Review FAQ

You've read the reviews, but just what the hell do the ratings mean? What am I doing to review the game? How am I judging the game? Hopefully this answers your questions:

How I Review

First and foremost, the games I review are not gifts from publishers. I buy or rent my games (as of lately, the game's I've been playing are coming in from GameFly). I'm not "prestigious" enough to get freebies to review. I don't review every game I play, either. It boils down to if I feel like reviewing a game: if there was something extraordinary that spoke to me that I feel like writing about, or if something irked me to no end that I have to complain about it.

A review for a game won't come out close to the game's release date...most of the time. Don't look to me to be your saving grace when it comes to wooing your purchasing prowess in one direction or another. I've never gotten a pre-release copy of a game, nor do I think I ever will in my current, non-professional standing. A review for a game may come days, weeks or months after a game is released; please don't bombard me with inquiries to when I'll review a game.

When I review the game, I don't take notes (Darksiders is the only game I've taken notes on, but that was basically review notes I jotted down on my way home from work one day). I have pretty damned good memory and don't really find the need for it. I do play the game to it's completion before I review, unless there's a special exception (No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise was only played a few hours, but seeing as the only change from the original was technical glitz, there wasn't an issue with an "early review").

I write the review in 3 parts. The introduction gives an overview of the game, aspects and my overall view. Next, you get the Love/Hate section, color-coded with things that were good and bad about the game. There is no ratio to each one; 5 'Loved' and 3 'Hate' doesn't necessitate a good game simply because there were more Pros than Cons. Finally, I give a summary at the bottom with a score. Since the 'relaunch,' I'm adding a Buy/Rent/Pass scale with the ratings. As of late, I do not have the time for a "traditional" review, so I've resorted to something I'm calling a Mini-Review, which is a few talking-points scattered across a paragraph or two, a couple of Loves/Hates and the alphabetic score.

My reviews have drastically changed over the course of time, so I feel this needs to be updated: I change my reviews here and there, depending on my mood and how detailed I want to get with my review. Lately, I still have my Mini Reviews, but they're basically a few goods things, a few bad things, a wrap-up, and your score. That's it.

Ratings

It's based off of those letter grades you got in high school. I believe that a letter grade is easier to understand, less complicated to comprehend, and better on the eyes rather than hoping to god your most highly anticipated game gets something above a 9.5, because, Odin forbid, a 9.0 game is terrible.

Ranging from 'A' to 'F' - with pluses and minuses tacked to the end - I hope these letter grades will help ease the pain:
  • A - Outstanding - A phenomenal game that requires your direct attention. The developer put their heart and soul into this game and should not be ignored. Buy it. Yesterday.
  • B - Great - A really good game with redeeming qualities, but has a few faults, be it technical or otherwise. If you like the genre, you should immediately fall right into place with this game.
  • C - Average - Nothing stands out about this game compared to similar titles or other entries in it's respective series. It has some merit behind it, but, like a few slices of bread, all it will do is fill you up and not necessarily satisfy you.
  • D - Bad - Unless you're an ├╝ber-fan of the series or genre, ignore this game. If you can find it on the super-cheap and don't mind wasting a weekend, go for it.
  • F - Worthless - Holy balls. This is game is absolute garbage. I wouldn't recommend you buy this game even if was in the bargain bin at your favorite retail outlet during Black Friday. Avoid it like the Plague.
The additional '+' and '-' offset the meaning by a few degrees. A game rated with an 'A' might not hold the same value as another game with the same rating. Take, for example, the first three reviews I wrote that use all three variations of the 'A' grade: Metroid Prime Trilogy, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Assassin's Creed II. They garnished an 'A-', 'A+' and 'A', respectively. I felt that they were all outstanding games, but Uncharted 2 was a smidge better than Assassin's Creed II, but both of them were better than Metroid (my 2009 Game of the Year says otherwise, however).

With these added variations, there is a total possible 13 grades; there is no such thing as an 'F+' or an 'F-'. If you must have a numerical equivalent of each of these grades, here you go:


Complex? Perhaps, but that's why I refrain from numbers and stick with a letter grade; the numerical values should not be what you use to judge the game. The only reason I'm including a numerical value is so those who are stuck so far up Mr. Number's ass can correlate my grades to a number they're accustomed to. That statement may contradict my "letter grades are better" statement, so think of this as a "Conversion Table," as in "convert your dastardly ways of coveting a high number value into a simple letter grade." 1UP and Destroyed Controller see eye-to-eye on this, so why not you?

Before I move along, I want to clear something up: since I brought up 1UP and it's school-style grading system, I took my time to evaluate my scoring system and made sure I wasn't purely copying 1UP's scale (I created my grading scale before even doing research on 1UP so I could have an unbiased, untainted view). I must make this point clear and dispel any qualms that may arise: my letter grades do not share the same value as 1UP's grades. Compare the above chart to the chart Joystiq did, evaluating and converting the grades-to-numbers when 1UP changed their reviews to the letter grades. You'll notice that only 4 of our grades line up perfectly, and 1UP has an 'F+' grade (like I said above, I don't believe in such a grade; an 'F' is an 'F'). Despite their change happening two-and-a-half years ago, their letter grades had no influence in the direction of letter grades for this site.

Suggested Buy Price Should You Buy it or Not?

This is something that I've wanted to see in a lot of reviews, and the only outlet that I've seen it done is Cheap Ass Gamer. I give the game it's worth. There is no game worth $60 (or $50, or $35, depending on what console/handheld you're buying for), so I'm dropping a 'Suggested Buy Price' with the rating. A game could earn an A+, but it probably won't be worth $60.

I'm not a fan of how the SBP turned out, so I'm refining it to simply 'Buy', 'Rent' / 'Wait', or 'Pass'. Fairly straight forward, however, the 'Rent' and 'Wait' are held in the regards, but used differently. You'll most likely see more of 'Rent', as that is more geared towards games. 'Wait', on the other hand, will rear it's head in when a piece of hardware is released, more specifically a system. The system may be good in it's own right, but needs some tweaking (software updates) or new games to make it worth the money; best example would be my PlayStation Vita review, where, despite giving it a B+, "[the] device is fantastic, but the software isn't there quite yet".

I hope this answers all your questions. If you feel that I've omitted something, or just downright forgotten about something, email it in and I'll see what I can do to implement it into the above.