[Sticky] The Gaming Review System - Explained
Our gaming reviews have five subsections, but some of these might be a bit vague and confusing for some. So here is an explanation for each subscore, and how the scoring system works. There are five subsections, and each one has a maximum of 20 points. The overall score is the sum of each subsection. The highest possible score is 100.
If you didn't know, we only review PC games, and we aren't given games for free several months early like other sites, which is why our reviews are often later than most, and it's why they are the least biased game reviews. Nobody pays us to score their games favorably.
- Presentation: This section was created essentially because of Games for Windows Live, uPlay, and Battlefield 3 which requires both Origin (at the time it was terrible) and Battlelog which at the time ruined the experience and made the game unplayable at times. So lots of things are covered here, such as software requirements like those, options/configuration/customization of UI, gameplay, graphics, and sound. General stability and bugginess, and of course optimization which also includes loading times. These are immediate things that are presented when first playing a game. Some of the best examples of games that excel here are Croteam games (Serious Sam series, The Talos Principle), ArmA 3, Neverwinter Nights series.
- Story: This one is self-explanatory. The quality of the writing, story, character development is covered here, as is the storytelling method to some extent. For example, if a game calls itself an RPG and claims it has "dynamic narrative" but actually has very little of such things, that will be scored against even if the writing quality is very good (e.g. The Witcher games). Another common example is when a game's only storytelling technique is cinematic cutscenes, copying film rather than using the strength of the video game medium, which also leads to deductions. See our list of best video game stories.
- Gameplay: This is the most broad section. Gameplay mechanics, gameplay diversity, AI, and gameplay functionality as a whole are covered here. As long as the mechanics and features work as intended, as long as it's intuitive, and as long as there's little repetitiveness, a game should get a good score here.
- Audio & Visuals: Technical graphics quality, visual art design, sound effects quality, soundtrack, and voice acting are all covered here. We judge art style appropriately: first we see what the game tries to look like, and then score it on how well it succeeds, while simultaneously factoring in the technical graphics score. Originally this was two separate sections, but it was merged into one since it's more important to have a total of five subsections, or else each one has too little weight. Besides, each one of these separately isn't nearly as important as the others. As of 2015 we have raised the standard for our technical graphics score, due to Metro: Last Light and how amazing it looks. We are now more strict about sound (lack of 3D sound processing and appropriate environmental effects = instant deduction for example).
- Lasting Appeal: This can be broken down into four sub-categories essentially: Total length, repetition/content diversity and quantity for the entirety of its length, replay value, and modding potential. Things that positively affect replay value include gameplay diversity (multiple ways to play the game like RPGs, or shifting gameplay styles like Underhell), decisions that alter the course of the game which add replayability like most RPGs, scale, and meaningful exploration. Multiplayer does NOT necessarily equal replay value, since typical multiplayer games these days just include doing the same basic thing over and over again.
To compensate for games that have no campaign or story (usually multiplayer games like Red Orchestra 2), there is an alternate scoring system for such games. It simply removes the Story subsection and splits Audio & Visuals back into two separate subsections.
If you question "How can they score a subsection out of 20?", well I can tell you that I actually score each one out of five points, with the interval being 0.25. It's easier this way, and to make it 20 points I just multiply by four. Not relevant, but there's a little secret of mine.
Our overall score is quite simple; a 100 is the highest, a 0 is the lowest. Just like your test grades, kids!
- Below 50 = Failure, terrible, awful, and any game that is just a hopeless idea would score below 50 (although below 50 doesn't automatically mean hopeless concept).
- 50-59 = Something salvageable about the idea, but poorly executed and not worth playing really.
- 60-64 = Poor overall with some decent aspects and potential.
- 65-69 = Bland, seriously lacking (e.g., Outlast, Dead Space series).
- 70-74 = Decent, some parts are well executed but others are quite flawed.
- 75-79 = Decent game, perhaps very good at something in specific, or even a very good but bugged game. Get it for a discounted price.
- 80-84 = Good.
- 85-89 = Noteworthy, must buy, maybe even a technically flawed masterpiece like Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines which gets less than 90 due to bugs and because the last few hours of the game aren't nearly as good as the rest, but we still consider it a masterpiece.
- 90-94 = Greatness embodied.
- 95-99 = Legendary, near-perfection, apex of its genre.
- 100 = Perfection combined with awe-inspiring ambition and accomplishment. Will probably never be awarded.
The result of this scoring system is that games are scored according to what they try to be. The less flaws a game has, regardless of the type of game it is, the higher the score will be. However, a flawless, small scale game with a great story still can't get a perfect score due to the lasting appeal section, which we find to be appropriate. A perfect 100/100 must be a large scale game with lots of lasting appeal, with a very strong story, and it must exceed in all other aspects too.
We try to be as objective as possible, and this scoring system shows this. For example, our lowest rated game is Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD. It was reviewed by me, and I actually had some fun in the game, since I'm just a fan of the genre. But I didn't let that affect my review, it got what it deserved regardless of how I feel about it.
Also, we give out awards based on score. This applies to ALL product reviews. The awards are as follows.
- Gold Award: 85-89 out of 100
- Diamond Award: 90-99 out of 100
So that pretty much covers it. Post your questions, comments, and criticisms below. For an idea of the personal taste for the GND-Tech gaming staff, see these lists below:
Yes this is all a joke.