I may be in the minority, but I still believe that ratings are a good indicator of how much I should consider a video game purchase. I don’t just read one website, however, and tend to rely on a few game sites that I’ve come to trust over the years.
Sometimes I’ve had to just trust my own instincts as to whether or not a game is something I’d enjoy, despite the ratings given to it. That’s usually a result of reading the actual body of text of multiple reviews and seeing whether or not the game mechanics, systems, stability, aesthetics, etc. will positively or negatively affect my ability to enjoy a game.
That being said, I do think ratings are a good reference point and so I’ve come up with some for this site that I will retroactively apply to previously reviewed games. I’ll be applying them to future reviews, too. You can simply ignore them if you’re someone who doesn’t like review scores and just read the text. And if you hate/dislike my attempt to be clever with my scoring system, I hope you’ll still stick around to read the text that I have and will continue to put way more effort in to creating than I have in putting together these score categories.
However, I imagine that the vast majority of this site’s readers use my voice and opinion as just a reference and not a be all to end all. So it shouldn’t be a big deal. I’m just a small voice in a world full of opinions and critics. I just felt like these categories would make for an easier reference point.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s my review system. It’s a work in progress and is subject to change, but this is the foundation:
This score represents a game that does everything poorly. This score would be exceptionally rare, as most games have at least something that could objectively be considered moderately interesting, but there are some games that have little to zero value. An example of a game that would fit this criteria would be the god-awful Apollo4X.
This score represents a game just barely above the worst category, as it may have some gameplay mechanics that aren’t completely broken. It’s still not worth your time, but it’s not a complete train wreck. It’s just a wreck. Likely very buggy, too. An example of this category would be Galactic Inheritors.
This score represents a game that might actually do something decently well, but the game mostly still sucks. Gameplay is derivative, formulaic, and/or just plain boring. An example of this category would be Lords of the Black Sun.
This score represents a game that is just shy of okay, but something manages to hold it back, like bugs, a broken gameplay mechanic or two, or an awful aesthetic. An example of this category would be Worlds of Magic.
This score represents a game that is okay in every sense of the word. It’s not going to wow you, but it’s also not going to really offend you, either. For the right person, it may even be enjoyable, but it’s not something that I particularly enjoyed. An example of this category would be Armada 2526.
This score represents a game that is just a cut above average. Sometimes it’s a game that has a lot of potential (a word I hate to use too often), but hasn’t yet reached it for a variety of reasons, like bugs, incomplete systems, imbalance, etc. Other times, this is a game that is interesting in spurts, but not really a game that I can really sink hours in to. An example of this category would be Oriental Empires.
This score represents a game that has a lot to like, but something still keeps it from being great. It might be that there are some really great systems working here but that it’s buggy as hell, or it might be a game that is full of unique ideas, but none of them quite work as intended. An example of this category would be Jon Shafer’s At the Gates.
This score represents a game that is just shy of great. There are a lot mechanics and systems that make this game enjoyable, but one or two of them might be really holding the game back. It’s a game that has all the potential in the world to be great – maybe even a classic – but it’s not quite there yet. An example of this category would be Star Ruler 2.
This score represents a game that is great and well worth any 4X fan’s time. It’s not perfect, but the game has enough working systems to really enjoy and dive in to, but is also technically sound and perhaps even very aesthetically pleasing, though good graphics aren’t a requirement. A couple examples of this category would be Endless Space 2 or Stellaris (depending on the version number).
This score represents a game that is a foundational pillar of the genre and is likely to stand the test of time as a shining example of what 4X games are capable of. There are many examples of this score, both recent, like Endless Legend, and aged classics like Alpha Centauri and Master of Orion 1.
So there you have it. I’ll likely revise this scoring matrix often, as I further consider ways to flesh it out and make it more distinct, but this is the initial draft that I’ve come up with. Some of you may not agree with the examples of any particular score, but I’ve said this many times in the past: everything here is just one man’s personal opinion and isn’t meant to be definitive in any regard. It’s just how I feel!
That being said, I’d welcome feedback and even friendly disagreement, if it shows up.
I play to retroactively score the games that I’ve reviewed in the coming weeks as soon as I feel confident in the scores that I’m giving. Some of them have already clearly been given scores, as they act as examples above.
Anyway, thanks for reading and I look forward to moving forward with my own little silly scoring system!