What Does GTA's Metacritic Score Say About the Gaming Review System
If you check over at Metacritic, you'll find that Grand Theft Auto V, one of the bigger releases of the year, has scored a 98. It shares that spot with one of Rockstar's other offerings, GTA IV.
For those unfamiliar with Metacritic, a quick run down: Metacritic is what is known as a review aggregator site, which means it collects the reviews from multiple sources. With Grand Theft Auto, for example, this means a collection of reviews from Official Xbox Magazine and the Escapist. It then sorts these reviews into scores between 0-100, and gives the game (or really any mass media) a grade.
I should preface this by saying that I haven't finished GTA V. It is possible that this could be the Citizen Kane of gaming, or some other throwaway term that people use.
Reviewing is difficult. Not in the sense of playing the game, but in the sense of comparing it to the library of other games you've played. Should GTA V be compared to Half Life 2 (which it out scored on Metacritic) or Resident Evil 4 (which it also outscored)? What does a number score mean anyway? I never liked grading in high school, and it's not much better in the video game world.
There has been controversy in the past about reviewers being bought, and for the most part those fears have subsided. But as an industry we still have fairly over-inflated ratings. Take GTA V, since it's the most topical example.
Is GTA V on par, in terms of great storytelling and contributions to the medium, with Pan's Labyrinth? Is it better than Dr. Strangelove? Spirited Away? Pulp Fiction? Because if you look at a straight one-to-one between the Movies and Games lists on Metacritic, they look like they're being compared as equals.
From what I can tell, GTA V is a good example of the genre, in the sense of graphics and characterization. But is it perfect? Because a score of 98 certainly implies that it's pretty close to perfect. 37 critics thus far have given it a perfect score, have said that the game has nothing to change. That is, frankly, unlikely. In games development, we're still in a gestational phase, and it's time our reviewership stepped up.