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post #1 of 14 Old 07-27-2013, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Listed below are the standards by which each category is judged. Although there's always a subjective element to scoring, I've tried my best to ensure that all games are treated fairly and consistently. Since AVS is comprised of home theater enthusiasts, the standards for some categories may seem very strict compared to other game reviews.


The overall rating is a purely subjective measure that doesn’t result from tallying up any scores. It's just a general feeling of how enjoyable the overall experience was. A incredible game can still score a 5 despite its flaws, and a boring game can still score quite low despite nailing every objective measure.

5-Excellent
4-Good
3-Decent
2-Poor
1-Dreadful

The A/V score is just the average of the individual audio and video scores.


Audio

Dynamics
The range between the loudest and softest sounds. Games with poor dynamic range will sound louder at a given volume, but considerably less realistic. With high dynamic range, the overall volume of the game will be reduced to allow headroom for louder sounds to actually be significantly louder. You'll generally need to turn your AVR up to compensate. Most 360/PS3 generation games that do not feature a variable dynamic range setting fall between 2 to 3. If a game features a variable dynamic range setting, the highest available was used for review.

5 - Blu-ray quality dynamic range. When set to reference level, dialog is comfortable, ambience is subtle, and loud effects such as gunshots are extremely loud and well defined.
4 - Mild compression. Must be set to -5db from reference level to reach similar level of overall volume.
3 - Medium compression. Must be set to -10db from reference level to reach similar level of overall volume.
2 - High compression. Must be set to -15db from reference level to reach similar level of overall volume.
1 - Extreme compression. Must be set to at least -20 db from reference level to reach similar level of overall volume.


Low Frequency Extension
How deep the bass reaches, and how well defined and appropriate it sounds.

5 - Deep, subsonic LFE, below 20hz. Overall LFE is still dynamic and well defined.
4 - Deep LFE, but otherwise flawed – too much/little bass, poorly defined.
3 - Medium LFE, doesn’t reach much below 40hz, but still well defined and balanced.
2 - Medium LFE, but flawed.
1 - Poor LFE and/or extreme issues with bass.


Positional/Environmental Cues
How well the game environment is modeled, and how well placed you are within it. Well done, a large room like a concert hall will sound appropriately reverberant, and sounds originating behind walls will be muffled. In a surround sound system, particularly in first person games, sounds should clearly originate from the proper direction. If a game doesn't really benefit from positioning and/or environmental modeling (such as a turn based strategy game), the score will be determined primarily by multichannel support.

5 - Supports at least 7.1. Positional cues are well defined. Reverb and occlusion are well modeled.
4 - Supports at least 5.1. Positional cues are well defined. Reverb and occlusion are well modeled.
3 - Supports at least 5.1. Positioning, or environmental modeling has issues.
2 - Supports at least 4.1. Positioning, or environmental modeling has issues, or center channel isn’t used in the mix.
1 – No surround support, has extreme positioning issues, or environmental effects are completely absent.


Detail/Realism
A very subjective measure of the general quality of effects, music and speech.

5 – Excellent recording/synthesis, very high quality. Must support uncompressed PCM output.
4 – Less convincing, but still pretty good.
3 – Decently recorded, but mediocre quality.
2 – Poorly recorded, poor quality.
1 – Might as well be bleeps and bloops.


Dialog/Mix Quality
How well the various audio elements such as dialogue, effects and music mix together.

5 - High quality mixing of many effects doesn’t sound distorted. Good volume balance between elements at default settings. Dialogue is well timed and clear, without temporarily lowering the volume of the rest of the mix. Overall frequency response is balanced, bass or treble isn’t lacking or overwhelming.
4 - One of the four previously mentioned factors has an issue.
3 - Two have issues.
2 - Three have issues.
1 - All four have issues.


Video

Resolution/aliasing
Mostly a straightforward measure of resolution. Even though 360/PS3 gen systems rarely support 1080p, it has been standard on displays for many years, so those games won't get a pass on this measure. Aliasing is the jagged appearance of the edges of polygons, as well as the obvious shimmering/sparkling of pixels.

5 Native 1080p. Well anti-aliased, few noticeable jagged edges and shimmering.
4 Native 1080p, with noticeable aliasing.
3 Below 1080p (includes native 720p), but well anti-aliased.
2 Below 1080p (includes native 720p), but with noticeable aliasing.
1 Below 720p, regardless of aliasing.

Frame rate
A measure of the speed and consistency of the frame rate. 60fps is the gold standard. Even though the majority of console games can't attain 60fps without major visual quality sacrifices, and some games benefit more from a high frame rate than others – unless it's a solid 60fps, the frame rate shouldn't earn a perfect score.

