Gears of War 3: Perfect Review Scores By Divine Right


(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

I hate to harp on about reviews, but as a man whose entire career revolves around reviewing videogames, it’s a subject that tends to be on my mind a lot, and it brings with it no shortage of annoyances that deserve a righteously rambling rant. Last night, I reviewed Gears of War 3 for Destructoid, a review I am very proud of. For a bit of backstory, Microsoft had sent my review copy to the wrong address, and it took two days to resolve the issue. Having lost two days of time and having only fifteen hours left before the embargo broke, I essentially took an entire day out of my week to complete Gears 3, get into some multiplayer, and try both Horde and Beast mode before writing and posting the review.

I was very pleased to not only get the task completed in a single day, but also write a review that I felt was among my most eloquent — and as someone who isn’t fond of self-congratulation, I was certainly pleased enough to allow myself the one indulgence. It was therefore especially disappointing to have the review’s text  completely glossed over and tossed out the window in favor of focusing entirely on the review score — which happened to be an eight out of ten.

I’ve been known for harsh review scores in the past, but eight is a great score for what I felt was a great game. Gears of War 3, to me, lacks the unique special “spark” that a title needs in order to achieve a nine or ten. It followed two excellent titles and had a lot to live up to. That it didn’t quite do so is no shameful thing — it only serves to highlight how remarkable the series has been, and how high the bar was set. I concentrated very hard on making sure that my respect and love for the game was made clear, but I felt the criticisms of its multiplayer flaws and the less satisfactory narrative campaign needed to be voiced. A fun, well-made game that has some flaws sounds like an 8/10 experience to me, if we’re going to boil down games to just their numbers.

It didn’t take long for a number of gamers to ignore all the many positive things said about the game and focus on the criticisms. One person claimed I “sucked” at the multiplayer and thus “docked a point” — as if the game started at nine by default and had to be marked down. Another accused me of being petty for mentioning any negativity at all. One said that giving a game 8/10 because it didn’t have a special spark to it was a bad criticism. None of these people mentioned how I lavished praise upon the co-op modes, or reinforced the idea that it was fun. None of these people were satisfied with a 8/10 score — a score that reflected my ultimately congratulatory summary.

Worse than the gamers, however, were a few comments from professional game designers. It was, of all people,  David Goldfarb of DICE that called any and all reviews below a 9/10 into question. The Battlefield series lead designer seemed to believe that 8/10 reviews were entirely inconceivable, Tweeting: “8/10 for Gears 3?!” Apparently, a great game getting a great score was beyond belief. It was GEARS OF WAR 3, after all! How on Earth can something from Epic Games ever get anything below a nine or ten!?

The sentiment was echoed by none other than Epic’s own Joe Graf, who responded to Goldfarb with: “A giant WTF IMO.”

Yes, the idea that Gears of War could score below a nine out of ten — a NINE OUT OF TEN — was so utterly alien to him that his only response was “what the f**k?” A giant “what the f**k?”

Finally, we have the press joining in, encouraging this idea that anything below a nine is now unacceptable for Triple-A titles. In its roundup of reviews, UK-based site Computer And Videogames wrote, “There were a phenomenal range of high scores but Destructoid and Eurogamer were two examples that broke away from the pack. They didn’t believe that Gears 3 deserved the high marks that everyone else was dishing out. Still, 8/10 isn’t bad, is it?”

According to CVG, an 8/10 now “breaks away from the pack” of high review scores, despite 80% of 100% being generally considered a very high percentage indeed. What is eight, then, if it’s not a high score? It’s certainly not a middling, average score. It’s definitely not a low one. I cannot, in even the most diseased cell of my brain, find the logic that states 8/10 isn’t high. While I enjoy CVG, I can’t help but feel dismayed that it’s actively encouraging the completely ludicrous notion that 8/10 for a major franchise’s game is somehow not a high score, when fresh IP and more obscure titles would kill for that kind of number. Hell, when I gave Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine an 8/10 earlier this month, THQ couldn’t be happier and gamers couldn’t be more encouraged. Yet, as soon as we bump up the budget and attach a bigger studio’s name, the reviewer is expected to change the game entirely.

It remains utterly, completely, intellectually insulting to me that we’re in an industry that has decided 9/10 is the manifest destiny of certain games. Based on marketing, name value, and sequel number, there are certain games now pre-ordained to receive near-perfect scores and nothing but the most glowing of praise. That I gave Gears of War a great score and said it was a great game means nothing — I broke the seal, I defied the prophecy, I stood before the Gods and challenged their will. Gears of War 3 was destined to receive a 9/10 or above. It was written in the stars, and to deny it this divine right is to deny reality itself.

How disgusting. How utterly, pathetically, disgusting. How greedy, as well. Gears has already received a ton of perfect and near-perfect scores, but for developers to focus on the HANDFUL of reviews that said the game was “great” instead of “perfect” and express some sort of disappointment in that? It reminds me of Scrooge McDuck, furious that he didn’t receive another dime to add to his huge mountain of millions and millions of dollars. To say a game scores 8/10 is to say that the reviewer loved the game — in essence, any developer upset by that is complaining that somebody said they loved their work, and throwing it back in that person’s face. How unfathomably ungrateful.

No game should ever — ever — be considered a lock-in for a certain score before it’s been played. It doesn’t matter what the past games were like, who’s making it, or how much it cost to develop. A game is worth what a game is worth, and external factors of public expectation should never be part of that. I am a little disturbed that my industry includes readers, developers and fellow press who seem to subscribe to the notion that certain games are marked for critical greatness by destiny, rather than merit, and that even if a game is praised, anything short of unflinching, uncritical adoration isn’t good enough.

