Xbox Domain Reviews: This Is How We Roll (Updated)

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Updated: I changed the values slightly based on community response and my own impressions of the influence each category should carry. I felt that sound, while critical, shouldn’t be equal to gameplay. Any more recommendations? I truly enjoy hearing what you all have to say, positive or negative.

Happy Holidays ladies and gentlemen! On behalf of the Xbox Domain, I want to say Merry Christmahanukwanzakah to all and let you know what one of our New Years Resolutions will be (after we’re done partying). No, we aren’t losing weight…

In light of the whole Gerstman/Gamespot folderol that happened a few weeks ago, The team here at Xbox Domain has decided to implement a reviewing rubric for all the games that get their due justice. Even though we are an independent gaming blog, we are no less susceptible to the accusations of bias that the internet doles out like cake (and yes, the cake is a lie!) For that reason, we have developed a rubric, which is just a fancy teaching word for grading plan, that breaks down games into a point spread. Then we just add up the points and call it a day. It’s an easy 100 point scale that the reader can look at and decide whether we’re still biased jerks or if we are really being fair. I personally hope it’s the latter.

So, without further ado, here’s how we roll:

Graphics: 25%
– Texture & Image Quality – 5 points
– Framerate Quality – 5 points
– Technical Effort – 5 points
– Overall Art Direction – 10 points

This section will be dedicated to how the game looks (obviously). The sections are scored on a point system that gives the reviewer the opportunity to give points where the graphics are good, and take away where graphics are teh suxxor. If the textures are stunning, but the frame rate skips like a school girl, the reviewer can give a full 5/5 points to the first category and 0/5 points the second.

Audio – 20%
– Sound Effects – 5 points
– Soundtrack – 5 points
– Voicework – 5 points
– Sound Quality – 5 points

This section works the same as Graphics, but it’s for…. sound. Amazing. Everyone still with me? Cool. Rolling on.

Gameplay – 25%
– Storyline & Attachment – 10 points
– Character Control – 10 points
– Interface & Menus – 5 points

This section covers all the design elements that go into the game itself. Is it story driven or is it an action slash-fest? Does the character control like a geriatric patient? Can you even get into the game using the menu system? All of these are valid concerns and we’ll tell you about them.

Replay Value & Multiplayer – 20%
– Fun Factor – 10 points
– Xbox Live Features – 5 points
– Downloadable Content – 5 points

Not all games are created the same (thank God), so we are using this section to cover the longevity of a game based on its level of fun. Since some games are single player only (Bioshock) and others are heavily dependent on multiplayer (Shadowrun), the reviewer can break down each section based on the games features instead of penalizing the game for a lack of features.

Achievements – 6%
– Challenge – 3 points
– Worthiness – 3 points

This section, although abhorred by most, is of great personal value. I am a ScoreWhore and I’m damn proud of it. As a result of a select few game companies wussing out on a good Achievement system, and most game sites not even acknowledging their existence, we are going to grade a game’s Achievements. But OMFGWTH? How can you grade Achievements? Easy… how hard are they to get and are they worth your time getting?

Above and Beyond – 4%

This last section is like bonus points on your final exams. It’s a way for the reviewer to look at the game as a whole and rate the whole game as a cohesive experience. Did the developer do anything unique or special? Did they pump out crap like a soldier with Dysentery? If there is anything that sets a game above similar genre games, this will be the place to get some extra points.

So that’s how it’s going down from here on out. It’s certainly subject to change if we find that one category isn’t weighted properly or is biased towards one type of game. If you’d like to use our rubric, please ask first by contacting the editor. We worked hard on this and would appreciate that courtesy. Any questions class? Class dismissed.

David “Whet Wurm” Wetty

16 Responses

  1. BIASED JERKS! You only review 360 games! :O

  2. Sounds like a decent scheme to me.

  3. Looks good. 10% is too much for achievements though. Gameplay should be weighted a lot more IMO.

  4. That’s why its adjustable. We are still working on the balancing. You’ll notice the points don’t add up completely. But I did want to get this posted before I do my screwjumper review.

  5. Hmm…”bonus points” sounds like the bias you guys are trying to avoid. Maybe picking one more category or bulking up one? Otherwise, your reviews have a +/- of 10 points automatically, which is probably too big.

  6. I don’t think bonus points are bias if the game earns them. You could consider them earned much like the rest of the categories. Going above and beyond should be the goal of all artists. But like I said, its not perfect… Yet.

  7. i feel too much on audio, shed mor on gamplay, no way shuold those be equal

  8. Gameplay – 20%
    – Storyline & Attachment – 10 points
    – Character Control – 10 points
    – Interface & Menus – 5 points

    20 = 25?

    Otherwise, I think this is a great rough draft for an in-depth review!

  9. I still say achievements feels like this uber-biased thing to review upon.

  10. no way, achieves for me is deff a pulling in factor, like forzas achieves are the reason i bought the game, they gave me a reason to continueously play it

  11. Ok, I fixed the 20 = 25 problem. Altered the categories a bit. Achievements matter to me and most of the people that I know so that category stays. Boosted the Graphics and Gameplay more than sound because I agree with pasz.

  12. I agree about the achievements. It is a main reason in my decision when I go to purchase the gameif I know what they are ahead of time. In a way, you could sub-categorize it under replay value also. Good job trying to nail down a decent scoring system.

  13. Man. What the hell did you people do before achievements came, not play games?

  14. Achievements add another aspect to the game. Before achievements I played the game, beat it and usually never played it again. To me, I think it is a great marketing device by Microsoft. Who doesn’t like getting rewarded for doing something good or special? At least it gives the player more replay value in their $60 game. I own every major system out right now and given the choice between spending my money for a game or a game that gives you something a little extra, I am going with the extra. I don’t need a special edition game with some lame extra-dvd about how it was made, I want more replay value. God knows if I am trading it in after I am done playing it I would be lucky to $15 for it. At least I can get the most out of it by trying for some achievements. IMO it is not just about Gamerscore, but a sense of accomplishment. No one is forcing anyone to play these games, right? As far as being biased, it is the XBOX Domain afterall. That about as upfront biased as you can get. Maybe there is a PS3 Domain, they wouldn’t be talking about achievements there. 😉

  15. Who ever came up with the idea of achievements is amazing. When i play games i cant just play to play, i need to be working at soemthing, wheather it be to beat the game, or to level up online. Whatever it is, i need to feel like im accomplishing somehting or i feel like im just wasteing time which is no fun.

    Microsoft has now embedded into my head that inorder to feel accomplished, i must get an achievement, and being a completionist, i must get all achievements (or the reasonable ones befor i just get bored an move on) ….its sad…boy do i miss the old days….

  16. I don’t miss the old days really because it adds a new level to the tired formula. It also pushes me to try games I wouldn’t have looked at otherwise. I never would have tried Fusion Frenzy if it wasn’t for the achievements and I’m glad I did. It was, at best, entertaining for 45 minutes… and I got a free game out of it! I just see this as another creative (and brilliant) way of enjoying a video game, like analog joysticks.

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