A point of contention among many people is a rating system in video game reviews. I for one am no exception. Though words are powerful, sometimes meaning can be lost without affliction. Elocution or a clear command of the language, sentence structure and word choice, all key parts to a good review or piece of text. Sadly my command of the English language goes to just under a college-level and often find myself looking at things as trivial. I just happen to know big words to make me sound smart.
Atop this, adding a new paragraph every heading to say if I liked something or not seems like more work. It sound and definitely is lazy but there are only so many hours a day. As such I go with what I know – numbers. I was bad at maths but everyone knows if you set something a numerical value, it can be followed easily. As such ‘Out of 10’ is the method I use, but even then, that is subjective.
I wish to convey my ideas of “The Perfect Game”. As such, we will break down each segment of a typical review from myself and describe a 1 and describe a 10. Some of these will be fairly obvious and intrinsically linked whereas others will be subjective. So let us begin.
The specifications are not that important to many reviews. I would rather give you a look at my system to compare to your own than not give any information at all. The thing about the PC gaming space is, no 2 systems are identical. Though they may have the same hard and software, that does not make them identical.
These machines are similar. The Silicone Lottery and chip binning play a part in this, as does batch numbers and manufacturer. You may have a chip on the CPU/GPU that just met the criteria, you may have gotten a poor application of thermal interface material causing higher heat output. Without voiding some warranties, there is very little than can be done to mitigate this. You can cool your room, get a better cooler, ramp up your fans, but that’s about it.
Though not a baseline, if your system is the same as mine, you can expect similar results. There will always be variance up and down the board. I give you my system specifications and sometimes the games, to let you know where I sit in relation to the developers recommendation. In turn this lets you see how I performed and should let you gauge how you performed. I will be adding any benchamarks I can under the specs heading though.
In an ideal world, all games would be a 10. This is not an ideal world. Performance of a game can link to story and gameplay scores, example: If the games performance stops me from playing the game? I may not be able to mark the story or gameplay. If I cannot launch the game due to a myriad of issues that I and others are having, I can’t score these things.
In the most extreme cases, I wouldn’t rate this game period. I’d do an opinion piece. Most games I play, expect at least a 5. This score can only get lower if the game had to be patched to be playable, but I would score it twice. I always play on the most recent patch, both game and drivers. If I had to revert I would say. Anything lower than a 5 that is not double scored, would have reasoning behind it under the scores in a separate heading.
To rate a game’s performance 10, now that’s subjective. For me, a 10 is: a game that holds a solid framerate over 60 (or 144 on older titles) and only dips in pre-rendered cutscenes and does not crash, freeze or hang.
I play all my games on high with motion blur off. I achieve over 60fps in most cases so motion blur is wasted on me. Older titles I may spring for ultra but all games will be played at 1080p and only benchmarked at 4K.
Story is a fun one. What I interpret as a 10, others may call a cliché. What I call a 1, you may call a masterpiece. Here is an example of a 1 for me.
Any game in the Dark Souls franchise. Hold the pitchforks for I have a reason. I love a good story, I can also love a good premise. I dislike having to look for the story. Dark Souls hides much of its story in items and lore. That being said, it does not mean the premise isn’t good. Being a lone soldier fighting impossible odds to reignite a fire to stop the world ending, it’s good, but a little cliché. I like movies as much as I love video games, a lone soldier versus impossible odds? I don’t suppose you’ve heard of 80’s Action Sci-Fi.
For me, a 10 is a lasting story. Though it may be a cliché premise, how that premise plays out in the story is how well it works. Take The Darkness for example, boil it down and it’s a supernatural, first-person shooter. Reduce it to a single word? Revenge. Boring. How that particular reduction is told though, it’s good. Never actually completed it, but from what I played, there is plenty to unpack.
When a story can only be told as a premise though, I will grade it on how unique that premise is. At that point, gameplay becomes a factor to consider, just see BPM. Though all aspects of that game were not very original, the combination was. Though there was room for improvement, what was offered at launch was enough. That’s all that matters, DLC and patch updates be damned.
Least subjective is gameplay. Shocker really but hear me out. Assassin’s Creed is built on core mechanics. Dark Souls is built on core mechanics. Only when the game comes away from these core mechanics, is it a problem. If the next Assassin’s Creed game went back to how it was with the first or second instalment, then it could be a 10. Due to how much as been stripped in subsequent games, you could get more mechanically than in the last installment.
On the other side of this coin, what is the next Assassin’s Creed game was essentially a Far Cry game under the guise of an Assassin’s Creed game? Well that’s not bad, if you like Far Cry. However, progression -as alluded to earlier- can come with regression, but, too much progression too soon can also cause issue. If the latest instalment of a new game is not similar enough to my previous experience with that IP then gameplay can suffer.
If a new game comes out with a premise I know and enjoy, but the gameplay does nothing to aid the progression of the story or makes no sense to the overall story, I cannot enjoy that gameplay.
At the same time if the gameplay between subsequent releases of a series is the same but now with a few new additions, how do the new additions aid the experience. Small tweaks between these can cause issue too. Though not meant in a gaming stance, Newton’s third law feels adequate. A good example being in my Assassin’s Creed II review: the free-running being far superior but the AI overcorrecting my inputs to my detriment.
In essence, a 10 would be Assassin’s Creed II without the overcorrecting and a 1 being Assassin’s Creed if it became Far Cry.
Here we are, at the end where I would sum everything up. I have somehow managed to review my review structure… somehow. Anyway, I will leave you with a table of a game -that I have made up- with an overall of 1. Who knows, maybe in the future we will see the coanted 10 out of 10.
The Story was uninspired and done too death at this point. Void of any and all emotional depth and with no urgency in anything. Characters were boring and one note, if they died they certainly were not missed.
Performance was a swing and a miss. For the amount of time I was able to play, I spent that time 10 fold just trying to get the game to work again. Bugs and glitches ruined all emersion as well as the extremely unstable framerate that saw me in the single digits more times than I could count. This game was still essentially in the Alpha stage, yet I paid full RRP.
How is it, you can launch a game, market it as an RPG, but have no RPG mechanics in anyway? There are no stats, no upgrades, no talents and not even a barter system. This is a basic first-person shooter and its linear. There is no hub area or open world to speak of. It’s a shooting gallery between cutscenes that in their own rights, would aid the game is they were removed.