How is it that the 'biased' critics scores are generally more even keeled than the whims of fanbased ratings?
Everyone is biased, be they "critics" or "fans". The closest thing you'll get to an "unbiased rating" is to ignore all 1/10 and 10/10 ratings (or anything under 10% or above 95%) and take an aggregate score from everything else.
I've always been of the opinion that I don't trust any review that can't come up with at least two positive things and at least two negative things to say about a game (and for these purposes, "I can't stop playing it" is not a negative point, nor is "At least the game didn't give me cancer" is not a positive point). No matter how good a game is, it will have downsides and no matter how bad a game is, it will have good sides. Granted, I'd probably be hard pressed to find the good sides in some of the shining examples of fail out there, but I still stick by my assertion that any review that can't come up with valid good and bad aspects of a game isn't worth the paper it's printed on (or kb it takes up on the web server).
I agree with the demos thing (I'd like to see more of that too) however most game companies don't want to play that game. If you were them and you thought your game was good, and you spent millions of dollars on it, then it turns out people hated the demo. Oops. I've seen movie trailers that are so poorly edited that relayed the wrong tone of the actual movie, so there are definitely a lot of factors they would have to take into consideration. Logistical and creative.
If you thought your game was good and you spent millions of dollars on it only to find out people hated the demo, maybe you need to take a step back and re-evaluate it. http://www.pcworld.com/article/127579/the_10_worst_games_of_all_time.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_games_notable_for_negative_reception
I'm sure, or at least I'd hope, that no one with any sense in their mind would see a game in development that was turning out badly and still continue pumping funding into it, see that it ended badly, and publish it anyway. When you consider games iconic of being the worst of the worst like Superman 64 and Atari's ET, never mind all of the $1-$5 bargain bin titles you see at your local Rite-Aid or dollar store, you have to consider that at least some of those developers were genuinely happy with their steaming pile of ****, and were completely oblivious to the fact that it was indeed a steaming pile of ****.
Why should we, the consumer, still have to give them our money to find out that it's a steaming pile of ****? Now they've made money and we're stuck with a shiny coaster that cost us $20-60. Sure, you can end up trading in some of those games (at a loss of money to you) to your local game shop, but at this point the company has already made their money and they will go on to waste money and time making Steaming Pile of **** 2. Sure, it probably won't sell well, but wouldn't their time and resources be better served on something that doesn't suck?
Granted there are some games I just go out knowing I'm going to like and I buy them and usually I'm right (Mass Effect 2, GTA4, Sims 3, Beautiful Katamari, Miles Edgeworth). Usually it's because they're sequels of other established franchises like the examples I cited above. Other games from established franchises (SimCity Societies, Lunar: Dragon Song, FF13) I loved previous games from the series but... I just wonder what the **** happened.
I mean, I'm sure there are some people out there that like them, but I'm not one of them. At least in the case of Lunar:DS I was warned that it was a steaming pile of crap before I spent any money on it, and in the case of SC:Societies, I picked it out of a bargain bin for $5 (I almost bought it for $50 new when it first came out and I'm glad I didn't; this way I only wasted $5 instead of ten times that).
Conversely, there are bargain bin games I'll find that I've never heard of before (Dungeon Keeper, Impossible Creatures, Battle Realms) that just turn out to be a ton of fun, and then there are games I've heard tons of negative reviews on (FF:Mystic Quest, Quest 64) that despite all the negative reviews; I thought they were fun, albeit somewhat childish in both examples.
In the end, no matter how many reviews I read, there's only one person's review I put all my faith in: My own. And I'll admit, it's pretty **** biased, too.
And about your latest post I agree completely. I couldn't wait to continue with Mass Effect 2 it was just paced right (my own pace). With 13 I'll have to force myself to play.
Yeah, ME2 was another game that I found myself doing every side quest I could find. I grinded minerals to buy every upgrade I could afford as soon as I could afford it. I guess that ended up being another thing I disliked about 13 was that it is extremely prohibitive to grinding. I could probably grind mats to massively upgrade all my weapons, but since you can't level up and your crystarium levels are capped, there's only so far your character progression can take you, whereas in 12 I found myself doing every hunt as soon as I could, grinding LP asap. As I mentioned before, I'm playing the game through from scratch again, Story-wise, I just got the Dawn Shard and am supposed to be heating to Jahara to eat with the Garif; I have 3 Quickenings for everyone, 6 Golden Amulets, the Zodiac Spear, every non-item Augment for everyone, every spell license for all spells I currently have (and all spells bought, ditto for Technicks.
Honestly, I find myself turning every game I play into a grindfest. Even in the Sims, I'll usually build up all of my person's skills and not let them leave the house to get a job or talk to anyone (they can use the computer for social) until they're maxed out.
I've always preferred games that let you choose whether you wanted to just play through the story as fast as possible or whether you wanted to stop and grind a bit (or a lot) at any point. I think that if FF13 were a little more open-world as opposed to the "Point A to point B" pathing, and didn't limit your character growth, I'd probably enjoy it a lot more.