And now for something a little more interesting
June 12, 2008

More than Belief and Betrayal, anyway.

I chose... Rapture!

Oh shut up, it's only ten months late. Leave me be.

I was thinking, whilst on the toilet earlier, about the bizarre trend of percentage scores in games journalism. It seems to have died down a bit now, thankfully, particularly with the new load of mags and websites, but it's still something that grates. How on earth is it possible to objectively distinguish between consecutive marks out of a hundred? What is it that makes us games writers feel it necessary to evaluate the medium in such a way?

Thing is, it's fun, isn't it? Will this new game get 92 or 93 per cent? Will it get, goodness me, the rare and enviable 95 or, Christ, even 96? It's a bit of a laugh from our side too, deciding where abouts to place this particular game.

But it really is useless as an analytical tool. A ten point scale is brilliantly sufficient in separating games into a good number of categories, with a 10 representing the finest few and a 1 representing what I did while I was having this thought. In the end, does it matter whether Deus Ex is better than Half-Life, or whatever? (It is, of course, but shut up.) It's even more apparent at the low end of the scale. I could probably just about explain what's the difference between a 94 and a 95. But a 37 and a 38 - or, realistically, even a 48? Not a chance.

It's all for personal satisfaction. Plus, we're all geeks and like to be able to order things nicely, and a collection of faceless 8s doesn't do that job half as nicely as the percentage scale. Bah. It's a good laugh but it's stupid and pointless.

Plus, speaking as a reviewer, I'd sometimes rather skip the score altogether. Just read the fucking review. I spent, like, hours on it...

Most recent blog posts from Lewis Denby...

EmP EmP - June 12, 2008 (03:54 PM)
In the end, does it matter whether Deus Ex is better than Half-Life, or whatever?

I'd say yes, because had you not then affirmed Deus Ex's superiority (and lake of bloody monorails), you'd have been reviewing Tetris clones from now to Xmas.

Back in the day (bold to ensure all that remember said time feel nearly as old as OD looks) we used a decimal system here, but Jason scrapped it after some of us started to abuse it to publish awesome scores like X, .007 and ?. No one really noticed the loss of throwing a .3 at the end of the review, but I like to tell the story now and again to cast Venter in a bad light.

Every now and then someone comes along with an idea to 'revolutionise' the scoring system most reviewers use, be it letter grades of complex advanced math totalling up sub-clauses. As for me, I think the number at the end of the piece is the least important thing I include. Itís there because it needs to be; the bit I want you to take heed of are all the words above it.
bluberry bluberry - June 12, 2008 (04:05 PM)
yeah, I'm not a fan of scoring games at all. not just because a number really doesn't matter, but I don't think they really work in relation to each other. I wasn't wild about BioShock at all and gave it a 6. in this day and age the original Doom doesn't hold up that well compared to Doom II. it deserves a 6, though I gave it a 5 and blame drugs for that. does that actually mean I'm putting BioShock and Doom on par with each other? apparently, even though that's clearly kind of stupid.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'd be fine with it if we could pull the complex plane into things and I could start scoring games on an a + b(i) format.
Lewis Lewis - June 12, 2008 (04:25 PM)
Play BioShock again, with the lights off, and pick up every single diary you can. I guarantee (unless you did this already, of course) you'll start to love it. What didn't you like about it, out of interest?

As everyone's said, the score's the least important bit, but it's so essentially to a gaming public that, largely, will look at that and little else. Sod it. I'm going to start scoring games by just writing a big, irrelevant word at the bottom.

BioShock gets 'encompassing' out of ten.
Halon Halon - June 12, 2008 (06:01 PM)
Bioshock was a HUGE disappointment for me (probably a 6 or 7 if I ever reviewed it) though I saw it coming as it got closer and closer to release.
Lewis Lewis - June 13, 2008 (03:21 AM)
I'm intrigued by all the negative comments. The first time I played through BioShock I would have probably been inclined to agree - I got a little bored of all the to-ing and fro-ing and just wanted to crack on and get to the next area. But then I started to explore a bit more, look around a bit, listen to every diary I found... and it got really bloody good.

I think the main reason I was disappointed initially was that I was expecting something more traditional from Looking Glass. I expected some of Rapture's inhabitants to be still alive and well, and I expected to get the chance to speak to them. I didn't expect to be shooting as many things as I was. I didn't expect it to be as linear as it was. But it is. And that's the game it's trying to be. It isn't Deus Ex and that was never the plan.

There are two things I forgot to mention in the review. The first is how the atmosphere is rocketed skyward by the sound design - Rapture is never quiet. There's always a bloodcurdling scream, or someone crying, or a Splicer talking absolute nonsense in the creepiest way possible. It's really breathtaking and it always makes you wonder what's round the next corner.

The second is the fun you can have creatively mixing your use of weapons and plasmids. Stick load of bombs to a box then hurl it at a group of enemies using your telekenesis plasmid (essentially HL2's gravity gun). It's right proper fun, it is!

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