Critic vs Player reviews: The Mad Max Effect

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The graphically superb and extremely fun looking Mad Max movie tie-in title was released recently for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

Xbox 360 and PS3 versions were sadly cancelled and so far there appears to be a huge discrepancy between the critics views on the game and the players, with many critics giving the game a mediocre rating or even promising it to be a terrible experience. Both the Steam reviews and the user reviews that I have seen for PS4 are all in disagreement with the general rating the game has received from critics.

The reviews on Steam for Mad Max still read ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ and the PS4 player reviews on Metacritic sit at ‘Generally favourable’ whereas the critics reviews are ‘Mixed or Average’ on the website and Gamespot have sat it at 6/10. A few seconds into my initial google search I was presented with damming phrases billing the game to be worth 10 bucks or disappointing and I am still puzzling over why this is the case. How is it that these two bodies of players are having, it would seem, completely different experiences of the same game?

Cancelling the release for Xbox 360 and PS3 will have upset a number of people certainly, but with next Gen games becoming more and more demanding on the system they’re running on, it has to be accepted that the previous generation of consoles will get left behind by more and more developers as they focus on tailoring their games to the better and newer hardware. It’s sad, but complaining about a new AAA games being released only on PC, PS4 and Xbox One is no longer justifiable. Surely this cannot be a contributing factor to this peculiar divide in critic and player view points?

Reading through the harshest reviews of the game I couldn’t help but feel that they were skewing the truth to cause sensation.

The video reviews were better, giving more space to discuss the games good points but most settle with the game being ‘alright’ and proclaiming it to be nothing special.

So far very few complaints about the PC port have surfaced, and of those that have complained about the game, most have still commented on the excellent performance and optimisation.The main complaints seem to be; the combat system (mostly out of car combat), the car controls and the repetitive, potentially grindy nature of a lot of the missions. One video review went into some depth to complain about several aspects of the game that ruined immersion or that made the game unbelievable. These were things like, being able to carry several large items in your inventory (like pretty much every third or first person game ever) and the complaints about the out of car combat seem peculiar as well. From what I’ve seen, it’s a similar combat system to the Arkham games and most other third person action games released in the last few years. I fail to see the problem with that. If a system works, then use it, don’t complain about lack of innovation because innovation for the sake of innovation is something that rarely works.

Coming back to the player reviews we start to get a clearer picture of why the two pools of people seem to be putting forward such different views.

The reviewers are obviously looking for flaws, which is probably the cause of the nit-picking nature of a number of the reviews, but the player reviews generally seem to focus on the fact that the game is just damn good fun. In a vast open world game there will be bugs, there’s no escaping that. Game developers are only human after all and they won’t find every flaw before the main release, so we have to judge them on their involvement in bug fixes and updates after release on that front. It would seem that a fair few of the critics are being  overly critical and searching out things to pick apart and complain about, whereas the playerbase is just having a blast.

There have also been complaints rising about the nature of open world games and how Mad Max is all faff and no story.

Critics have a lot to get through and they don’t really have time to play open world games in their entirety, so yes, I can see how they (and some players who don’t usually play this genre) would find the side missions and irrelevant bits of story irritating. However, if you like playing open world games then the faff is often the bit you love the most about the game. Few people would say Skyrim’s main storyline was particularly engaging; instead it’s the countless dungeons, the volumes of lore and random, tiny, unimportant quests that soak up hours of your time that complete the experience. It would seem that Mad Max is suffering from a few people expecting it to be something that it isn’t and never was.

I will definitely be buying Mad Max. It sounds like exactly the sort of game that I would love playing and I will probably even splash out and buy it at full price, rather my usual tactic of repeatedly telling myself I have no money and waiting until it goes on sale.

 

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