The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess came out in late 2006 for the Gamecube. It was one of the most hyped games for that year. It was going to be a return to form after Wind Waker. Wind Waker changed some parts of the Zelda formula. The game polarized the fanbase. Wind Waker’s cel shaded graphics and sailing weren’t loved by everyone. Twilight Princess was going to be different. There was going to be an adult Link. It brought back an actual Hyrule. It had the visuals that fans had been begging for since the Space World 2000 trailer.
This game was a killer app. The fans couldn’t wait to get their hands on it and love it. Previews of the game caused a buzz in the gaming community. It was going to be the greatest game of all time. It was a miracle brought into the world by the geniuses at Nintendo. It was going to be the pinnacle of video gaming. There would be no topping it. It would wipe the slate clean of Zelda after Wind Waker. It was gaming’s salvation.
Then a review for the game came in. Jeff Gerstmann of Gamespot.com gave the game an 8.8 out of 10.
8.8! That was lower than the score given to the black sheep of the series, The Wind Waker. That got a 9.3. It couldn’t be possible. The writer was a false prophet sent by Sony or Microsoft to destroy gaming’s salvation. This was what was going on through the minds of some Legend of Zelda fans during that time.
8.8 isn’t even that bad of a score, but the fans couldn’t accept less than perfection. It just couldn’t be true that a Zelda game could get less than a 9. This critic’s opinion sent the fanbase into a fury. Many didn’t take the chance to actually read the review. They just saw the numbers. If Jeff had just given the game a score of 9.3 or higher with the exact same written review, nobody would have batted an eye.
The power of criticism is no longer in the words. It’s in the numbers. Now sites like MetaCritic and Rotten Tomatoes decide whether a review is positive or not, then they average all reviews giving you a number that shows the average. Reviewers can write hundreds of words aptly attacking or praising a product but all that really matters to most people is the number. People just cut to the chase.
I’m guilty of doing this. I check Rotten Tomatoes before seeing a movie. I make my decision based on the general consensus. I was iffy on the Avengers until I saw the rave reviews for it. 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. Then I bought my tickets online.
I didn’t read a single review. I just looked at that number. I feel bad for those critics out there. They would be just as well off just posting their score without delving deeper. The numbers are all that matter.