We started Middle of Nowhere Gaming with only four people on the team, and because of that we felt that a 20 point scale (10; 9.5; 9.0; etc.) was best for reviewing games. With only four of us, there would be no way for us to review enough games to have large groups of 8.0’s, 8.5’s, or 9.0’s. For almost six months the 20 point scale worked perfectly.
However, in April our team quadrupled in size. With over 20 editors all reviewing games at the same time, it was inevitable that we would have 15+ games all rated the exact same score. This isn’t necessarily a problem, except when you try and compare each of those games that received those scores to each other. How do you tell the difference between 10 games all rated 8.5? Which ones are the best of that group? Or are they all the exact same? The answer is no, they are not all the same.
We will now be using a 100 point scale (10; 9.9; 9.8; 9.7; etc.) to avoid issues like that in the future. Sure, there will still be games that get the same score, but now it will be at a much lower rate. If a game belongs in the 8.0’s on a 20 point scale, it can either only be an 8.0 or and 8.5. On a 100 point scale it can be anywhere from 8.0 to 8.9. That way, if a game is on the lower end of the 8.0s, it can be anywhere from 8.0 to 8.3. If it is one of the better 8.0 games, it can be anywhere from 8.6 to 8.8. The final decimal point, 8.9, will be reserved for games that are almost the next level, but not quite there.
10.0 – Masterpiece
A game that elevates the gaming genre. The game doesn’t need to be perfect in all aspects, but old systems should be implemented masterfully and new systems should substantially add to the game and the genre. The story, replayability, or overall gameplay has to be of such substantial value compared to the price of the game to warrant the score. A masterpiece should be a game that defines not only the year, but possibly the generation.
Examples: The Last of Us; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; Halo 2
9.0-9.9 – Amazing
These games are by no means perfect, but are so accessible or enjoyable that they could and should be recommended to everyone, both new and old to gaming. The story, replayability, or overall gameplay has to be a fantastic value. A game is amazing only if it falls short of a masterpiece (see above). Not only is this game great, but you actively recommend that everyone on the system should get it.
Examples: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception; Super Mario 3D World; Fez
8.0-8.9 – Great
A great game is exactly what it sounds like: great. The game has its (sometimes obvious) flaws, but the vast majority of the game is expertly executed. The flaws may be that it has underwhelming value, that the audience is too niche, or that the story is bland. A great game would be one you would recommend to a lot of people — while you may not recommend it to an everyday Joe (or possibly someone who doesn’t enjoy the genre), you think it exemplifies what makes a great game. While it is not the best game in your collection, it is a worthy selection that is well worth the time and money.
Examples: Infamous: Second Son; Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon; Titanfall
7.0-7.9 – Good
A good game is nothing to be ashamed about — it is worth the time and money and leaves you feeling all around satisfied. A good game has its flaws, but that shouldn’t stop someone from playing the title. A good game will deliver a story, replayability, or overall gameplay that is generally better than the value. Things that may land a game into the “Good” camp are a dry story, minor glitches and bugs, or barely significant control problems. Additionally, the game may not be very accessible, catering to only hardcore players of a genre. A good game is one that you would recommend to a people, but not before a better game in the genre. After playing the game, you won’t regret spending your time and money on it.
Examples: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc; Don’t Starve; NES Remix
6.0-6.9 – Okay
An okay game is one that just meets the bar. “Okay” games are not considered bad, they are merely flawed in sometimes significant ways. The game may be okay across the board, of the game may do most things well, but has one or two fundamental problems. After playing an okay game, you won’t feel like you wasted your money; however, you won’t feel like you got anything great for it either. You might recommend an okay game to a fan of the genre or series, or to people who have some money and are looking for a game (and they already have all the good ones).
Examples: The LEGO Movie Videogame; Mercenary Kings
5.0-5.9 – Mediocre
A mediocre game hardly meets the bar for what would be a good game. This game is still not a bad title, it is just so repetitive, unoriginal, or unremarkable that it brings very little to the table. If you were recommending a mediocre game, it would only be to a fan of the genre/series or as a rental. The game is just barely worth the value you played, if even that. However, this is a game that won’t be remembered in a negative sense, it most likely just will not be remembered.
