Sunday, September 1, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 63 - Perfect Dark Zero

Perfect Dark Zero was a mess back in the day. It was Rare's first attempt at reclaiming their FPS glory in a post Halo 1 and 2 world and the things they tried to do to keep up simply didn't work. It was slow and clunky and didn't feel good in single-player and the bullet sponge-y opponents in multiplayer just weren't very fun. One good thing came out of it, however, in that Eric was so embarrassed by his softball review of it back in 2005 that it changed how he covered games going forward. Read all about that, and watch gameplay footage, right here.

I don't want to talk too much about PDZero but I will say that I did have quite a bit of fun recording this video. I didn't bother with single-player, because it's boring and bad, and opted to play multiplayer against bots instead. It was fun. I don't love how every enemy takes a billion bullets to kill - because of the dumb armor system implemented into the game - but at its core it is still good ol' Perfect Dark multiplayer and was enjoyable. I honestly didn't expect that.

What I really want to talk about is how Perfect Dark Zero changed my approach when it came to reviewing games. Back in those days - 2005 - I wasn't a very good reviewer. I tried to review too many games - I wanted to do everything but since sites were run by individual people, that meant I had to play and review everything myself - which resulted in a lot of half-assed reviews that just plain weren't very useful for anyone. At this time I was also firmly stuck in the 7-10 review scale where a 7 was mediocre and anything below a 7 was putrid stinking garbage. I gave Perfect Dark Zero a 7.

I was a fool back then. Of course, so were a lot of other reviewers, apparently. Perfect Dark Zero has an average review score of 81% on GameRankings based on 93 reviews, which means that my 7/10 was actually lower than most. I'm absolutely sure that if those sites had it all to do over again, the scores would be much lower. If I had it all to do over again I would give Perfect Dark Zero a 5/10. It isn't bad, it's just mediocre, which is what a 5 means.

Some time after Perfect Dark Zero came out I started to change how I reviewed stuff. I regretted giving the game a 7/10 and vowed to change things. I started requesting far fewer games and actually put more effort into thoroughly playing them and writing quality reviews. I also started making use of the full ten-point scale. Games that would have been 7's previously started getting 5's and 6's instead. I'm sure there are still some scores that stick out looking back, but I felt a lot better about the work I was doing and the overall quality of my reviews greatly improved.

So why did the 7/10 scale ever become a "thing" for so many sites? It largely has to do with the USA grading system where a 60% is an "F" and "Failing". People didn't want to give games a failing grade, you see, because most games (that actually get reviewed) aren't actually "that" bad. Readers are also dumb mouth breathing moron idiots, too, so sites just fell into a habit of scoring things using a scale that people would understand. But that 7/10 scale sucks. It is woefully inaccurate. It basically wastes 2/3rds of the scale. 

Attempts to actually use the whole scale have been met with resistance, unfortunately. The aforementioned mouth breathing dumb moron idiots that make up the majority of gamers who read reviews still refuse to understand that a 5 is AVERAGE. Even after sites have spent the last 10+ years trying to change, and repeatedly telling their readers what their scale actually means, any time a game gets below a 7/10 you have a carnival of stupid on sites like ResetERA where people lose their minds about how terrible the game is (especially if it's an Xbox game ...). 

I'll say it one more time - A 5/10 is a mediocre, average, run of the mill game. A 6 is good. A 7 is good. A 4 is bad. A 3 is pretty dang bad. A 1 is basically unplayable and few, if any games, will ever get a 1. A 9 is excellent. A 10 is amazing and a must play (but not "perfect" because nothing can be perfect and if you think a 10 has to be perfect you're still part of the problem the same as the 7/10 kids). 

Whew. That was cathartic.