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GamePro's Almost Perfect Game of the Year
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on February 06, 2006   |   Episode 92 (Show Archive)  

   

About this time Leon was wishing that Resident Evil 4 featured zombies instead of these crazy characteres!
Here at Defunct Games we aren't much for quibbling over game reviews, as far as we're concerned it doesn't matter what you score a game just as long as it's your opinion. It would be unfair to expect every game critic to be the same; after all, everybody has a different take on what "fun" is. But sometimes these game critics make no sense, and it's our job to point out their inconsistencies and question their reviews.

In its 209th issue, GamePro listed off their selections for the ten best games of 2005. It was a fairly unspectacular feature, taking up a whole tenth of a page on the last numbered page of the magazine. Heck, they didn't even come up

Here is the entire article in GamePro. Kind of sad we're spending 50 times more room talking about it!
with a fancy name; they simply called the list "The 10 Best Games of 2005 According to the Editors of GamePro Magazine." Although there are no pictures or descriptions, this top ten list managed to raise some questions in regards to what they named as the best game of 2005.

Like just about every other best-of list of last year's game, GamePro put Capcom's Resident Evil 4 at the top of their list. Now don't get the wrong impression, there is nothing wrong with Resident Evil 4, it's definitely one of the most exciting games of the year, full of amazing graphics, fantastic monsters, and a lengthy adventure that you won't want to put down. This is one of the best games I have ever played and manages to reinvent a franchise (heck, a whole genre) that had grown stagnant over the years. Resident Evil would be my pick for the game of the year; it's a game that never gets old no matter how many times you play through it.


Wow Leon, those are some pretty big hands you have there!
When Resident Evil 4 was first released it was universally praised as one of the best games of this generation. EGM, GameSpot, IGN, and dozens of other magazines and websites gave it near-perfect scores, raving about one of the best experiences of the year. But not GamePro. Bucking the trend GamePro noted that the game was too long and decided to withhold a perfect score and offer up a 4.5 (out of 5) instead. Certainly a 4.5 is not a bad score, there are plenty of games that would love to see a 4.5 tossed their way, but this is Resident Evil 4 we're talking about ... the title GamePro selected as their favorite game of 2005.

What can you take from Resident Evil 4 winning GamePro's Game of the Year title? I wondered if the problem was that GamePro was unable to locate any

GamePro is notorious for having terrible Resident Evil covers, why should this review be any different?
games they decided to give "perfect" marks to, games that might be considered the top games of their genres (and systems). Perhaps 2005 was just a terrible year for video games and the editors at GamePro had no choice but to give the award to a game that failed to get their highest honor.

But that theory just doesn't hold up, in the twelve months of 2005 GamePro ended up giving out close to ten perfect 5.0 scores. Games like Madden NFL 06, Super Mario Strikers, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, and Ninja Gaiden: Black all received GamePro's highest score, but not a single one of those games made it to the list of the best games of the year. Instead they are upstaged by a game that this magazine criticized for being "too long."

There were a few 5.0-scored games that made it to this ten best list, including Call of Duty 2 (at number 2), Burnout Revenge (at 3), and F.E.A.R. (the only PC game, finishing up at number 4). The

If XIII is a perfect 5.0 then Resident Evil 4 should be a 10!
rest of the list - Half-Life 2 (Xbox), Shadow of the Colossus, Destroy All Humans!, God of War, Lumines, and Tekken 5 - all come from the camp that came up short of a perfect score.

GamePro did have an opportunity to change their mind a few months ago when the nearly identical PlayStation 2 port was released. But yet again the editors of GamePro decided that the game only deserved a 4.5, despite being the best game of its kind on the system. What does it take to get a perfect 5.0? And if the mediocre XIII can get one then why can't Resident Evil 4?

Some may argue that a 4.5 is a fantastic score, the type of grade any game should be proud of. But GamePro has a tendency to just throw around high scores like they are going out of style, giving near-perfect scores to all kinds of games judged by other critics as nothing more than average. Games like Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space and Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3, sequels that failed to win over many critics. Area 51 also picked up a 4.5, despite the terrible voice acting, the sluggish controls, and the terrible level layout. Musashi Samurai Legend picked up a 4.5, which has to be the highest score for this long-forgotten franchise. Oh, and did I mention that Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault scored the same as Resident Evil 4? These are not the types of games that stand out; they

Not even the mighty World of Warcraft could win a perfect 5.0 score from GamePro!
are not games you will be rushing to play a year later. Resident Evil 4, on the other hand, is that type of game ... and GamePro goes a long way to admit that by giving it the game of the year honors.

Unfortunately Resident Evil 4 is not the only award winning game to miss that perfect 5.0 score. God of War, a game many consider to be among the best PlayStation 2 games in years, could only scrape up a measly 4.5. The phenomenal Burnout Legend on the PSP also missed that perfect score, although it's widely consider to be the best portable racer on the market. And while World of Warcraft was not released in 2005, GamePro avoided reviewing it until last March ... and could only muster 4.5 for the game that single-handedly resurrected the massively multi-player online role-playing game genre.

Perhaps games like Resident Evil 4 are the victims of GamePro's review policy; maybe GamePro only gives perfect scores

So tell me GamePro, if Resident Evil 4 is not the best horror game around then what is?? Certainly not Silent Hill 4!
to sequels that raise the bar or the games that are without a doubt the best products for the system. One could certainly argue that this is why the PSP Grand Theft Auto picked up a perfect score, while it would no doubt have scored much lower as a console title. If we're going to get anywhere I'm going to need to look up GamePro's review policy, I'm sure that will clear a few things up.

Oh wait ... GamePro doesn't have a clear-cut review policy. Not in their magazine and not on their website, the game's score and write up are all we have to go by. But who cares? Let's pretend that they DO have a clear review policy like GameSpot, IGN, and most of the other video game publications. Did Resident Evil 4 raise the bar for gaming; is it a game that elevated its genre to a new level? You better believe it did! Is Resident Evil 4 the best game on the GameCube? If you believe GamePro's review scores then Super Mario Strikers was the single best game on the GameCube last year, but I'd say

Everything about Resident Evil 4 is better than this picture!
the "game of the year" award they awarded Resident Evil goes a long way to say that Capcom's horror fest was the real winner. Perhaps numbers lie.

Resident Evil 4 wasn't just the best game for the GameCube last year; it's the best horror/adventure game ever made. Here is a game that takes an established formula and turns it on its head, it manages to perfect the genre and address every single concern gamers had with the older Resident Evil titles. What survival horror game out there is better? What does it take to get a perfect 5.0 score for a sequel that goes way past just adding new enemies, improved graphics, and bigger explosions? This is a game that game developers are going to be ripping off for the next decade, and all it can get is a 4.5?

But even if you agree with GamePro's overall score shouldn't the games that get the perfect reviews be the top candidates for game of the year? Dead of Alive 4 is far from the best fighting game of 2005, but it managed to pick up a perfect score and failed to make the list of the best games of 2005 (although the lower-scored Tekken 5 had no problem finding a place on that list). At the end of the day one has to wonder if these ratings are just numbers, symbols for the lazy to see if they should get it at a glance. Maybe if gamers really want to know the full story they need to read the full review ... but it still doesn't make up for them missing Resident Evil's greatness the first time through.
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