The Last of Us Part 2: Fake User Reviews or Fake Critics?

You will be warned before segments that contain spoilers.

Seems like everyone is aware of pretty large disconnect between the user reviews and the professional critic reviews. More and more games fall into this category, and it usually ends up with one side dismissing the other.

In the case of The Last of Us 2, the professional critics were calling out the user reviews fake, arguing that the low user scores are due to homophobia and bigotry. But if the negative user reviews are due to homophobia, then why did The Last of Us: Left Behind score 8.1 among users? It is completely centered around two gay characters. Their gay relationship is the core plot, yet users were happy to give it a positive score.

The Last of Us: Left Behind Metacritic User Score

Evidently the disappointment with the sequel has nothing to do with homophobia or bigotry, else the Left Behind would have scored even lower. Accusations like these are nothing but a lazy attempt to dismiss the negative criticism, and it doesn’t do the other side any good, because it’s obviously false.

I’m going to go through these dismissive arguments one by one:

These user reviewers couldn’t have finished the game by then.

  1. Australians got the game much earlier than the rest of the world. There were full game walk-through videos with millions of views on Youtube 12+ hours before the Metacritic even enabled user reviews.
  2. Around seven thousand user reviews on the first day is nothing for a game that was purchased by millions of players.
  3. People who watched the walk-through videos on Youtube or Twitch are just as well equipped to rate the game as the player streaming it. This is a story driven game. You don’t have to hold the controller to tell if you like the story or not.

There are more reviews on the sequel than on the original game.

  1. Of course there are more. It’s 2020. There are far more registered users on Metacritic today than there were 7 years ago.
  2. Most importantly, people who are disappointed are more likely to post a review. This applies to everything. From product reviews to movie reviews.
  3. This is one of the most anticipated games ever made.

But why is this happening? How is it possible there are games where consumers are predominantly disappointed while the critics are praising it?

Spoilers in the next paragraph!

To answer this question, it’s important to understand the professional critics. They don’t play the game like a consumer. It’s their job to review it, and their job depends on this. Most of them are not necessarily huge fans of the game-verse that they are reviewing so naturally they don’t care if the beloved character is deleted and replaced by someone else. If you never knew Joel or Ellie, you probably wouldn’t get too furious about one of them dying at the start of the sequel, much like you didn’t get too furious about Joel’s first daughter dying at the start of the original. For someone who never played or never cared for the original game, the sequel will probably be entertaining. But for the rest of the consumers, who for the lack of a better word, grew up with Joel and Ellie, the removal of one of them at the very beginning is pretty disappointing.

No More Spoilers

And all this would be understandable if the professional critics weren’t as obvious with their reviews. They were giving the game 100 score.

Professional Critics like IGN or Guardian giving 100 score

How is this in any way professional? Really IGN? 100 score? I mean of course. It’s not IGN really. It’s just one of their employees who wrote the review on the behalf of IGN. Without that IGN label, no one would care about that review.

My question is, how is this any better than giving it 0? You blame consumers for giving it 0, yet you are doing the same thing in reverse by giving it 100.

Maybe giving it 0 is a good way to balance the initial “flawless” score. The game is not flawless. The game is not perfect. And the story is good, or bad, depending on the beholder. That’s why we have user reviews, so that we can find out if the story is well-received or not. Game developers are not writing the story for professional critics employed by large companies. They are writing it for the consumers, which is why the collective opinion of the consumers matters more.

Why are so many disappointed with the sequel?

Spoilers Ahead!

It’s Joel. People were baited by Naughty Dog trailers, quite deceptively, into believing that this will be in the spirit of the original. A game that people fell in love with, where the only two characters people cared about, Joel and Ellie, would continue their story.

When they found out that Joel is removed at the very beginning, and in such a forced and nonsensical way, well, you can’t blame them for getting angry. They feel deceived and robbed. At the end of the day, it’s nothing more than a bad decision by the writers.

Both Joel and his brother knew the people of slaughtered Fireflies will be looking for him, or at least they should expect that after purging the whole building of their men and women. Instead, when they get surrounded by armed strangers, they just give out their real names like dummies.

Hey all, I’m JOEL!

Joel would never be that dumb. As we’ve seen, he was built as a type of guy who trusts no one, with years of experience dealing with all sorts of people. Clearly the writers wanted him gone to make room for their new narrative, and when the writers want something gone, it tends to feel forced.

They could now write the story for the third game with Joel coming back from the dead, and it would still make more sense than what they did with him in the sequel.

No more spoilers.

So it’s important to understand where the main issue is. You can call people homophobic, bigoted, fake, whatever word comes to your mind. But it’s not going to change the fact that consumers predominantly dislike the story.

If you need any more evidence, take a look at big gaming channels on Youtube from PewDiePie to SkillUp, all in agreement that the story didn’t deliver.

Which brings me to my final question.

How is it that the majority of large Youtube gamers are not happy with the game, yet the critics employed by the gaming companies are giving it 10/10?

I’ll let you be the judge.

Just here to store my thoughts