One of the biggest concerns many gamers had with the PlayStation 4, including even the most diehard PS4 fan, was that the launch lineup was lacking in exclusive titles hitting retail store shelves. With only two exclusive retail titles, Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall, gamers were hoping Sony would knock the ball out of the park with these two titles and show just what the PS4 was capable of.
As you're probably aware of by now, both titles have been consistently bashed by reviewers, using terms such as lackluster, boring, run-of-the-mill and generic. Metacritic scores for both Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall are currently 59 and 74 at the time of writing.
(Side note: Unfortunately, PS4 Experts was not able to acquire a PlayStation 4 and copies of either game in advance from Sony, so all opinions expressed in this article are not our own. Expect full reviews of both exclusive titles as well as all PlayStation 4 titles shortly after launch!)
But are these titles really that bad? Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida doesn't think so, and in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz he explains his reasoning as to why the titles are scoring poorly.
"Yeah, it's disappointing to see some of the low scores. I haven't spent enough time reading reviews, but I would characterize them as mixed. And with this launch there are lots of games coming out, so the media must be very busy going through the games quickly, and especially since the online functionality wasn't ready until in the last couple days. So we have to look at how much time they spend on what aspect of the games and how that may be contributing to some of the lower scores. It's disappointing but I don't think it's worrisome for the launch of the system. I've played through all of our games, Killzone, Knack and Resogun, and I totally enjoyed playing through these games. I'm now on my second run of Knack and Resogun at a higher difficulty - these games really grow on you when you play more. I'm very confident that once you purchase these games and play, you'll be happy that you've done so."
Yoshida then goes on to further defend Knack, stating:
"The game wasn't designed [to meet specific] review scores - I was hoping Knack could score in the mid 70s and last I checked it's around 59-60, so I'm hoping it goes up. The game uses only three buttons to play, so it's not the type of game reviewers would score high for the launch of a next-gen system. The game was targeted as what we call a second purchase; you know, people may purchase PS4 for Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed or Killzone, but if they also buy Knack, this is a game that you can play with your family or your significant other."
In the case of Knack, one has to wonder how true this really is -- after all, Knack was one of the first PS4 games showcased, and a big deal was made behind Mark Cerny having a hand in development. In regards to Knack, it definitely feels like Sony is backtracking a bit, as it did feel like Knack was designed to be a system seller and not just an additional purchase.
Is it really just that games journalists are "overworked"? Could it be there are too many games for them to play, forcing them to speed through games as fast as possible and not enjoy them? Possibly. It could also be the fact that launch games are judged more strictly than a regular release, because these are supposed to be the games to get you to drop $400 to play them. At the back of every reviewer's mind is the question "Is Knack good?" followed by "Is it $400 good?" and at that point, what game really is $400 good? Is any one particular game worth that amount of money? No, but luckily most gamers aren't buying the PS4 for just one game.
There is also the lingering question of whether either game was rushed for launch; with a majority of the PlayStation 4's heavy hitters getting delayed or not coming out until next year to begin with, Sony needed to put something out at launch. Whether Knack was ready or not, it was coming out. Of course, Sony will never admit this but it does make you wonder.
While we cannot advocate for or against either game at this point in time, when reading reviews keep in mind that a launch game is judged on harsher terms than a regular release, especially an exclusive game. The important part is to make your own decision about either game -- if either game looks interesting, buy it and try it out! Use a review as a guide but not the final word on whether you should play something or not, as everyone's taste is different and who knows, Knack may end up being your favorite PS4 launch title!
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 11/19/2013