Uncharted 3 has done pretty darn well, going by the hive mind judgement of Metacritic. All but three outlets gave the game a score of nine or above. Of the sites to assign the game an 8 or less, Eurogamer is arguably the one with the highest profile — a profile significant enough for the game’s lead designer, Richard Lemarchand, to speak about it.
Chatting to Eurogamer, Lemarchand expressed his disappointment with the review, stating that the team at Naughty Dog had “done even more than we did [in previous games] to keep the player in control from moment to moment.” In the interview, he mentions he’s not a fan of review scores, but accepts them as a fact of the business. Lemarchand also acknowledges that games journalism itself has matured, with reviews leaning towards useful criticism rather than glorified lists of features.
What caught my eye is that an 8/10 is now seen as an unacceptable score for a AAA game from a developer’s point of view. I can tell you any Australian games developer back in 2007/2008 would have been ecstatic with a score so high, given the types of games we worked on. But expectations from publishers and consumers have gone through the roof, and it’s a lot harder now for the likes of Naughty Dog, Blizzard, Gearbox and Valve to settle on anything less than flawless (or sub-flawless, in the case of nine out of 10s).
I think it would be grand if more developers spoke out about reviews — pointing out where it’s clear the reviewer hasn’t played the game for longer than 30 minutes, or simply clearing up misunderstandings. Reviews, by their nature, are a one-way street, but everyone would benefit from some discussion between critic and creator.
Developers, especially those with a hands-on role, tend to be more direct and honest than a PR or marketing mouthpiece, so what they say inherently carries weight. And who else is better qualified to answer perceived questionable design decisions than the person who made those decisions?
Are you interested in more back-and-forth between journos and developers when it comes to reviews?