PSA: Metal Gear Solid V was Reviewed in a Controlled Environment
Posted by Steve Murray
As of writing, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, what may go down in history as the last great Konami game, has been getting near unanimous game of the year calibre reviews. The current Metacritic average is 95% with five of 20 reviews scoring it perfect and 12 of 20 reviews scoring it at or above 95%.
There’s just one problem with those reviews. They were all done at a Konami supervised review event that saw all reviewers play the game for 8 hours per day with no unsupervised play allowed.
Very seldom are reviews in a controlled environment disclosed. The most recent example of reviews at a review “boot camp” (with the exception of reviewing pre-release beta copies) was one EA held for Titanfall using the Xbox One version with few, if any, other review copies being released to the press. Titanfall had pretty good reviews (86% on Xbox One per Metacritic) but it also seemed to disappoint and underwhelm players.
In their in-progress review, Games Radar mentioned: “Konami invited journalists to review the game at five-day ‘boot camps’ tied to strict NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). We played between 9am to 5pm, with no unsupervised play outside these hours.” Somewhat unfortunately sympathized with Konami limiting access to review copy by saying: “Konami’s conundrum is clear. Sending out retail review copies would lead to ruinous spoilers, but the alternative is no pre-release reviews. Extended access under duress is better than none but, twinned to our NDA, makes this a ‘review’ of what I can’t and won’t say.”
In researching this PSA, I read through all five of the 100% scored reviews. Each of the Daily Telegraph, GameSpot, IGN, God is a Geek, and 3D Juegos gave MGSV top marks but none made any mention of the conditions under which the game was reviewed. While Games Radar mentioned that there was an NDA, if they’re mentioning the “boot camp,” either the conditions of the review weren’t under NDA or Games Radar is willing to burn that bridge (not that Konami seems too worried about triple-A games any more so I’m not sure that the bridge still exists). While the latter is commendable on GR’s part, the former is somewhat dishonest considering that the conditions the game was reviewed under do not necessarily represent that of the game in the wild.
For all the problems that everyone had with the economics of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, it was undeniably a great game. The mechanics and graphics were absolutely superb and MGSV:TPP could absolutely be a game of the year candidate if it lives up to its prologue. Just because of review practices that I find slightly concerning, it doesn’t mean that TPP is going to be a bad game. I’m very much expecting greatness and the reviews based on 30 to 40 hours of gameplay give me no reason to doubt that. But as we’ve seen with the removed from reality reviewing of Titanfall and Sim City, reviews other than full release aren’t necessarily representative of the final product.
Source: Games Radar
Disclosure: et geekera has requested review copy of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for PC. As of writing and to our knowledge, no PC review copy has been issued.