Reviewing video games can be an arduous task – where both fact and opinion clash in trying to present how someone perceives a title. Like anything else available for critique, video games have a sea of fans and critics alike, who rarely agree on a universal opinion.
Over the past 40 years, review scales have rightfully come under scrutiny for their lopsided values or free-wheeling social media abuse. IGN.com is notorious for their tilted review scale – where a 5 is listed as mediocre. A 5/10 can’t be mediocre – 5 is quite literally the average between 0 and 10. GameSpot.com shares the same crimes.
Worse are public forums that can be abused for no reason other than spite. Hearing a game has been ‘review bombed’ for something it might not have even done are monthly occurrences in the modern social media-driven environment.
When it comes to GameRaveTV and Game-Rave.com, I try my hardest to be as impartial and fair to every game I play. More importantly I try to play any biases against the subject matter to see if it changes my perspective. A perfect example is that I don’t really care for baseball games as I feel like they take too long. After playing Bases Loaded 96 however, I found myself engaged in the manager aspects of the game – something I’d never appreciated before.
The PlayStation library finds itself mostly removed from daily public life. Unless one is purchasing a digital copy of the game through a current system, any money exchanged is through the secondary markets. Developers and publishers are not affected by review scores for these games; web-sites are not dependent on them for ad revenue. This freedom from humanity’s need to survive allows for a more complete dive into a game’s true existential value and merits.
Every game I review is given the exact same treatment and approach. They start at the ‘Average’ 5 / 10 and bounce up and down as I go through them. Does the game treat the player respectfully? Are unlockable items properly awarded? How does this look based on the hardware it’s on? These questions along with the usual suspects including graphics, audio, control and more are all factored into the final report.
What’s also nice is that opinions can change over time for better or worse. Every so often a game will be re-reviewed to make sure I got it right the first time. And if I didn’t, I admit it and re-score the game, like I did with The Crow: City of Angels.
So to help illustrate how scores work here I’ve provided my review scale and the criteria behind the score. There is obviously some leeway here and there but, otherwise this is how I roll.
The Game-Rave Review Scale
10 / 10: LEGENDARY
A game that stands the test of time, no matter how many years after release nor how many times someone plays it. A legendary title is still as awe inspiring as the first time it was played. Every facet or close to every facet of it surpasses anything else in its class.
Examples: NASCAR Rumble
9 / 10: EXCELLENT
Years after playing this game people are still referencing it in discussions, still recommending it to friends and the mere thought of a remaster sends them into a joyous dance. There may be nit-picky angles to the game’s finer points, but it’s still top tier entertainment.
Examples: Builder’s Block
8 / 10: GREAT
A fantastic title that either breaks new ground or continues an on-going series in every right direction. There may have been something the player felt missing, or a single part that could have been a little bit better, but the overall package is worthy of full retail purchase.
Examples: Toy Story 2: Buzzlightyear to the Rescue, In The Hunt
7 / 10: SOLID
The game where you know you wouldn’t buy it on launch day, but feel it worthy if just a few bucks less. A solid game delivers fun, enjoyable content, but nothing the player really hasn’t seen before. A Solid rating for a new IP would show that while not an instant classic, it’s on stable footing worthy of a successor game or series. A title the curious gamer would try from word-of-mouth recommendations. It’s here where the permanent collection begins for a gamer’s library.
Examples: Knockout Kings, Street Fighter: The Movie
6 / 10: GOOD
Here’s a game that’s fun and enjoyable, but you would never see it in any Top 10 ‘Off All Time’ lists. A good game is one that checks all the right boxes when it comes to graphics, sound, and gameplay but never really pushes the envelope. The player has a fun time with it, but it would be one of the first titles they would think about trading in / selling off if funds were needed.
Examples: Spider-Man 2 Enter: Electro, Novastorm
5 / 10: AVERAGE
Ah, absolute middle ground. The average game is one where it feels like standards were met, but not surpassed. Or, it may excel at one thing and flub another, balancing out the score. A player enjoyed the game for sure, but may have felt it not worth the full price of admission. Average games are the playground of the thrifty gamer – gobbling up piles of average games from the discount bins at game stores. Ironically, the marked down price can turn an average game in to a higher ranked score based on perceived game play value.
Examples: Blue’s Clues: Blue’s Big Musical, Brain Dead 13
4 / 10: UPSETTING
There is a thick, deep line drawn between the Upsetting Games and the Average Games. Average games have merit, just not an extraordinary amount. The Upsetting game is where you can tell things were rushed, or not well thought-out. Typical crimes include poor controls, visuals that were clearly not optimized, and / or music and sound effects that feel canned. It’s a title that you find yourself struggling to finish, only to do so and wonder if it was really worth it. This is the playground of the ‘guilty pleasure’ games.
Examples: The Crow: City of Lost Angels, Total Eclipse Turbo
3 / 10: LAUGHABLE
This is where everything begins to fall apart, but in a twisted positive way. The laughable game is one where there are clearly problems, usually in the visuals, but you no longer care it’s a terrible game. You need to see how far down this disaster hole this rabbit goes. Laughable games are the ones you finish just to say you did it, and then spend hours over beverages making fun of just how bad it really got.
Examples: Criticom, Jupiter Strike
2 / 10: MISERABLE
The miserable game is no laughing matter. This is the turning point in realizing how much of a disaster it really is. Nothing on the platter comes even close to feeling like effort was put into it, the pacing is all wrong, there are game breaking bugs (that can be avoided), and there is almost instantly something that jumps out at you as being unbelievable in its execution. The miserable game is one you would see brand new for a $1 shipped and still think about spending that dollar.
Examples: Alone in the Dark 2: One Eye’d Jack’s Revenge
1 / 10: BROKEN
The bottom of the barrel – the game that makes the player openly question the development team, the publisher, and the entity than sold it to him. A broken game is an extremely rare beast where there is no redeeming quality in any way, shape, or form. Such titles have permanent residences on “Worst Games of All Times” lists not because of an opinion, but because of absolute facts and provable failures.
Examples: None currently.
0 / 10: UNRATED
Jason hasn’t played through it yet. But he will….oh yes he will.