I think Gears of War 3 is great in a world where just thinking something’s “great” isn’t good enough. How spoiled we truly have become.

Still eager to destroy the Locust Horde? Check out Game Front’s Gears of War 3 text and video walkthrough.

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72 Comments on Gears of War 3: Perfect Review Scores By Divine Right

Phil Owen

On September 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm

You’re doing the Lord’s work today, Jim.

Tobbii

On September 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Great read, I felt the review was well made and made me want to buy their game. Then Joe’s comment on twitter sort of turned me off, I’ll get it later.

Although, I hate to tell you, who said that you gave “Gears 3″ a 8/10 a few days before the review? :P

Dru

On September 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I’m not going to lie. I still don’t agree with an 8/10. Everyone has different experiences with games though. I respect your reviews and I always have. I enjoy Gears games more though than you though so that’s why I would’ve put it at 9/10. I know you’re mad because people are trolling you and getting mad at you, but to go out of your way to complain and right an article about being harassed is a little over the top, but I understand where you’re coming from. You’re a great writer and an awesome reviewer. It is what it is. I respect your 8/10 and welcome it warmly. :) <3

Lewis Dunn

On September 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

I do tend to find myself grabbing a game and expecting it to be a “9″ or an “8″ experience, and this has often lessened my feelings towards games. for example I love NMh, I love it passionately, but even I know that if I were reviewing it it’d have to be an “8″ game because it’s certainly not a “9″ quality title. 9s are stuff like Bioshock and Mass Effect 2, and nMh can’t compare to those games. I still love NMH more.

Review scores are weird…

Albert

On September 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I think this reflects the problem with condensing reviews into a single numerical value. Actually, no–I take that back. There’s nothing wrong with a 1-10 score as a concept. It’s a useful summary measure and a good starting point for discussion.

The problem is we (gamers, media, developers, publishers) take it entirely too seriously and put entirely too much value in this number. The text in the review should be the focus–the score is only there to provide perspective and summary. The reasons a game is good or bad are far more important than a rating.

I echo the sentiments–since when is an 8 a bad score? Why have we become so obsessed with scores we feel compelled to single out ones that deviate from the pack? Regardless of how one feels about Gears, it’s an excellent series in design and implementation–and the reviews reflect that. But it’s not perfect and the reviews should reflect that too. Yes, that includes the review score.

And let us not forget review scores are not some empirical scientific metric of quality–they’re produced by human beings, who provide their reasoning as to why the game deserves that score. And the reasoning is far and away the most important part.

Matt Chatham

On September 15, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Right on, Jim. People are idiotic. Why do video game review scores seem to have all these weird rules – imagine if every new album by a famous musician was guaranteed at least 4.5 stars.

Kaylila

On September 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I love Gears of War. LOVE.

To be honest when I saw the DToid 8/10 I glossed over your review. It was one of the few I didn’t read because it stood out and now I realize it should have been one of the ones I DID read. Previously I was one of those people that hated when AAA games always got “perfect” reviews. I remember years ago when GTAIV came out and got so many stellar reviews I enver understood because having played the game I found plenty of faults. I think now though you kind of showed me how I am being hypocritical of my own thinking when it came to Gears 3. My goal one day is to become a writer and reviewer in the video game industry and I can only hope I can stick to my guns when the time comes like yourself.

Patrick George Jones

On September 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Jim. If you are going to complain about how people gloss over your article and about your review scores, then stop giving these games scores. no-one can’t pin anything down to a “score”, a review score is too harsh and cold for a fluid medium such as games. If you want people to read and focus on the article. Then don’t bolt on a review score, that way their eyes will stop looking on that and on your words much more often. This way can see why you think what you think and you will get MUCH less complaints about it, so long as you back up your points, which, in this case you did.
But even then, you will still face some flames; there are people who will want too much from something and when they don’t get what they want, they will lash out at the nearest thing, you know better than I do on that. But at the end of the day, both people need to realize that a quality of a game is relevant to ones perspective, and there can be no universal symbol of its quality, if these people realized this, then this wouldn’t be a problem. But then there wouldn’t be as many clicks on the review…*sigh*.

Slurms

On September 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Patrick, what you said in the last line sums up why Jim can’t leave a score out. While I think it’s ridiculous that we’re even having the discussion, the fact is that Jim and others in the industry are being paid for that score for people who want that quick confirmation to determine if the game is worth their money. So many gamers are only here for the “AAA” titles, the ones they’re almost assured to get their money’s worth for, while the rest of us are willing to try out something more unique and shrug off the review score so long as the reviewer seems to see something new and interesting in the title.

I agree with your sentiment though. I wish more people were willing to take 5 minutes out of their day to do the long work and take in what reviewers craft for the audience instead of skipping to the back of the book for the answers.

Matt

On September 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Hey Jim! have you spoken to either of the two dev guys about what they said? I can’t genuinely believe that they meant what they said, possibly at the sort of vaguely self-aware humour that Gears is known for… but then you’ve mentioned what sort of weirdos there are where you live so who knows…

Tobbii

On September 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm

@Matt

You can’t believe it? Remember the Hydrophobia devs?

John

On September 15, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Whether or not I agree with your review, I support it completely. Reviewers should not feel compelled to give a game a high score just because it is a AAA title. Gamers already know that the game has a huge budget and need an honest opinion on the quality of the game. If all games from renowned developers got 9s or higher then the whole review process would be pointless.

