Skyrim's just the messenger here, but I think we have a near perfect example of why I distrust and dislike most major gaming sites reviews.
IGN, who are normally fairly respected:Their review
of Skyrim (on November 14th) for PS3: 9.5, "Amazing", editors choice (and in addition they gave it a 10 out of 10 for lasting appeal; "A game of staggering size and filled with content, so there's always a reason to return
.") I do note however that this is the UK review; the US one may have been slightly different.
Quotes from the article:
. Featuring the same kind of thrilling freedom of choice The Elder Scrolls series is known for along with beautiful visuals and a stirring soundtrack, playing Skyrim is a rare kind of intensely personal, deeply rewarding experience, and one of the best role-playing games yet produced.
This is a world that rewards the obsessive and the adventurous, one where creative quest designs are the standard across primary and secondary storylines, not the exception
December 5th they publish this article
about the PS3 issues. The tag line:
Bethesda must explain how and why the company shipped a game that is broken.
You gave the game 9.5 out of 10, you heaped praise upon it, you said it was "one of the best roleplaying games yet produced".
And now you say it's broken? Did you actually play the game for any length of time? 60 hours is what, a week's solid gameplay? You couldn't spare one of your staff to play one of the biggest AAA titles of the year on the PS3 for a week?
You praise the replayability and depth of the game (saying it's perfect, 10/10) and say it rewards the adventurous and obsessive... and then three weeks later write an article saying that actually if you're adventurous and obsessive the game becomes unplayable.
Worse, in the later article they note that while they got reviewer copies of the XBox and PC versions they were forced to go out and buy a retail copy of the PS3 game... something that is generally the reserve of woeful games that want to avoid negative reviews. Is there a mention of this on the PS3 review? Did they put a note there saying it? No, none at all.
This is a problem they should have known to look for. New Vegas had the same issue (although Beth are denying for the same reason). When a game using a similar engine and a similar game style has these problems (and note of course that Beth handled the QA for New Vegas which is why I feel it's slightly unfair that Obsidian caught the flack it did) but you don't think to check in your review?
Whatever the reason there is a major bug within Skyrim on the PS3 which is virtually gamebreaking for a huge number of players and a bug that affects one of the most important parts of the game (an aspect IGN gave 10/10 in their review remember)... yet IGN didn't notice.
I despair at modern major reviews... especially of AAA titles by big developers.
To be fair to IGN, they also gave New Vegas a high review score and didn't make a big deal out of the bugs. Compare that to Gamespot (who we all know are basically shifty with their reviews already).
In their review
of New Vegas they specifically point out the multiple bugs and put a big emphasis on it for their score of 7.5 (which in today's inflated world is a pretty poor score). A quote:
Unfortunately, Fallout: New Vegas isn't technically capable of supporting these high ambitions. Simply put, it frequently breaks in some of the most phenomenal ways. You can't mention any given aspect of its design without also mentioning a related bug--and the more you explore and the more you do, the more the game buckles under its own weight.Their review
of Skyrim (which got 9.0) also mentions bugs:
It's a pity that Skyrim often breaks the immersion it tries so hard to create, in ways both minor and major. Some bizarre details are simply annoying. A character might initiate conversation through the ceiling. The chatter of nearby characters could drown out important story exposition. Two shopkeepers standing next to each other may be voiced by the same actor and repeat the same lines. A dragon skeleton might disappear and then later drop out of the sky in a new location. A dragon could get stuck in place, flailing about in the geometry in a mess of wings and tail. For that matter, you could get stuck in the environment, maybe just by walking into a corner, which forces you to either quick-travel to a different location (if you're lucky enough to be outdoors) or load a save game. And on the PlayStation 3, frame rate jitters and occasional pauses can disrupt the moment-to-moment flow. The question isn't whether you will experience anomalies--it's a given. The question is: which ones and how many?
Yet it gets a 9? Skyrim has at least as many graphical glitches, game breakers and flat out broken quests (a quick look at the the wikia will reveal that virtually every quest has to have a "bugs" section underneath so you know what to do when it inevitably breaks) as New Vegas... yet one seems to escape relatively unharmed.
Hell, the Gamespot PS3 review actually mentions frame rate jitters and pauses... the first signs of the game starting to become unplayable... and it still gets a 9.