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Dragon Age 2 Metacritic Woes

Avanost's review.

Dragon Age 2 has not had the smoothest of launches, and a lot of it seems centered around Metacritic. Last week they were bombarded by negative user reviews, that were coming in on all platforms. This week, a user on Reddit posted this image (warning, very large, which is why I'm not posting it here), which tracks a glowingly perfect review of the game from an employee of BioWare. Going by the name Avanost, he was tracked down to be Chris Hoban, an applications engineer at BioWare. As NaviFairy pointed out to me on Twitter yesterday, that review is gone, but a very similar one by user Anastasia showed up.

Some will be outraged. Some will not be shocked and have expected this. Some will not even care and wish another big game would come out to distract us from Dragon Age 2.

Personally, having finished the game, I am not sure what score I would give it--I liked it, but it has issues. I also find that the issue of the review score is what drives my reluctance to give a score (and makes me glad we here at GayGamer gave up the score--we're not featured on Metacritic, so we have no pressure). Largely because the inflation of review scores is part of what drives these efforts, as is the desire to create a mob of user reviews decrying how awful a game is.

Kotaku reached out to EA, and received this quotation from their senior PR manager:

Of course the people who make the game vote for their own game. That's how it works in the Oscars, that's how it works in the Grammy's and why I'm betting that Barack Obama voted for himself in the last election.

I'm sure Barack Obama voted for himself as well, but there's something different about voting for one's self and writing a glowing review that reads as a PR statement in a forum that is supposed to give voice to user reviews--Barack Obama voting for himself is not stored on the internet with a PR statement of why he did so. That's what his campaign was about--that's what marketing is for.

The issue seems murky to me, but only because I look at Metacritic, and consider how its reporting of the score inflation (they're not the ones giving the reviews after all) is harming the industry as regards the bigger companies in the games industry, by creating this drive to get a good score, rather than deliver a game about which I care (the two should equate, but I don't necessarily see it as such right now).

What are your own thoughts?


EdwardC said:

Those whining fans who bombarded the metacritic user reviews are the problem with gaming right now. They didn't like changes so they score the game 0/10 or 2/10. Way to kill developer innovation. Punish devs for trying to move gaming forward, not rehashing old mechanics. Then they act shocked that a Bioware employee stands up for his game. Why shouldn't he? It is a problematic game, but a fantastic one at that. Bioware put over a years worth of time into just so fans could flame it for not playing like it's predecessor. It is pathetic. These are the same people who insist that Mass Effect 2 is a horrid POS. They feel wronged and they try to hurt Bioware and EA for it. They're shooting themselves in the foot. If I worked at Bioware, the last thing I would do is cave in to their demands.

VorpalBunny said:

Edward, yeah, despite the problems I might have with the game, I don't think I'd stoop to giving it such a low score. There is something to be said for wanting to combat their low scores, but I'm not sure doing so in such a manner is beneficial.

GJAIF has reported that the Russian BioWare community, for instance, has asked users to review the game positively to combat such. (link: ) I don't quite take his stance that this is inexcusable in that case. If users feel strongly about the game, they should feel they have a right to report on it positively, even if that's a 7/10 (which I still consider a good score, for instance).

Overall, the obsession with scores is still not something by which I stand. It's similar to the rat race to get those straight As in school, which I believe harms more students than it actually helps.

Nanopunk said:

Please be having a twitter button on stories!

Rosa said:

I love Dragon Age 2 and I'm just tired of all this stupid drama about it. It's become a banner for internet tough guys to flock to and shit on, and EA/Bioware's handling of it hasn't been much better. It's a crappy situation, and it makes me sad, because I quite frankly thought the game was better than DA:O. Not flawless, but one of the best I've played in recent history.

So tired of all this drama over it. It's harshing my mellow.

Feri said:

Rosa, the fact that it's one of the best YOU've played recently doesn't mean it's good.

I don't get what kind of innovation some people talk about. The game on the highest setting on PC is pretty hardware demanding, still looks very dated. Whenever a character gets bloodstained, their lower teeth get bloodstained, too. It's ridiculous that a developer with such great support can't solve this bug. It's also ridiculous that I need to download a plus 1 GB texture pack so the environment doesn't look as if it was created in 2002.
Most of the quests in this game are go there, kill everyone on the way, then kill the boss mechanic. It's DOOM game design.
The dungeons are heavily reused which makes it utterly boring. Do you remember the cave where you go up the stairs, then make a 90 degree right turn, then go down the curvy stairs to find a fireplace and a bench with a lit candle, a book and some other stuff, all non-interactive? Yes, you do? Because you have been there at least 3 times, although they were supposed to be different places.
Come on.
Whoever thinks this game (or Mass Effect 2, for that matter) is exceptional clearly didn't play with many good games before, or simply ate the hype and now doesn't want to lose face, so make themselves believe they love it.

BioWare has gone crap since KOTOR. I guess EA has a big influence in that, wanting ever more profit with no innovation and risk. Once a whore, always a whore.