Michael

On September 15, 2011 at 6:17 pm

@Patrick The kinds of people who get real mad about review scores won’t read the review in the absence of a number, and scoreless reviews are kind of a pain in the ass for readers who use ratings to judge whether or not they need to read the review in the first place. Sure, Jim will probably get far fewer complaints, but he’ll also get a lot less people reading his reviews and will inconvenience a lot of his readers.

I’m glad Jim wrote this article to publicly decry how foolishly ratings are interpreted, and how even games developers and (even sadder) other games writers can be as thoughtless as the mouth-breathing, pants-ting retards who whip themselves into a fury if some game they’ve hyped themselves up over gets anything less than a nine out of ten.

From Destructoid, sat right next to the review score: “Great: 8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won’t astound everyone, but worth your time and cash.”

If you think that is a bad score, you are part of the problem.

D

On September 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Anyone can review a game.

Lance

On September 15, 2011 at 6:59 pm

So, do these people who think Gears needs a 9 also think the same for Final Fantasy XIII?

Ferb

On September 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

@D: Really? I don’t think I can. Can you approach a game with objectivity and have a marathon where you do nothing but play the game, taking notes, and focusing on the mechanics? Then turn your observations into a well written assessment of the game, that touches on every type of gameplay? That people will actually read? If so, you are far more focused than I.

Jim Sterling writes fantastic reviews they are great, honest assessments of both the good and bad aspects of a game. I, for one look forward to his reviews and felt the Gears 3 review to be a positive one. It certainly made me want to play the game. That desire was quickly quenched by the reactions of the devs to his score number. Does this remind anyone else of the Duke Nukem review fiasco where the company tweeted a threat to unfavorable reviewers?

Steve

On September 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I personally started to notice things going south around the time GTA4 came out. I mean, before then, I *knew* certain sites padded their gaming review scores (and pockets too) whenever a “blockbuster” title came along. But they were fewer and far between. But, when GTA4 reviews started pouring in, even the sites and critics that I deemed trustworthy in past seemingly followed suit; giving out these perfect scores… which made no sense at all. Even their logic for defending such a score was flawed.

Since then, my faith in major gaming news sites giving out meaningful scores is pretty much obliterated. I now have a totally pessimistic view of game reviews and writers. These so-called review scores are practically meaningless now. The system has been abused to the point of ridicule. It’s insulting my intelligence to try and throw a number at me that supposed to, by design, tell me “Hey, you. This game is perfect. You must go out and buy it. Now!”

So now I have to naturally take each review I stumble across with a grain of salt, and pick through the meaningful points with a fine-toothed comb. It used to be a relaxing experience… reading a game review, that is. Now it’s like taking a .

Whatever innocence the gaming media had 10 years ago is lost now. Blame it on the greed, rape and plunder of the industry. It’s clear to me now, as an insightful reader, I’m no longer the majority. I’m the minority.

So when critics like Jim tell it like it is, get ed at, and still hold their ground, I clap and say to you ‘Bravo.’ Critics like him are a dying breed. Everyone these days seemed to have sold out. Or they have no balls. Or they are just plain stupid to begin with.

And, for the record, I don’t even like Jim Sterling’s typical rhetoric. His opinionated pieces generally annoy me, strutting around with the usual pompous and pretentious attitude. I find his ramblings more akin to that of some internet political blogger fishing for page hits or ad revenues. BUT… this editorial piece of his above is totally relevent, today, now more than ever. Simply because it’s truth about opinion; opinion bought and sold like a commodity. Jim’s beef with major gaming review sites holier-than-thou stance on 9+/10 scoring is totally in the right. We should all praise Jim for scoffing at these outright sellouts. And I wish more game reviewers working for the major sites would take note here, because these bought weaklings reflect upon you all as a whole.

Otis

On September 15, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I tend to go for the contrary. Games above 8 are usually more of the same old that’s been taking the market in the last few years. You grab the game and it’s about the guy you play and some chick who just won’t shut up and is always around. Half-Life 2, Enslaved, Unreal Tournament 3, Transformers, Uncharted. I mean, it’s already kind of beat up, huh?
Now you get a really original game, such as Deadly Premonition, and there you go. DP is just great. It scored a 7.5, but I finished it when it was released and still remember the name and looks of EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER in the game. DP might be a little repetitive, but exploring the city is just so fun, and well, anyone who lived in the 80′s can deal with games that change the scenarios, but the action still the same.
Run away from high scores. You’ll find great games.

twm

On September 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I believe giving a game a score may work against it in the end. something as absolute as a number may influence (dumb) people to establish it as some sort of ultimate measure of what the game is. Therefore if your measure strays from the rest, then it’s wrong, and you should be corrected.
Since a review represents an opinion by default, maybe the 1-10 score system should be abolished in favor of something that forces the idiot masses to READ the article and decide the little number for themselves based on that, if it’s that important to them. Hell, they can even add a third decimal number if they like. How does 8.099 sound to you Gears fans?

Emily

On September 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I think the problem is most people see triple A games review score on a 7-10 scale not 1-10 so an 8 is only a 50% i know that sounds stupid and in truth it is but that’s what these reactions lead me to believe. im not sure how you could fix this problem without getting the entire industry to change perspective perhaps a different scoring system

Also kudos to you for being honest hey if you gave it a 9 or 10 it would of just been another review but now you’ve made news.

Oatie

On September 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm

It’s about the money.

Oatie

On September 15, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Correction. It’s ALL about the money.

Scott

On September 16, 2011 at 4:55 am

I seem to be alone here, but I agree wholeheartedly with your critics.

It’s a given that the game rating system is broken and there is no consistency across different review sites. No one uses the full scale anymore. However, there should be some consistency within any particular site. I should be able to look at Destructoid’s review history and see some semblance of a system at work. Good/great games should always rise to the top.

