Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Warrants a Perfect 10 Rating in Gaming?

In light of the hype that surrounded MGSV's perfect rating I feel inclined to voice my opinion about what I think warrants a "10/10" rating in the world of gaming. Before I get into that though I want to explain that I can't recall in my career as a gaming critic ever having scored a game with a perfect numerical rating. I've just never found such a game, and if I were to be 100% honest I'd say that that game does not exist even with today's gaming technology advances in place. There are too many factors to consider when rating a game based on number values as well as particular in-game features that must be evaluated, and unless all those points are flawless then such a perfect score would be invalid. That's why I tend to avoid numerical ratings altogether.

While I've personally been amazed at what Konami has done with MGSV (and speechless at moments) I still cannot bring myself to saying that the game is perfect. It honestly isn't. Despite my urge to critique the knit picking things related to MGSV's build I will refrain from doing so, because I want to keep this article as generic as possible. This isn't only about MGSV. This article is about giving a game a perfect score, and whether or not the game deserves it. It's also about what a perfect game would have to be like to gain such a rating.

When it comes to the coveted, and often times sought after "Perfect 10" rating the critic in question has to take in account all of the vital aspects that would warrant such a rating, and even some of the less important features that might get overlooked due to a lack of a deeper scrutiny. Graphics, the soundtrack, the story, the gameplay, the need for patches, errors, and glitches among other things must be looked at in full. As a gaming journalist my reviews are personally a little more lenient in that respect, but I will mention what needs to be mentioned when disclosing my verdict, and non-numerical suggestion. As I said before my rating system isn't so precise that I'd place a definitive numerical score based on what I've experienced. I simply tell you if the game is worth buying, playing, or renting.

To score a game a "Perfect 10", if you were a journalist willing to go that route you'd have to account for the fluidity, and flawlessness of gameplay, the graphics applied, and the experience as a whole. In the way of gameplay there would (in my opinion) have to be no need for patches whatsoever. There would have to be an absence of day one patches, and further patches after launch. In such a rating the gameplay could have no glitches, errors, or problems that would hinder the gamer from getting the "Perfect 10" experience that was boasted about. Graphics on the other hand are relative. They could be photo-realistic, or pixelated, and still be considered good. However if certain aspects pertaining to the artistic/visual direction of a game's portrayal of anatomy is off, or not as realistic as the rest of the game elements are depicted this could be offsetting to a "Perfect 10" rating. Everything from the environments to the people, and creatures that reside therein must look like they are just as much a part of that reality as everything else in the game. For example, if you were to go balls to the wall for the photo-realistic look, but include some characters that were less visually perfected than other visual elements in the game then the game in question would fail to be perfect under those standards.

Aside from the aesthetics that are visuals, and the elements that are gameplay oriented a critic would also have to take in account the experience as a whole. This includes the nature, or quality of the playthrough, and whether or not that individual encountered anything that would hint at a less than perfected experience. Often times we as gamers encounter game breaking, and non-game breaking glitches that must be fixed by the developer. As such the game with a perfect 10 rating must be entirely void of such instances. The game in question must also have a flawless presentation in the form of storytelling, character development, and balance depending on the genre the game hails from. Storytelling is very important to games like Metal Gear, and unless that story resonates with every gamer on every level it wouldn't warrant a "Perfect 10" score. The same goes for characters that are the main focal point of the gaming experience at hand. Character development is crucial in some games, but not as much in others. This has to be taken in account on a case by case basis. If the game is as story oriented as MGSV then the character development must be wholly complimentary to the story being told. The characters must feel more real, and less like a simple fixture thrown in for sh*ts & giggles. As far as balance is concerned games like MKX, or any other fighting game must have a balance that keeps things fair, especially in the competitive portion of the game. Too often fighting game developers will create an amazing looking game with lots of amazing backstory related features, but the roster in said game will be so unbalanced that the online portion of the game will eventually be left behind by gamers. It will become a virtual ghost town.

