What does a ten out of ten mean? (also: Indie Games and AAA games)

A ten out of ten. A score that when given pretty much means a game is near perfect. A game everyone should play. What does it actually mean? With a ten recently been given to The Last of Us by most websites and publications, I figured this would be a good thing to talk about. In this generation alone, IGN has given eight perfect scores (discounting mobile games and Chrono Trigger, considering it was a re-release on the Virtual Console). These games include Grand Theft Auto IV, Metal Gear Solid 4, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and The Last of Us. Some of these scores I agree with, others I don’t, and well, some I haven’t played, to be honest.

Regardless, what justifies a ten according to IGN? “The pinnacle of gaming, a masterpiece may not be flawless, but it is so exceptional that it is hard to imagine a game being better. At the time of its release, this game is the not just the best the system can offer, but better than we could have expected.” Overall, I think this is a good description of what a ten should be and seems to fit the description of at least what the reviewer of each game that got a ten thinks. There is no such thing as a “perfect” game. The Last of Us has glitches here and there, a noticeable amount of textures pop in, and the AI does break immersion, does that mean the game doesn’t deserve a ten? No. It still does. The game is a masterpiece in storytelling as well as stealth gameplay.

Do I agree with this many games receiving a ten in a single generation of consoles? No, not really. Out of all of the tens given by IGN this generation, I only agree with two. Super Mario Galaxy 2 and The Last of Us. The only other game that I would have given a ten this generation is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, as I much preferred that game to 3 (not that 3 isn’t a bad game because it is still very good). I do think tens need to more rare in general. On top of that, way too many games are awarded 9.5s and 9s. Most AAA games seem to receive scores around 8.5-9.5 which isn’t good.

Let’s take a look at a game like Grand Theft Auto IV. A game which in my opinion is overly repetitive, is filled with obnoxious gameplay elements, has a mediocre story, etc. It isn’t horrible by any means, but is it really that special? It didn’t really do that much innovative or creative. Sure, it’s fun to run around and do stupid crap in Liberty City, there’s no denying that, but, it’s so mindless, and loses it’s flair quickly. I won’t deny that most of this is truly opinion based, of course based on one‘s taste in video games, but, I still don‘t think in any way, that a game like GTA IV deserves a ten. A game only deserves a ten if it truly does something that hasn’t been done before.

With Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, I think it provided great storytelling, smooth 3rd person shooter gameplay, and truly amazing characters that set the bar for video games. Super Mario Galaxy 2 had layers of creative gameplay in each level to the point that each level did something some different and new that was amazing each time. The Last of Us provided emotional depth I’ve never seen in a video game up until then. Its things like that, that justify a ten in my opinion. They need to bring something so new to the table, otherwise, why would they deserve a ten?

Another game I would like to bring up is Dishonored which received a 9.2 and received high scores from most sites. Why? The game was overly praised for it’s free roaming and stealth gameplay. Again, why? It didn’t do much new. If anything, it’s been overdone this generation with the obsession with free roam gameplay (which to me, can completely detract from the experience of a video game if done wrong). Also, the plot was abysmal, horribly paced, filled with little to no explanations to multiple points of said plot, and had an extremely abrupt ending that was lazily displayed. In addition, some of the gameplay elements were fun but quickly got old by the 4th or 5th mission. It was a decent game, nothing more.

When you take a look at these indie titles that are just doing much more creative things and being innovate and then many of them will rarely receive the praise of something like Dishonored, it disturbs me. Sure, Journey received game of the year, that’s one indie title. Most indie titles are glossed over. Let’s take a look at Call of Duty. Call of Duty Black Ops II received a 9.3. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 received a 9.5. Call of Duty Black Ops received a 8.5. Why do these games still receive extremely high scores? I’m not saying they are bad games but they are the definition of lack of innovation. They play exactly the same, have laughable plots, and rarely do much to change the game. Are they somewhat fun? Sure. But, how can they possibly continue to receive these scores if they rarely do much to even improve the games themselves? Also, Modern Warfare 2 had some of the most unbalanced multiplayer I’ve ever experienced in a video game.

Regardless, the true point of this post is why do games continue to receive high scores? Extremely high scores are given way too much. AAA games seem to be given the benefit of the doubt regardless of many of them lacking any innovation just because they are well produced. It’s all style and no substance. A ten out of ten needs to be given to only a game that truly innovates, truly changes video games in some way, and truly is an experience. Not just a game. An experience.

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2 thoughts on “What does a ten out of ten mean? (also: Indie Games and AAA games)

  1. I think, a lot like you said, a ten on ten means that the game, in simple words, a masterpiece. It has such few flaws that they neevr do beak the flow of the game. It is a game that defines what a game can really stand for, be it amazing gameplay which you can e hooked for hours or a story which makes you shed a tear or graphics that make you feel that real life could have much better graphics or something hidden in it that speaks to you on an emotional or philosophical level.
    In my opinion, The Last of Us deserves all the praise showered on it. To me, by the time i finished it for the first time, i realised that it wasn’t a game, it was an experience, meant to be felt rather than just played through. And the saddest part of all, I would neevr be able to play it for the first time again.
    Uncharted 3 and GTA 4 did not deserve their 10/10 scores. Don’t get me wrong, these games were amazing, much much better than most of the mediocre crap in the market, but if they get a 10, then their predecessors i.e. Uncharted 2 and San Andreas should have received a 11/10.

    • Yeah, I agree. A game that gets a 10 really has to provide an amazing, unique, experience that actually provides an impact to me which The Last of Us certainly did.

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