Should Mortal Kombat X’s Violence Impact Reviews?

With imagery like this, one has to wonder if it's simply too much.

With imagery like this, one has to wonder if it’s simply too much.

Mortal Kombat and violence go together like peanut butter and jelly. The franchise largely responsible for the industry’s current rating system continues to push the brutality envelope and the latest entry, Mortal Kombat X, will be the most vicious effort yet.

Given the visceral, nasty nature of the Fatalities and Brutalities we’ve seen thus far, it’s guaranteed to ruffle a few feathers. Nobody will be surprised if the game ends up on the news less than 24 hours after its release on April 14. However, whether it’s too violent or not isn’t the issue here: Our question centers on whether or not this violence should impact review scores.

On the one hand, the conclusion is simple: No. As offensive as that violence may be to some, it doesn’t have any impact on the product’s quality. A review score is only supposed to reflect the game’s quality, and not the critic’s opinion regarding the level of violence. There are subjective parts to any review so the scores are bound to fluctuate based on a critic’s personal feeling, but they shouldn’t directly say, “it’s too violent so I lowered the score.” That doesn’t seem fair.

If we exceed an acceptable level of violence...but wait, what's "acceptable?"

If we exceed an acceptable level of violence…but wait, what’s “acceptable?”

But on the flip side, the operational definition of “quality” goes under the microscope. If the violence in question is deemed unnecessary and has no redeeming value, and it’s obviously designed for the sake of sick titillation, can we really say it doesn’t impact the overall quality? How does seeing someone getting ripped in half make the game better? It manages to further desensitize an already jaded populace but that’s about all it does.

The other issue is that if the game gets docked for being too violent, you might see developers take a cue from that reaction. The result might be a lessening of violence in video games. If we punish designers for simply being mercilessly brutal for no real reason, then perhaps people won’t look askance at those who admit to playing games like Mortal Kombat. Still, it’s difficult to get away from the fact that at its core, a game’s quality shouldn’t really be affected by an abundance – or complete lack – of violence.

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Should Mortal Kombat X’s Violence Impact Reviews?”

I think it should at least be mentioned in the review text.

As for whether or not the violence should be reflected in the score, that might depend more on how the source scores games. It changes everywhere.

I don’t think it should impact the review score but if a critic really has a problem with the violence, maybe he either A. shouldn’t review the game at all, or B. talk about it in the review and explain his or her personal feelings to the reader.

It looks like the violence did impact some review scores. But I’m not sure it had a BIG impact. I think the game probably got the scores it deserves, regardless of the gore.

I agree. I read one review where the critic talked about the brutality a little longer than I think was necessary, but I don’t think it impacted the score. It was an 8, after all.

Any content can affect a review score because the critic’s opinion is what ultimately matters.

Still spouting the same “reviews are all opinion” BS?

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