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Veteran Member - Level 11
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
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
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
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
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
Call Of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified
Realms of Ancient War
South Park: Tenorman's Revenge
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
Equal to Medal of
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
Fable: The Journey
Silent Hill: Book Of Memories
Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir
Better than Medal
Kinect Star Wars (5.5)
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.
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.
I haven't played Warfighter, or the last Medal of Honor, so I can't weigh in on what I think. However, I can say I felt this way just this month. Resident Evil 6, while Game Informer gave it a good score, many...many did not.
I felt like I was playing a different game entirely. And really enjoyed it.
Medal of Honor Warfighter is my favorite shooter of all time. I bought the care package edition of Black Ops 2, mostly because the sweet helicopter was to hard for me to pass up, but haven't even put the game in yet. I am devoted to getting that 100% on warfighter. Love that game and as some one who is a little overly patriotic (Love you brothers and sisters, all 4 in or were in the military) but this game was amazing. The missions had a great mix to them, the online play is great and I like unlocking the characters. I had no idea the reviews were so bad and well I will simply but it this way, I have said this a lot so sorry.
Until they show the system and criteria they use for reviews, I dont trust any review that isnt from someone I know personally.
Another great blog Saint. I have the game, I've had it since a day after launch, and so far I'm not liking it. I haven't played it much though, so I'll still give it a chance, but I don't think EA is the reason it got low scores. Just look at ME3, another EA game released this year. Reviewers loved that game, and for understandable reasons. I'm sure they weren't biased or anything like that. Then again, the reviewers (at least at GI) were different. Maybe it's just shooter fatigue hat got them though. I dunno'.
Great commentary Saint. I read your and Noobtoobin8er's feedback and reviews on MoH:W and found myself agreeing with you guys. It's a flawed game, but I didn't find it anywhere near a 5. The campaign (and the last MoH's campaign) continue to be my favorite single player FPS experiences currently available.
Interestingly (or sadly,) I saw a similar correlation when looking at reviews of Act of Valor (and the MoH:W campaign was very similar it tone and content.) I absolutely loved the film - another mainstream piece of entertainment that enlisted SEALs to ensure they made it authentic - and most negative reviews simply dismissed it as propoganda or pro-war, rather than recoginizing it as pro-military, or offering any substantial criticism.
I can understand that a lot of people are dissatisfied after a decade of engagement overseas, but at some point people need to be able to separate the war from the warriors.
Again, great blog.
I agree that games are often shot down without much care or consideration for what they are. For you, it's Medal of Honor, and in my case it was Syndicate. It's why I take personal player accounts into consideration over most 'official' reviews.
I'm just gonna hazard a guess here and say this is probably better than Kinect Star Wars...
This is a great -- and necessary -- perspective. Why? Because in general it highlights an important truth that too many forget. Namely, media reviews are NOT objective. With all due respect to Game Informer staff, whom I do believe are the least biased, reviewers are people too with their own experiences, beliefs and preconceived notions as anyone else. Did the issues you describe contribute to their professional opinion? Perhaps. Perhaps not. It's hard to say. But as much as you admit to bias, media reviewers have bias too, and these days there's less of a stigma attached to that. So, in my opinion. all the issues you raise likely had some influence however small. So long as others speak out when they disagree (respectfully, one can only hope), consumers can only benefit from the breadth of opinion.
Great blog. Also, Operation raccoon city got just as bad reviews, same with Neverdead. the reviews are what have held me off of the game, but after christmas, I might check it out. Two cousins say its awesome
I personally didn't like the game, but I think that's merely through comparing it to Black Ops II and Spec Ops: The Line, two games this year that I think did the military shooter far better. It was solid in a lot of ways (graphics, weapons), broken in a lot of others (AI, UI, linearity), but I know plenty of people that love the multiplayer and enjoyed it so I can't fault them for enjoying something I didn't.
@Saint, you managed to take a blighted, biased viewpoint; you made this blog worth reading. You have a way of making the hated series, something that is food for thought as to why the people rated the game the way they did. You also show a viewpoint that is one from an understanding, informed, and passionate gamer. As always I think you did an excellent job being modest AND neutral for such a beloved series as this, no?