Did Metal Gear’s Legendary Name Factor Into MGSV Review Scores?

It's undoubtedly a fantastic game but does it get the benefit of the doubt because of its name?

It’s undoubtedly a fantastic game but does it get the benefit of the doubt because of its name?

There’s no question that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an excellent product and a legitimate Game of the Year contender. It’s arguably the best title of the generation so far, as gamers and critics alike have heaped well-deserved praise on Hideo Kojima‘s latest magnum opus.

However, it will always be a question in all critique, and on all sides of an entertainment production. From directors of movies to authors of books, from revered IPs in video games to celebrated icons in the music industry. When John Banville (aka Benjamin Black) writes a new novel, does his name and his past achievements have at least some small impact on the reviews? What about film directors like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson? Or, for that matter, game directors like Hideo Kojima? And what if you combine the legendary power of Kojima’s name with the even greater power of the widely-lauded Metal Gear Solid title?

Perhaps it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility to believe that such lofty achievements might enter into the minds of game critics. And maybe we can see some evidence of that in the industry; there are times, for instance, when it seems downright sacrilegious to give any main Mario entry a sub-9 score. You might get burned at the stake for even suggesting it. How bad would a game in a series like MGS really have to be for it to score below an 8? Did everyone simply assume that MGSV would land a 9+ Metascore (which it certainly did) because it would be great, or because there’s at least some past influence exerting its power over reviewers?

We certainly don’t mean to imply that bias played a significant role in most reviews of the game. That probably isn’t true at all. But very often, bias or slants are subconscious; they aren’t even visible by those exhibiting the bias. They may not even realize they’re letting small errors slide because the game in question is part of an esteemed series. Many have accused critics of doing this with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise, so why can’t it be considered a possible issue of contention with Metal Gear Solid?

Furthermore, this leads to an interesting question: Should a series (and a creator) that has achieved so much really receive the benefit of the doubt? They say referees give superstar veterans in sports more leeway and I’ve heard announcers say the players in question “earned” that leeway. But is that right? Is is possible to “earn” something that closely resembles cheating and getting away with it? On the flip side, one could argue that past success raises the bar, that it holds the IP and the people who created it to a higher standard. Hence, their future work should actually be evaluated with a finer-tooth comb; we should let them get away with less as opposed to more.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Did Metal Gear’s Legendary Name Factor Into MGSV Review Scores?”

I not only think it’s possible, I think it’s probable. You just can’t help being human…..there has to be at least a few critics that give franchises they adore the benefit of the doubt. It’s only natural. 🙂

I’d like to think that professional critics can put their biases aside. I know we can’t control everything and that influences do play a part but MGSV is SO great that I’m not even sure it matters for this game.

Yes and no. I’m sure some reviewers out there love MGS so much that they can’t help but give MGSV the benefit of the doubt. But like Cloud said, the game is so freakin’ great that it deserves that 95 Metascore no matter what.

I don’t believe it for a second. MGSV is great because it’s great. We don’t need to search for other reasons, do we?

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