Finding a Chink in the Armor

[Read it on GIO.]

Aka: “The Misconception of the ‘Perfect’ Score”

I don’t think these guys are scoring games- more like ‘game’…

Don’t get me wrong, just about every game that I’ve seen receive critical acclaim in the form of a perfect score from various gaming critics and sources has totally deserved that score. This isn’t an angst-ridden blog meant to talk about how no game deserves a perfect score just because I say so. Instead, this blog simply talks about the various nuances behind what drives a perfect score, and the subjectivity of the entire scoring thought process as a whole. The title might come off as a little confusing, so allow me to explain my metaphorical usage of symbolism in this manifested matter. Normally, finding a “chink in the armor” refers to finding a weakness of some sort in something otherwise seemingly impervious, impermeable, or indestructible and invincible. However, in this content matter, I mean it to describe finding fault with the established system- that system, in this case, being the reception and commendation of a perfect score. Now that that is cleared up a little, or at least more so, let’s move on.

We’ve had some excellent games come out this year, and several more show great promise on the horizon. There have been a few perfect scores around the web for great games such as The Last of Us and Shin Megami Tensei IV and other sterling examples of gaming. Where I find fault with the rating system as a whole however, lies not in its subjectivity as that is pretty much impossible or at least improbable to be subject to change ever, but instead with the fact that technically there should never be a perfect game worthy of a perfect score. No game is perfect, no matter how good, and for that reason, I have never given a perfect score as of yet on GIO, and have only ever given one in my years of reviewing to one game that even I realize is not perfect, but that I enjoyed so much that I play it to this day- despite it being ten years old. (That would be The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for GC, released in 2003, and given a perfect score by myself on MetaCritic.com) Technicalities aside, let’s talk about some reasons why and why not i regards to allocating perfect scores to deserving or non-deserving games.

1.0

Pro


Some games, such as The Last of Us- for example, are so intricately designed, so painstakingly rendered, and so near perfectly put together that they seem a sure shoe-in for that perfect score, because of the excellent experience they provide. They have rich stories, an incredible amount of detail, a lasting replayability and experience, and a lack of true glitches or malfunctioning portions of gameplay. These are the kinds of games that are most deserving of the highest possible review scores, if not for their sheer enjoyability, then for the hard work that the developers and publishers put into bringing us mundane folks that almighty experience.

2.0

Con

To refute the last point, at the same time, no game is absolutely 100% perfect in any way. However minimally, each game will experience some bug in either the hardware or the game material itself. Some games experience more than others, making them a  broken mess such as Rogue Warrior and Dark, and rendering them virtually unplayable or enjoyable. Others, such as (again) The Last of Us, feature only minor gripes and are plagued by maybe one bug for every thirty hours of gameplay, if that. For example, clipping has always been a big issue in games today, and one that can semi-decrease your experience by shattering the illusion of a virtual reality when your hand sinks impossibly through a hard substance. It’s a little thing, but enough to make your game only 99.7% good, and thus not perfect at all.

Now, let’s talk about the second set of material I’ve brought here with me today for this ‘perspective’ blog. Because no game is perfect and therefore in all technicality doesn’t deserve that perfect score no matter how good and enjoyable that game is, that means our entire review system is flawed beyond belief, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Subjectivity is a double-edged sword, as is objectivity. Through subjectivity you can explain yourself however you wish and note everything down as opinion based reasoning. Through objectivity, the word opinion is virtually tabooed and fact reigns supreme. In our reviews, for those of us apt to write generally good and well-received ones anyway, we craft a craftily concocted mix of subjective and objective based content for you to peruse at your whim. We, as any good writer will attest to, often add in a dash of fact for authenticity, and then a splash of opinion in order to base our review and writing in reasonable wisdom and rationality. This is the heart of the matter as well as the crux. In some situations, it is impossible to go entirely fueled on fact alone, whereas in others it is entirely unrealistic to do so with only opinion. It is finding that common, middle ground and perfect combination that is much, much more difficult…

That is why our review system is, and always will be flawed, as longtime GIO blogger Jolt(The Cynic) once said in several of his excellent writings. There isn’t much we can do about it other than to write the truth as we see it, and give things our best go. It’s simply quite the interesting conundrum we find ourselves in often as writers here, and other places. Wherever you have some sort of review system, whether it be numerical, alphabetical, or simply worded from high to low, this problem will crop up everywhere. In fact, the only way to ever be rid of it would be to stop reviewing, and in turn, stop judging people, places, things, items, and any other mundane or extraordinary experiences we’ve had or seen. And as human beings, that is such an innate part of society and our makeup that it is simply irrelevant and impossible to even think of being rid of. But, enough with this deep musing. That’s it for my piece today, and be sure to tune in another time for more. Wrek out.

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