There are a lot of unique genres in the gaming industry that each have different features that are not in other genres. As such taking in account that particular genre's unique elements is also crucial in determining it's end rating. This is of course where things get questionable. More so than with the more well known, and generic series/genres. Unlike some mainstream games like MGSV, or Call of Duty some genres are niche (or not widely accepted among the gaming community), and must be viewed as so. In instances like this the rating will mostly apply to gamers who like said genres. You'll have to seek out a gaming journalist whose focus has included such niche titles, and whom you can trust to disclose all information whether good or bad pertaining to said genre. A perfect niche game is likely harder to find due to it's obscure nature than a mainstream game like MGSV would be. You'll, in effect have a sort of acceptance issue with the critique, and rating due to the fact that niche games are not as popular, or sought after as other mainstream games. Regardless of this fact I still don't think there's a perfect niche game out there either. To score a "Perfect 10" in a niche game all of the previously mentioned game elements must be taken in account in accordance with what that particular genre is known for. The graphics, gameplay, and experience as a whole must be flawless. In saying that though one must realize that it's obscure nature will not make it a "Perfect 10" for everyone since not everyone is into that sort of gaming experience. The catch with most niche games is that their elements (usually being of the RPG kind) outnumber those of other mainstream games, and mostly do not impress everyone. As such things like battle systems, character customization options, extra menu offerings, and many other RPG related things must be accounted for. Thus making niche game perfection all the more rare.

Rewinding to a previously made point there's also one huge predominant factor that plays a role in gaming perfection ratings which in turn negates the "Perfect 10" score itself. This factor is that not everyone is going to like the same gaming experience that you are, on a general level. To them it could easily be a "1/10" while you thought it was the best thing you ever played. While this sort of rating system is less technical than the methods of critiquing that I mentioned before to some people it might still hold true. Not everyone is going to pick apart every little detail in a game, and base their rating (numerical, or not) on the game's entire collective experience. With that being said there's still technically no perfect game out there to this day. Whether you're one to rate games on a technical basis according to technical standards, or one to simply judge it on the fun factor the rating systems of games are a blurred line filled with shades of grey. What might be perfect to some may be much less so to others based on their individual rating scales. At the end of the day, you the gamer must pick sides as to who you trust in the gaming industry. You can brave the supposedly shark infested waters yourself, and believe what you find out on your own (which I highly recommend), or you can choose to believe critics like me who have their own visions as to what gaming perfection is. It is up to you!

8 comments:

  1. hi there. it's hot and close today. it seems like the cloudy weather has vanished. and i was lucky enough to bask in the sun for a good hour stark naked.

    as a matter of fact i used to run a blog doing rating things regarding video games. i dabbled in reviewing on a casual level out of curiosity. i did 20-odd games in total ranging from ps2 to pc games. i got bored in a couple months then quit altogether.
    i gave each game a rating and descriptions like graphics are bad but the playthrough is intuitive and friendly. it was fun and at the same time i found it much harder than i bargained for. although i didn't receive any comment or contact through the work, i think i'm in touch with reviewing games to some extent. so i read the article with great interest and glad to know your reasoning behind reviewing.

    the first thing that sprang to mind when reading this entry was backlash against a gaming publication,famitsu. the magazine's been out there before the NES came down the pike but they are notoriously known for giving famous games a unanimous 10s ( 4 critis usually rate a game).they are obviously corrupt and now no one gives a damn about their reviews.

    assuming you rate a game and play in full and you find it extremely fun like you can't put it down until you have to go to bed but it has petty failings and you feel the amusing part well offsets the shortcomings. still it is not eligible for the perfect 10?

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    1. Glad to hear the weather is better. There's nothing quite like sunny weather. We are currently enjoying some in Georgia, but rain is expected at some point.

      I had no idea you did reviews. If you really get into it on a dedicated level it can become more of a job than a pleasure. I've found it to be more like a job myself at times. As far as ratings go I don't think there's any one set way of doing it. I prefer to keep things simple, and to the point letting my readers know if it's worth playing or not.

      Not being of Japan I've not really followed Famitsu, but any publication that easily hands out "Perfect 10" scores is definitely biased. I personally do not believe there's any game out there worthy of such a score, especially on the technical level that some journalists grade games by. The closest there could be would be games from the retro era, but with today's more complex standards in place they still might not stack up to the perfect rating.

      To answer your final question I'd say that if a game had a fun factor as great as that where you just could not put it down it could be subjectively the perfect experience. However, on a technical level due to it's flaws it still would not warrant the "Perfect 10" rating. A game can be undeniably fun, and still be flawed to a point that it fails to be the perfect game, on a technical rating scale. Again, I personally do not think there is a "Perfect 10" game out there though. Game development isn't a precise, and perfected process, and there will always be issues keeping games from reaching perfect status. At the end of the day it doesn't always mean the game is bad. It simply means it isn't flawless.

