Thursday, April 15, 2010

Control Freak: Reviewer Pro-tips.

Time and time again I come across game reviews that make me lose faith in humanity, ones that are atrociously bad, make no sense, and make English teachers cry. Ones that have no rhyme, reason, or right to be on the internet. 
I've compiled a short list of tips for those who do write those bad reviews. I know a lot of people won't care to follow these. I also know that some people will be outright indignant about these tips. "A hit dog will cry" is all I'm going to say to them. Meaning if you're offended, then you're guilty.
I'm presenting this as a simple guide to people who write bad reviews of video games or any other medium for that matter. It's also a straightforward guide to those who are unsure about their reviewing prowess.
We've all been guilty of bad reviews in our days, some of us still are. I'm not criticizing any particular person's review(s), but rather the people who just don't get it.

You are not the Angry Video Game Nerd or Nostalgia Critic, do not pretend to be so. If you're going to spout curse words at random intervals, don't do it so often to the point that your review is outright unreadable/unwatchable. If you can't think of anything else to say besides a hundred curse words in your review, then don't do the review at all. With luck I'll never read or watch it and that makes me happy. Cursing at a game is pointless. Instead, curse your lack of skills to play the game.
We don't know you, we don't know what games you like to play, we don't know who you are off of the website your review is on, so please don't interject your own personal opinions into your review.
If you are a person who would rather do a review based on just your opinions, you can always start off by saying "I'm a big fan of *genre or series* but I have a problem with *insert problem.* It wasn't up to my standards of blah blah blah..." That helps us get to know you a little better and why it was a problem for you., and more than likely a printed dictionary, defines the word Opinion as "a personal view, attitude, or appraisal," meaning your own thoughts are written down into your review. These are the things you experienced and, in your mind, decided whether or not it was good.

Parallel to that definition, Fact is described as "something that actually exists; reality; truth."
Mario jumping higher after running is a fact. Mario being better than Luigi is an opinion.
See what I'm getting at? A very hard level in a game may seem unfair to you in your opinion, but the reason that it's supposed to be a challenge is a fact.
In simple terms: what may suck to you may be good in someone else' mind.

Punctuation: It's not an STD.

One paragraph is not a review. We need content, descriptions, a voice for the whole of the game. Don't worry if you think its "too wordy." Some people will say TL;DNR, but if you can grab my interest early on you may very well have my attention for the entire review.
Talk about graphics: how they hold up on the console, don't compare to another game unless it's in a series.
Gameplay: is it bugged? Is it perfect in your eyes? Does it remind you of another game?
Sound: Bullets and explosions are fun and all, but did you step back to hear voice chatter or the environment?
Value: How long do you expect to continually play the game? Will you come back to it years from now?
Add a personal opinion: what you wished the creators added or left out. Is it a rental or a buy?
Are you listening to me yet?
Under ANY circumstance directly compare one game to another, especially if they are of two completely different genres. (But as I've said before: ideas are fair game.) I have seen the genre mishap done before: someone compared the driving in GTA: San Andreas as being superior to that in Need For Speed Underground 2, and furthermore someone else compared Underground 2 as being better than Gran Turismo 4. (That's an arcade vs sim argument. We'll save that for later.)

Spell check is your friend, don't be afraid to use it. Some people don't bother with spell check because it makes them feel inferior only to be lambasted by readers later on. That's all a sense of pride and ego, just use the spell check.

What's that you say? One, small, single, little aspect of a game completely ruined the entire experience for you? Awwww poor baby. Well guess what? Tell us instead what you liked about the game. Don't dwell on one area for the entire review.

"I don't care if you agree with me or not, you're going to have to sit here and listen to me rant!"
Umm... no I'm not. I'm going to close out the tab and look for another review that's worth my time.
While we're on the topic: don't "rant." "Rant" is becoming an overused word meaning "I didn't think things through and plastered my opinion into an area of writing on the internet!"

Don't be a graphics whore: The Playstation 3 IS better than the 360 in terms of graphics but only because it is more powerful. Shut up fanboys, I own a 360.
Don't shoot off your mouth and disrespect another console in your review. Doing so certifies yourself as being on the bottom of the barrel of internet reviewers.
Graphics don't make a good game, gameplay does.

Don't contradict yourself. I.e."I did, but I didn't." End of discussion.

We all know there are bad games out there, if you happen to review one, don't throw out random sentences of anger. Try making fun of the game, add a little humor if you can. Satirize!

Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Devil May Cry, Grand Theft Auto, Gears of War, Need For Speed, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty are not the only games ever created. There is variety out there. Other games ARE NOT "ripping these games off."

Don't get involved in the hype machine. Try not to have preconceived notions, good or bad, about the game before playing it. Tell me what you think of it, not what you heard everyone else say. The hype surrounding certain games can be a huge letdown. (Thanks to Andre the Black Nerd for that one!)

Don't diss the old school and retro games: without them we wouldn't have games today.
Okay. Okay. You can hate on E.T. for the Atari all you want. That's fair.

Don't insult your readers.

I hope a lot of you can fair better from what I've presented. I have come across a few mind-numbing reviews in my time, ones that physically hurt to read. Some people just don't know that their reviews are bad, they post them and ignore the wave of facepalms.
Now, I want to know what you all think: what's the one thing you hate when people do in their reviews?

Keep Playing.

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