Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My Reviewing System

Well, it's not so much a system as a vague notion of how to proceed. My approach will be somewhat similar to that of the website The Game Chair; I'll be providing partial reviews of games as I play them, along with a summary when I'm done. If I revisit a game later on for a replay and have something to add, I'll post another partial review. If you want a hasty impression based on the reviewer playing through a game as fast as possible to get it written a day or two after game release, then go to one of the regular gaming websites like GameSpot or IGN.

Reviews will be contextual; the original release date of a game and the system it runs on will be considered when evaluating its quality, especially as regards technical aspects; I don't expect a game from 1996 to have the graphics, sound and physics support of a game from 2006. Nor do I expect a PSP game to have the same level of presentation as a PS2 game.

My first review of a game will start with some reference information, such as the release date, game type and publisher. Then I'll make some general comments, and describe the game, including where applicable such elements as story, point of view, play style, goals, target audience, and so on. Next I'll make some evaluative comments and tell what I thought of various aspects. Finally I'll summarize my evaluation and provide detail and summary scores.

Subsequent reviews will describe and evaluate the portion of the game I've played through and provide a summary that covers both the new portion and the game overall so far. The detail and summary scores will cover new newly-played portion, adding an overall score that covers the game so far.

The final review will be like the partial ones, only with a more complete summary section and a final score for the game.

A word about scores: Most reviewers provide scores that more closely resemble the U.S. grammar school grading system than a legitimate numerical rating like 0-100 with 0 being unplayable and 100 being unmissable and 50 being average. Instead, 75 corresponds to a "C" grade and means that a game is average. Anything below a 60 is like an "F" and considered not worth playing.

There have been some exceptions to this, such as the new aggregation site that intends to normalize scores on a curve on a per-site basis, or the site The Game Chair, where each of the four star ratings has a specific meaning, which makes score inflation difficult.

My approach will be a little different. Instead of a numeric score or stars, I'll be explicitly grading games as though they were school projects. Grades will range from A+ to F, omitting E. Like The Game Chair, each grade will have a specific meaning in order to avoid grade inflation.

Another difference is that the summary grades are not averages of the detail grades; instead every grade is given independently, with summary grades reflecting my impression of that general aspect of the game. Also, not every game will be evaluated on the same criteria, and the list of criteria will probably grow with time.

Here's my initial list of grading criteria:
  • Graphics
  • Music
  • Sound
  • Story
  • Voice Acting
  • Overall Presentation
  • Controls
  • Difficulty
  • Frustration
  • Gameplay
  • Learning Curve
  • Length
  • Replay Value
  • UI
  • Overall Playability
  • Awe
  • Awww
  • Cheer
  • Cool
  • Fear
  • Fun
  • Funny
  • Outrage
  • Sadness
  • Scare
  • Shock
  • Suspense
  • Thrill
  • Overall Emotional Impact
  • Overall Grade
  • Purchase Recommendation

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