Holy Difference of Opinion, Batman!

“I couldn’t disagree more with this bunch of haters”
-Jennifer , in her review of Dance Factory (7.5) disagrees with Robert (3.o) and Jared (2.0)

“What the…? These guys are way off”
-Jeremy, in his review of Deep Labyrinth (7.5) disagrees with Greg S. (2.0) and Jay (3.0)

In general, Electronic Gaming Monthly’s reviewers are incredibly agreeble. The final scores given by each of the three reviewers for any given game rarely differ by more the a point or two. The individual reviews might emphasize different points, but, in general, the opinions represented by the multiple reviewers are remarkably close.

Which is why I was shocked to see the above quotes (and accompanying review scores) on page 106 of EGM #207 (Sept. 2006). Such a large divergence of opinion in EGM is rare these days — having two such differences in one issue is largely unheard of.

To put it in perspective, of the 66 trios of reviews listed in EGM’s recent archive (on pg. 111 of the same issue) only one has a total review score range of five or more points (Splinter Cell Essentials: 2.0, 6.0, 7.0). Thirty of the archvied reviews have ranges of one or less. (Another interesting note: EGM’s three reviewers almost never all agree on a single score — in the archives, only Suikoden V earned three identical scores [6.5])

On the one hand, it’s kind of nice to finally see some disagreement in EGM’s reviews section. After all, what’s the point of having multiple people review a game if they’re all going to have essentially the same opinion anyway? On the other hand, such wide disagreements make it seem like there are no agreed upon standards for what makes a game good or bad. When one reviewer says a game is “underwhelming” and another says a game is “quite easy to enjoy,” how does the average reader know which opinion to believe (besides, um, reading the rest of the review, I mean)?

I’m obviously of two minds on the issue, so I’ll throw it to you, dear readers. Is divergence in opinions within a publication a sign of strength, or disarray? Leave your thoughts using the comments link below.

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