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Somewhere, somehow, someone exists who thinks that this is the pinnacle of film.
Perfection. Is. Impossible. So I understand when people disagree with perfect scores of 10/10 or 5/5 being given out to games or movies or really any medium of art. The truth is that there are going to be flaws in anything that you examine closely. Video games are especially susceptible to being flawed. Every five or six years consoles and controllers change; technology and programming make leaps forward. Video games are still finding their place in society, blossoming as a new medium of expression. That there are flawed video games should come as no surprise to anyone who has played their share of games. Even the best games have their own issues. Shadow of the Colossus and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are two of my favorite games and in my mind two of the best games ever made. But Shadow of the Colossus has camera issues and Ocarina of Time has issues from being one of the first 3D open-world console games. Despite these flaws, I would personally award each of these games a perfect ten.
Why would I give a game a perfect score if it has flaws? I have several answers to that question, but I am only going to discuss two of them here. First, it is just not practical to have a rating system in which the highest rating is impossible to achieve. Since nothing can be perfect, it remains for people to recognize when something is pretty darn close. While the problems I mentioned were very real and present in both Shadow and Ocarina, none were ones that ultimately mar the experience. In my opinion, they are small smudges on nearly perfect gaming experience. This leads me to my second answer. Reviews and criticism are based off of opinion. What might be a grievous fault to one reviewer might be a perfectly forgivable misstep to another. Reviewing is not a science: there is no right or wrong answer. There is only a reaction to the given product. In my mind, that is what makes Metacritic a great boon to those seeking additional input on a game before paying money to play a new title. Metacritic represents a summation of opinion that reflects the general reaction of both professional and casual reviewers. While reviewing might not be a science and based on opinion, a single review can carry clout and a whole lot of reviews generally reflect on the overall quality of the game.
Perhaps one of the best demonstrations of the relativity of video game reviews are the reactions to Uncharted 3’s professional review scores. Ground zero of the negative fallout surrounding Uncharted 3 was Simon Parkin’s review of Uncharted over at Eurogamer which gave the game an eight out of ten. That this was two points below a perfect score and left some readers feeling outraged that the game did not seem perfect to Mr. Parkin. This led to comments such as:
“I have not played this game[,] but I still have an unwavering opinion on how good it is.”
“I actually got bored about a 3rd of the way through this review because I thought I was meant to be reading a review about a game which is called Uncharted 3. Totally abysmal review, truly awful.”
“Even Edge gave it a 9, this site is a joke[, this] is the lowest review [score] so far.”
There are nearly six hundred comments on Mr. Parkin’s review and most of them are overwhelmingly negative. Many disagreed with his review without having even played the game themselves. This begs the question: what is the role of video game reviewing/criticism?
In my mind, the end goal of reviews and criticism is twofold. Primarily it is used to give the public the opinion of seasoned professionals regarding the various games that are released. These save the public money by giving recommendations on what games are worth the time and money investment. The secondary goal of video game reviews and criticism is to provide professional reactions to the game creators. This feedback potentially alters how future installments of beloved series are developed and what is put into planned releases. The criticism that came after the release of Dragon Age: Origins led to changes that were not well received in Dragon Age 2. BioWare responded with a statement saying that the gameplay would try to be a mix of both games to find a happy medium of the slower and more tactical play of Origins with the faster action of DA2.
Coming back to the issue of perfection; the truth is that there are no perfect games. There are no real perfect tens. There are only the games that are rise above the pack in each individual mind and heart. For whatever reason, there are some games that speak to us while others remain silent. You can put it down to artistry or a culmination of entertaining design choices, but in the end the games that we award tens to are deserving of them in our own minds. We are neither right nor wrong in our assertions. The scores stand for themselves on whatever grounds we make for them.
Nice blog, I'm glad I'm not the only one who saw 10/10 as not perfect but as darned close, because every game has is problems or just is not for everyone. While I tend to listen to reviews (GI mostly) If it's in a series or something I thought would be really good I might try it anyway. But yeah like indiejones said the best thing you can do is play the game then form your own opinion on it.
The only time I really look at review scores is if I don't really know much about a game and I'm not sure if I want to get it or not. However say if a game like Final Fantasy XIII-2 which is coming out soon got a low review of 5 I am still going to pick up the game because it is something i really want. Everyone's opinion is different. As long as I enjoy a game I dont care what anyone else rates it.
I give games and movies based on how much entertainment I get out of them.
I completely agree. It seems like lately every issue of GI has feedback from someone saying that a certain review score was too high/low. Just accept that not everyone has the same opinions, and don't comment on a game you haven't played.
I agree with your philosophy on the 10/10 score. I've never thought the reviewer was saying the game is "perfect", just that it fulfills all of there expectations in what they think this game should have and how it should play, and possibly that any minor flaws are very forgivable or don't pull you away from gameplay.