To The Editor: After six years I have finally been able to play through the mess that is Metal Gear Solid 2. How I wondered, could a game that sold 7 million copies and achieved a metacritic score of 96% be so bad? I thus took it upon myself to read the reviews of 2001 to see where the discrepancy lied.
Of all the critic reviews regarding MGS2, only two mentioned the fact that Snake is only playable in the Prologue (In the interests of fairness, there were quite a few review sites where the link was not valid). Most reviews only vaguely mentioned the plot referring to it as full of twists (mentioning the main character Raiden is not a "plot twist," and simply filling plot holes with more plot holes is also not a twist)
In the wake of the Jeff Gerstmann/gamespot controversy, I find this startling neglect of critical integrity appropriate to mention. (Credit is due to gaming-age.com for giving the most accurate review of the game: A- gameplay, C+ story). There is currently a wave of moral outrage that a critic was fired for giving a scathing review because of sponsor pressure. But how many times have mediocre to bad games been lifted up for the same reason?
As consumers, the latter is much more damaging. While a poorly reviewed good game has the ability to rise above the critics, a well reviewed bad game gives it a free pass to the head of the shopping list. We put our trust in critics to sift through the glut of games and find the gems because we neither have the time nor the patience to search for them ourselves.
With MGS4 set to ship next year and both Konami and Sony relying on this to be the PS3's "killer app," what will occur if the game turns out to be a dud? Will any critic be able to stand up and shout that "the King has no clothes?!" Or in the interest of all those involved, quietly praise it letting the gaming public find out for themselves how the game is.
In response to 'Kane & Lynch & enough of the Bullshit" from The Escapist Forum: The problem with your argument is that you assume he was fired for giving a negative review to a sponsoring company. It's true he did this, but it isn't necessarily the reason he was fired. So then the reason he was fired could be something entirely unrelated, which brings light to why neither party has divulged any information. What if he were fired for something embarrassing like downloading porn on the company computer? He wouldn't likely be speaking up about it, and for that matter Gamespot would be doing him a favor to not divulge that information. The game may be sub-par, but don't lynch Eidos and Gamespot before you KNOW this is the reason he was fired.
I agree with everyone else. He's not talking to either avoid getting sued or for money. We will only hear the truth when the companies involved spill the beans, which might be a while. This is bad news for Gamespot and CNET though. I think Russ hit it dead on. This merely serves to confirm what we all cynically believe deep down anyway, that the whole game review process is corrupt and shambolic. Ad content already vastly outnumbers the actual "journalism" on Gamespot, if they took out the reviews entirely would you even notice the change?