Metacritic is a review aggregator for movies, video games, TV, and music. It pulls reviews from all over the web and calculates a “Metascore“¯. This is where I start when looking at a particular game.
The Metascore uses a 0-100 scale and a color system. A score of 75 or greater will be green, 50-74 will be yellow, and 49 or lower will be red. This gives you a quick visual guide to the general consensus about the game.
In my previous post, I talked about how a middling score might not turn me off of a game I am interested in. One of the games that fit that description was Serious Sam 3: BFE. I am going to breakdown its Metacritic page to give you an idea of how I used it to make my purchasing decision.
Evaluating Serious Sam 3: BFE
|Serious Sam 3: BFE Metacritic summary|
There are two important elements you will notice at the top of the page on any game you look up.
- The Metascore - In this case, it is a 72, “Mixed or average reviews based on 53 Critics”¯. This score is not in the realm of terrible but does make me want to investigate further.
- The User Score - In this case, it is an 8.2, “Generally favorable reviews based on 467 Ratings”. This told me players are enjoying the game more than critics did. I took that as a good sign. However, you do have to be careful when looking at the User Score. I will get into why in a bit.
Next looked at some actual reviews. You will see the critic reviews on the left and the user reviews on the right when you scroll down the page.
|Serious Sam Reviews|
The first thing you want to pay attention to is the “Positive”, “Mixed”, and “Negative” bar graphs. Here you see 27 positive, 26 mixed, and 0 negative critic reviews. This told me it probably does not have any show stopping bugs even though some critics have issues with it. For contrast, here is what the X-Rebirth page looks like.
This, coupled with the 33 Metascore, told me this game is broken. In fact, it was unplayable for a lot of people at release.
Serious Sam 3, however, did not have any negative reviews. I thought I would enjoy it since I enjoyed the previous games in the series. But I still wanted to make sure there were no big issues before I spent my money.
The good thing about Metacritic is it includes a summary and a link to every review it uses to create the Metascore. You can see them all by clicking on the “Critic Reviews” link at the top. This will give you a list of all the reviews from highest to lowest score.
|Serious Sam 3 critic reviews|
When evaluating this game, I did not bother with the reviews that gave it a high score. I was looking for a site that I trust that gave it a middling score to know what issues they had with it.
The return of Serious Sam’s most familiar weapons and enemies, at the expense of much new content, will just as likely leave you exhausted as elated. But if you felt even vaguely like fist-pumping upon hearing the tagline “No cover. All man.” give Serious Sam 3: BFE a punt.”
So they did not find any big issues with it. They just felt it did not bring enough new to the table. That was enough to tell me it would be worth it.
A word about the user score
I said earlier you should be careful when looking at the user score. Here is an example of why.
|Mass Effect 3|
Mass Effect 3 was the final game in Commander Shepard storyline. The series has a ton of hardcore fans who were eagerly awaiting the release of this game. As you can see, it reviewed very well with critics.
But the user score is 5.2 with 162 negative ratings. What gives?
A huge controversy erupted over the ending of the game after it was released. There were a lot of people who were not happy about it. One person even went so far as to file a complaint with the FTC claiming false advertising.
The user score you see does not reflect the actual quality of the game. It does not even reflect the quality of the story. A lot of people had no problem with the ending, which you can see reflected in the 250 positive reviews. In this case, the user score is being used by a group of people to try to send a message to the developer.
Always take the user score with a grain of salt. If it significantly lower than the critic score, there is probably something else going on.