It finally happened: the Xbox One has arrived in stores, nestling next to the PS4 on shelves the world over, but something a bit odd is happening.
Instead of all the media organs pleasing their hardware gods by giving the launch titles suspiciously high scores, the initial games for both Sony and Microsoft’s new home consoles are getting a rather lukewarm reception.
In fact, you could say that PS4 and Xbox One’s first wave of games are getting a mild kicking (to the body only, no bruises on the face), as Xbox One’s lead title Ryse and PS4’s flagship original (ish) game Knack both struggle to pick up anything higher than a seven from the masses of online critics at both "pro" and "am" ends of the spectrum.
Which raises a key issue. What’s the point in spending hundreds on a games machine if it hasn’t got any games worth going through the stress of rearranging your TV input slots and dangerously overloaded lounge plug sockets for?
Beneath Eurogamer’s review of Xbox One launch game Ryse ("repetitive and shallow" 5/10), there were plenty of "I told you so" comments, as people popped up to claim that the game always looked like a bit of a wrong ‘un throughout its lengthy period in development hell.
Reader Triggerhappytel cut through to the bone of truth with his observation, pointing out that: "And you know what the worst thing about this is? It will sell about 10 times the number of copies of something genuinely great and creative like Tearaway, because it’s hyper-violent and MS will market this shit out of it."
Plus reviews were embargoed to just before launch, encouraging buyers to pre-order it months in advance, blind as to its quality. Reader Scuffpuppies fell foul of this trick, adding: "I’m one of the ‘suckers’ that pre-paid for this in preparation for tomorrow morning, but the second I learned of this embargo I knew the reviews were going to be punishing.
"Microsoft held this back because they had touted Ryse as their BIG XBO launch title, yet knew it was pure candy coated shite."
On the PS4 side of things, gamers have been mocking Sony’s launch titles with equal aggression. 3D platform throwback Knack would’ve looked dull back in 1997, so asking it to play a big role in PS4’s launch window was always going to be a hard sell.
Beneath Giant Bomb’s review ("tedious slog" 2/5), reader AMyggen reacted to some comments suggesting people ought to go easy on it because it’s clearly designed to appeal to a younger market. He said: "I’m not a fan of people defending this game as ‘it’s a kids game!’, as if that should excuse repetitive gameplay. Some of the greatest games of all time are ‘kids games’, like Mario games, and using that as an excuse seriously underestimates children."
Maybe he hasn’t spent much time around children, as their ability to be amazed by utter rubbish (Doctor Who, Skylanders, etc) is remarkable. If the under-nines had video game blogs, perhaps Knack’s Metacritic score might be a little higher than the shameful 56/100 it currently ranks at.
On CVG, Knack had a defender in the form of self-confessed 37-year-old man Stuart Stow, who suggested people try making their own minds up. A brave concept indeed.
Stu contributed: "When you’re a kid you take game reviews like they’re written in stone but when you’re a bit older you realise everyone has different tastes and just like movies if a reviewer doesn’t like something it doesn’t mean you’ll feel the same."
Quite true, Stuart, you have learned much over those 37 hard years, but not everyone can blow cash on something that everyone else says is rubbish just to see if it REALLY is rubbish or not.
Killing in the name of
What else is there that’s new and more rubbish than the early previews led us to believe? Oh yes, Killzone: Shadow Fall. Never what you’d call an amazingly innovative franchise in the first place, the PS4 launch shooter has at least kept its head above water with some solid 8/10s.
Polygon gave it a kicking, though ("retreads shooter cliches" 5/10), leading commenters to have a field day with accusations of bias, bribery and cluelessness, although KiddCharlemagne kept his contribution short, with just: "So basically there are no good games for PS4 at launch."
And that’s true if you think that anything less than a 9/10 should be ignored. But if you look back, it has always been thus for most major console launches.
HRDSalami654 replied with the so-true-it-hurts: "Welcome to every PS launch ever. It’s the reason, as a PlayStation fan, I never early adopt."
Wait a few years then cherry-pick the hits from the bargain basement is the only way to avoid launch day disappointment.
- Inflame is TechRadar’s weekly look at the weird and wonderful world of online comments. Turns out a lot of people have a lot to say…