FI's Review Criteria

Frictionless Insight rates games, entertainment and hardware according to a five-star scale, including half-star ratings. Such a scale is intuitive – obviously, a four-star rating is better than a three-star rating. But what precisely do our reviewers mean by a given number of stars?
The rating is fully explained by the text of each review, taking into account not only the look, feel, accessibility, sound, functionality and playability of a title, but also the price at release. In a sense, an FI rating can be thought of as a game's value rather than its absolute quality. Therefore, a game that sells at an above-average price must surpass higher hurdles of quality. At the same time, a decent and functional free game will always rate highly. For example, Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory is a brilliant, free experience. It follows that an overpriced (but solid) game will get a lower score than a good game that's cheap.

Our basic benchmarks are the average game and the typical U.S. movie experience. A typical movie is around $8 to $10 for approximately two hours of entertainment, while the average game is $50, with single-player campaigns that last perhaps ten hours. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the games, approximately half the rating relates to the quality of the game design. The other half relates to the technical aspects of the game. Neither an incredibly polished game that's entirely devoid of fun nor a brilliantly designed and hopelessly implemented game should score highly.

Furthermore, we don't review every game, so don't be surprised that the average score of the games we rate is higher than two or three stars. While we believe there is a continuum of game scores that runs the gamut from zero to five, we focus on the highest quality and most interesting games available. We have no plans to rate every collection of Mah-Jong games available in your local drug store, and don't believe you are interested in reading those reviews. We focus on giving you the information you need to decide how best to spend your gaming dollar.


A few things have changed since we originally established our review criteria. With the launch of yet another generation of consoles, prices of new games are creeping up toward the $60 mark. At the same time, episodic games are becoming more common and premium downloadable content is now available for all game platforms.

Keep in mind that our benchmarks have not changed. Unless stated otherwise within a review, premium content is not included in a review. If it is reviewed, it is reviewed separately – according to its price. Episodic content is also evaluated according to the same model. In other words, a two-hour game that costs $8 to $10 is comparable to a film or typical game. If that same content costs $20, it needs to be surpassingly brilliant to secure a comparable rating.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 1, 2001 12:16 AM.

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