If we perform that exercise, that is simply not the case. The public is “shocked” by your 8/10 because is is seeing it against your other scores.

We only need one example to show this is true. Dead Island 7/10.

If I trust Destructoid for my reviews, then I am to believe that Gears 3 is only marginally better.

Dead Island is a fun, but, BROKEN game. It was released unfinished and bug ridden. It also provides only campaign or campaign/co-op. That’s it. Compare that to campaign, campaign co-op, multiplayer, horde.

How is this game even close to Gears 3? I’m not a fanboy, but if you are going to give Dead Island a free pass to 7/10, then you are saying Gears is barely above functional. I’ve not played it, but , no one has mentioned game breaking bugs so I don’t believe this to be the case.

It is the lack of integrity across reviews at Destructoid that is creating this backlash. Start using more of the scale or get used to it.

loki

On September 16, 2011 at 6:32 am

great read, i totally agree with you, and the industry is a bloody disgrace now, it is a pathetic spoiled brat, that needs its arse kicked

Otis

On September 16, 2011 at 6:40 am

Dead Island is not breaking with bugs. It was at it’s first version, something that tends to happen with games that stay too long in development hell [see Duke Nukem Forever and Deadly Premonition]. At it’s core, it is a in’ great game. Lots of quests, weapons, characters… Multiplayer is funny as hell. It’s an ugly game, but it’s fun.
If you think about gears of war, there isn’t much to do besides covering behind walls and popping out to shoot when the enemy is reloading, so I believe 8/10 is a really high note to such repetitiveness. Gears is fun to play on co-op because co-op is really fun. It’s what saved games like Army of Two and Resident Evil 5 in the past. It’s even saved own Gears of War 2.
I know a lot of people who carefully tried to play the game and give a about the plot and all, but the base never change: cover and shoot.
The real problem is that the game is way overrated. It was one of the first games to use the new Unreal 3 Engine, so, back then, people were like OMG LOOK AT DIS IT SHINES, but the gameplay doesn’t bring anything new to the table, at least to anyone who’s played Winback on the N64, some ten years before Gears of War.

Also, even though I don’t really like to read reviews on the internet, I tend to agree with the scores they get on Destructoid.com; the only game I remember not agreeing at all in the past few months was Duke Nukem Forever. I’ve been waiting for that game since 1997 and when it came out, I beaten it like 7 times in a ing row. All my friends seemed to like it, too. Only ones who dind’t like the game, were review sites, actually. Metacritic’s user score serves as proof.

Joe

On September 16, 2011 at 8:24 am

@ Steve:

Totally agree. GTA IV was a turning point. The fact that it’s still lauded as the highest rated game on Metacritic explains everything that’s out of whack with game “journalism.”

I feel for Jim. There’s no pleasing fans/makers of these Triple A Trilogies. It’s like they need a new scoring metric entirely: give ‘em all “totally tubular perfect score” and then just compare them to the rest of the series! Cannot wait for the first bad review of Modern Warfare 3/Battlefield 3. Poor reviewer may be tarred and feathered.

Fox

On September 16, 2011 at 9:20 am

I usually don’t agree with you on a great deal of things Jim but this time i agree 100% todays reviews dont go below 6/10. it seems the old /10 system is now from 6/10 to 10/10. 6/10 being a ful game no-one should play and 10 being perfect. The margin is now tiny. So for gears to get an 8?! thats.. lemme do the math here.. thats 5.5/10. SHAME ON YOU JIM! how dare you give it a 5/10! ergh. okay joking aside. This sort of thing has been going on for a while now, pretty much since GTA4 got such high scores. it seems that now its required to give a game high score because you are infact only forking with 5 numbers here not 10 like the good ol days. Hell personally i’d only give Gears a 7.5/10. and i’d be killed for that. But then again i’d give MGS4 a 9/10 and GTA4 a 8/10. There is just too much back door dealings now. and its a pity because alot of people look to the review scores to choose to buy a game or not. and they they end up getting disappointed.

Fight the good fight Jim. If i had my own site that had gaming reviews i’d be standing right next to you on this one.

Mike

On September 16, 2011 at 10:44 am

Quite bewildering in my opinion. These guys obviously have an insanely high opinion of themselves. What on earth makes them believe they are beneath 8/10.

Well, due to THEIR comments and not your review, I’ll insist on buying a pre-owned version just to ensure they receive one less new sale :) Ha, take that! The power us consumers have hey ;)

XxBTExX

On September 16, 2011 at 11:08 am

I blame reviewers who focus more on the brand and what the fans want than actually reviewing the game. I also blame the scoring system. People always focus on the numbers and not on what the reviewer wrote. These last few years many mediocre games get 8 and 9′s when they are a 7 at most but since the game is from a known studio or it has a bunch of fans the reviewers feel pressured to inflate the numbers.

As for Cliffy. I understand he worked hard on the game, and I can also understand that Gears 3 might be superior to Gears 2 in every way possible but it seems he did not take into account the time and the competition which has gone up and the bar has been raised. This is also another thing that reviewers do not take into account when reviewing a game.

Do what’s right and keep writing good reviews. If the developers do not like it, that’s their problem.

Roger

On September 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

@Scott

You’re alone because you’re doing it wrong. You’re mistaken if you think that is how review scores are supposed to work – do you really expect reviewers to sit there and compare every game they review to every single other game they’ve reviewed in their entire career? That is complete bollocks. Review scores aren’t supposed to be put on some sort of graph to compare all games, they are to summarize how a reviewer feels about *one* game at *one* particular point in time. Tastes change, and a game that got a good review at first may have had flaws that a reviewer wasn’t able to appreciate until a later point in life.

