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I've seen, read, and heard many types of game reviews. They sometimes review new games. They sometimes review old games. The delivery of such reviews can be of the angry type, the intelligent cynic type, the consumer type (aka regular gamer), or the fanboy rant type. One thing that has intrigued me the most with these reviews is how exactly reviewers score games, the most common being a number system. We’ve seen them all: Out of 5, Out of 10, out of 100 (optional lightsabers)… it goes on. There’s even a Letter system out there that carry the same magnitude as the numbering system. To be honest, in recent years the scoring system of game reviews has fallen under massive scrutiny and cynicism due to many review outlets dishing out “Hard to Get” Perfect scores like they’re Energy Cards in Pokémon Booster Packs (if they still do that). Are games truly deserving of those perfect scores even though they have errors in them? How many times have you played a game with a 10/10 and find a mistake in there? To me, I stand by the true definition of “perfection.” To be perfect means to have no error whatsoever and any reviewer giving a 10/10 is not doing their job. After all, they are critics and it is their job to find mistakes. To be a reviewer means to strive to find that game that is close to perfection. If one finds that perfect game, then they should quit because their job is done and they can go home happy knowing that they have found the be all and end all of games and should do no more reviews.  Think of how open this field would be with all the perfect scores we’ve seen.

Another thing I want to get at is consumer response to scores games receive. There is too much emphasis to the scores that games receive to the point where the actual review is not even read. What was so good about the game? What was so bad? What should I look out for? That number/letter won’t answer it. However I can understand why numbers would be there in the first place since it helps gamers know something at a glance. But why then do I dislike the number score system that most reviewers adopt? Simple: The overall score. The number of the overall score talks too much, more so than the paragraphs that gave birth to it in the first place. The numbering system also differs from outlet to outlet. Anything lower than a 7 is crap, 5 is average, 5 is a perfect score, C is average. To me that’s okay but do you see how schizophrenic it can be? Do you want that number to control your overall score? Look at Metacritic and Gamerankings. Can you really trust their overall score when the individual overall scores have different meanings?  An average 5 on EGM is an Average 7 on GameInformer.  An average of both comes out to 6 but if both had the same number the average would be the same as well. That’s one of the glaring issues of these review aggregate sites: they’re blind to definition.

What does this all have to do with my review blog “The Breakdown?” Many things. For starters, there is no overall score. My older entries (under the name “DPX Game Reviews” ) had overall scores but when I launched The Breakdown, I stopped doing that. Now I only leave the individual scores in place. But I must warn you to not take an average of all the individual scores to make an overall because what you get for the average does not necessarily reflect how I really feel about the game. And no adding up of the scores either. For the same reason as the average, simply adding for an overall (which would be out of 40) becomes broken once I add the online section if a game has online multiplayer (which becomes out of 50). Second, it will be impossible for any section of the game that I review to get a perfect score. Many review outlets say it’s hard to get a perfect score, but for my reviews it will be impossible. If I do give a perfect score, for any section, I’m not doing my job and I should probably quit talking about that section, of the review for that matter, or any other game. Super Mario Bros. a perfect game? It can be if its Jumping mechanic wasn’t so stiff. Metoes a perfect puzzle game? Get back to me when it has online (for the DS that is). You see, nothing will achieve that 10. Like the PAL territories, I will not fall into hype and I will find problems with games.

Now for the individual parts to show you how these reviews work. Consider this a refresher course if you will.

Title: Title here of course
Platform:  What console it’s out on. A * next to a platform mean that’s the one I own and reviewed
Players: Number of Players

Concept/Story: For concept, how close to original is the game. Does it bring something fresh to the table or take a current trend and expand on it? For story, is it engaging? Can I remember major events for years to come?

Graphics/Presentation: For graphics, are they any good? Does it lend itself to the story? Are there issues with clipping or jaggies? Are character models rendered well. Does it have style? Is it attractive? For presentation, this is mostly a menu screen thing. This is mostly if the menus are easy to navigate and go along with the theme of the game.

