As the Review Editor here on Piki Geek, it’s my job to manage our review system and make sure we get quality reviews of most of the biggest titles to you, our readers, in a timely and efficient manner. As some of you may have noticed, we’ve recently replaced our Mega Man rating graphics with a simpler Star system, ranging from 1 – 5. Our rating system is a little more ambiguous than most, however, and there has been some confusion as to what exactly our scores mean. So without further ado, I present to you the Piki Geek Review Guide.
A 1-star review (terrible) is an irredeemable pile of junk that shouldn’t be played by anyone. Hell, our own staff members are assigned 1-star games as punishment just for defying my directives (not really, but could you imagine?). These games are the worst of the worst – digital diarrhea not meant for public consumption and the devs/publishers should be ashamed of themselves for wasting the time and money making them. Our own Iain Dooley summed it up nicely in his review of Man vs. Wild, stating – “Do not buy this game, do not rent this game. If a friend offers you the chance to play his copy then burn your friend and flee the country.” My thoughts exactly, good buddy.
A 2-star review (mediocre) describes a game that is deeply flawed at its core, yet still maintains some semblance of fun within. These are games that, more often than not, could have benefited greatly from a few extra months in development. They’re usually plagued by bugs and other issues that likely could have been ironed out with a little more polish time. Games that get 2 stars are generally flawed on more than just a technical level, though – many of them fall prey to poor design choices as well. Games like Brink and Star Raiders are good examples of games that are merely mediocre.
Now here’s where things become a little trickier. 3-star reviews (decent) are games that could have used more time in development, like their 2-star brethren. Unlike a mediocre game, however, decent ones usually have a solid gameplay foundation and find themselves being fun more often than not. They simply fall short of greatness for one reason or another and would generally be recommended as rentals rather than purchases. Games like Duke Nukem Forever, Rayman 3D and Need For Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed fall into this middle-of-the-road category as fun, but flawed creations.
4-star (great) reviews are games that can generally be recommended with confidence, though they’re not without a caveat or two. The negatives of a 4-star game differ from those of a 3 or 2 star game in that they tend not to ruin the game’s overall level of enjoyment, but are instead mostly minor annoyances that just add up over time. 4-star games usually bring cool, fun ideas to the table and tend to shine in spite of their flaws rather than allowing themselves to be undone by such things. Some good examples of 4-star games include L.A. Noire and Mortal Kombat.
Finally, 5-star (incredible) reviews are the cream of the gaming crop – masterpieces of digital entertainment that can be universally recommended. Notice, however, that we do not call a 5-star rating “Perfect”, and the reason for that is simple – there is no such thing. Every game has its flaws, the difference in a 5-star game is that those flaws are usually so miniscule, so forgettable, so negligible as to barely be worth mention since they do next to nothing to take away from the overall fun factor of the game in question. 5-star games are usually few and far between and serve as standard-bearers for the rest of the industry. Games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings fall squarely into the 5-star range and should not be missed.
In the end, a review is simply the subjective opinion of one person, ideally supported by objective facts about the game. Obviously, there are a wide range of tastes and preferences out there, and while we do our best to cater to those tastes, chances are, there will be a review or two that you may not agree with. That’s perfectly alright – we’ve got thick skin around here and it takes a lot to hurt our feelings. But if you ever find yourself wondering why we issued a particular score and what that score means, you now have a simple guide to follow.