Sometimes it’s important to reaffirm exactly what the stars in a rating system means. No rating system is perfect, and in a perfect world we probably wouldn’t use a numerical system to quantify the worth or quality of an artistic product. Unfortunately, it’s what the majority want so we have to oblige.
At PCGmedia we like to offer the best of both worlds. For those of you who want a more specific break down, we offer both the positives and negatives of our gaming experience as seen on the left, as well as the classic /5 rating system. This example panel box taken from the Torchlight II review shows all of the basic information: platform, developer, genre, rating, break-down, final take and, in this case, a MUST OWN award, granted to games we feel are both excellent and good value for money.
- 1 - The game must be broken beyond any foreseeable repair, with no redeeming qualities. Probably offensively poor value.
- 2 – The game might work, but face extreme bugs. If working, the game must be of very poor quality or value, with little redeeming factors.
- 3 – An average game. The 3.5 variant pushes the average to a mundane ‘good’, but probably lacks any real innovation. Might be buggy.
- 4 – A good game that might be expensive, or could be of better value. Usually the 4.5 variant will mean there are some innovative qualities.
- 5 – An excellent game, at a fair price. This does not mean the game is perfect so much that it is far above average, and recommended to most gamers.
Note that five stars doesn’t represent a perfect game, only that the game is highly polished, innovative, and sold at a good value with good consumer ethics. It is likely that five star games don’t ship with many bugs, and will often have fair DLC policies and good visuals. If a port, the quality of the port will often – albeit not essentially – be a separate PC production moreso than a port-to-PC. For an example of porting quality for a five star game, one might look at Batman Arkham City. For a mediocre port, look at Spec Ops: The Line, or Binary Domain. A bad port would be Prototype 2, as playing with the mouse and keyboard relied on a consistent frame-rate.
Note that PCGMedia, although built by PC gamers, does not discriminate between mouse and keyboard or gamepad input. This means that if a game is more enjoyable with whatever peripheral, the reviewer will probably play it with that input device. A game will never be down-rated because it works better with one more so than another, but it will be down-rated if it isn’t properly playable with a mouse and keyboard (that is to say the input device doesn’t function at all.)
We take pride in candid and fair reviews, and try to stay objective. Although a reviewers experience will play a part in the quantification of a products qualities, our reviewers are aware and take necessary measures to drown out any background noise (such as a really crappy office chair, or a thumping head-ache that day.) We take a lot of pride in fairness, and if that means telling it like it is, then so be it.
Scores accumulated by aggregate sites such as Metacritic, which alter our scores out of their intended system (from /5 to /100), no longer reflect the actual scores of the publisher or reviewer, and should be disregarded immediately.