John McCarroll
A New Grading Scale for DLC and Re-Releases
Don't worry, we're not changing much here.
10.14.11 - 11:14 AM

With today's review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The Missing Link, we have introduced a brand new grading scale to be used with downloadable content and re-released titles. The reason for the changes are two-fold: to create a fair grading scale for DLC where there once was none, and to clarify the grading scale for re-releases due to a lack of solid comparables.

What does that mean? DLCs are simple: the piece of content will receive one score: either a green plus (for Buy), a grey O (for Fans Only), or a red minus (for Don't Buy). This should provide a quick and easy touchstone for those wondering how the DLC is.

DLC receiving a Buy score are pieces of content that are well priced for the content that they provide and are entertaining for both casual and hardcore fans of the game alike. Think Fallout: New Vegas: Old World Blues.

A Fans Only score denotes a DLC that hardcore fans of the game will like, but casual fans might find it either not incredibly entertaining or not worthy of the price point. See today's review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The Missing Link.

Should a piece of DLC fail for even hardcore fans, it will receive a Don't Buy score. These will usually have one, if not more, of the following elements: short, pricey, uninteresting, unbalanced, or just plain bad. Kyle's review of Dragon Age Origins: Return To Ostagar would fit here.

We're also using the same three-point system for re-releases, but instead of giving it only one score, we're retaining the individual elements (Graphics, Sound, Story, etc.) from our standard reviews, but overlaying them with the new scale. It's important to note what we're considering a re-release: this is an untouched release of an earlier RPG released as a PSone (or PS2) Classic, Virtual Console, Steam, or similar release. This does not mean that we will be using these scales for modified releases or for titles that see retail release. For example, with Chrono Trigger, the Virtual Console and PSone Classics versions would be rated as re-releases (low price points, untouched from previous release, not available at retail), whereas the Nintendo DS version continues to use the standard scale (as it was released at retail, at a full price point, and contained new content).

One of the things that we'd discussed as a staff was how difficult it was to determine what the comparables should be for re-release scores. Should we compare it to games when it was originally released? To all of the games released on the original platform? To modern standards? So rather than place a score that seems more arbitrary than any other to these re-releases, we're using these same three scores for DLC.

A game (or element) receiving a green plus means that this element has aged well and is still worthwhile. While Chrono Cross has graphics that aren't up to the technical standards of today, the game is still gorgeous for what it is.

A grey O means that either an element hasn't aged well, but is still passable, or it wasn't very good to begin with. This might mean the story in Final Fantasy Tactics, due to the fact that it's since been retranslated in a better version. As such, it's been eclipsed in the market.

A red minus means that an element has not aged well at all and is NOT passable. For me, this means things like the controls in Final Fantasy VII - the game is fully 3D but does not support analog controls. Not a fault of the game at the time (PlayStation controllers didn't have analog sticks then, of course), but a frustration today.

I hope this gives you an idea of how we plan to expand our grading scale to these types of questions. If you have any concerns or questions, please don't hesitate to let us know on our boards!