Everywhere I look I see 8/10. It’s the single most boring and easiest score to give. A 9 is essential and special, a 7 has issues, and anything 6 and below will be avoided like the plague. I score games out of 5 (5 is excellent, 4 is strong, 3 is for fans of the genre, 2 is mediocre, and 1 is a disaster). I used to score out of three! (buy it, try it, avoid it). I currently don’t see a use for a ten point scale and find the 8.9 etc on some sites a ludicrously complex way to give a slightly different 8.
Obviously some games should be 8s. Our own Matthew Owen gave Tacoma an 8.5 and I take from his review that the experience was splendid, but he wanted more of it. That sounds better than a 7 on creative merit, but lacking enough content to earn that solid 9 or *gasp, higher! (Love ya Matt).
And yes I realize the hilarious irony that my 4/5s will be converted to 8/10 by metacritic.
Here are some games that received an 8 (or up to 8.9) on the big two gaming sites:
- Splatoon 2
- FFXII zodiac age
- Diablo 3
- Breath of the wild Master Trials
- Crash n.sane
- Ever Oasis
- ESO morrowind
- Walking Dead New Frontier from the Gallows
- Splatoon 2 (both sites)
- FFXIV stormblod
- Cities Skyline Mass Transit
- Tekken 7
- Endless Space 2
- COD Black Ops 3 Zombies Chronicles
- Little nightmares
- DQ heroes 2
- Puyo Puyo Tetris
- Warhammer 40k Dawn of War 2
- Mr shifty
- MLB the show 17
- For Honor
- Sniper elite 4
- Resident evil 7
- Yakuza 0
- Killing floor 2
- I Expect You to Die
- Watch Dogs 2
- DQ builders
- Dishonored 2
Reviews are opinions of course, although I’d hardly call an 8 an opinion. In my opinion there is a huge variety of quality on this list.
Dishonored is a stunning example of stealth action. It has a weak narrative in between levels, but when a game is this good at environmental storytelling, you don’t need anything more but simple cutscenes. The excellent gameplay is a nothing short of a 9. I gave it a 3/3 ‘buy it’ in my review here.
Hitman: Giant Bomb’s GOTY, a stealth game that is actually fun to get caught, and a game that makes episodic releases and DLC elusive targets seem like the greatest ideas in gaming, should be saved from the bland mediocrity of an 8. It’s a beautiful unique flower that needs to shine brighter than the pack of every other AAA game with enough production values to garner that same old score.
Mr Shifty has a few great ideas but is not great itself. It gets bogged down in repetition and lacks the compelling style and narrative of its inspiration: Hotline Miami. I gave it a 3/5 as the limited scope is fun while it lasts, and maybe someone will recognize it as being right up their alley.
Crash N.Sane Trilogy and FFXV are games that look great but have enough flaws that they shouldn’t be in the same category as Splatoon 2, Yakuza 0, or Overcooked to name a few. If a gamer had enough money to purchase just one of the games I mentioned, I would hate for them to think FFXV is as good as Overcooked. You can argue about apples to oranges or subjectivity but FFXV is obviously flawed while Overcooked is a taught masterpiece.
What’s my point?
I can’t tell other people how to review games, and an 8 is a score that easily describes just about every game in existence (E.T, cultural landmark with flaws, 8/10).
But an 8 doesn’t tell me enough about a game to lump so many titles into one designation (no matter how many damn decimal points you have). A 9 or 10 is special, a 7 has flaws, an 8 is the equation you get when adding up review scores with a math formula when they should be scored on feeling.
A beautiful, polished, but soul-less AAA game shouldn’t get an 8, it should get knocked down to a 7 or less for not being FUN. We should also reward games that are unique and FUN with a recognizably great 9 or 10 even if they lack story or some other ticky-tack demerits that knock it down to an 8.
Perhaps the problem is that game development has reached a high enough technical level that anything below an 8 for most projects is an insult. But I play games to have fun, not admire anti-aliasing.
My ultimate point might be that review scores are meaningless without context, and you should read the content before skipping to the bottom for the shiny number, but even I can’t help myself from doing that. Heck, I wrote 700+ words on review scores, so they must be meaningful to me.
Criticize my thoughts below, but please don’t give them an 8/10.