Posted 7:38pm on Mon 13 May 2013
- Posts: 7,224
I wrote a review of the Uprising DLC for Black Ops 2 recently and to be honest I sort of struggled a bit with it. I did all the usual things: played it for a good few hours, found my way around, different weapons and set ups, all the usual stuff. By the end of that I had a good grasp of the content and felt I was in a position to comment.
I couldn’t, though. I sat there and stared at the page, wondering where to start. I knew the maps but didn’t know what to write. You see my problem was deciding whether or not Uprising was good DLC, good FPS DLC, good CoD DLC or good Blops 2 DLC. In my opinion the answer in each case would be different, and with that in mind how should I go about writing a review?
And that led me to think on the conundrum one step further: How should you apply any sort of context when writing a review, be it for a game, a film or anything? I mean writing a review without comparing it to anything is just about impossible, unless it’s a completely new idea I suppose, but even then you would probably compare it to the last new idea in some way.
In regards to the Uprising DLC I ended up giving it a fairly generous score of 7/10, mainly because I wrote the review along the lines of “Is this good CoD DLC?” I figured most of the readers would be familiar with CoD and its online multiplayer, would already have a level of expectation around its content drops and so I could write at that level.
I’m not entirely sure that was fair or right, though. As a whole I find CoD DLC to be a little disappointing; colourful but uninventive, more akin to a paintball game than anything else*. Taking a step back from it all releasing four bulk standard maps for £10 is daylight robbery. Yet people are will to pay for them, which probably says more about the mentality of CoD players than they care to admit.
If I were to write the review as someone unfamiliar with CoD and its DLC I’d say the recent Uprising maps were probably only worth a 4 out of 10 at best. And this highlights the problem. You cannot write a review as a complete outsider, so what is the right angle or knowledge level to adopt?
An example of a forthcoming title which I am very much looking forward to: Battlefield 4. As some of you might already know I played Battlefield 3 to death… until I experienced some of the worst connectivity issues known to modern man. My point is I know Battlefield 3 inside and out, so when it comes to Battlefield 4 what I need to know is how the two games compare.
However not everyone will have the same needs as me. SWEEPING STATEMENT ALERT!! For the most part people who play CoD won’t want to know how BF4 compared to BF3, but they might want to know what it is like versus Call of Duty. Or perhaps we’d all benefit from knowing how it stacks against other military FPS games such as Arma 2 or Operation Flashpoint.
Is it even worth commenting on it just being a good video game, without delving into FPS genre specifics?
I’m interested to hear your views, particularly from those of you who have written a review of any sort in the past. How much do you use comparisons? Do you base a review on a series, a genre or perhaps the games industry as a whole? What level of foreknowledge do you assume your audience to have? Do you write as a seasoned pro or someone new?
All comments gratefully received.
* I actually think if they released a paintball mod it would be a great hit. But that’s an aside…
Posted 8:00pm on Mon 13 May 2013
- Posts: 17,978
I do have a bugbear with reviews of games aimed at a younger audience where the reviewer immediately seems to consider the game beneath them because they are not the main target audience themselves.
I tend to look at both the expected target audience and a general view and balance it all out, explaining that it may be different depending on what you're looking to get out of the game.
But a review could still be argued to be one person's take on the game, irrespective of audience, so perhaps I'm wrong? However, I'd like to think I can at least help steer someone in the right direction based on my review.
Comparisons, though, are more difficult because you're assuming that the audience is aware of and has played these other games. Ideally, I guess, you'd use both comparisons and try to describe the game enough for those who don't get the references at the same time. You do have to assume some knowledge of gaming in general and genres, otherwise it would be like a cookery book trying to explain what dessert was and how it differs from dinner before presenting you with recipe for a trifle.
So I would stil go with a comparison with the other DLC and the main game modes to gauge a level for those who know and a general statement, such as 'it's fairly weak and won't hold your interest, better sticking with xxx' to cover everyone else.
Posted 9:33pm on Mon 13 May 2013
- Posts: 8,041
From the heart, man. Select some core points that convey your feelings about the game, and build around those with other important points about the game that explore the creator's intentions and execution.
If you're looking at a page not knowing where to start other than "<publisher> has kept fans waiting a long time for <game> blah blah" then go back to the game until you find something interesting to say. Or literally just write "you know what, this game didn't provoke any thoughts at all so ***** it 7/10".
Posted 12:49am on Tue 14 May 2013
- Posts: 7,260
Originally Posted by altaranga
In regards to the Uprising DLC I ended up giving it a fairly generous score of 7/10If even you, as the reviewer, felt it was generous, then it was.
Originally Posted by pblive
But a review could still be argued to be one person's take on the game, irrespective of audience, so perhaps I'm wrong?Reviews can NOT be argued to be that. Reviews ARE that. So you are not wrong.
Originally Posted by Woffls
From the heart, man. Select some core points that convey your feelings about the game, and build around those with other important points about the game that explore the creator's intentions and execution. This, this, this, this, THIS. So much this! It simply comes down to the idea that you need to convey what the game caused you to FEEL, and trying to capture some of that for your readers. We can all see what it looks like, and especially in the case of something like CoD DLC, everybody reading already knows how to play and is more than a little familiar with the mechanics. So, unless a complete game changer is in front of you, you can essentially ignore all that stuff.
It is a sad fact that the truly great games are easy to write about, as are the awful ones. It's the middling stuff that causes the problems. But then, there is actually nothing wrong with an entirely average game, that just does what it is meant to. Some people want that. There is no shame in putting that across, because it is not the automatic black mark that we are increasingly led to believe.
Posted 5:01pm on Tue 14 May 2013
- Posts: 1,849
1: I make terrible grammar and punctuation mistakes.
2: I swear a lot.
3: I try to cut to the very core essence of the game.
4: I try to immerse the reader into MY experience of the game world.
4: I try not to write the same ***** that everybody else is writing.
5: I don't cover technical facts and figures. You can find that out elsewhere.
6: I don't bother writing much about games that didn't interest me. Why should I? They weren't very interesting. (see point 4)
7: I write from my soul and try to write something that I would find entertaining to read.
8: I should write more.
Posted 5:27pm on Tue 14 May 2013
- Posts: 1,012
For me the best reviewers are the ones with good knowledge and perspective, and that aren't afraid to put their own opinions across well. In most cases I will trust reviews purely because they are by a certain reviewer, or in some cases published on a certain site (thought this is much rarer these days).
There are a handful of individuals whose opinions I trust implicitly, because their reviews have consistently put across genuine feelings, opinions that I know I am likely to gel with, and know what they're talking about - Andy Kelly of Future is a good example of someone who I've grown to trust over a period of years.
I think as Lee says the best thing any reviewer can be is themselves, because it's the personality of the writing that hooks in the reader and will make them look out for your work in the future.
Posted 9:20am on Mon 12 August 2013
- Posts: 5,338
Would you mind removing that link from your signature please? I was going to delete your posts because of it, but it seems you're not a spam bot. Anyways, I'd appreciate it if you cold remove it. Thanks.