Numbers are important to computer games. Players spend hours and hours chipping away at hard levels just so they can lay claim to high-scores, and developers spend just as much time pouring over metrics in the hope of identifying a target market.
It's important to get your figures straight. So, when it comes to banging a number on the end of the review, it's vital for it to actually mean something, something solid. One man's 5 is another man's 8; one man's 8 is another man's two. For some, a game isn't playable without a perfect score. For others, anything above a four is worth a throw.
So in the interest of objectivity, here's the definitive answer to what our 1-10 scoring system means.
- 1-3: Games that score a one are simply abysmal, with absolutely no redeeming features or ideas at all. Twos are marginally better, and might have one thing about them that's praiseworthy. A three will be an enormously flawed game with one or two good ideas behind it that were nevertheless badly implemented.
- 4-6: A four is a bad game that might be technically competent but doesn't attempt anything new or worth discussing. A five is generally middling; fine in every respect without breaking any new ground whatsoever. Something that scores six is usually a failed experiment of some kind, a game that had interesting and new ideas but struggled to make all of them work. It's still an alright game, though, and raises a few talking points if nothing else.
- 7-9: Sevens are good games, with a lot of ambition and technical prowess. They fall short by perhaps having too many ideas that don't quite gel together, or by overly depending on other games for inspiration. Eights are really good games, that despite a few big or small flaws are well-worth your time and consideration. They have the ambition to really challenge what games can be, but occasionally falter when it comes to expressing themselves. Nines are excellent. They look great, the sound great; they're lots of fun to play. A nine will be a game that pushes the boundaries and does something different while still retaining an awareness of what makes games unique. Only a couple of small blunders stop it from getting a perfect score.
- 10: Maybe once a year we'll review a game that's not only technically flawless, with new and exciting mechanics and astounding visuals, but also truly ground-breaking, probing the way we think about computer games. Tens are reserved for games like Grand Theft Auto IV, BioShock, Portal - the kinds of games people will still be writing about years from now. It takes something truly epoch making to score a ten; if a game scores ten, get it.