NobleGrey

On September 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

I absolutely loved this article. To throw another log on the fire, I’m a firm believer that several of the Halo games get good scores because of the fact that they’re Halo. I mean, Halo Reach? Really? You went base to base and shot stuff. Too fast paced to strategic shooting. Too overloaded with enemies for anything resembling run n’ gun. What the hell kinda shooter is it? But its a great game apparently.

OmnipotentBagel

On September 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Well said, Jim. I feel for you. I think the crux of the issue is that a lot of gamers have already made up their minds that this game is perfect and would continue to go out of their way to defend this belief, even if the game had been a complete and utter failure. The fact that you gave it an 8/10 reflects that the game isn’t perfect and places the tiniest bit of doubt in the (barely functioning, but still there) rational part of their brains and threatens to shatter the illusions of perfection they’ve been constructing.

So rather than stepping back and coming to terms with this idea, they, like all delusional people tend to do, cling to anything around them that can reinforce their mental image of the world (in this case, other review scores that jive with the reality in their head) and scramble to justify why you must be wrong. Hence all the focus on the score. If the numbers don’t add up, there must be a mistake. Either the game isn’t as perfect as they want it to be (literally inconceivable), or the review was wrong.

Obviously, Destructoid picked the wrong reviewer (because someone who’s not TRAINED to handle certain big-name titles might screw up their OPINION), or you played the game wrong (which I assume means trying to play the game with the controller shoved down your pants? Or maybe you loaded the disk in your toaster instead of the Xbox?), or maybe you were just biased against a game in a series you are a huge fan of and want to see succeed and really enjoyed and reviewed highly favorably. That must be it. It makes so much sense…

Ruds E

On September 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I can’t agree more with this article! The sense of entitlement by big game studios and fans is ludicrous. The expectation of 9/10 or higher for Triple A video games is hilarious. Moreover, the tendency and focus on sequels, series and most notably trilogies is interesting. Just because Gears of War, the original title in the series, was in my opinion ground breaking in so many ways, doesn’t make the sequels as groundbreaking. In fact, why would EPIC Games want to mess with a proven formula and marketing succes?? Think about it, has Epic Games really changed all that much from game to game?? Be honest. What are the remarkable differences? Gears 2 was very similar to Gears 1 and repackaged and resold a the original. Which isn’t a bad thing!! I loved Gears 2. The story was stalled a bit, but that is the syndrome that often plagues every middle title in any trilogy. I do not doubt that Gear 3 will most certainly have some great additions to what is already an amazing franchise, tie up the story many story lines and finish was has been a defining video game franchise for my adolescent life (Gears was one of the main reasons I bought an XBOX 360, that and ME3). Games are an art form and entertainment media, they are meant to be reviewed and honestly. Just my thoughts.

Daemon

On September 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm

as a great crippled man once said

“well said commander, the captain would be proud.”

seriously though, this happened (imo) before with batman: arkham asylum, that game was terrible to me as all around me laughed at my criticisms, it made little sense and was totally random for the sake of its boss fights.
but thats just my opinion.

i cant believe these guys expect high reviews simply because its a big game… shows how lazy and selfish were getting, look at halo reach, supposedly the swan song of halo and bungies big goodbye to the halo ranchise, was awful, so full of exploits the very notion of competitiveness was borderline p***ed on.

oh well, thanks for this, ill be paying closer attention to my sources of information on big games from now on.

Dan

On September 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I absolutely agree, it’s as if the games industry attempts to punish journalists who are honest and have an actual opinion. Force feeding money into games journalists hands so they get 9/10 and 10/10 scores so more people will buy the ganes, it’s just so wrong that the games industry can get away with this level of manipulation!

Jared

On September 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Well written, the fact that these people believe they have the right to call in question a 8/10 due to it being “too low” is just another example of how ridiculous the gaming world has become. You make games, reviews are to help you, not to pick the ones you like and cry at the ones you dont. (though an 8/10 is great..)

Anthony

On September 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Loathe though I am to read your reviews and perhaps even more so your editorials, this was a great read. Funny, embarrassing, disappointing. I’m not sure what to make of it all.

Not a big fan of the series any how so I guess I’ll wait to get in a huff when someone dogs Uncharted 3 or something.

atbrown

On September 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm

What I think people who complain about a situation like this, do not realize is that there is, in my opinion, a moving metric for games. In that I mean that game design is constantly being pushed forward. Whether it be new more exciting game play mechanics, setting that we haven’t seen before, narrative styles or any number of other areas, the gaming landscape is ever evolving.

Gears 1 was a fantastic and fun game that had a few issues but sailed to high scores due to an interesting take on an older genre, namely cover based third person shooting. (I know it was in Kill Switch before that) It was not a perfect game but it was mechanically sound, had an interesting setting and it was plain fun to play.

Gears 2 was in every way a better game. It looked better, played better, performed better. Epic succeeded giving more of what was great and improving what was less so, and in the process made a superior product.

when Gears 1 got 8s, 9s and 10s, a few years later,Gears 2, a superior product, will net those same 8s, 9s and 10s. That is simply the nature of this industry.

So where does that leave Gears 3? Of the reviews that I have read, I can’t think of any instance where any one wrote about something that was deficient Gears 2 that was fixed in Gears 3. Was there anything from Gears 2 that needed fixing? It was mechanically and structurally sound and fun to boot, not leaving much room for improvement. And that leaves Gears 3 in the position of being, for lack of a better term, more of the same. Without being appreciably better in any way, its just riding on 4 year old ideas that were perfected 2 years ago, and in my book that will hurt any review score. Movies, books, anything.

