Bit Tech published a new editorial titled Yes, Game Critics Understand Innovation. This is about the recent criticism game reviewers received following the release of Mirror's Edge.
There’s an argument too to say that it’s the role of the critic to explain the flaws of the game (even the tiny ones) so that the reader can make an informed decision, but in this instance I don’t hold much truck in that. If that were the case then the critic should be telling the reader that the game is about running away from fights, not that there aren’t enough fights in it.
I’m both lucky and biased though because I think bit-tech is a site which does this well, recognising and rewarding innovation whenever we see it and always giving honest and informed reviews. That’s why we were able to give Episode 2 a ten out of ten and an excellence award, but also weren’t afraid to tread the unpopular path and say that Gears of War 2 was little above a seven. It’s why we’ve only ever given three games a ten-out-of-ten score since I’ve been here, though many have edged that line and retrospect perhaps disfavours some others. This isn't a science afterall.
Do games critics need to understand how important innovation is? Obviously, yes. More important than that though is the ability to recognise when something really is innovative (and Mirror's Edge owes a lot to the chase sequence from Call of Cthulhu from what I've heard) and the wisdom to recognise that just because something is innovative doesn't mean it's perfect.
Simply; innovation isn't worth anything if you can't get the basics right - though that doesn't mean any developers should stop trying!