i dont understand how a game like Proteus can get a meta score of 80 when all there is to look at is the colorful arty landscape and a game like Shelter where it has an arty landscape AND a unique objective, yet its the game with the score of 68.
If I'm uncertain about a Metacritic score, I'll scroll through and read some of the more positive reviews to see what they say about a game. Then again, if the scores are almost universally poor, there's usually a good reason.
Everyone should take any review boiled down to a number with a grain of salt.
A number doesn't tell you why the game is good or bad... Fallout New Vegas got a poor score because it shipped with bugs (despite the fact skyrim had just as many if not more bugs but somehow scored much higher). Even if the game is buggy, it can be patched/fixed... but if a game is flat out bad (horrible game design, shoddy controls etc) it's much less likely to be fixed.
Very few people can write a totally unbiased review. I usually will read some of the top reviews to get an idea of what's good about it, and then I read a few of the bad reviews to get an idea of what's bad about it. Then I form my own opinion (maybe after watching some LP videos or trailers, or demo or whatever else is available).
Sometimes I play a game with a high metacritic score and I hate it... sometimes I play a game with a poor metacritic score and I enjoy it....
Lately the worst metacritic scored game I enjoyed was Port Royale 3 (though there are indeed some annoying moments)... GTA 4 is probably the highest metacritic scored game that I didn't like... at least the first one that comes to mind.
The worst thing about metacritic is that if you don't give your game a numeric score in your review, THEY ASSIGN ONE FOR YOU. They read the review and think "yeah, that's about a 75 I think" or whatever.
Are you referring to user scores or professional? I honestly think professional scores are a decent indication. It isn't just one site like IGN, it's a combination of many scores from all sorts of different websites. Gives you a decent indication of how a game is.
User scores? Usually it's the old scale of "1 or 10" because either people love the game and give it a 10 or are pissed off and give the game a 1, a la Diablo 3. Was Diablo 3 a great game? No, it had many faults. Should someone give it a score of 1? Hell no... I mean I could even understand 4 ( IMO it was more 6-7 after I played it a month ) but a 1? That's just dumb.
You can buy a $500 console and a $500 computer and have two crap machines, or you can spend $1000 building your own computer and have the best of both worlds.