Of course this is all predicated on the idea that the Gears games deserve 8s, 9s, and 10s. In my personal opinion, while the games are fun and tight and all that jazz, they are mechanically repetitive and fairly shallow, leading me to think an 8 is a solid, if a bit generous score for Gears 3.

Ding Dong

On September 16, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I honestly don’t understand why people are getting so hung up about this. I’m sure Jim’s said a thousand times that the score shouldn’t be taken on its own and means nothing if you haven’t read the review. Its ridiculous that an 8/10 is perceived as a failure. But that’s just the opinion of one person! I’ve played many games that were given a “low” 7 or 8/10 and loved them. Jim loved Deadly Premonition when a lot of other people thought it was terrible. Who gives a what other people think if you enjoy the game? Haterz gon’ hate.

Colourize

On September 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm

I completely agree with you people are stupid nobody should be upset with an 8/10 i would buy a game that gets an 8/10 if the reviewer expressed there thoughts on the topic i was gona go buy gears tommorow but the WTF to an 8/10 is offputting now it can wait a month or two. I truly hope you review MW3 because it seems no matter what CoD games receive a 9/10 and i know a large amount of people that would disagree there fun but they have alot of flaws.

Aids

On September 17, 2011 at 3:27 am

s Of War deserves 0/10.

Number 905

On September 17, 2011 at 7:34 am

This from the guy who spent a whole review talking about how broken Fallout: New Vegas was and still gave it a 9.

Yeah, I put real high stock in your opinion, bud.

Jason

On September 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I’ve only played No 1 but I felt the Multiplayer on that sucked as well, no way for inexperienced players to get into the game getting killed by one hit kills and then sitting out for the rest of the round is not my idea of a good time.

The single player was great though.

George Lomez

On September 18, 2011 at 12:32 am

Just wrapping up my own review of the game. Now feeling slightly guilty about the ’9′ attached on the end of it. :P

(I support you completely in this, people are insane)

FutureYou

On September 18, 2011 at 7:45 am

The review score system is a lot like the high-school grades system for most people. 60% is the passing grade and everything below is just fail. 70% is ok, 80% is good, 90% great and at 100% you nailed it like a boss.

In that system it’s normal to be pissed at 80% because in that system Gears Of War 3 would certainly be a 100%. This game will be known in history for being the most polished Xbox 360 shooter ever made. They had a completed game at the beginning of the year and Microsoft just decided to push the release date to this fall for strategic reasons. They had an extra 8 months or so just to polish a finished product. Keep in mind that 8 months is the time for the whole production of an Assassin’s Creed sequel including Beta & Polish development phases.

So we have Epic being a best in class student, they always turn in +90% homework, at the beginning of the year they probably had already +90% Gears Of War 3, then they spend an unusual amount of time polishing it and they receive an 80% from their teacher.

I wouldn’t want to be in the class of that teacher.

Erik

On September 18, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Looks like some people out there have an incentive plan in place
that requires certain review scores (or the average) to be more
than 8/10 (or 80/100, or …).
Dont’ kill the messenger!
Recommended read: Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards.

Jack Foley

On September 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

8/10 sounds about right for the entire series. They’re excellent games, but it’s difficult to say that any game in the series, including this one, breaks the mold and does something truly incredible.

When I think about games that deserve nines or tens, I’m thinking games that rip floorboards up from the current playing field out of dissatisfaction. They aren’t just well-made games: they’re progressive. They challenge our notions about what a game can be. They innovate. Resident Evil 4, when it debuted, changed the way we think about both survival horror games, action games, -and- shooters. It’s a game we’ll still be talking about 10 years from now.

To be rated a nine or a ten, Gears of War 3 would have to stand in the class of: Super Metroid. Metal Gear Solid. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Street Fighter 2. Virtua Fighter 2. Final Fantasy VI. Super Mario RPG. Super Mario Kart. Star Wars: KOTOR. Mass Effect 1 & 2. Grant Theft Auto III.

What is it about Gears of War specifically that makes it a better shooter than literally anything else on the market?

Mouzone

On September 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Great article.

Gears is a good second-hand game, a good way to unwind (unless you only have a xbox). The main problem is this aging hardware (no difference beetween gears 2 & gears 3).

Most journalists lose their credibility by chickening out. I don’t blame them (it’s not a real job after all).

CliffyBiffy

On September 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

A 8/10, really???

Sorry Jim, but it’s obvious that you’re just another frustrated and jealous hater.

A divine work HAS a divine right to a perfect score, everything else is just BLASPHEMY.

Denis Dyack

On September 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Jim, I would kill for a 8/10 right now. Hope X-Men lives up to that fine number.

TachiFoxy

On September 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm

I think most developers just rely to such scores so freaking much because bad reviews lower the amount of potential customers. Sure, that may count for low ratings (I remember “All Points Bulletin” a year ago, which got around 60 of 100 on a German gaming website and other websites from what I recall; it basically “died” a month later as an online-game already because of lack of users, thanks to said reviews), but not for something like an 8 out of freaking 10.

Plus: It’s Gears of War. It has a huge fan-base and those fans will surely not think twice about buying this game or not. They may just pick it up because they want more Gears of War. If developers seriously care about each “not perfect” review, then that makes them seem rather douchebag-like to me and I don’t really want to support them anymore.

