For those who don't know me or have never read any of my reviews, or even received any of my rates or even comments. You will probably find out once you get to know me that I'm a pretty aggressive reviewer ; I don't mean aggressive in a way like I'm quick to start a fight, instead I take reviewing very serious, and I even read and rate other people's reviews in the same manner. One of the two categories I'm very aggressive and even detailed in is video games, the other happens to be music. I'll cover the second at a later date.
My aim today is to help other reviewers into writing better video game reviews, or provide the foundation to those who have an interest in writing them. Now take note, I'm not telling anyone how to write their reviews; you can write your reviews anyway you please with the least amount of info or the most. Whatever flies your kite. But always remember, when you're writing these product reviews your responsibility is to provide accurate information to the consumers, and they are the people who are reading your reviews to make a purchase or maybe even reading them for entertainment purposes. If people come across your reviews and you have a habit of producing subpar work, then there's a possibility you won't gain many consistent readers and it may feel like you're writing for nothing. To my experience, you gain the most readers and rates when you put effort into what you're doing.
Now even though I've ran into people who consider me an "expert" at these things, even I take those claims with a grain of salt, because I re-read my reviews all the time and I see plenty of room for improvement. However, I do know how to craft together useful reviews, and now I'm going to take the time to help others do the same with my guide on writing video game reviews.
Video game reviews are among the most taxing, because they require far more info than movies and books. Serious gamers require a lot of detail to know if a game is for them, either to play at the moment, or is it something they can just put off for a while longer, so they can move on to something they been hearing to be much better.
Personally, this part comes second in my review but this should definitely be somewhere at the top of your review, and it should consist of the story and even some background of the game that will prove interesting to readers.
Bad Intro - This game is awesome it so rawks! I use to run home from school everyday and play this game. You will love it. Or, when I had cancer I loved this game.
Honestly, nobody cares about those things. And personally, I hate to see game reviews(or any reviews for that matter) opened up with nonsensical rants. It tells people you don't have anything to say and most reviews like these rarely do.
Good Intro - As a die hard fan of platformers and Super Mario Bros. It was a no brainer I would take a stab at the new Super Mario 3D Land for the 3DS, especially since I seen the progress with the franchise for the Nintendo Wii when I played Super Mario Galaxy.
Are we on to something here? You just let everyone know you're a fan and at the same time you described why you wanted to play the game in the first place. You just grabbed the readers interest and set the tone for your whole review. Bad intros can put people off, and as a result you might not gain much positive feedback.
Every game has a story no matter how ridiculous it may be, or even some type of directions. You must let the person know what's going on. I usually open up my reviews with a quick summary explaining what's going on without major spoilers. I can't stand when people already expect you to know what's going on. How would you feel if there was only one review on a game you wanted to try, and you came out knowing just as much about it as you knew going in, which was absolutely nothing?
Bad story description - The story is awwwwwwwwweesum! There's nuthin lik ti!
Good story description - Taking place in modern New York City, a Pimp by the name of Slap runs the underworld with an iron fist. Dirty Joe Stink was beaten by Slap and his goons, and left for dead face first in a garbage can full of rats leaving him terribly chewed up and scarred. Completely driven mad, Dirty Joe Stink puts together a plan to systematically destroy Slap's entire operation and finish him off when he gets the chance.
It's obvious which approach is better. Give some detail to not only grip the readers interest, but also give your review credibility, thus piquing the interest of your readers to want to read more of your stuff.
Bad Game Play description - Oh wow! You can do so many things here! You can steal cars! You can buy stuff! There aren't enough words to describe this!
Good Game Play Description - The game is a third person action/adventure shooter and you guide Joe Stink as he uses melee weapons as well as long range firearms to dispatch enemies. The AI is rather smart, and it forces you to utilize stealth in some cases. The game features some tough boss battles where strategy is your friend, and a war of attrition will get you killed more often than not. Plus there are side missions where you steal cars and run over bums for experience points. You earn far more when you crush them still sleeping in their cardboard boxes. The game features a death match that is rather lame, because the stages are pretty generic with very little by way of imagination.
Game play is the heart of your review. This should consist of no less about 70% of your review. I'm not saying you should add every single detail about it, but more than enough to give someone an idea on what they're getting into. Do you think the game is as ultra easy as Turtles in Time? Moderately difficult as Cave Story 3D? Or hard, maniacally hard, like Ultimate Ghosts n' Goblins?
The type of game is very important too ie; Roleplaying Game (RPG), First Person Shooter (FPS), Action/Adventure, Fighting etc. The system the game is available on or does it have to be downloaded. These things must be mentioned. Also, if the game features online play then give some description of it; if you don't like online play then you should note that to keep someone from questioning you about it. These are just some of the details that will greatly assist people in making a purchase.
This is an area that is more important then some folks realize, as I seen this left out of reviews several times. People have to know how well the game performs. However, in this area, some games require more detail than others depending on the type.
Bad Controls Description - Everything performs well. No problems here.
