How to write outstanding game reviews
Gaming might be a passion of yours, but you will find that writing game reviews is a bit of a different animal. An inexperienced reviewer might omit a few critical details. But you can write outstanding game reviews by applying a few simple tips.
Read Many Good Game Reviews
That is not to say that you should regurgitate what other bloggers have said. There is no point in publishing something that has been said hundreds of times before. You need to bring your own, unique perspective to the gaming industry. But in reading high-quality game reviews, you will learn how to think about games, what to look for and some of the expectations that readers will have of a game review. Research the best outlets, learn about their models and apply what you have learned.
You Have To Get Through Games Quickly
Gamers expect to be able to read reviews shortly after it is released. So if there is a midnight release of a popular game, ideally you would be first in line, and you would get through the game that very night. This would be very difficult in larger scale games such as Fallout or The Elder Scrolls. But even in those games, you could play through the main storyline, hit a few side quests and then write your general assessment of the game. In the coming days, you could write a few more articles regarding the quests. Either way, do not wait too long for the initial publication.
Paying Attention And Taking Notes
If you do not take notes, you might find yourself staring at a blank screen, trying to remember the significant plot points. You will also be prone to misremembering something and sharing false information with your audience. Focus your notes on specific questions, such as "Was I ever bored?" or "Was the gameplay ever too complicated or frustrating?" Pay attention to things like controls, story, graphics, audio, and anything else that you might think is relevant to your readers.
You can compare two games or you can focus on only one. There will be pros and cons to each approach. If you are conducting comparative analysis, that will provide a unique avenue that most game reviewers probably have not taken. As an experienced gamer, you have probably made connections with other games that many of your readers have not. On the other hand, a comparative analysis might lack in depth, especially since you should be concerned about your word count. It will be up to you to make that call in every situation.
Keep The Word Count In Mind
You should know what a review is and what it is not. A review is not a transcript of the dialogue of the game. It is not a chronological ordering of events in the game. That would be more of a walkthrough than a review. A review highlights some important aspects of the game and provides an overall assessment. With that in mind, it should not be too long. People tend to get bored reading long reviews. Most should be between 800-1500 words, depending on the length of the game.
Telling The Game's Story
Your emphasis on the story should be very much contingent on the game's emphasis on the story. In games such as Gears of War, there certainly is a bit of story, but the game is pretty much driven by action. Relay the distinction to the reader. In your review, you should bring up a few essential plot points that drive the story. You could also write a walkthrough. That goes well with adventure games like Broken Sword or Final Fantasy. Get them excited about immersing themselves in this world, but do so without spoiling anything. If your review is aimed at people who have already played the game, hence containing spoilers, be sure that you post "WARNING: SPOILERS" at the top of the text.
Should They Buy It?
That is really what the audience wants to know. If someone is paying $70 for a game, he or she wants to know that there’s more than a couple of hours in it, that it will be engaging and even addictive. On the other hand, if you do not think it is worth the money, then just say that. People want and deserve an honest opinion backed up by facts.
Don't Play Into Stereotypes
People tend to assume that gamers are teenagers who are cutting school, drinking Monster and fighting with mom about their late-night video game sessions. That is pretty far off base. If you write your review aiming at this demographic, you are likely to lose touch with the bulk of your audience. More than half of adults between the ages of 30 and 49 play video games. Try to be intuitive regarding demographics (or try finding some data) and write a review that speaks to your target age group.
All of this might seem a little intimidating, but after you’ve read a few reviews for inspiration, written a few others for practice, and seen a bit of traffic for motivation, it’s going to get a lot easier. Who knows, writing game reviews might become your full-time job.