I know this has happened to many people. You look at a prized game, or something you’re looking forward to and some critic has absolutely teared into it. You breeze through the write up, glaze over the video, leave comments defending what you like, and pretty much to no avail. Those in question look at you, and say “I’m a critic. It’s my job to be honest about things”
But, there’s a slight problem with that logic now: The INTERNET.
With the internet, and sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes and but of course youtube, it’s easier now to be a critic than it has ever been before. Everyone can have a voice and some people can make a name for themselves. Heck, I even do it from time to time.
It’s easy to get your voice out, and do what you feel is right. Saving your fellow fan’s money. But, there’s a problem that I’ve seen in some: A critic may not be able to split their OPINION from CRITIQUE.
I’m going to use Marvel vs Capcom 3 for this to help illustrate my point. Mostly, because it’s an easy to use example, and I’ve already researched it some. So, it’s a little easier for me to point out opinion versus critique in some cases.
Can all these internet reviewers be wrong? No, of course not. But, they MAY be letting their own bias cloud the review. They could be a fan of the previous game. Or just not like the company, their review is more based on their opinion, rather than the craft of the game.
I’ve read a lot of negative reviews on the game. Some saying that it’s only average, and I can respect that. And honestly, I could be letting MY bias cloud my judgement. But, I’m also using a fairly low scale to judge: Is the game doing what it said it would do?
Angry Joe, in a very public display, complained the game was “barebones” and lacking content. Comparing it to SSF4 amount of content. But then would go on to mention it’s mission mode (saying it was too hard) and the fact you do have endings and a gallery to browse.
Others have said that the game is “incomplete” saying it is missing content. Or that all the strategy is out of the game, because of it’s new button layout.
These sound like large complaints. Things that SHOULD be addressed. But the problem is, the lack of evidence to support their theory. The basis of their argument, is their opinion. And I’m all for them having an opinion. It’s good to have debate. But, when your opinion is only based on what you like, you’re not critiquing. You’re complaining.
There are actual problems you can complain about in any form of media. In this case, you can bring up the poor quality of netcode about the game. You can say it’s balance needs work. Or even how X Factor is rather strong. If the control was bad, or unresponsive, bring that up. But many of the complaints I’ve seen, are strongly based in opinion.
A critic has to put aside opinion to give a fair look at what ever he or she is reviewing. You have to go in with a bit of previous knowledge, a bit of research, and an open mind on anything you’re looking at. Sometimes, you can be quite surprised at what you find. But, this is actually leading to a major point:
Just because you don’t LIKE something doesn’t make it BAD.
It’s a key thing in critique. It’s usually why, in the game industry, they don’t have people who aren’t fans of the genre of game they’d review, review a particular genre. You don’t have your RTS guy review a fighting game. Or vice versa. Not only, do the people who mainly follow a genre know more about the genre than those who do not, but they’re more able to judge if something is made bad, or they just don’t like it.
The key to a good critique, is if not YOU enjoyed it, but you think OTHERS will. That’s why your opinion can’t factor into it very much. Because I am not you. I can’t speak for you. I’ve enjoyed games or movies or comics you may not. But, when I critique something, or review it, I have to put myself in the mindset of someone who is not me. Someone who may be familiar of what I’m talking about, but not fully intimate with it’s details. Which means, I have to look up what the company says about it’s product (like features in a game, or what they say it’ll provide) and then I have to compare it to what the average target of the item in question. If I’m doing a fighting game, I know people who are interested in it, know the basic premise. So I don’t need to focus on the details too much. Just need to say if the game plays well. If it controls well. If it runs smoothly. Any more, then I start to get into opinion, and I’ve lost my focus.
Like, personally, I don’t like Call of Duty. FPS just doesn’t click with me. I’ve enjoyed a few (Left4Dead, Borderlands) but I wouldn’t review a Call Of Duty, because I’m not it’s target audience. I wouldn’t know what is lack of my skill, or bad programing. But, as a fan of fighting games, I’m actually experienced enough to judge if a fighting game is made well, poorly, or just averagely.
It’s not easy to do it. Especially if you’re really strongly for or against something. I was lucky with SF3 online, it was very well made and showed a strong labor of love. But, if it didn’t, I’d have to put my opinion behind me, and say it how it is. But the thing is true in the reverse. If something I don’t care for, is good, I have to say it. If I don’t, then I’m not fit to review, or even debate about the items. I’m too biased. And, if a point is brought up, I can’t refute, I have to accept that. I have to realize that is a reality. And I have to compensate for that. If not, I’m not helping anyone. Just myself.