10 out of 10 – Justified, Overzealous or Impossible?

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A okay Every now and then a title comes about that the collective gaming press goes crazy for, upon which granting it universal acclaim and scoring the game a rare 10 out of 10. End of story? Hardly. There seems to be a feeling in much of the gaming community that one cannot legitimately score any game a 10 out of 10 for, as some believe, that endows some sense of perfection on the game, and (you know, as we humans have been conditioned to believe) nothing is perfect. We’ll call the people who believe this the “impossible bunch”. Then there is the feeling that reviewers get caught up in the hype train, which blinds them to the evident flaws of a game, and, resultantly, inflate the game’s true worth. This lot will be dubbed the “overzealous bunch”. Lastly, there are those who think that amazing games, and not play-play-oh-this-is-fun-games, the serious gaming achievements deserve that rare 10 out of 10. We’ll call these believers the “justified bunch”. I’ll come clean right now: you can place me squarely in the “justified bunch”.

Before going into why I think one can legitimately score a game 10 out of 10, I will concede that the “general” review system needs an overhaul. Whether that overhaul is replacing the numerical system with a different system as 1UP did when it introduced its letters system, or reconsidering the criteria by which games are rated on (if all AAA games have stellar graphics, why do we still harp on about graphics?), something needs to be done. The reason I believe this is that gaming should no longer be reviewed primarily off of technical achievement, but rather that we may be hitting the maturation that the film industry hit where people stopped basing most of the criticism of the film on how good it looked to how good it is (because, truth be told, most high budget dramatic films without extensive CGI look equally good).

image Now that I have that way, way, way out of the way, let me try “justify” why I am of the “justified bunch”. Some games really are in a league of their own. Not by accident, but by focused dedication and raw talent other developers lack or have yet to harness. So one cannot possibly propose that the ceiling for a great game be a, oh, I don’t know, 9.5/10. Why? Well, what do you score a very good game that would have otherwise gotten that 9.5/10 that this new ceiling is at? Shift it down, some would propose. See, this would have the roll on effect of having to shift everything relatively down, and, as a matter of habit, will throw people’s expectations of what a certain score represents. Call me lazy, but I doubt I’ll perceive a game that used to score an 8 as the same game when scoring a 6. Also, some of the “impossible bunch” have proposed we score games out of a higher number – 100 maybe. Yet, the issue here is when numbers becoming really high, they lack meaning. It’s as Stalin once said: “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” So, nah, we cannot even consider going that route.

See, the real reason certain games score 10 out of 10 is because they achieve that which very good games cannot. This is not to say that they are without flaws – because there is likely to be a flaw or glitch here and there – but the surplus of “oh my word, this is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced” out ways those flaws. That which they achieve may be a technical achievement that changes the way in which we play a specific genre or perceive a specific genre on a specific console. Yet, I feel it is something else: feeling and emotions. The reason why, say GTAIV, with the tons of slight technical glitches it has is in the opinion of many – as is mine – a 10 out of 10 game lies in the nuances and in how you connect to your character. It is about the aftertaste – the ability to generate discussion and reverence far beyond the scope of the game. 10 out of 10 games tend to sell the best because, well, honestly, they tend to be the best. Yes, the hype train has hit us all before, but that’s just human – it’s what gets you in the door. Whether you’re talking about it years after is what officialises it.

So, the fact is, the only reason games are scored 10 out of 10 and should be scored 10 out of 10 is that they are amazing achievements that stand head and shoulders over the rest, and, as a community of people who write about this, we must bring attention to these games. How else but by “loosely” calling them perfect? So I ask the “overzealous bunch” and the “impossible bunch”, what would you propose gaming press do to attract attention to amazing games without giving them what you consider a ridiculously high score?

Last Updated: May 15, 2008

  • Banana hammock

    While i appreciate your argument, i don’t agree with it. I think scoring out of 100 is the way to go as it allows for more scope. Let’s look at the last few games that got 10/10 and i’ll include MGS4 as i saw an article yesterday giving it 10/10.

    Halo3, GTA4, MGS4. All 10/10 and NONE of them groundbreaking as they are just improvements on their own games which we’ve seen before. Sorry but as good as they are they are not transforming gaming in any way. You also forgot the group who believe that reviewers give 10/10 because if they want to get a ton of swag again next time they better give 10/10 else MS or Sony will overlook them.

    The truth is that GTA4 is not all that different to San Andreas and MGS4 will not be all that different from MGS2, they will be better but the originality factor is gone. If you want to score the franchise as a whole; well that’s another story.

