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A Guide to Dowd's Review Scores

A Guide to Dowd's Review Scores – November 24, 2010 4:29 PM (edited 11/24/10 11:29 AM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
I've noticed over the years that my review scores are more specific reactions to what I'm reviewing, rather than a sliding scale of quality. This topic came up in the comments on my Majora's Mask review, but it seems like a good idea to put that post in a more accessible location. I chose the Video Games forum because I'm going to couch this mostly in video game review terms, but it applies to everything I review.

The basic idea is simple: I give A's for games that are just great, B's for games that are great if you like the genre (and not otherwise), C's for games that aren't actually bad but I wouldn't recommend, D's for games that are actually bad, and F's for games that are just unplayable. The + and - are meant to basically mean "no, really, I mean it" and "...but I have some reservations," respectively. So without further ado, here is a general idea of what each specific rating means, with some examples. While these descriptions don't hold true in every case, they are surprisingly accurate when I look back.

Any game that is historically one of my favorites, which is totally awesome and which I can't find any significant flaws with, gets an A+. These are what I consider classics, and anyone should at least enjoy them (provided they can get over their specific format).
Examples: Mass Effect 2, Ultima VII: The Black Gate

An A is a game that is very good all around, doesn't have any major flaws, but is nonetheless not quite perfect. I tend to give these out like candy to any game that I play obsessively from start to finish multiple times.
Examples: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Super Metroid

A great game that just doesn't quite manage to completely work for me tends to get an A-. These are often games I'll stop playing for a while, but come back to and greatly enjoy. Good, but slightly flawed.
Examples: Grand Theft Auto IV, Super Mario 64

B+'s go to excellent examples of a genre that don't manage to transcend that genre. They are highly recommended if you're a fan of similar games.
Examples: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Ultima VI: The False Prophet

A good game that I'll happily play to completion, but usually without any sort of obsessive need to. A good recommendation unless you aren't interested in this type of game.
Examples: Heavenly Sword, Final Fantasy III

A good game with a significant flaw. While higher B's have at least the potential to cross genres, a B- usually means "avoid this game unless you already had some interest."
Examples: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, StarTropics

Games that are decent if you're into their genre, but aren't really "you have to go out and buy this!" quality tend to get a C+. Fun to play if there's nothing better around.
Examples: Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun

As you'd expect, a C is a pretty average game. By "average" I mean here "not interesting enough to make me want to play it." The type of game I'll play mainly because it's part of a series or genre I'm very into.
Examples: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Ultima VIII: Pagan

A fundamentally flawed game that is nonetheless cool in concept is a C-. The type of game that should have been much better.
Examples: Bushido Blade 2, Final Fantasy II

A bad game with some cool concept, mechanic, or idea is worth a D+. This is the sort of game that inspires good games later.
Examples: Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor

A D is agame I just cannot recommend, but which isn't complete garbage.
Examples: Xenogears

A game so bad it barely qualifies as actually working at all - but it is (technically) playable.
Examples: Mega Man X6, Akalabeth: World of Doom

I only give out F's to games that are totally unplayable. I generally only play these out of a misguided need to complete a series.
Examples: Legend of Legaia, Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress

I give out way more high grades than low ones for a simple reason: I only review games I finish. Generally, if a game won't get into the B range, I won't play it to completion. This is why some of the later examples aren't actually reviewed games (and I reserve the right to change my grade if I ever do review them.)

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
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