Tony Mott | Editor in Chief | Edge (UK)
GR: Does a perfect score mean a perfect game?
Tony: What we used to do a long time ago was assign a word equivalent to each score from 1 to 10, and at that point 10 represented 'revolutionary'. And more recently we realised that having the scores spelled out like that was, in a way, holding us back from using the full scale – by definition we could only give a game 10 if it really was revolutionary, and we wanted to be able to use the whole scale.
If next to 10 on our reviews intro today it said 'perfect', then that's what 10 would mean. We changed all that because we'd get people arguing about whether or not games we had given 10 were actually revolutionary. So we deliberately changed it and said that the numbers on the scale were simply the numbers on the scale, so 1 = ‘one’, and so on. It was a slightly tongue-in-cheek thing to do, and we took some flak for it, but ultimately it helps to simplify the process, and it removes a lot of the unnecessary dialogue that can surround these things.
So now we just say, the scale is 1 to 10 and a 10 is a 10. You should be able to interpret that as you will. The fact that we've only given a small number of games 10 out of 10 speaks for itself. Ultimately I’d hope, as we all do, that when your review of Halo 3 consists of four pages of text, your readers would pay more attention to what the writer has to say about the game rather than the little digit at the end.
GR: Does Edge have a set criteria of what a 10 should be, then?
Tony: This sort of thing is indefinable, I think. You can't use a checklist. If Tetris was invented today, I suppose you'd have to give it 10, but if you take that game apart, you can't say it's in any way a 10 apart from what it is as a whole. You can't break it down beyond that. You can get into an argument where you say 'Well, the graphics are perfect' because they're perfectly functional, they do their job perfectly. But I don't like to think about review scoring as a kind of science.
Above: In its 14 year history only six games have ever received a perfect score from Edge. They are Super Mario 64 (pictured), Gran Turismo, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Halo, Half-Life 2 and Halo 3
GR: Do you think 10s are dished out a bit too liberally?
Tony: It's difficult having a scale of 1 to 10 and so rarely using that upper-most point because it can make you look like you're being snobby or difficult just for the sake of it. Broadly speaking, though, I do think 10s are thrown about a bit too casually. I do see some 10s that strike me as misleading to the consumer. I think when the consumer sees ‘10’ on the page it should make them stop and think about it. It should make them think, 'This isn't just a game that's recommended; I actually must have this game'.
I don't want to get too much into the debate about BioShock, but I was surprised at the amount of 10s it received. The Metacritic rating for that game is insane. I really enjoyed it, but I wouldn't ever feel comfortable giving 10 to BioShock, not because it isn’t revolutionary or anything like that, but because it doesn’t feel like a 10 to me. But now we're getting into the debate that people are having all the time on the internet.
GR: Ultimately, then, 10 can be a flawed masterpiece?
Tony: Well, if you take Halo 3 as an example - absolutely. If you looked at Halo 3 in a scientific way - which is why I say I don't like to think about it as a science - if you broke it down and said 'Is the story brilliant? Is the story flawless?' Absolutely not. The story is actually not especially good. But, if you look at it as a whole...
Obviously we reviewed Halo 3 some time ago, but going on the community that's already built around it and certainly the experiences I've had with it and my friends are having with it and all of our readers are having with it, all of that evidence is testament to the greatness of the game as a whole. If you don't look at it scientifically and if you look at it more as, I don’t know, 'Am I having a 10’s worth of entertainment out of this?' I think most people - if they like first-person shooters and if they like the series - would agree.