  • They dont deserve 10. As I said before.. the reviews get caught in the hype along with the rest of the crowd and then like the game and are so happy to be playing they look past the mistakes

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  • CAPTAIN BEER

    i agree with banana, but god of war 3 is going to be insane,bordering on groundbreaking… well just have to wait and see 😈

  • PillsburyDeeBoy

    Hey. I totally ignored the reviewers who give 10 out of 10 in pursuit of swag and because of pressure from their financial teams because they lack spine and backbone and don’t deserve to be associated with this industry.
    As for whether or not a 10 out of 10 game must, by definition, be wholly different from its predecessors, you don’t actually propose why. So, well, why? I mean, incremental amendments that further enhance an experience cannot be ignored, and even though the game itself may not be wholly different, ground breaking does not equate to life changing. Oh, you still haven’t proposed how to bring attention to those games that are head and shoulders above the rest…

  • PillsburyDeeBoy

    I totally agreed with you that reviewers get caught up in the hype, too, and overlook flaws. That’s why I said then, as I will again, a lot of perspective comes from looking at the game retroactively. People get caught up in hype. It’s human. Yet, we must not forget how hype can also be a devilsend if a not-so-great game comes along. Perfect Dark Zero, anybody?

  • PillsburyDeeBoy

    Also, seriously, how does one justify a 91 out of 100, or a 76 out of 100 instead of just giving it a 9/10 or 7.5/10? Do you have some checklist for every functionality? I mean, what is the difference between 93 and a 92?

    There’s a reason why reviewers keep their score out of 10, I believe, otherwise most of them would not be doing it.

  • Banana hammock

    Doing it out of 100 gives you the ability to differentiate between 2 games that are almost as good as each other. Maybe you think that COD4 is a 7 and WarHawk is a 7 but you actually prefer COD4 a little. So what do you do? Give WarHawk a 6? Nope, you give COD4 71 and WarHawk a 70 depending on how much better you feel it is.

    You can also say, hey GTA4 is ALMOST perfect, so i’ll start at 100 and take off 2 points for the framerate issues, and i’ll take off 2 points for mild repetitiveness etc, then you end up with 96/100.

    I think one of the problems with scoring is that we don’t use it properly: 5 is an average game, 7 is a good game, 9 is an AMAZING game etc. But most people feel that 7 is the average point which pushes the scores stupidly high.

  • I haven’t seen anything on GOW 3 except a logo?

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  • bokka1

    I think that people are under the impression that a 10/10 game is perfect which clearly is not the case. Take a movie that gets 10/10 or 5 stars, that movie is not perfect but something lets it stand out from the rest of the bunch.

  • Banana hammock

    Well giving a game 90 or higher is the differentiating factor. Average games should get a 5/10 not a 7 as most reviewers do. I mean some people absolutely slated Lair and still ended up giving it a 6/10. Sorry but to me that means it’s above average as anyone with simple maths will tell you 5/10 is the mid point. Should a game be totally new to get 100%, i say yes. Can a game get 99% and lose only a single point because it’s not original? again i say Yes.

  • baba

    It is probably true that reviewers get caught in the hype, but I think the big reason comes down to: Do you like the game, or not. GTA is not everybody’s cup of tea, so give it to a reviewer that doesn’t like sandbox games and he’ll probably score it 9/10 because, after all, it is a good game. But if that reviewer think that Halo is the cats’ whiskers, he’ll probably score it 10/10 – despite some of its flaws.

    I agree to the fact that 10/10 is not perfection – it just depends on your taste. But it does tell me that when a game scores 10 it is absolutely worth it to pick it up.

  • baba

    I don’t agree, see my point somewhere below. Another reviewer might like Warhawk more, so what now? Does he give Warhawk 71 and COD4 70?

    If you score both 7/10, you know they are both rather good games, but I’ll prefer COD because it is more in the genre that I play.

  • Banana hammock

    But that’s the whole point of my system, is that each person can prefer and make it known. Reviewers don’t have to agree at all. With your system the guy thinks WarHawk is better but rates them the same, that doesn’t make any sense. My way they are both rated as good (70 being good), but he prefers WarHawk *slightly*

  • PillsburyDeeBoy

    You have hit the nail right on its head. This is precisely what it is I propose. That is the very argument I have put forward.

  • When listening to podcasts from IGN and 1up I have heard them say many times that for them a 10 is not perfect, it just means that the games has exceeded all expectations.

  • Gazza ZA

    Quite simply reviews come down to personal experience combined with what the reviewer knows, as a gamer he should expect. Personaly I really like the lettering system of EGM’s and tend to stay away from the #/10 and percentages.as for the argument of “only ground breaking, life changing games should get 10/10 or a+, thats pretty much bullshit lets be serious here every game is gonna be flawed in some way or another, theres no such thing as a perfect game, its really just the game thats best in show at that moment.

  • What ever happened to the good old percentage scores ?

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