Hey there staff, if you are reading this post, you are a member of our team, and been given the right to review games! Some reviews are given via review codes, and some will be asked of you if it's outside our resources, but you have already made the purchase yourself. Keep in mind you should never review a game with a score in mind, that will hurt your review and is a pitfall of most reviewers. We will go over scoring at the end of this guide.
Here you will find a basic breakdown of structure that should be followed with all upcoming reviews.
First, this is something you should all know by now if you are working on reviews, but YOU MUST ENTER THE TITLE FIRST. Do not even think about posting a review without adhering to this rule, this is a rule that should be active with ALL posts, and if not upheld, it will cause a MASSIVE problem with the post link. Titles for reviews should be done as followed:
Review: "game name"
Review: Heart & Slash
If you have royally fucked up, and not followed this step and auto saved or saved your post YOU MUST correct this issue before posting.
Please look where your post link is and copy the title of the post into this section and hit save. It should auto format the link for you for the best possible SEO.
We aim to add an official game trailer to all reviews if we can or gameplay we may have captured that is of a 720p or higher quality with no visual obstructions of the game, lasting no more than 20 minutes. These videos may contain verbal communication from you about the game when you are playing it.
Adding videos or trailers to the site is rather easy. Note we only use Youtube for videos, if there is no video on youtube you wish to add, talk with me about it and we will see if it’s worth the time.
The first thing you are going to need is the iframe code that is provided to you by Youtube. Image of where the code is located below.
You will copy this code and paste it at the top of the page with the feature code added like so:
<featured><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/7epwLtqv-GA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></featured>
Now let’s look at written structure. Reviews should observe a 6 section structure as follows in this order:
Intro and hook:
The first paragraph of your review, is the most important. It needs an appropriate intro, most of which will be seen on the front page under the title, AS WELL AS THE META DESCRIPTION THAT SHOWS UP ON SEARCH ENGINES. Keep this section to 1 short Paragraph of no more than 3 full sentences, but no less than 2. You need to sell your review on the person reading it, and is arguably the hardest part.
All Game Information should be bolded using the markdown system and should look like the following with area of quotes edited to fit the game you are currently reviewing.
Developer: “of game”
Publisher: “of game”
Platform: “3DS ,etc. “ (“Disclosure of a -Review Copy Received- if applicable”)
Release Date: “all available platform release dates”.
Players: “maximum # of players the game will support.”
MSRP: “Price In US Dollars, may contain different prices, if so see example below.”
Disclosure: “any necessary disclosures besides review copy received will be put here. If no Disclosure do not add this section.”
So let’s take a look at an active example:
Heart & Slash
Publisher: BadLand Indie
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4(Review Copy Received), Xbox One
Release Date: June 24, 2016(Xbox One) June 28, 2016(Playstation 4) Steam Early Access(PC)
MSRP: $19.99 Playstation 4 & Xbox One, $24.99 PC
Bolding is done by adding
** at the start and end of the Game Info Text.
Example at the start like
**Heart & Slash and at the end
Sometimes the bolding system meshes things together if the title is to short, to fix this hit the spacebar till it fixes the format on the preview.
The first thing they read, should also be the first thing they would see. Graphics can make or break a game for people, and if done poorly will break the emersion of the game. It is extremely important to also understand that you personally might not like the graphics on a subjective sense, but you must try to be objective and consider the themes of the game you are playing. The better at this you are the better writer and reviewer you will be.
Give the Good first then the Bad. We call this a compliment sandwich in writing, & it helps give your writing a flow the reader can get behind. This rule should be observed it all aspects below as well. I can hear you ask “WHAT IF IT’S ALL BAD OR ALL GOOD” first I have to question why you were give access to reviews, second rarely is there ever a pure form of ether, but when that does end up being the case, which would most likely push the score into the 1-3 or 9-10 range, the game should be discussed within the skype group to help make sure this is actually a case of a game being amazing or terrible rather than something that has jaded your perception. A verbal discussion should be had as it helps you reaffirm or reevaluate your position on the game in a healthy way.
Aww Gameplay, the glue that holds games together. Gameplay can be broken down into many thing; how the game controls, world physics, game modes, etc. Be Sure to talk about as many aspects of this come to mind, and follow the ideas of a compliment sandwich. Short example:
“The controls were engaging, having a proper weight and tactile response to the game world.
The lack of game modes sucked dick and hurt the overall game.”
Now that you the “Overwatch Example” you should be able to make a fleshed out Gameplay section yourselves. Remember if you are talking about multiple ideas, such as controls and game modes as shown above, they would be 2 separate paragraphs.