5 - 60fps, perceptible slowdown or screen tearing is rare.
4 - 60fps with occasional slowdown or tearing.
3 - 30fps, perceptible slowdown or screen tearing is rare.
2 - 30fps with occasional dips or tearing.
1 - Regularly under 30fps.

Calibration Adherence
How well the game conforms to established video standards. Although there is still some debate as to the appropriate standards for games, until the gaming industry codifies these standards, games will be judged by how well they adhere to present film standards.

5 – Blacks are not crushed or washed out when dynamic range is set to 16-235. Color looks appropriate with Rec 709 targets. Gamma is subjectively correct, neither overly dark nor washed out. No over or under scanning of game image or UI when display is set to 1:1 pixel matching at 1080p.
4 - One of the four previously mentioned factors has an issue.
3 - Two have issues.
2 - Three have issues.
1 - All four have issues.


Technical quality
How far the game pushes the technical aspects of graphics. Such as shaders, texturing, animation, lighting, fluid dynamics, etc. A rapidly moving target; last year's five may be next year's three.

5 – Extremely well rendered, animated, detailed and/or realistic. Facial animation (if present), is convincing, evocative and well lip-synced. Lighting and physics is top notch. Generally reserved for games that raise the bar in multiple ways.
4 – High quality. May push the boundaries in some ways, but overall just shy of the best out we've seen.
3 – A quality effort, but doesn’t excel in any particular way.
2 – A mediocre effort, behind the times in rendering tech.
1 – Looks completely out of place amongst its peers.


Art Design/Production Values
How aesthetically pleasing the graphics are, and how elaborate and impressive the production is. Even games without the most advanced technology can be truly magnificent to behold.

5 - Inspired and unique visual design. Incredible showcase experiences that push the limits. A game that's as interesting to watch as it is to play.
4 - Well designed and produced, but doesn't raise the bar or stand out.
3 - Generally mediocre, but has its moments.
2 - Uninspired and unexceptional.
1 - Ugly and poorly produced.


Game Design

Gameplay
How satisfying the gameplay is, and fitting it is to its theme/genre. An action game should be consistently exciting. A scary game should be tense and frightening. RPGs should have interesting worlds to explore and loot to find. Strategy games good AI and interesting scenarios….etc. An all encompassing measure of simply how good the "game" of the game is.

5 - Pushes the genre forward. Polished and well designed systems that are consistently engaging.
4 – High quality. May push the boundaries in some ways, but overall falls short of the best out there.
3 – A quality effort, but doesn’t excel in any particular way, and may have significant design flaws.
2 – A mediocre effort, outdated design and/or too much filler.
1 – Frequently boring, frustrating, annoying and/or full of filler.


Controls
How tight and intuitive the controls feel, regardless of method of input. Even though motion games tend to have laggy controls - that doesn’t excuse them. A properly designed motion game is expected to minimize the appearance of lag.

5 – Intuitive and responsive. You are one with the game.
4 – May have some slight input lag or a few confusing controls.
3 – Noticeable input lag OR obviously poorly designed controls.
2 – Noticeable input lag AND poorly laid out controls.
1 – Practically unplayable.


Interface/Usability
How thoughtful and intuitive the user interface is, and how little friction there is between you and the game. The game should work with you, not against you.

5 – You have all the information you need at hand, without needless clutter. Checkpoints are frequent and well laid out, save system is intuitive. Cutscenes can be paused and/or skipped. Menus are intuitive and well designed without excessive transitions/delays.
4 – Generally well thought out, with a few minor exceptions.
3 – Obvious flaws that could have been corrected by following the precedents set by other games.
2 – Obvious flaws in the UI that should never have been attempted in the first place.
1 – Can't even begin to figure out how to play the game. What were they thinking?


Stability
How stable or buggy a game is. These standards might seem severe, but even slightly unstable and buggy games shouldn't be given a pass. Your time is valuable - even a single freeze is inexcusable.

A glitch is an inconsequential anomaly that's merely bizarre or mildly annoying, but doesn’t impede your progress.
A serious bug temporarily impedes progress. Such as a control or AI bug that leads to an unexpected death, or a scripting error that prevents the game from proceeding. Generally speaking, if you're forced to reload your last checkpoint, it's a major bug.
A crash requires a full reboot of the game from the dashboard, or a full restart of the system to resume playing.
A game breaker is so severe, that you are completely unable to complete the game. Such as a bug that prevents you from attaining a necessary item, or one completely corrupts your save file (assumed players only have one save file, unless there are multiple automatic saves).

During a single playthrough:
5 – Seemingly free of serious bugs or worse, but a single glitch is permitted.
4 – Two to four glitches.
3 – A single serious bug, or five+ glitches.
2 – A single crash, or two serious bugs.
1 – A single game breaker or three crashes/serious bugs.

