Ever wonder how we decide what scores to give a game on 4P? It’s quite simple, really, and here’s an explanation.
First, the biggest thing to remember is that reviews are one person’s opinion of the quality of a game. Since there are a wide variety of games and everyone has their own tastes, one person’s experience with a game may differ drastically from another person’s experience with the same game. There is no editorial approval process here – the score of a game is entirely up to that particular reviewer, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of the entire 4P team, whose other members may disagree vehemently with said review (see: Geoff’s review of A Link Between Worlds).
Most of the games we review are those we have purchased with our own money. On occasion, we do receive copies of games from publishers for review purposes. We review a publisher-provided game just as we would any other game without any outside influence – meaning we will gladly tear it a new one if it deserves it, and we will never, ever accept any bribes or “perks” in return for giving a game a positive review. If a game was provided by the publisher, it will be clearly stated at the beginning of the review.
Previously, we used a scale from 0-10, with .1 increments. In addition, we had 5 sub-criteria for every game that we assigned scores for: Gameplay, Graphics, Presentation, Sound, and Value. While that gave us the flexibility to fine-tune our scoring to incredibly precise lengths, over time we found ourselves becoming more disillusioned with such a system. What makes an 8.9 game better than an 8.8 one? How do you account for criteria outside the already-scored ones? If 5 is an average, why is a game that gets a 6 considered to be bad?
So, as of September 3, 2014, we’ve instituted a new simplified 5-star system. We’ve found this to be the easiest and most effective way to communicate a game’s quality to our readers – no decimals, no half-stars, no sub-criteria, just a simple and direct ___ out of 5. The score is not an average of anything, and there is no magic formula that determines how many stars a game receives – it’s all up to the reviewer’s discretion. That said, here is what each rating generally means:
The best of the best. 5-star games aren’t perfect, but they’re games we feel that are the cream of the crop and that any gamer should check out. Any flaws they have are minor and easily overlookable.
A very good game with a few minor flaws that keep it from true greatness. 4-star games are games that are still worthy of your attention and are recommended buys, especially if you’re a fan of the particular genre.
Average. 3-star games aren’t bad – they have competent design and are still enjoyable, but they don’t do anything particularly memorable. A 3-star game is still worth checking out but with reservations.
2-star games are those that have serious flaws and can’t be recommended unless you’re a diehard fan of the genre or series that is willing to overlook those flaws. They’re playable, but the problems you may experience while doing so are going to affect your enjoyment of the game.
Complete and utter garbage. 1-star games are the worst of the worst, with serious design issues that will severely hamper your experience with the game. Avoid these games at all costs.