Music/Sound: Is the music catchy? Is it great to listen to? Does it go well with the setting and tone of the game? Are sounds unnatural? Do they sound cheap? Is the voice acting believable?

Gameplay/Ease of Control: Are the controls overly complicated? Are they simple to learn? Is it easy to do things on screen? Are they broken? Is it boring? Does it flow well?

Online: Can I find a match easily? Is the multiplayer enjoyable and fun? Is there something broken?  Is the DLC a rip-off?  I would like to point out that with patches, I will not change my opinion if the patch was released after the release of the game. However if I do get the game the patch I will make note of it.

Replay Value: High – You will play this game for a long time. Moderate – You’ll play this game for about a month or two or a few times through. Low – You quit playing before finishing the game.

Overall: THERE IS NO OVERALL SCORE!!

A quick note on when I decide to release a review. I will do a review when I finish the game’s single player campaign (or 90% of it) and play an hour or two of the game’s multiplayer. As for how current the game’s review is, I will take my time. I will pretty much review all the games that I own (including oldschool, indie, and retail). And a quick message to the Federal Trade Commission: I buy all my games and I don’t get them for free in case you bureaucratic fuckheads want to know.

I hope this gives you some insight on how I review games and why I do this the way I do it. I may do video supplements on the reviews in the future so stay tuned.

With that, I’m out. Keep on gaming.

Past Breakdown Entries
Okami</i>.....deadphoenx.deviantart.com/jour…
Mario Kart Wii</i>.....deadphoenx.deviantart.com/jour…
SoulCalibur IV</i>.....deadphoenx.deviantart.com/jour…
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift</i>.....deadphoenx.deviantart.com/jour…
No More Heroes</i>.....deadphoenx.deviantart.com/jour…
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  • Listening to: Random game music
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:iconlizardgenes:
LizardGenes Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2009
That's an interesting way of reviewing games. Dispensing with the final score allows each reader to see if the game will suit them personally, not to see if it will reach the Critic's Museum Of Super Games. I personally love a great story, even to the detriment of graphics: for example, I'd rather play an old LucasArts Point And Click than a new action game that sells on little else than graphics. With the way you're dealing with game scoring, each reader, who plays and judges a game on the weight of their own personal tastes, can see how each individual element stacks up.

I think the reason the gaming press, both in print and online, focuses so much on that final score is because many readers, (or should I call them shoppers?) pick up a magazine or click on a site for a quick summary. They don't often read the main body of the text at all. The press has adapted to this to sell more copies/generate more hits in order to please the money men. It's different with personal blogs which have smaller audiences of people who actually want to read every word. In that sense, you could even get away with dispensing the scores altogether, and just rely on getting your point across in what you write. Granted, the stuff I write and submit to my dA account has scores, but that's notmally because they're published elsewhere and thus have to conform to whatever conventions that site/journal requires of their writers.

But you've certainly given me something to think about.
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:icondeadphoenx:
DeadPhoenX Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2009   Digital Artist
To along with the first half of you second paragraph, I've been losing respect for GameInformer, a magazine that I've subscribed to and read since 2002. I grew suspicious of their No More Heroes review but I dismissed it as simply their opinion and nothing more (especially since reviews for the game were mixed). However, when they reviewed House of the Dead: Overkill, another great game, they hailed its humor, the same same type of humor that they panned when they reviewed No More Heroes, and gave it a good review. At that point I had trouble trusting their reviews anymore. It doesn't help the fact that their parent company is GameStop, the largest game-only retailer in America.
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:icondemon8eye:
DeMoN8EyE Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
^^; looks kinda hard to make a game review
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:icondeadphoenx:
DeadPhoenX Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2009   Digital Artist
It's relatively easy as long as you stay neutral to other aspects like console and genre. Not doing so only opens you up to fanboy bullshit that later on starts to cloud judgment and hamper you ability to critique well.
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:icondemon8eye:
DeMoN8EyE Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
^^; I guess
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