The Game Doesn't Suck, You Suck
Forgive the caustic headline, but it best summarizes the subject at hand.
I'm not going to sit here and say there's a universal method to reviewing video games. Every source has its own style and chooses to place more emphasis on different elements of a game, and it's always advisable to look at multiple trusted sources before deciding on a purchase. Just see what reviews suit your gaming habits best.
But if there's one thing I despise, it's the belief that if a game doesn't cater to an individual's tastes, or if they find it difficult, the game "sucks." In other words, it's the idea that because a brutally challenging game causes you to tear your hair out, it's the game's fault. I've come across people who say Dark Souls is quite literally a "bad game" because "nobody wants to play something that's just frustrating and impossible." Same could be said for past Ninja Gaiden titles; I've heard similar complaints. And it gets annoying.
Now, if you keep dying because the camera is poor, or the controls are loose, or the enemies are cheap, or there are technical difficulties like collision detection problems, then yes, feel free to blame it on the game. It is the game in that respect. But if you keep dying because you suck, it has nothing to do with anything...besides the fact that you suck at it. I will freely admit that certain immensely difficult games have been beyond me, but I'm not about to blame developers 'cuz I didn't have the skill.
You won't see critics making this mistake (at least, not usually), but you will find mainstream and casual gamers bashing on a hardcore or niche title because it's "stupid hard" and only "people with no lives could play it." Suddenly, they're willing to give the game a 3 because they can't do it. Just as a final tangent, does anyone think this casual mentality contributed to the increased hand-holding we find in games today...?
9/30/2011 Ben Dutka