It looks like Shenmue 3's Metacritic score is getting bumped up by fake reviews.
To be fair to Shenmue 3, users creating fake accounts to make a single review before disappearing back into the ether is nothing new, but it does seem to be a popular pastime among Shenmue fans. At least, according to a recent Reddit post.
Thanks go out to Reddit user Nogebator18 for first noticing something suspicious going on at Metacritic and then posting a few examples to the PC Gaming subreddit. These screengrabs appear to show users who have just created accounts and only have a single game reviewed: Shenmue 3.
To make things even more questionable, those reviews are for both the PC and PS4 versions of the same game, which is objectively insane. Why would anyone buy both versions of the same game to play on two different systems? Especially a game as slow, meandering, and aimless as Shenmue 3?
One of those users even uses the exact same text for both reviews but changes them slightly to account for PC and PS4, writing that the game looks great on his GTX 1080 video card and also "runs surprisingly well on base PS4."
Even with what seems to be a flood of obviously fake reviews, Shenmue 3’s user score still sits at 7.3 out of 10 as of the time of this writing, with many intensely negative reviews criticizing the gameplay and poor PC optimization.
Critical reviews haven’t been collated yet, but they can best be described as polarizing. As Kotaku puts it, "You will either be on board with Shenmue 3’s meandering sloppiness or you’ll hate it. I can’t imagine a middle ground."
Eurogamer was a bit more charitable: "Shenmue 3 can look and play like a Dreamcast game. But it looks and plays like a Dreamcast game that's as off-kilter, maddening, magical and majestic as the original Shenmue games, both all-time classics."
GamesRadar went a step further than Kotaku and told non-fans of the series to just stay away. "Should you buy it in the mean-time while it’s full price? Fans should, newcomers should not. That’s the truth of it."
Our own opinion (which you can read about here) is much the same. "If you enjoyed the HD remasters of Shenmue & Shenmue 2, then you will likely enjoy Shenmue 3 as a faithful sequel. There isn't much to recommend for everyone else, as Shenmue 3 is a ponderous experience that exists more to waste player's time than tell a compelling story."