Sounds like Hawke grades in the same manner I do. I grade based on the gameplay experience I'm given, not on how the game may technically fulfill a certain sense of requirements. It's sort of like judging a good jazz album. By "classical" standards, yeah, notes are missed, articulations are flubbed (due to the improvisation, not the skill of course). But you judge the experience, not the technique. Or, rather, you judge the technique in proper context with the experience.
Since I have become the Videogamecritic's "official Twilight Princess Apologist," let me use that as an example:
TP does have technical flaws. The only significant one, though (one that doesn't just boil down to taste anyway) is the use of synthesized orchestra as opposed to the real thing. Interestingly, this is not mentioned in the Critic or Hawke's review of the game (I'm a composer myself, so I notice these things
). Of course, it isn't like they used crappy synth, the sample based orchestra sounds terrific. But it does indeed lack the punch of the real thing, and it is extremely dissapointing that music of such high quality didn't get the full treatment. Koji Kondo himself even stated as much.
However, I base my take on a game based on my experience. Fact is, I was blown away and completely transported to another place; the last 6 hours of the game especially flew by like ten minutes. When a game picks me up and grabs me, then throws me on the floor as a sleep deprived, pathetic mess at the end, I have to give it an A+.
Okay, if I make another post explaining my thoughts on Twilight Princess, I authorize anyone on this board to send an email virus that'll blow my computer up