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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kirby and Battlefield 3: A Study In Contrasts

Kotaku does their Gut Check series and asks whether or not you should buy a certain game based on their gut instinct. The placed a big, fat "NO" on Kirby Return to Dreamland. Their explanation?
"The game is an ordinary platformer, a one to four-player game of running, jumping, inhaling enemies, appropriating their powers and occasionally wielding timed hyper-powers like a sword or hammer that are almost as big as your TV screen. In a five-minute session that's charming. At length, it's numbing and asks its players to make no interesting decisions. Kirby has an amazing amount of moves in this game, but few that make a difference... The problem is that this new game is simple without excelling at anything."

"It looks like the sort of game that will be just as entertaining a year from now as it is today, and that's why I'm giving it a pass for the time being... If my only gaming platform were the Nintendo Wii I'd be rather depressed. As it stands I am a well-adjusted multiplatform gamer, and Kirby will still be there when I'm ready for him."
Compare this to Battlefield 3's Gut Check, which received a Yes from all three writers:
"This is the new bar for online first-person shooters, when it works... [on single-player] Worse still, the Xbox 360 version of the game shows significant slow down during key firefights. I'm not sure why the game stutters and slows, but I suspect it has to do with the destructible environment, something that's a nice touch but isn't worth the cost if that's what is causing this problem."

"I'm giving it a conditional yes. A half-assed response, maybe, but this seems a half-assed game."
OK, so let's review:

Kirby is a side-scrolling platformer which provides exactly what it advertises. Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter which provides exactly what it advertises. The multiplayer in Kirby is boring according to some. The multiplayer in Battlefield 3 is great according to some. The single-player in Kirby is entertaining. The single-player in Battlefield 3 is boring. Kirby is polished.  The 360 version of Battlefield 3 has some slight technical issues with slowdown and early server problems.

Yet, one is worth your time and one is not. Gotcha.

This sort of thing bugs me. I'm not the kind of person who looks for bias and screams about it when it's not there, but come on. It's so obvious that the writers were predisposed to like Battlefield 3, so therefore they gloss over its issues. They were not predisposed to like Kirby Return to Dreamland, so therefore the minor issues they find are magnified.

I've harped on this before but I'll say it again: Game reviews need to change. You can't look at them through the lens of what you want the game to be, but what it offers itself up as. Kirby offers itself up as a Kirby game updated for the Wii. At this, it excels. Battlefield 3 offers itself up as a competitive first-person shooter. At this, it excels. It's not a binary function of "this game good, this game bad," nor should it be.