Load time
How quickly the game loads and how rarely it leaves you staring at a meter while you twiddle your thumbs.

5 - Load time from launch to main menu is under 60 seconds. Initial game load from main menu to gameplay is under 30 seconds. All other loads, such as between reloads after death, or breaks between chapters are under 5 seconds. No static or blank load screens during gameplay (at the bare minimum, a full motion cutscene should be playing during loads, even if it's unskippable until the load is complete).
4 - One of the four previously mentioned criteria isn't met.
3 - Two aren't met.
2 - Three aren't met.
1 - All four aren't met.

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post #2 of 14 Old 08-01-2013, 07:03 AM
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I just realized we have a new section here. Very cool. I could see this as pushing someone like me, who plays only a small limited amount of trusted multiplayer games, outside their box and into some other types of games.

I think you might want to add another post here for definitions of gaming terms and technical speak. I can delete this post if you would like this space for that.

What kind of A/V gear are you currently using?

Will you be doing htpc testing as well as console testing?

Will you be doing comparative testing of different consoles and their ability to handle the same game? I think an unbiased avsforum member's comparison of how next gen consoles handle the same game could be very beneficial to the community, especially right at launch.

As a guy who doesn't play but only a couple titles...like ever...I look forward to learning about new games, and games that are just new to me...all here at AVS with technical reviews!

(Heck, the multiplayer game I play the most, and where I met the majority of my AVS buddies, sprouted out of me going after a game solely for it's surround sound being highly praised.)

Edit-I see you list your gear in each review, and that you do list which platform the game was reviewed on, allowing yourself separate ratings per platform.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-01-2013, 08:46 AM - Thread Starter
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I wouldn't mind doing some amount of comparative testing...but that's contingent on actually having all those versions available, or at least reliable info on the differences. Unfortunately we can only work with what we have available, or what we can convince the studios to send us....and that's a work in progress.

With the way things seem to be headed though, I have a feeling that PC will be the AVS platform of choice within a few years anyway.

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post #4 of 14 Old 08-29-2013, 02:27 PM
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Man, imagine if some of the mainstream review sites held themselves to these standards...
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post #5 of 14 Old 09-02-2013, 02:25 PM
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I will be following this closely! Thanks for the new forum.smile.gif

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post #6 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 08:27 AM
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Dude,

A lot of review sites do have these standards.

I many ways this is almost above and beyond, but given the specialized audience here in these forums (e.g. home theatre buffs, etc) I can see why some of these "criteria" are important to some.

At the end of the day there are lots of great sites out there that do have great reviews.

Outtie

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post #7 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by The Outcast View Post

Dude,

A lot of review sites do have these standards.

I many ways this is almost above and beyond, but given the specialized audience here in these forums (e.g. home theatre buffs, etc) I can see why some of these "criteria" are important to some.

At the end of the day there are lots of great sites out there that do have great reviews.

Outtie

I agree 100%.

It's why I'm writing most of the reviews assuming people already know what the game is about, because they've probably read all about it somewhere else. I'm just coming at it from a different perspective, one suited specifically to AVS.

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post #8 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 04:23 PM
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I meant the technical standards, could you imagine the backlash any mainstream site would get if they had lowered the score of GTA5 just because it was 720p with a variable framerate?

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post #9 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I meant the technical standards, could you imagine the backlash any mainstream site would get if they had lowered the score of GTA5 just because it was 720p with a variable framerate?

 

I wouldn't do that most of the time either, that's why the overall and A/V scores are separate.  


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post #10 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PENDRAG0ON View Post

I meant the technical standards, could you imagine the backlash any mainstream site would get if they had lowered the score of GTA5 just because it was 720p with a variable framerate?

I wouldn't do that most of the time either, that's why the overall and A/V scores are separate.  

I'm sorry dumb question. Where are the actual reviews?

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post #11 of 14 Old 09-19-2013, 03:32 AM - Thread Starter
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post #12 of 14 Old 10-16-2013, 04:50 PM
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who cares...it's all about the games.
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post #13 of 14 Old 10-23-2013, 04:22 PM
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Been away from the forum for a while now (six months?), but pleasantly surprised to see this new section up and running!

Great job, bd2003. Definitely something different from the run-of-the-mill mainstream reviews.

Also, happy to see reviews for Brothers and The Swapper in the mix so early on. Speaks well of AVS's evolving taste.

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post #14 of 14 Old 10-23-2013, 05:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Been away from the forum for a while now (six months?), but pleasantly surprised to see this new section up and running!

Great job, bd2003. Definitely something different from the run-of-the-mill mainstream reviews.

Also, happy to see reviews for Brothers and The Swapper in the mix so early on. Speaks well of AVS's evolving taste.

Heh, I was wondering whatever happened to you, just when the new consoles are about to hit. Glad you like the reviews!

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