diplomatic and fair as I can be with my assessment and remind everybody that these are my views which may or may not differ from your own views.

How can we justify the low score?

First and foremost, maybe the game really did suck and deserved the low scores. I don't think it's as easy as that though because of the number of gamers who played it, enjoyed the game and questioned the review scores. Compare Medal of Honor Warfighter to other games from 2012 that scored worse, that scored the same and even one that scored better...and tell me if the scores were fair and justified.

Worse than Medal of Honor Warfighter:

007 Legends

Amy

Call Of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified

Dragon's Lair

Fable Heroes

Neverdead

Postal III

Rabbids Land

Realms of Ancient War

South Park: Tenorman's Revenge

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor

 

Equal to Medal of Honor Warfighter:

Dungeon Hunter: Alliance

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion

Fable: The Journey

Mugen Souls

Ridge Racer

Silent Hill: Book Of Memories

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir

ZombiU

 

Better than Medal of Warfighter:

Kinect Star Wars (5.5)

Seriously?

So, there are other plausible theories to consider. The game shipped with a pretty hefty day of release patch amounting to roughly 1GB of ones and zeros to make the game run better. It fixed all sorts of nasty bugs and glitches. Now if I played the game pre-patch and experienced technical difficulties I could see taking this into consideration and holding the game accountable for this practice. But that's not what the reviewers really hammered the game for. Patches typically fix issues like graphics, balancing, or stability issues but they really aren't there to shore up the story or make the missions more entertaining, which the bulk of the complaints seemed to focus in on. Do I think Warfighter scored as low as it did because of the patch? Not likely, certainly not in every instance. But it certainly didn't help.

 Another interesting possibility is the notion that since EA didn't provide any advance copies to the professional reviewers and media outlets prior to the official release as has become standard practice (this is documented), the industry retaliated by scoring the game so harshly. By not providing advanced copies, this means we had the opportunity to play the game the same day the experts got it...and the same day their competition got it. This resulted in everybody scrambling to get their official reviews posted. One could argue the demands of plowing through a game at an accelerated pace to finish the game (they all did...finish the game...didn't they?) just to turn around and hammer out a review under the pressure of a deadline could have impacted the experience and enjoyment of the game. Do I think reviewers not getting access to a game before everybody else affect review scores? I honestly don't know but I can't see how it would help, that's for sure.

There is another possibility clawing at my brain that I hope with all my heart is not the case, but it's there. I've already admitted when it comes to Warfighter, I am biased. I am in the military and I enjoy military shooters. Period. Any flaws or hiccups with the game I'm more inclined to overlook or dismiss because I have my Red, White and Blue blinders on. And while I say that, I live in a nation where the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have divided us; the support having subsided long ago. While I'd like to think the support of the military would never falter or waiver, the truth is it has. I know this because I have experienced it. Could it be this game is too interwoven into real world operations that many who are dissatisfied with the wars, and the politics of war, somehow associate the two entities ...as if liking Warfighter and its tribute to the military somehow endorses or condones that we still have a physical presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gosh, I sure hope not. The people I've talked to at work seem to like it...some of the people I've talked to online are former military, or pro-military and they like it. But having read tweets prior to the presidential election from a number of personalities who reviewed the game and scored it poorly, clearly there are some who are not as supportive of the military, and that worries me. Did Warfighter score so badly because it was overly patriotic?

In closing, I'll draw my final conclusion. If Medal of Honor Warfighter is as bad as the critics say it is, then how come all, or at least a fair amount, of the preview coverage which included feedback from those who actually played it was for the most part...positive? Did the game somehow get worse overnight? Google the previews and you'll see...you'll see some of the features that were praised in the previews were scorned in the actual reviews of the game (like driving the vehicles).

I don't know if the video game industry gave EA a headshot over the day of release patch, over the fact they didn't get advanced copies of the game, or for some other reason...OR if they truly thought Warfighter was "boring and unpolished" "brazenly unremarkable" and "dropped the ball", but I do know this...EA got the message loud and clear. It's just a shame they shot the messenger to make their point.

 

Roger Out.

 

NOTE: For an alternative perspective on Medal of Honor Warfighter from a Redneck, White Trash, Blue Collar American turned Navy guy...I humbly submit a link to my personal review of the game.

 

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