Video game criticism is a weird beast.
Partly because there’s still an argument surrounding whether or not Video Games are Art, the criticism of games isn’t particularly great. It’s sort of like film criticism before film criticism became a truly great medium of its own. A lot of buyer’s guide-style reviews, many of which are suspiciously puffy.
Some video game critics do what critics ought to, which is to engage with the ideas that animate a work, investigate what the work is trying to do, and to imagine a better, higher version of an art form and agitate for it.*
In general though, the larger audience for video games just wants to know if a game is good or not, and gets angry when a writer intimates that they’d like to engage with the work beyond pointing out that the graphics are pretty, there’s a lot of cool guns, and the cut-scenes are boring.
Enter Objective Game Reviews. A new site that claims to be catering to that audience, the audience that just wants a thumbs up or a thumbs down, without a bunch of opinion and subjectivity.
It’s a one note joke, but pulled off pretty well. Here’s the entirety of their review of Natural Selection 2:
Natural Selection 2 is a multiplayer game that is a mixed first person shooter and strategy game. Aliens and marines fight over various locations in a first person shooter, while a commander on each team researches upgrades, builds buildings, and issues orders. Aliens can chuckle at their enemies while marines can dispense a variety of taunts, including one that goes “now there’s something you don’t see every day… thank God.”
It will be interesting to see how far this goes. It’s pulled off straight-facedly enough that you can almost imagine an audience going for it.