Fair enough. I accept your extended nuance. But you're not discussing everything I said when I replied to your benchmark argument. You're just focusing on this one aspect of my argument without addressing the rest, which still stands regardless of your nuance about matching, adhering to and/or imitating standards (which I already accepted). As I said, those standards (whether they refer to industry standards or to game formulas and whether they are adhered to or matched) cannot fully determine the quality or appreciation of the game, because they are the standard. They are taken for granted. It is expected that developers at least have a basic understanding of how these industry standards work.
Besides, standards operate within a context of other standards/mechanics/features (and the level of preference for certain features determines the amount of flaws or perfections that players will accept). Lacking in some areas doesn't necessarily mean the game can't be great or amazing. Other aspects can compensate for that lack. And then there are all the aspects that are important to video games that don't have a clear industry standard.
And what I also said is that using these standards to judge the quality of games leads to a grey area where there is a debate about how much these standards are met or improved upon or eclipsed. Besides, these standards evolve. A camera system might become a standard, but it won't work in every single game that follows. It (and other standards) will have to be adapted (to game pace, environment size, amount of objects in the environment, possible distance to character, AI behaviour, cinematic ambitions, etc.) and that's where it gets harder to unanimously agree on the quality of the camera system (or other features). There are no objective terms to determine qualities like that. Regardless of the greatness that the majority recognises in classics or in introduced standards, people experience them differently and they experience the matching of those standards in other games differently.
We are delving into deep philosophy here and I fear we are overcomplicating a simple matter, straying too much into minutiae rather than addressing the core concern. For the sake of simplicity, I'll restate what I believe every game reviewer should try to achieve, I believe that should answer your questions:
A videogame reviewer should ideally provide an objective and unbiased description of the way in which a game meets or fails to meet the industry standards, and whether the developers have achieved what they set out to do. The review should be laid out in such a way so that every reader can determine from it whether or not the game is worth purchasing.
Provided we agree on that definition (and if not we may discuss why), they key words there are "objective" and "unbiased." My question is: considering that personal taste is one of the prime sorts of bias, how much of it should we tolerate in a professional review before we start perceiving it as too far removed from the "common good"?
I'll elaborate: say that one were to write a review of Modern Warfare 2. Say that in the review he were to express the idea that the single player campaign is to be penalized because in one mission you take part in a terrorist attack and slaughter civilians. Of course the reviewer is entitled to his views, but would this aspect be relevant to the reader? Would that particular information be "objective" and "unbiased"? I think it wouldn't: it would be a personal view which the majority of readers do not share and has no importance for them.
Another example: what if a reviewer were to completely pan the latest Devil May Cry and was later quoted saying "It was too bloody for my taste"? Would his review still retain its value or would it become worthless for the vast majority of readers looking for a judgement of merit?
If reviews are nothing but "someone's opinion", what then is their use? And if reviews do have a purpose,are we to maintain a spreadsheet with the names of all reviewers from the sites we go to, in order to remember which one has what tastes and only read the reviews of those who share our own? Wouldn't it be more productive to leave subjectivity at the door as much as possible (without demanding perfection and total austerity of course) when writing professional reviews, and save personal feelings for blogs?
This is impossible to archive and also if that is what you seek, a read on the back of the cover would pretty much give you what you need, unless you want to contradict your own words. Also its not possible for anyone to be objective in weighing a game even if the scale is set to Industry standard, also who will decide what industry standard is without being subjective?.
Any Critic is and always will just state their opinion and you ask what are they good for? well nothing unless you are one of those people who cannot make up their own mind and need help.