Sunday, November 7, 2010

Introduction to Reviews

I set up this blog as a place where I could post any video game reviews that I write up during the next few months. First of all, I'll give some background about why I'm writing reviews in the first place. Right now, I'm a 15 year old student living in Ireland and am currently in my Transition Year which work experience is a major part of. Also, when I leave school, I'm planning on going to college to get a qualification in journalism which will hopefully help me start a career in video game journalism. However, when gaming magazines and websites are advertising for job vacancies, I've noticed that they usually require you to have some sort of previous experience, even if it is just user reviews on a site like this. Hence, I set this up to showcase my work.

Over the next few months of reviewing, I'll be sticking to a set schedule. Keep in mind though that due to personal circumstances (lack of access to a computer, homework, going to gigs) there could be some delays:

Monday: Type up and post preview of my upcoming review. The post will also include a screenshot of the game in question which will be supplied by

Tuesday-Friday: This will be stage where I note down what I actually think of the game. This will usually involve me dipping back into the game in order to refresh my memory about certain aspects of it.

Saturday: This is the day where I organise my work throughout the week into a clear order and post the actual review.

To keep my reviews organised, I'll be writing them with a basic layout in mind, which will consist of separate sections covering different aspects of the video game in question. These will include:

Factfile: This will include basic information about the game such as it's name, a screenshot, developer, publisher, original release date, age rating (for simplicities sake I'll be limiting it to the ESRB, PEGI and CERO systems) and the platform I'm reviewing it on.

Background: This will provide a quick premise to the story, what type of gameplay you can expect from it and some information about the developer.

Story: Unlike the short premise I had in the background, this section will involve me talking about the narrative in a much more in depth way. I'll be talking about how original the setting and premise is, how predictable the plot becomes and how it relates to other games in the series. I will also be examining if the characters are too stereotypical and whether or not you can connect with the protagonist(s) or not.

Gameplay: Obviously, this is going to be the most important part of all of my reviews. This will cover a wide number of subjects such as how satisfying the gameplay is, the control scheme, improvements over previous titles, how the strength of both the AI enemies and the playable character(s) changes as the campaign progresses and, most importantly of all, the variety in the different forms of gameplay.

Presentation: This will cover too broad areas: visuals and sound. The visuals will deal with how impressive the game's graphics are. This can include how photo-realistic they are, how easy it is too make out what is happening on the screen at any given time and how effective the game's art-style is (if it has one of it's own. Meanwhile, the sound will cover both the in-game effects (soundtrack and effects) and the voice-acting.

Multiplayer: Obviously, this section will depend on whether it is included in the game or not. If it is, I'll be talking about the number of modes, the diversity between them and how the multiplayer differentiates itself from other games. If there is a co-operative feature, I'll cover how important working together is in order to achieve your goal. There will also be an evaluation on how accessible it is in terms of the overall online infrastructure.

Lifespan: This section will give a rough guide as to how long you will probably spend on the game. This will include the length of the main campaign, it's replayability factor and (if applicable) how much of a time eater the multi-player is.

Closing comments: This will be where I give my overall evaluation of the game, including a score. I will be rating the games on a twenty-point scale (10, 9.5, 9.0, etc) instead of the more commonly used hundred point scale (10, 9.9, 9.8, etc).

DLC: This section won't be posted alongside the main review but will instead be a part that I will edit in later during "DLC weeks". These will be weeks where I take a break from the intensity of a full review and instead turn my hand to more bitesized evaluations. Also, I will only be doing reviews for major, playable DLC, not for every piece DLC that is released for the game (e.g. Assassin's Creed II's Battle of Forli would get a review but the Gigawatt Blades from inFamous wouldn't). Each DLC will only get around two paragraphs though, covering what gameplay additions it provides and how well it links into the full game.

That's pretty much everything that has to be said, my schedule might be a bit disorganised during the first few weeks but after Christmas, I should have everything moving as smoothly as possible. I just hope that you all find my reviews as helpful and informative as you'd like.

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