A review is inherently subjective, no matter what your allegiance to said product actually is. However, there is a definite line between an impartial judgment and a biased critique. Take, for instance, Dragon Age 2; Bioware's follow-up to the critically acclaimed Origins has endured a somewhat turbulent critical reception thus far. And when Reddit regular, GatoFiasco, stumbled on an overwhelmingly positive review for DA2 on MetaCritic, he did a little digging and discovered it was written by an actual videogame engineer. Who works for Dragon Age developers Bioware.
The review was written by MetaCritic user, Avanost, who has only one critique to his name; Dragon Age 2's. In the post, Avanost describes the DA2's combat as "unmatched", calls the game "flawlessly executed" and "endlessly entertaining", not to mention stating that any negative reviews are simply an "overreaction of personal preference". It's not uncommon to find a review such as this, and if you ever frequent forums or the like you'll stumble on quite a few individuals who'll aggressively hype and protect a game as if their very lives depend on it.
But Avanost's review is so painfully positive it beggars belief, and you can understand why GatoFiasco decided to take matters into his own hands and try a little amateur detective work. His digging led him to a Plurk profile, which in turn revealed a Linkedin profile for Chris Hoban; an applications engineer at Bioware.
The review was since been taken down, and EA have responded to the news with surprising nonchalance. "That's how it works," remarked a senior public relations manager to Kotaku, before comparing the matter to American president, Barack Obama, and how he "voted for himself in the last election". Admittedly, it's not a heinous crime that EA and Hoban should be punished for. Maybe he just really, really likes the game? But it does beg the question of whether those with professional ties to a product should be allowed to cast judgment on it in the first place.
But what do you think? Was Hoban's review a farcical PR stunt that should be condemned? Or was he simply unlucky to be caught and not doing much wrong anyway? Go on, tell us. We'd love to know. [Reddit]