Review Scores. The argument some of you were making that you can get away from the "one score"mentality is simply false. I actually work in testing and evaluation and this attitude comes up a lot. People everywhere find the idea of reducing something down to a single number very distasteful. However, a little thought will show why there is no escaping it, it is a natural phenomenon.
You can't play two games at once. When you make the choice to pop in game A over game B, or even to play game A instead of watch TV show B, in that instant you have essentially "scored" A higher than B. No matter how many desperate factors went into that decision, you simply cannot decide between A over B unless you boil all those factors down to a single comparison A>B. There are an infinity of factors going into every decision. Your mind somehow weights each one and adds them up, otherwise you can't make a decision. The same goes for buying a game, buying a car, choosing to date someone, choosing to hire someone, anything.
So this is why you always see ratings and rankings, and then people trying to aggregate and average these down to even fewer numbers. The number is just a proxy for a global subjective evaluation that takes EVERYTHING into account. I think maybe what you guys are saying is you would like the reader to go to the effort of reading the detailed review and coming to their own decision, but frankly this doesn't work very often. No review ever described even 50% of what a game contains. Instead they pick and choose a few pluses and minuses to mention. Its next to impossible to give a truly global summary of a game. Often you get vague statements about the positives, and then a lot of detail on the negatives, so you come away with a negative impression even if the reviewer loved the game! Alternatively, you might come away thinking a game is great based on a few statements, when in fact the sum product is pretty meh. . Only the review score captures their entire impression of the game and their own weighting of each aspect.
Avoiding the summary score can actually be very misleading to your audience. This happened to me with Tera, I went out and bought it based on a few statements you guys said about how fun the combat was, only to drop it after about a week. Let me tell you, it's metacritic of 77, which I only looked at after buying the game, is much more accurate information. Guild Wars 2, currently sitting at a 94, has all the same positives Tera had (great combat system and graphics) plus a million more. The 94 vs. 77 tells you something different (and frankly something more important) than a verbal list of pros and cons about each game.
As came up repeatedly on this episode, there are simply WAY too many games to play. When you start bringing in Iphone games and indie games, the number gets truly mind boggling. If we went out and bought every one of these that sounded like it might be fun, we would never have time to play 80% of them, much less go back and play a gem we missed like Lost Odyssey.
I know its a painful job, but as a reviewer I see your #1 job as just making sure I'm aware of those masterpiece 5 star can't miss games (like Uncharted 2) that I need to make sure I play. That does mean giving out a lot of lower scores to "good" games. I don't need a reviewer's help to find "good" games because I already have stacks of good unplayed games lying around.