Polygon's latest review update for SimCity rated the game a 6.5 out of 10. The score has been on a roller coaster from 9.5, to 8.0, to 4.0, to the 6.5 it rests at now. It has garnered a 2.5-point increase from review update two because the servers got more stable, even though servers go dark when Maxis tweaks them. However, it appears the main gripe with the game is the exclusion of Cheetah speed. Quoted from the SimCity Review Update 3, it says, “The inability to bypass huge chunks of time in which absolutely nothing happens in your city means boredom creeps in a lot sooner and a lot more frequently than when we first reviewed SimCity, considerably lessening the fun.”
With Cheetah Speed back in the game across all servers, that should solve many of the remaining gripes that Polygon reviewer Russ Pitts may have. So will the next update return the game to its original 9.5 rating? Or will it just inch closer to the original score?
It feels like these review updates will be an inevitable climb back to the game's original score; if that's the case, why bother changing the score at all? Here's why: Polygon rushed out a high review score on a game that didn't work at launch, and for more than a month after launch. When everyone was disappointed with a broken game, it looks like they rushed to rectify their score to please readers, which in turn started this chain of events that will be incredibly hard to stop now.
The journalists at Polygon have my complete and utter respect. Have I, at one time or another, rated a game higher than more people would agree with? Probably. These things happen.
With speed like this, there is no way it deserves anything less than a 9.0!
When the dust settles and SimCity returns to the state it was during Polygon's review session, will it return to the 9.5 score it once had? If not, then how was it ever a 9.5 to begin with? It feels like this methodology is a “get out of jail free” card when your review score is about to get blasted.
Even without the server problems, SimCity and its logic and mechanics are flawed. So when SimCity progresses to its most perfect state, the game would be better suited to return to its 8.0 score of update one. That would leave a 1.5-point difference for Polygon to explain.
It could be argued that review scores shouldn't matter nearly as much as they seem to. I hate putting a restrictive score on the words I write about a game. Yet, that's what Publishers care about, and that's what we as a gaming community have become programmed to look for. In one sense, it's good that Polygon is experimenting with ways to review games with an unfolding honesty while keeping the score system. While their “Bumps” act as a barometer for the current state of a game, there has to be another way to reflect that without frequent score changes. We haven't seen any "bumping" since that fateful SimCity review, so maybe this happy medium is exactly what the writers at the Good Ship Poly are scratching their heads over as we speak.
And don't get me wrong — the aspiration to honestly reflect changing opinions in a world of static scores is an admirable one. It just seems like a bit of an uphill battle for even the most seasoned of reviewers. Will Polygon find the middle road? Does it even exist? Do you think you have the best solution? Sound off in the comments below!