Pepa

On September 20, 2011 at 7:30 am

Funny I always notice u gave 8s to great games that most give 9s or 10s but I really don’t get why anyone would give gears lesser than a 9 I mean really what is ur standard I must find out cause there not a lot of games that can not match gears 3 n I’ve played enough to say that( Finnished story n played mp) but I guess I’ll echo what has been said every is entitled to their own opinion.

Unanonymous

On September 20, 2011 at 11:39 am

Prepare to hear about this for a long time, people still complain about Jeff Gerstmann giving Twilight Princess a “mere” 8.8 out of 10.

Tbirch

On September 21, 2011 at 4:33 am

I’ve bought and played games that received scores of 6-8/10 or 60-80/100.. and have fully enjoyed them.

And generally I’ve bought them based on the text in the actual review, not the final scores. I’ve played some games that have gotten 9-10/10 and 90-100/100 and totally disliked them, finding the controls quirky or the storyline etc. mediocre at best.

Each to his own. I guess some people dont have time to read. :)

And talking about games with wrong scores.. how about them NHL games? Maddens etc? “Hey, we’ve slightly enhanced the graphics and… look, its HD! With 3D! Buy!”..

Ryan

On September 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Are you a professional? Well then why are you writing this article trying to defend yourself against some off the cuff twitter posts? Grow up, its part of the business, people don’t just bow down to your scores or reviews.
They have just as much right to disagree with your opinion of the game as you have to give it. Also, next maybe not rush through your review and maybe you would be a little more credible.

Alec

On September 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm

It was a well written review, but I have to disagree with the 8/10. Gears 3 is a much better game then Space Marine 40k, which you also gave an 8/10. Gears isn’t perfect, of course, but it is the most refined and polished game I think I’ve ever played, it pushes the 360′s hardware to the absolute max, the multiplayer is spectacular, etc.

I think my issue with your 8/10 is that playing the game for a whole day straight and then reviewing it is not the best way to go about it. I would be burned out on the game if I did that, and that would make me tend to amplify its flaws while forgetting its sucesses. I mean, did you really play all the multiplayer gametypes? Co-op campaign? Horde and Beast on several maps? Did you even play on all the maps? I’ve been playing a ton the past two days, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

9.2/10 :)

Mike T

On September 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I think the important matter here is that people could decide if they are going to buy the game or not, so an eight may be saying: “it’s ok” but people want “it is great” for their money so if this is a really good game I mean not a perfect one but a really good one a 9 may be fair, but the thing goes like, hey EPIC has a lot of money, I will not give them a 9 because they have a lot of money, it sounds like that to me, but every head is a different world so … whatever, lol.

Biggiw

On September 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm

8/10? Are you serious??? So, you took a game you never played in beast or horde mode, or in 3dtv, gave it an 8 based on you missing the top 3 selling points, and now you’re whining because you gave to defend yourself? Dude… you write well, but you need to stop reviewing games. Permanently.

Muscle Horse

On September 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Unfortunately this medium suffers from having a vast horde of manchildren. As the above comment shows (that you need a 3dtv to enjoy a game is patently ridiculous). 8/10 is an excellent score to achieve, as it is Eight out of Ten, yet people seem to see 8 as average. The only way to leave this sorry state of affairs is to ditch numerical scores entirely. That’ll never happen, however, as people don’t want to read a measured, intelligent review when they can about the numbers.

You have my sympathies and don’t let the cretins get you down!

Biggiepuffwins

On September 27, 2011 at 7:46 am

Biggiw, i think jim said he tried both horde and beast mp modes, maybe its time to stay of the internet, permanently.

anyway, on the article jim, i see the dilemma, either have no X score at the end of the review or have the score to stay alive, to keep doing what you love, playing games, still, id say flamers will always be there so internet always shows us whos boss.

moreover, seeing a dev or whatever from what should be well respected dev team say something so asinine, is both a stain on dice and their recruitment methods/requirements, i don’t really understand how anyone acting like a 3 year old can be in a dev job and not get developed maturely to the point where u can see why the Y person is in a job.

over to your main point in the article, basically ur trying to say that most AAA games gets a 9 or perfect just becus it has certain assets that warrants it, like what kind of money invested, how big and famous dev team it is and how much ING toolbags like CLIFFski buff up their advertisement and hype.

its a ing farse, i mean games get their ing scores just becus of that, just like some games like IW can do outrageous stuff and get away with it becus of their REP, i mean good things can come out of outrageous things but im pretty sure if games go out on a limb to do more of stuff like that its gonna become more of a gimmick just like how ing games started doing ZOMBIE oriented after L4D and plantsvszombies came out, resurrgenz anyone?(cod dlc)

anyway outrageous things can be good, but i think people will take the ball and run with it, all over the ing field, until then run out of the field and on to a highway road, just to ing milk it, i mean its only so good until you see it everywhere, btw guys, i always find r6 vegas to have better cover system then gears of war 1, when they both came out at the same time, i gess people are missing out on a BETTER unreal engine cover system idea made by someone else then Epic….

alex

On October 2, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Just the kind of article I’ve seen floating around small article sites for some time, great to see it up from someone as far into the industry as you are. It is completely true, games like Gears of War 3 (generally the newest in a successful series) are expected and almost required to score at least level if not higher than the previous games. 8/10 is 80% which is an almost perfect mark, for an almost perfect game.

When reviewing, we should always start at 0/10 and then add up everything that is good, and see where that leaves us. Given you basically said the single player of the game is a let-down, and does frankly feel tagged onto the multiplayer elements, leaving with 8/10 inspite of that is very fair.

tiltswitch

On October 7, 2011 at 8:38 am

just finished gears 3,more of the same really …not that thats bad, hey thats why i love it….is it worth 9/10?…no is it hell…was it a great game?…yes it was….but the inspiration that deserves a 9 or 10 score in this case is getting old now….spot on with the 8/10 score buddy…..trouble is nowadays its all about the money honey.

