Warning: This editorial contains mature subject matter. If you are not of appropriate age, avert your eyes:P
This issue came up when discussing the low scores given to DOAX2 on the Team Ninja Clan Board, and I wanted to make this topic into an editorial blog post.
- Gamespot: 5.9
- IGN: 6.4/10
As you could see, it got rather low scores from American reviewing sources. However, the question is, did it really deserve such low scores. The fact of the matter is, it brings great joy to gamers, including of course but not limited to DOA fans, guys and girls alike. Now, anyone who knows American history knows that America was founded in large part by Puritans, some of the most prude people the world has ever known. The truth is, that culture still perseveres to a certain extent to this day. Yes...there's sex, drugs and violence available for the viewing pleasure of those of age (theoretically), but there's still a stigma about nudity and sexuality. Though the U.S. is probably the biggest producer and exporter of pornographic materials, there's shamefulness surrounding it in this country. In Europe, nudity is not a big deal. You see it on tv ads in primetime. In many touristic areas, every beach is a topless beach. There's no separation due to shame and embarrasment. I'm not saying that porn is a good thing and we should all embrace it, in fact I believe otherwise. However, I also believe that there's nothing inherently wrong with nudity. However, my point is that nudity and sexual content in this country is desired in one's personal life, but must be shunned publicly. Let's not be hypocrits folks.
This stigma about nudity and sexuality is magnified tenfold when portrayed in certain art forms. To admit sexual pleasure from "cartoons" or CGI is especially taboo. You know, I find this interesting...GTA has been known for it's portrayal of sex in video games. In its early days, this meant taking a hooker into your car. Now, they don't actually show you having sex, but with suggestive audio and the car bouncing all around (How funny is it when you would switch views to the side of the car and they were both just sitting there even though the car looked like it hydraulics?), the suggestion was clearly there. Later on, you still had this option, along with pimping, or spending the night at your gf's house, which offered plenty of interesting audio to let you know what was going on. Though GTA games get hammered by the politicians, certain parent and Christian groups, and the general media, their scores from reviewers have never suffered. Here's the reason why. They never cross the line of sexual discomfort. The sexuality in the game is more like a big joke. Take as another example:
Gamespot score: 8.1
Gamespot score: 6.6
Now, is the gameplay between the two really that different. I think there's another matter at hand here. In the quick summary of the review it says: "and the game's sense of sexuality is still rather unseemly." So, it's blatantly stated right there... visual sexuality in a game can hurt the game's rating in this country. The funny thing is, WWE SvR 2007 has diva matches in it. However, it's not a major part of the game, which makes it easily overlooked. Also, I think it's more socially acceptable because they're based on real-life women, instead of "ridiculously idealized polygonal female models" as so graciously stated in the review summary for DOAX2.
To Japan, where RRXX and DOAX2 were born, as well as hentai. They are apparently not bound to the rule where they must publicly denounce possible arousal from CGI or "cartoons". Famitsu scored DOAX2 a 35/40 (8.75). However, another question actually arises if you look at the situation more closely. Did they score it that way because it's a good game and aren't held back by the game's sexuality, or, is it for another political issue we may find in video game reviewing...
In this world of ours, money talks and bs walks. Famitsu 360 is a 360 magazine The sponsoring and promotion for Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 have been rather intense for this game over the past month. DOAX2 received a 35/40 and Capcom's flagship title Lost Planet "only" got a 34/40. What we may be seeing is Famitsu refraining from biting the hand that feeds. Then again, maybe they were the only ones ballsy enough to admit to a truer value of the game.
Money isn't the only reason one may see inflated scores. They say, it's not what you know, but who you know. This may have been a huge contributing factor to Cliffy B and his dev team's recent success. GOW is a great game, no doubts. However, I've heard many people complaining about it. Usually, superb games get little opposition from the general public. Here's the fact of the matter. Let's compare GOW to Resistance:FOM.
Gamespot score: 9.6
Gamespot score: 8.6
Let's be honest. There's nothing entirely innovative about GOW. It's gameplay is virtually a carbon copy of kill.switch. However, the overall presentation makes it a memorable game. Much in the same way, Resistance:FOM incorporates aspects from various successful FPS games and presents them in spectacular fashion. So, what about GOW makes it worth an entire point more on the rating scale? Could it be because Cliffy B makes such a concerted effort to befriend those in the gaming community. He actually takes time out to interview with editors, invites them to events, and gets to be buddy-buddy with them. In return, reviewers show a little more favor when rating his game. Now, this is of course speculation, but every time I see him, he seems to be buttering up reviewers, and as he puts it, "selling the game."
Long story short, reviewers allow personal favors and politics to influence their scoring of games, whether it be because of cultural stigmas, money involved, or friendships. It's a shame, but it will probably allways be a present part of game reviews.
Special thanks to flandrien and the others at the Team Ninja Clan.