There’s been a general consensus among Destructoid staff and readership alike that clarification of our reviews process and metrics has been sorely needed for some time, and it’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. Our reviews have changed a lot in the last six months or so, and the occasional redefinition of our aims and goals with the content is never a bad thing, especially if it keeps us level with our homies. That’s you!
So, if you’re curious as to what the Destructoid review crew is about and how our content comes together, we’ll be explaining things in detail here. Hopefully, this’ll clear up any confusion and prevent anybody from calling in a hit on ol’ Linde in the event that I rate Halo 6: Zany Beach Party Adventures a pathetic 8.5.
We dump tremendous amounts of time and effort into our reviews and take a great deal of pride in them. Thanks for supporting our efforts, reading our reviews, and tearing eachother into kibble in the comments. Hit the jump for our fearsome manifesto.
Our Great and Glorious Mission
We at Destructoid are like you — we play games by the boatload. We live, breathe, eat, sleep, and write our experiences, and though the focus of the site proper is spread across the great expanse of topics related in one way or another to gaming, when you get right down to it, we’re in it for the playing. Accordingly, we take our Destructoid reviews very seriously, and strive to be your number one destination for raw, brutally honest opinions on the games that we feature every week.
We love games, and we want them to be as great as we’re led to expect — more than that, we want them to be better. So we believe that no matter how much we love a developer, a publisher, or a concept, the finished product must be held responsible for its failings and praised for its successes. Our commitment to honesty is fierce, fierce like bear, a bear which mangles any fanboyish tendencies that might spring up in the process of reviewing a product.
It’s our hope that by adding our voice to the already crowded arena of game reviews, we might affect some change in the way that games are played, reviewed, and made. Most of all, we want to give you the best, most honest and informed opinions on the games we play as possible.
The Team, the Games, and How We Review
Our core staff is Rev. Anthony, Nick Chester, Brad Rice, Leigh Alexander, headed up by me, your snuggly and lovable reviews editor. While reviews are open to the entirety of Destructoid staff, you’ll likely see the bulk of them handled by the aforementioned crew, who’ve made regular reviews part of their personal responsibilities as Destructoid staffers. Regular review staff were selected for their diverse taste in games, varying points of view and keen eyes for technical and creative excellence in games. They all look damn good in lingerie.
Games reviewed on Destructoid are selected on a per-case basis. In addition to marquee releases, we often review games that fly under the radar or might go otherwise ignored by many gamers, and we try to distribute our attention evenly among both camps of games. Sometimes we get copies sent to us, sometimes we pay for them ourselves, but regardless of the source our dedication to brutal honesty remains our primary goal in our reviews. If a publisher sends us a game that makes our heads explode into joy-joy rainbows, we’ll tell you. If a publisher sends us an overhyped pile of crap, we’ll tell you. The only thing that bugs us more than wasted money is wasted time, and we’re not interested in letting our readers waste either when selecting games to play.
When reviewing a game, we judge a title against similar games already released, genre peers, and the title’s success in accomplishing what it sets out to do in respect to overall fun — in other words, our reviews aren’t meant to be directly compared to one another. If one author reviews Big Nick Chester’s Gun-Totin’ Bitchslap Adventure and gives it a 7, and a day later another reviews Brad Rice’s Block-Droppin’ Hootenanny and scores it an 8, this doesn’t mean that Destructoid is unilaterally firm in the belief that block-droppin’ is always, always better than bitch-slappin’. What it does mean is that Block-Droppin’ Hootenanny reached a higher level of block-droppin’ achievement than Gun-Totin’ Bitchslap Adventure had in its own respective genre.
When in doubt, read the text. I’m going to repeat that: please read the text. If our scores confuse or frighten you, try to figure out why we gave it such a score before you look up our addresses and firebomb our homes. That being said, let’s move on to the 400-pound gorilla–
Our Review Metrics
If you haven’t noticed by now, Destructoid takes issue with the handling of game reviews, or specifically the scores that accompany them. By and large game reviews are handled like academic grades, which has led to an overwhelming glut of games falling in the 7-9 range, with reviews declaring a game virtually unplayable often receiving scores of 5 to 6. When our reviews content was overhauled in May of 2007, those of us committed to bringing more reviews to Destructoid’s front page agreed to try to break our habits and adopt full use of the 1-10 scale, as initially described by our own Reverend Anthony in one of his features. Here’s a rundown of our scores and what they mean:
1 – Unbearable. Practically unplayable. An exercise in absolute madness.
2 – Awful. Maybe the idea was kind of clever, or you may have fun accidentally, but everything else is horrendous.
3 – Bad. Some aspects are terrible, others are either so-so or kind of fun.
4 – Poor. An admirable effort with a sliver of promise, but essentially mediocre.
5 – Average. Half of the time the game is fun, half of the time it isn’t, for whatever reason. This game is absolutely average in every single way — neither exceptional nor face-melting awful.
6 – Decent. Slightly above average, maybe a little niche. But you wouldn’t recommend it to everybody.
7 – Good. Replayable, fun, but nothing innovative or amazing. The game potentially has large flaws that, while they don’t make the game bad, prevent it from being as good as it could be.
8 – Great. Very fun — its essential gameplay aspects are cool and interesting, but may not be implemented in the best way.
9 – Fantastic. Negligible flaws. Otherwise very, very good; a fine example of excellence in the genre.
10 – Incredible. As close to perfection as we’ve yet seen in in the genre or gaming on the whole. A polished, unparalleled experience.
Going by this standard, bear in mind while reading Destructoid reviews that a sub-7 score doesn’t mean terrible. It can mean a lot of things, and is usually the product of a variety of failings on the part of a given title. But unlike many publications, a 6.5 or 5.5 never means unplayable, it doesn’t mean awful — it means flawed. But many of the games to which such scores are assigned are fine experiences for a particular group of gamers, be they fans of the genre or the series or simply someone looking for an experience that only the game in question can offer. Once again, when in doubt, read the text.
Moreover, the reviews editor does not police scores given to games by the reviewers. If a writer believes a game deserves a 7.0 and the spirit of the text reflects the score, it remains in the hands of the reviewer to determine an appropriate point value. As such, reviews published on Destructoid are the opinions of the individual author or authors and not the staff as a whole. As stated earlier, the review crew is made up of a diverse cast with varying opinions on which games are fun and which are not — find a writer you agree with and look for his or her opinion.
If you’ve read this far, we congratulate you. Keep an eye on this post; we’ll be linking to it in every Destructoid review, and making amendments as this great trainwreck lumbers ever onward into infinity. Thanks for reading our reviews, and if you have any input on the state of things, don’t hesitate to let us know.