Lincoln

On October 8, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I think the most disturbing thing about this issue is that Cliff and his friends are so tactless. What happened to being a “good winner” as well as being a “good loser”? What happened to having a tiny bit of class demonstrated through courteously taking criticism, as well as praise, with the manners their mother’s should have taught them. If I were Bleszinski’s mother; I would cuff him, tell him to stand up straight, and say “Thank you for your candor in regards to my game, sir.”

Sum Gai

On October 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm

As a writer from another gaming site on the net (PikiGeek), I gotta say that I really appreciate you doing your original (i.e. honest) review and then sticking up for yourself while calling people out.

It’s great to see that some semblance of journalistic integrity still exists on these internets.

Curt

On October 9, 2011 at 8:23 am

I enjoy reading your reviews. Good stuff.

I know getting picked apart online for a stellar review sucks, but I can also understand a bit of the backlash. To put it in perspective, you gave Crysis 2 an 8.5 in your review. I personally think that’s a deserving score for a very good game. Is it a better game than Gears of War 3 though? Probably not. After all, reviews are subjective. If you’ve just had a couple of brownies and a Yoohoo, maybe you feel a little more generous and add a .5 that day. It’s not an exact science, right?

If you want to avoid some of the criticism and negativity, you could switch to a different rating system – joystick up / joystick down. Ideally, you want folks to READ your review, not scroll down to an end-all be-all score. You won’t exactly get WTF tweets for a “yes, buy it” or “no, don’t”.

Rico Marquez

On October 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Honestly I didnt like Gears 3. I’d give it a 7 or a 6.5 if I was the reviewer. EPIC did not innovate what so ever. Its just the same game where everybody grabs a Shotgun and jumps around like Monkeys in Multiplayer games. I feel so ashamed making this a Day One Purchase. This game wil go into the trading bin once Battlefield 3 is released on Oct 25th.

Peoplesmachine

On October 17, 2011 at 6:14 am

“Jim has always written great reviews. Destructoid was honest about Assassin’s Creed 2 with a 4.5 and Gears of war the over glorified arena shooter in it’s third and same iteration deserved an 8 for sure.
The flaws that were pointed out are actually in the game, hey fan boys instead of being mad about a score how about looking to prove Jim wrong by showing the flaws he stated are not really in the game?
You can’t because they are there. GOW has and will always be a glorified arena shooter, everybody has the same body type except for the females in GOW 3. Marcus dad is still alive (go figure didn’t see that one coming EPIC…wow great!)meh. You know look at gears as what it is. You move down through some area, kill everything that moves that isn’t a cog and then the game allows you to continue. All three games are this way. Arena shooter…..just because you add a drop dramatic war cam while running with the A button while you hit a wall for cover. (cover mechanics have been around for years) doesn’t deserve a ten score. And since epic spent like 80 million for this gears of war 3, thanks again for the 5 hours it took to complete it. (16 million per hour of game) thanks epic for having the masses spend 60 bucks for their five hours, but there is always MP right? and DLC that will cost money even though it’s already on the disc. Gear s is good yes, but it has and never will be great…”

necronzero

On October 17, 2011 at 6:16 am

Really good article by the way. Fun to read! :)

Ben Gifford

On October 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

The problem is with the review industry. A 6/10 should still be viewed as a decent game with potential, but most people convert that to a school grade percentage in their heads: “That’s so close to failing!”

In terms of statistics and bell curve (AKA normal) distribution, the majority of games should be rated a 5/10. Seriously, there hardly any games reviewed on a 10-point scale that receive scores between 0 and 5. It makes one wonder why we even have the ability to rate games that low.

Before getting too sidetracked, an 8 out of 10 is a perfectly reasonable score and I absolutely LOVE Gears 3–as a whole. The campaign is definitely lacking in some respects, and you’re right: it is missing that certain “spark.”

I believe our reviewer at pixelperfectmag.com gave the game an 8.75/10, which I actually defended against a few people.

Keep up the good work, Jim.

anonymous

On October 23, 2011 at 8:06 pm

And this is why I stopped taking “professional” reviews as anything more than an entertaining tabloid and pulp fiction. When there’s that much bureaucracy to something as simple a person’s opinion, how can anyone take it seriously?

MattDark

On October 26, 2011 at 2:07 am

I have to agree that the ‘nig-name’ devs seem to think that their games are automatically worth a 9+, because of the developers name alone.

My big problem is that the whole scoring system has become a shadow of what it used to be. When looking at a score out of 10, 5/6 are meant to be the middle-ground, for games that arent the best, but are still worth playing.

But now, we seem to have this idea that 7 is the new middle-ground, and now 5s and 6s are deemed bad scores. Alot of reviewers seem more then happy to deem a game is automatically worth adding a point or 2 atop of the original score just to please the devs, and when someone defies this logic, they are the ones left to suffer.

Just look at the game-spot controversy when Jeff Gerstmann gave a low score to Kane & Lynch, before edios had a huge piss and moan because they had spent so much money to have the game advertised on the site, only for it to get a 6. Which then saw Jeff removed from his job shortly after (Though the company claims it was for ‘other reasons’ that they were never able to provide)

Joe

On December 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Jim I just want to say how much I appreciate your reviews. Due to many others and their liberal distribution of 9′s & 10′s reviews have seemed to lose their significance, but when I see a high score from you I know that the game must be something special. 8/10 from you is a 10 from anyone else.