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StarCraft II and the Bonkers Review Scores

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Disclaimer: All reviews are one person’s opinion yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, have you seen the StarCraft II review scores? Blimey. On Evil Metacritic it’s currently averaging 96%, which is down two points from a gargantuan 98% yesterday. 98 would have made it the joint highest-scoring game of all time, whereas 96 will only mean it’s Metacritic’s highest scoring strategy game of all time, should it stay that way. That’s still bewildering.

I’ve really enjoyed – and am continuing to really enjoy – StarCraft II. It’s a very good strategy game: challenging but not overwhelming, neatly streamlined, and sporting presentation values that would seem more at place in a BioWare RPG. I assumed it would score in the 80s, maybe with a few marks in the 90s and perhaps a 6 from Edge (ho ho). But 96%? Crikey.

I have a personal policy of not reading reviews of a game I’m reviewing myself – at least until I’ve arrived at my conclusion and got all my notes in order. So, after playing StarCraft 2 for a solid couple of days in all, and having arrived at my conclusions, I curiously took a glance at Metacritic before starting to write my review. Wow. 98%. I wrote my review – banged on a score of 8.5 out of 10, in the end – then had a read of what exactly people thought was so remarkable about the game.

And… it’s kinda exactly what I think of the game. Which is strange. And it reminds me of another game which garnered Bonkers Review Scores earlier this year: Mass Effect 2. For me, the two games share a few core similarities. They’re exceptionally polished games, beautiful to look at, streamlined so that they are very approachable and simple to play yet reward skill at the same time. Both are huge games with epic, branching stories – stories which, while elegantly told, are about as original as an old person eating a Worther’s.

(At least Mass Effect’s dialogue wasn’t hideous.)

Apparently this is what constitutes a modern classic.

Oh, hell, I don’t know. StarCraft II has its multiplayer too, which I didn’t manage to spend anywhere near as much time as I’d have liked with prior to reviewing (and which I hope I was open about in the text). From the matches that I did play, it seems very strong, very strategic, and much less approachable than the single-player game: it would surprise me if this multiplayer component (particularly when not many reviews I’ve read have really delved into what makes it tick) was dragging the scores skywards.

Well, to each his/her own. I reviewed Limbo recently and awarded it the highest score I’ve ever given a game. (Do not assume that to mean I think it’s the best game ever. There are a great many games I haven’t reviewed.) Other people – who, for the record, are wrong – think it’s pretentious twaddle. Oh, okay, okay, they’re not wrong. “Differently inclined,” let’s say. As in, they’re predisposed to hate anything which tries to utilise an art style to evoke a sense of wonder in the player, and which designs its mechanics inch-perfectly so that one puzzle naturally evolves into the next and creates an experience that never, ever stops surprising until the final few seconds.

In summary: Limbo’s fantastic, StarCraft II and Mass Effect 2 are great but calm the fuck down.


4 responses »

  1. But, Lewis…you haven’t even played Mass Effect 2 yet :/

  2. I did! I played more of it! I haven’t finished yet, granted, but I’ve put a fair few hours into it now. Still not hooked.

  3. Yeah whatever, Shabba ranks mate, Shabba Ranks!

  4. I feel like review scores sometimes get inflated out of a sense of respecting the idea of going big and (at least mostly) succeeding. Though I sometimes wonder if a game like Alpha Protocol would’ve scored higher or lower without the hype and Obsidian’s name on it.


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