Music and Sound:
This seems to be one of the hardest and least talked about aspects of games, but it is very important; music or the lack there of, sounds, and voice work all come together at the end of the visual and mechanical engagement you have with games to bring you something more than the sum of its parts. The music can set the tone for the entire theme or story of the game, sounds as small as a raindrops can bring flesh to a skeleton husk of a game, and voicework and make or break engrossing characters you engage with in the world you are exploring. These things need to be talked about and as we make the jump to highly organized and produced music in games, we need to keep an eye.
Story can be hit or miss in video games today, and what makes a good story is usually subjective outside of some key parameters
Does it make sense, this include the distinction of artistically or structurally. You can have both, its rare and takes a really good writer or team to pull this off, but you should atleast have 1.
Does it stick to the constructed rules of its own universe. This is a huge problem with games today, and it needs to be stated. You can’t just throw a Deus Ex Machina every 5 seconds and expect gamers to just be like “O ya dude bro totally, It was the magic dildo the whole time.” Its lazy writing on the developers part and should be called out. There are rare cases where the point of the Universe is to never hold true to the Universe, which in turn holds true to the universe.
Is it respectfully engaging? The mark of a bad writer or storyteller, is when they establish their work as too highbrow for audience. This is a story in a video game, not the mapping the human genome, or the recipe for atomic dark matter. Always call out the works of pseudo intellectuals trying to make you feel dumb because they can’t put the thoughts in there head onto paper, but respect the person who knows their faults and is legitimately trying to engage you.
The conclusion is your last section and generally is only one paragraph. In favorable reviews, this is usually where you will be getting quoted from by PR, Developers, and Publishers. I.E. this is the place where you sum up the game in total, and have a little room to inject some personal feeling on to the game. Its gives you a chance to express your feeling of the over all product in a way that touches on the previous points you have made in your review.
Tagging and Scoring the game:
So it’s time to tag and score the game, if you are familiar with the post system, you know that the tags section is in the post option under the link and feature article image. All the tags you need should be available in the system, but if they are not please contact one of the editors or me for approval to add the tag. Tags must be entered as they appear in pr, marketing, publisher, and developer materials. The tags in the system will be shown when you type the first 3 letters or numbers of the tag you want.
First tag you should enter will always be “Reviews” make sure you have the “s” on there. This is what will make it show up on our systems and in the menus, if you don’t do this, you are basically screwing your review out of being viewed.
Second tag is always the score. The score tag will be a variation of “x out of 10” examples “1 OUT OF 10” / “10 OUT OF 10” please see score chart below to better evaluate what each score means.
The third and final tag is the name of the Developer, this is more just to help people find other news about said games and studio if they so chose.
Our Scoring System:
Tagged at the top of our reviews will be a score out of ten. This simple, but effective, scoring system, devoid of decimals, is what we hope will be a more useful system to our readers than a score out of a hundred. Scores are an essential tool for game reviewers, by audience mandate and by sheer conciseness. The following table explains our rationales and justifications for our scores.
10.Near Flawless, a masterpiece of design and playability. Tens should only be given for games that we are absolutely convinced will be regarded as such in twenty years from the time of writing, perhaps even hundreds.
9.Games just out of reach of perfection, most likely games that will be game of the year contenders. Worth your time and money on release.
8.These are games that you will probably remember and even recommend to friends. solid mechanics and story. edging in the direction of greatness.
7.Games you should consider trying out. Could be a lot better but still good enough to warrant your time.
6.These games have mechanics or ideas that seem worth while, maybe even worth your time, but are not a loss if you miss them. These games could stand to use a good bucket of polish.
5.Average, not bad, but not great either. Uninspired games with boring design elements and no inclination towards besting their peers.
4.Games almost redeemable as mediocre in nature. Almost...….
3.Did they even try when making these games? These games are like the power glove, "its so bad".
2.O god why make it stop, make it stop. These games are the stuff of gaming hell, not bad enough to be the worse, but all hope is lost.
1.These games should not see the light of day. The devil himself brought this game upon us as a sign of the end times.
Now that it’s written, scored, and tagged let talk about IMAGES!
The feature image should always be the game’s logo, no ifs ands or buts. It should be clear and not be obstructed, taking up the majority of a 1600x900 image. Leaving slight margins on the right and left of the image as when boxed by our system, as it will cut those of first in a preview. Feel free to use this image as a template of how big the images should be.
A standard review has at least 4 images in the body of the review, one in between each of these section: Game Information, Graphics, Gameplay, Music and Sound, Conclusion. More may be added in the case of extremely long reviews every 2 paragraphs, but it is recommended to keep your review on point so this does not happen. In cases where the image is not a 16x9 standard, such as the case may be with 3DS games, the background of this template may serve as a decorative border.
There! You should be done and ready for an editor to read and edit your review for publishing.