Here’s how it works, folks. I don’t judge on silly things like graphics, music, physics, or what have you… instead, I have chosen 5 categories I personally use to evaluate how good a game is. These are non-comparitive figures mind you, so each game is evaluated by itself. Each category is measured as below average, average, or above average. Keep in mind, an average score isn’t bad! It just means it could have beaten the curve. These categories are as follows:
Gameplay / Control
This is how fluid the game mechanics are and how easily the user interacts with the game. One of the most important things for me is immersion, so anything that tends to break that connection gets rated down. Thus, if the mechanics and interface conflict with the enjoyment of the game or break the suspension of disbelief, then the game will get marked down.
Replayability / Interest
How replayable the game is. Duh! If you do your first playthrough, how likely will you be to pick it back up? Or how much interest the game generates to make you play it. Some games can suck you in for hours, others you put in a little time and you’re done.
A measure of how much the game deviates creatively from the standard. This isn’t necessarily a bad category to be average in. If the series is great and rock solid, then there is little to innovate with, so average is fine. But if it brings something truly special to the table, then we’ve got something amazing!
Style / Art
Everyone gets so caught up with graphics, but eventually we will hit a wall with that… then what? And what of the games that are not focused on super-realism? What of the retro games or indie games? This is why the style, presentation, or artistry is much more important! Things can also be realistic too, but if it doesn’t have a special flavor to it, then what’s the point?
Uncanny Valley Factor
This is a big one for me. Uncanny Valley is the strange effect when something humanoid gets closer to realistic looking, there is a point close to 100% when the warm fuzzy familiar feeling takes a nose dive and you get the willies. You can see this a lot in early CG animation or animatronic human robots with “skin” on them. There’s little to define the feeling other than the willies, or feeling weird, or it looks creepy, or off, or you can even feel disgusted. I have also expanded this definition to include any and all things that break the suspension of disbelief; meaning, if it breaks you immersion, then it’s bad.