Examples: Borderlands 2 (PSV); The Amazing Spiderman 2; Daylight
4.0-4.9 – Bad
A bad game has its issues, and they irk you the more you play. While the game is still fundamentally playable, there may be bugs, over-complication, terrible story, or something else that really takes away from your enjoyment of the video game. You may possibly recommend the game as a rental to fans of the series, but would otherwise warn others to stay away. The nature of the game makes you feel like you got got less than what you paid for.
Examples: Hyperdimension Neptunia: Producing Perfection; NBA Live 14
3.0-3.9 – Awful
An awful game is way more bad than it is good. While there is a shimmer of good here or there, the game (while otherwise playable) is so bland, boring, or repetitive that it feels like a chore more than fun. This is a game you wouldn’t recommend to anyone for obvious reasons — reasons that aren’t specific to you, but would be easily agreed upon by the majority of gamers. This is where games start to become more or less broken. The aspects of the game makes you feel like you got way less than what you paid for.
Examples: Starlight Inception; Deus Ex: The Fall; Basement Crawl
2.0-2.9 – Painful
A painful game should actually feel painful. While the game is able to be completed, the game should be more annoying than anything. A game is made painful due to bugs that affect gameplay, major control issues, or a story that is so bad that it detracts substantially from the experience. This is a game where you get substantially less than what you paid for and you would recommend to no one.
Examples: Fighter Within; Quantum Theory; Fast and Furious: Showdown
1.0-1.9 – Unbearable
An unbearable game is worse than painful–it is hardly even playable. This could be literal, or it could be so unpleasant that you can’t manage to pick the game up and actually continue. This game would still be coded (for the most part) correctly, but just not worth the time or effort.
Examples: The Simpsons Wrestling, London Taxi Rush Hour, Elf Bowling 1 & 2
0-0.9 – Disaster
This is a downright broken game. A game in this range is borderline (or actually) unplayable. For instance, a game that crashes frequently or won’t even boot. It takes a special kind of game to reach this low.
Examples: Extreme PaintBrawl
Review Scale Questions & Answers
How do you determine scores?
There is no exact science or objective method to review a game. By nature, any review is a personal opinion of the reviewer, based on their own preferences, play styles, and personality. However, every reviewer is an avid video gamer and knows to review not only from their standpoint, but also those of a fan of the series, those new to genre, or other relevant standpoints. When determining the score, we judge a game against all relevant elements, while keeping in mind what is important to the particular genre: a fantastic story is more important to an RPG than an arcade shooter. The elements we specifically look at are the story, gameplay, presentation (graphics, sound, and functionality), replayability, value, and whatever else a game manages to bring to the table.
How do you decide who gets to review what games?
Games are assigned on a first come, first serve basis — it’s really as simple as that. Games are reviewed by the people who have the money to get them on release and the time to play them. This way editors who don’t like franchises or genres won’t be forced to play, review, or buy games that they otherwise don’t care about. That said, we try to pull a large amount of reviewers with a variety of tastes. This way, a game genre will always be someone on the team’s cup of tea.
Sometimes one person gives a game a great review, but another editor says they didn’t like the game — who’s right?
Each editor has their own opinion on a game — the best way to determine who is “right” is to find the editor that your gaming style, history, and preference most relates with and take their opinion. Both are technically right, but no two gamers are the same and they all have their individual opinions.
Do you ever change your review scores if a game is improved after its release?
At this time, we only deliver reviews from the game’s package at the time of review. Based on the game’s availability or whether we are get a review copy, this may or may not be on the game’s release. Therefore, any review should be viewed from the time the article was written.
It says that you got a review copy of the game? Does this impact the score? Will a free game get a higher score than one you have to pay for?
Not to worry, we don’t let review copies influence our opinion about games we review. When we review each title, we keep in mind what the consumer would pay in order to determine what the score is. A $60 title needs to offer more value across the board than a $10 title. All reviews keep the reader in mind, and whether we would recommend you spend your hard earned money on it.