Friday, November 12, 2004


The momentous release of Bungie's Halo 2, foretold in the book of Isaiah, has forced some in the video game community to consider recalibrating the standards of how games are rated.

"The problem," states Tim Driver, Associate Managing Editor of Game Awesome magazine, "is that Halo 2 is touted as the 'Best Game of All Time.' Considering that, reviewers have to keep that in mind as we go forward."

Most reviewing systems can be boiled down to a system of 100 points. Ratings range from 1 to 10, 1 to 5, 1 to 10 with half-points, etc., but they all place the best games at the top and the worst at the bottom. With Halo 2, the best game ever created by the hands of man, this ratings scale is in jeopardy.

"The editor who reviewed Halo 2 for us," says Driver, "originally rated the game at an 85%. Of course, being the best game ever, Halo 2's rating was bumped up to 97.8%, because, well, the best game ever should be at the top of the scale." This created a problem, as, according to Driver, "the scale just wasn't adequate. I Halo 2, the best game ever, is only an 87% according to the perfectly scientific reviewing criteria we've established to serve the readers of Game Awesome, then shouldn't that mean that the highest rating on our scale should be 87%?"

Driver rightly worries that such a move could jeopardize the traditional 100% scale that drives the reviewing industry, and it could create chaos in the streets. Game Awesome's 87% might not correspond directly with the appropriate scales of Game Focus, Game Lucky, or the Japanese Bi-weekly Video Game True Fenky Weekly. Reviewers for each of those magazines had different gut ratings for Halo 2, each of which was altered to the high 98th percentile to avoid just such a recalibration. If one magazine's 87% has to match another's 74%, or another's 89%, then, according to Driver, "we have a disaster that rivals the Centigrade/Fahrenheit debacle. No one knows what temperature it really is, and we think our readers should always know how 'hot' a given game is at a given time."

In the meantime, reviewers continue to give best-game-ever Halo 2 top scores, despite the game's obvious flaws, in a valiant attempt to keep the squishy center on which game reviews are based from breaking up. "The people need to be able to quantify technical and artistic merit on a reliable numeric scale," says Driver. "To expect anything else is ludicrous."