One single week saw two of the biggest gaming stories of the year.
This past Tuesday, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 released to millions of rabid fans who clearly couldn't wait to get their hands on the game. In the US and UK alone, 6.5 million copies of Infinity Ward’s FPS sold on day one, making $400 million in sales en route to setting a new record for the biggest entertainment launch in history. This was after the game had already recorded over 9 million preorders.
The immediate reaction to the game, however, has been the source of contention in the gaming community. Metacritic is averaging a critic score of 89 for the Xbox 360 version, showing that most reviewers have certainly enjoyed what it has to offer. However, the user score for the same game is averaging at 3.1/10, exposing quite the disparity.
The source of the backlash has generally shown to be disdain for the Activision model behind Call of Duty, opting to provide incremental updates rather than complete overhauls to the franchise in an effort to release more games in a smaller period of time. It’s a method often compared to EA Sports’ Madden franchise, which is not an unfair comparison as a 2012 Call of Duty title has already been announced.
But these beliefs apparently belong to an extremely vocal minority, as not only the sales numbers prove, but the game-time hours as well. At the time of this writing, Raptr.com currently reports that the Xbox 360 version of Modern Warfare 3 has already logged over 1.04 million hours of gameplay this month, sitting at #3 behind Gears of War 3 at 1.52 million hours at #2 and the recently released Battlefield 3 leading the pack at 1.61 million. Yes, there are complaints about Call of Duty all over the Internet. But in droves, people are buying, and people are playing.
While Modern Warfare 3 owns the biggest sales story of the year, another game released the same week can perhaps lay claim to the title of the best overall game of 2011.
Yesterday, 11-11-11, the long-awaited sequel to Bethesda’s 2006 blockbuster The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was finally released. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been the talk of the town as glowing reviews begin to surface across the net. 66 critic scores have already been submitted to Metacritic for the Xbox 360 version, and they average out to a massive 96. 23 of these reviews even awarded Skyrim with a perfect score.
Here are just a few of the comments doled out by the reviewing community:
“An absolutely first-rate roleplaying game that combines an abundance of content with an abundance of quality. ” - The Escapist
“It's one thing when a game offers dozens of hours of gameplay; it's quite another when that gameplay is good enough you'll want to live in its world for that long.” - Giant Bomb
“It's one of the biggest, most content rich games I've ever had the pleasure of playing.” - Game Informer
The Metacritic score of 96 currently sits the Xbox 360 version of the game in a tie with the PS3 release of Batman: Arkham City as the highest-scoring game of 2011.
Between titles such as Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Dead Island, Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, and Rage, this 2011 Fall season has delivered in its promise to release a vast number of highly promoted, highly budgeted titles in time for the holiday season. And while so many games have seen condensed releases spread across the months of September and October, it's this past week that has spawned what could be considered two of the biggest stories of the year, albeit for two very different reasons. Modern Warfare 3 shattered sales records while igniting fanboy wars in forums everywhere. Skyrim met and exceeded the expectations of critics and users alike, throwing its hat into the ring for Game of the Year consideration.
Are you planning on purchasing either of these games, or have you already picked them up? Leave your comments!
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