In Defense of the Imperfect 10 - GIJoe Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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In Defense of the Imperfect 10



Review scores almost always generate controversy...or at least mild outrage. Whether a reviewer heaps hate on your favorite franchise (probably Sonic), or loves a game you think is unplayable, at some point you have probably taken issue with a review score. However, there is one number on our scale that has proven more controversial than all the rest: 10.

The argument goes something like this: No game should ever score a 10, because that number represents an abstract notion of video game perfection that no earthly game could ever achieve. No game is absolutely flawless, and therefore, no game can ever rightfully be assigned a 10.

That's total B.S.

I agree that no game is perfect – but perfection isn't the point. No one expects perfection in any form of entertainment. Does the Academy only give Best Picture to perfect movies? Is the Hugo award only bestowed upon perfect science fiction? Of course not...perfection is impossible to assess, especially when it comes to subjective media like literature, film, art, etc. Games aren't any different in that respect.



I've awarded three 10s in my years of reviewing with Game Informer: God of War, BioShock, and Metal Gear Solid 4. All three of those games – each adored by critics and consumers alike – had problems. If you look hard enough, you can always find a reason to say that a game doesn't deserve a 10. God of War had too many button-press sequences. BioShock's ending was a letdown. Metal Gear's cutscenes were too long.

But do you remember how awesome those games were? The first time the Hydra attacked Kratos? Would you kindly? The return to Shadow Moses? Those weren't just mechanically assembled pieces of a commercial product...they were artfully executed moments that defined and changed the way I thought about video games. At the moment they happened, I thought "Wow...this is the coolest thing I have ever seen." What more could you ask for? If you don't think a game full of those moments deserves a 10, maybe you don't like games as much as you think you do.

As a reviewer, it is tempting overweigh the flaws, to rationalize yourself off the edge. A 9.75 is still a fantastic score, and will receive far less scrutiny and raise fewer eyebrows. But then, who are you really serving? It's disingenuous to your readers, who are presumably reading your review because they care (on some small level, at least) what you truly think. It's not fair to the developer, who should be given proper credit for creating such an amazing game. Also, it's not fair to yourself, because you don't want to think back and regret that time you didn't go with your gut.

Of course, a lot of thought  goes into this process; just because a 10 is under consideration doesn't mean it should automatically be bestowed. However, to withhold a 10 because of minor flaws (yes, imperfections!) is ridiculous. Sometimes a game is so mind-blowing, so immersive, and so fun that it simply deserves the highest possible praise you can give it. That's what a 10 is for, and it wouldn't be a part of the scoring system if it weren't meant to be used.

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