Sanctun said:

Hey Feri, i got your point. Indeed the caves are so many times reused that in the end of the game u can almost forsee where the loots will be XD. However, i disagree about the quest thing. One thing is true, sometimes they are quite swallow in DESCRIPTION, and it is indeed lacking a few more not-fighting quests, but this is about a game style isn' it? id like to take a look at the game intro: u are a individual that carved your way to the top with blood, the other's blood i must say, unless u are a blood mage. So how do u xpect people to see you? Surely not as a peace keeper, Even if u always choose the good dialogue choice, we are what we do and we indeed shed some blood, son't we? sooo... child and kitten saving resquesters wont come to you with the same rate they did at DA:O. what i'm saying is not that you are wrong, u surelly have your point, but that does not mean the game is artificially blood lusted, it is just a background history matter. But, dude, the cave reusing is.... disturbing, and i quite disliked the cave design in this game. Not only for the reusing, but because they have all the same geografy style! No galleries, no darkness? C'me on!? u are in a mine and you see daylight from its botton? Boy... talk about a glintch.
Vorpal Bunny had such a brillianr coment! id kiss him myself if i were there! Scores helps, sure! but just a little... really... i tiny little. Most of the players do not get the techical stuff, wich sometimes makes the score itself a little meaningless. scores are quite personal. I myself have seen so many bad coments about IGN reviews that i just don't look at them anymore. U can't analize with the same eyes DMC and FFX, that would be a sin! The point i'm trying to make is that the fact of the same institution making reviews for all the sort of games takes away their credit, for the parameters are different. Ah, wel... talked too much already. Sorry for any english mistakes.

Sanctun said:

Oh, and yes, Rosa... good and best are different things, u see.

VorpalBunny said:

Personal taste is personal taste, so if Rosa believes it to be among the best she's played, what's wrong with that?

Different parts of the game will have different meaning to others. Myself? I really could care less about graphics to most extents. The reused dungeons bothered me, but if they had the same environments but different level design, I would likely have not minded as much. Different people value different things in an entirely different manner.

The story? Excepting the Chekov's gun it uses (trying to keep this spoiler-free), I was a fan of what it brought up. I was also a fan of the response-stacking the game uses to determine Hawke's tones in voices (which I'm noticing quite a bit in my second play of the game). These matter to me more.

(Personally, I'm not even sure how I regard this game as compared to DAO, which I loved. The two have a very different feel, and I felt I could relate to my character better than in Origins--not something everyone will share.)

Feri said:

You've got a point there, Sanctun. :)

You know what, guys? So far I liked Awakenings the most from the series. It was an interesting story, good new characters, heavy choices in the end.

Rosa said:

I haven't played a new release game I positively absolutely loved before DA2 since ... well, since DA:O, probably. Okay, and Ghost Trick, I loved that too.

Recent games have left me cold. I don't give a shit about open world exploration, for example. I personally get lost in department stores, so I find absolutely nothing fun about stumbling around a huge map with no idea of where I'm going. I'm not here to sight-see, I want to kill dudes, take their stuff, and see some sweet storyline unfold.

I didn't say DA2 was flawless, I said that with what I personally look for in a game -- fun, challenging combat, statistic and ability tree building, great storyline, loveable characters, and well written dialogue -- DA2 is the best game I've played in a really long time.

There are a lot of triple A releases with perfect metacritic scores which I hated. There are a lot of games nobody thought much of that I enjoyed.

I just find that this particular game has become very popular to dislike, because there are a lot of angry nerds who are very angry that a traditional RPG by the people who make the best traditional RPGs has this sort of hot rod paint job and a few traits that they, personally, think cannot possibly work in an RPG. And it's frustrating. Because I loved this game, flaws and all, and I'm not an easy person to please.

Sanctun said:

Hey hey! do not misunderstand me. Better is different from good tout court. Personal taste is really not the matter here. If id say that should simply gave up my psycology university, which i'm not going to do.
Rosa, i quite understand you, and i share your feelings. I also loved DAO, though i didnt played no DLC, for i have no web. iloved the desing, and wow!in DA2 they are the frist game who i remember using repossoir with some sense, and not some stupid decoration, but this is a personal matter. (big decorative things wich its meaning is to call attention to a minor thing in the center, aside, or this way.# all the design is a masterwork. I'm terribly addicted and i'm not only hard to please... i'm random. I belive this game pleased both my hard jugment as my randomness XD.
About the caves (part 3, the return) Sure, to hell with graphics! i used to play tibia and, in that time, used to like it! but it seems that bioware tryed to improove the graphics in some manners, if not, at least to change. for instance... the eye lighting now in DA2 is far more seeablo than in DAO. I love the game and i would even bed him! The point is that when you try to do something really meaning that, as bioware did, it is up to being noticed, if you cand understand me. With that said, it is weird ton have sunlight in the botton of cave. Not cause it made the game shity, far from this. the point i'm trying to make is that it was a drstraction mistake, a really small feat that spoiled the cake. Like, u buy all the vodka, the juice and the ice hire the best sound and the hottest gogo boys. Take all the small things to eat and call evrybody from your friends list. When the party starts, u recall that your mother is going to need the freezer tonight for a volunteer party of her church. That's what i meant...
sorry again for the english mistakes... i talk it a lot better than i write.
oh... just to tell... there is a song wich when i hear i remember anders XD it is a gregorian modern singing... It is called "Join me" there is a set up of this song in a JLo video on utube.
nice talking to u guys!

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Sanctun on Dragon Age 2 Metacritic Woes: Hey hey! do not misunderstand me. Better is different from good tout court. Personal taste is really not the matter...

Rosa on Dragon Age 2 Metacritic Woes: I haven't played a new release game I positively absolutely loved before DA2 since ... well, since DA:O, probably. Okay,...

Feri on Dragon Age 2 Metacritic Woes: You've got a point there, Sanctun. :) You know what, guys? So far I liked Awakenings the most from the...

VorpalBunny on Dragon Age 2 Metacritic Woes: Personal taste is personal taste, so if Rosa believes it to be among the best she's played, what's wrong with...

Sanctun on Dragon Age 2 Metacritic Woes: Oh, and yes, Rosa... good and best are different things, u see....

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