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  2. i appreciate your reply. and thank you for answering my question. i agree with you down the lone.

    after running through your response i got curious to ask a couple more. i played zombiu and it was really fascinating. and i didn't run into any critical bugs. i feel the difficulty is just fine for avid gamers like me,most casual gamers feel it's outrageously hard,which i think they are justified in beefing about. difficulty can't be changed and once you get killed in the game,all weapons and ammo are gone and zombies are durable and nimble and they sometimes pounce on you in force. these challenging aspects drive me up the wall time to time,to be sure,but i was able to embrace the tough experiences. to return to my question, supposing you give the game a numerical rate the challenging aspects subtract points from the end rating?

    another question is,is there any commercial gaming magazine whose ratings are totally impartial?impartial enough to have the nerve to piss off well-known stadios giving their works an awful rating?

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    1. You're welcome. I appreciate you asking the questions.

      As far as an answer to the question regarding the challenging nature of games goes I don't think a proper challenge could be held against a game rating-wise if it were fairly applied. By "fairly" I mean if it were an intended part of the gaming experience. With that being said though if the challenge comes from flawed gameplay, and glitches then it definitely effects the rating.

      I have personally yet to read a gaming magazine publication that will disclose hard truths in a harsh manner. In a way I think some authors are like some Youtubers and some journalists in that they receive review material bound by demands of favoritism. While I wouldn't say gaming journalists are all sellouts whose opinions can be bought by publishers, and studios I feel that their need, and desire to obtain review material sometimes influences what they write to a certain degree. This of course does lead to some favorable bias. I've personally lost some PR relationships by simply telling the truth. I don't believe in lying to my readers as it would ruin my reputation, and my blog's reputation.

      As unfortunate as it is there aren't many gaming journalists who value telling the truth over guaranteeing themselves a supply of free review material. To be fair though there are some developers, studios, and PR who will still support gaming journalists who tell the truth without doing so in a rude manner.

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  3. thanks for replying quick and taking my questions seriously

    zombiu is undoubtedly meant for hardcore gamers. and the challenging nature lies exactly where it is intended. you have to inch your way all the way while scouring the room and corridor for enemies hidden or items because ammo is always scarce. this kind of gameplay suited me to a tee but most casual gamers definitely don't find it fun. in my view this game is the closest to the perfect 10 from systems of late. if you ever have an wiiu i'd like you to play it,above all.

    i seldom read gaming magazines but i can picture the situation gaming journalism is in.
    i'm proud of you being detached from corruption. i'm sure some PR tried to pay you off for good reviews. keep up your good work buddy!

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    1. You're welcome. I always take serious questions seriously.

      In that case I think ZombiU is an example of a game in which the challenge is a genuine part of the experience. It's difficulty should not count against it's journalistic rating. As long as you think it's fun, and rate it highly according to your own standards that's all that really matters. Journalistic reviews, and ratings are mostly meant to educate those who have not yet purchased, or played the game, but who are interested in learning more about it beforehand. Again trusting said sources of information lies with those individuals who are choosing to read the provided critiques for educational purposes. I personally think a hands-on experience will beat any review reading. Even if the gamer plays a demo it will help them to understand the game on a more personal level. Btw, I think the ZombiU game was recently re-released on the PS4, and Xbox One under the name "Zombi". I might give it try one day when I'm not obligated to review work.

      Thanks. I won't lie in saying that the temptation is not there, because I cannot afford all the games I want to review, but as you can see my "Future Reviews" listing has been slim this year. I won't beg for review material, or forsake my integrity just to get games to review. I'll definitely try to keep things up for as long as I can. I'm hoping next year my review count increases a bit as I feel I'm letting my readers down with less reviews.

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  4. same here. dishing out favorable reviews to get review material is clearly wrong.

    i don't know beans about how the ported zombiu but odds are its difficulty would have been watered down as it is generally seen as inappropriate. and you should look into it when you pick up the game.

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    1. I agree 100%

      I'm not sure about the difficulty as I've not played it yet, but I imagine there were some changes to the game. I'll let you know how it is if/when I pick it up to play.

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