Good Controls Description- The controls use all of the buttons; shooting and switching weapons along with strafing performs very well for the most part. However, there's this sluggish feel when you're riding the vehicles, perhaps this was done intentionally to capture some type of realism. Personally, I don't like it.
The first description isn't totally bad, because this section varies heavily from game to game. Some games only use two or three buttons to shoot, jump, maybe swap weapons or increase speed. So it doesn't make much sense trying to add a whole lot. Here are five of my reviews on different games that provides very good examples on when to go in-depth in this area. Lightening Force (Space Shooter), Goldeneye 007 (First Person Shooter), Super Street Fighter IV (Fighting), Tetris Axis (Puzzle) Mario Kart DS (Racing).
Since the PS2 arrived I would say, graphics have become very important to the point where some people only buy games based on how pretty they look. I notice plenty of people overlook this area and summarize it in the simplest of ways. Personally, I try to go in as much detail as possible.
Bad Graphics Description - Everything looks great! I never seen anything better!
Good Graphics Description - The animation is pretty fluid with character movements, when Joe Stink unleashes a knife combo, you can see the attacks pretty clear with guts and body parts hitting the floor. I really enjoy the backgrounds in the cathedral; the lighting is well used in darker areas creating a certain ambiance that even produces a horror like feel. The character designs are pretty well detailed, especially for the whip wielding, handcuff wearing hookers. They have a very curvy and busty appearance you will see in X-Men comics. Lots of tits, lots of ass. I love it! This area would be perfect if not for one thing.... That miserable annoying camera. You can easily lose where you're at, and this is very problematic when you're being attacked by multiple assailants.
This is an area that took quite a bit of practice for me to get down, so I can understand when some folks dismiss it, but I don't agree with them doing it. Graphics are very important to mention. Here on this site lunch, I notice it's very easy to hide behind videos and pictures. But these do not provide any info at all if there's some type of slowdown or camera problems. You have to describe these. And if it's an RPG you're reviewing that features plenty of FMV's, it must receive a mention.
Bad Sound/Music Description - I love the music! I can play this game all day everyday just for the music.
Good Sound/Music Description - Although I find it appealing; the jazz soundtrack which is made up of saxophones and detuned bells are a very poor mix for such a frantic, very quick paced action game that even relies on some type of a horror like feel. The creative styles clash a great deal, and as a result, the game feels like it has two different personalities. The sound effects standout with a clear tearing sound when sharp, stainless steel is tearing through flesh and touching rib bone.
In today's games, the sound is very important. Do you hear the sneaker's screeching on the floor in a basketball game? Does the announcer have a bit to say? How's the voice acting in the RPG you just played? I know it can be hard for some people to describe music and sound, but it's a good idea to mention does the BGM even fit with the game, and if you can notice the sound. Example, the jazz BGM in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was always a poor fit to me, and I believe a rock track would have captured the zany feel of it. And if you take a game like Ninja Gaiden Sigma for example, you will notice a lot of authentic sound effects.
Bad Replay/Conclusion Description - I love this game so much and you will to!
Good Replay/Conclusion Description - The main game can be completed in x amount of time. There's a battle mode that held my attention for awhile, plus a second quest that I enjoyed which adds to the story. All in all, I think this will appeal to gamers looking for a challenge and great story.
It's good to cap off your review with some type of brief summary capturing your feelings of the game. You can combine your replay and conclusion or split them into two. It really doesn't matter, as long as you end your review giving reasons on why you liked or disliked a game. It's very aggravating to be left in limbo by a person who just delivered you unsure thoughts. Believe me, what you have to say means a lot more than your actual rating.
I will admit that on a site like this one, I may have wasted my typing breath putting this guide together. I notice here that high ratings are handed out like candy, and I really don't know what are people's motivation when doing that. However, there are other sites like epinions where you can actually earn some money for your reviews, and you have to be at the top of your game there. But let's say you can care less about money. Wouldn't you want people to at least be entertained by your musings? Like your work enough to go and read more leaving positive comments in the process? I know I do.
I didn't put this guide together as an ego trip; "I'm better than you and your reviews suck", that was not my intention. In fact, I have earlier reviews right now that I don't think live up to my newer standard. I may go back and fix them, or leave them alone so readers can see a difference and really know what I'm talking about.
I like to read and rate good video game reviews. Therefore, I hope this guide helps gamers out there who would love to write good and highly detailed reviews. And if you're already doing that and some of the tips I tossed in their help you into a better game reviewer, then that's even better. My game reviews were highly criticized at one point by individuals who knew more than I did. I didn't get all bent out of shape; I just worked on it and now I think my reviews are much better and very helpful. So happy gaming and happy reviewing.
You can access all my game reviews here - Video Game Reviews
Here are game reviewers I like to read in no particular order and I recommend you do the same, plus you can also reference their work if you don't like mine for whatever reasons:
RabidChihuahua, TsunayoshiSawada5927, TokenDP, Garyuu, Zero_Destiny,
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