How To Write A Game Review In 7 Steps
Writing a video game review can be a great way to share your experience and knowledge. Learn how to write a game review below .
When a new video game comes out, you can’t wait to play the game. If you’re deep into the game world, you’re also likely interested in what gaming sites have to say about your new game, whether review sites view the game favorably, and what the game mechanics will be like during your first-time playing experience.
It can be fun to share your thoughts on a new video game with others, and it can help other gamers decide whether the game would be a good fit for them.
If it’s your first time reviewing games, it’s likely that you have a lot of questions. You might be unsure of the word count you should aim for as you review games, or you might not be sure of whether you should give an objective view or your own opinion on a particular game.
Whether you’re writing your first indie review for fun or you’re ready to break into the world of gaming journalism, our step-by-step guide will tell you everything you need to know about writing reviews on video games.
Step 1: Choose Your Audience
Step 2: choose your game and start playing, step 3: collect information, step 4: create a review outline, step 5: write your first draft, step 6: revise, step 7: publish, the final word on how to write a game review, where can you publish video game reviews, what’s the appropriate word count for a video game review.
Before you dig into writing your first review of a video game, it’s key to know your audience. If you want to write for gaming sites, you might write differently than if you were crafting a review for your own website.
If you’re still working to develop your writing skills , you might consider writing for social media or your own website before you try to get a video game review picked up by a large publication.
If you feel that you’re able to write a good review for a gaming publication, be sure to check with the specific publication for their requirements for reviews. Some publications may require that you follow a certain format or meet a certain word count in order to be considered for publication. Don’t know how to copyright your book? Check out our guide on how to copyright a book . You can also check out our other how-to articles by typing “how to” in our search bar.
After you’ve selected the audience that makes the most sense for your review, it’s time to select a good game. It’s smart to start with a new game that hasn’t been heavily reviewed. As you begin to gain credibility in the video game world, you may find that companies reach out to you to allow you to test out games before they’re released to the general public.
You’ll want to spend seven to ten hours playing the game before you begin your review. Whether you choose a mainstream game (like an IGN-created option) or an indie game, you’ll want to be sure that you take the time necessary to provide your readers with valuable information.
You may want to set an alarm to go off every ten to fifteen minutes as you play to help you remember to pay attention to the positives and negatives of the game. Excellent video games can make you feel like you’re transported to another world, and it can be easy to lose focus on your review. Setting an alarm to remind you to jot down notes from time to time can help you stay on task as you play. Pay attention to sound effects, visual effects, and other factors that people debating purchasing the game may want to learn about.
Accompanying your thoughts with screenshots to help readers get a visual of what you’re trying to convey can be helpful. Be careful not to reveal spoilers (or fully warn readers if spoilers are impossible to avoid).
Your review should have a brief introduction (if it’s a new game, explain why the game is trending), followed by a few body paragraphs that explain what you did and didn’t like about the game.
This review on The Gunk does a great job at sharing both positive and negative points about the game:
What could be a silent, Metroid-style dive into buried secrets thus becomes something slightly different. The Gunk is as much about the bond between this duo and their difficult situation as what they find. The act of exploring is pushed and pulled between their two perspectives – a simple twist on an old formula that’s easy to appreciate. It’s a shame then that the planet itself renders their adventure a little flat.
There’s no need for your outline to be comprehensive—a few rough bullet points can help you stay on task as you begin to create your full review.
If you’re reviewing Xbox or Playstation games for an online publication, you may need to check in with your editor to discuss whether they’d like you to make changes before you move forward with writing your article .
Go back to your outline and begin to flesh out each point, expanding on what you did and didn’t like about the game. Be sure to keep your desired word count in mind so that you’re able to keep each section to a similar length.
As you begin your draft, create an introduction that draws the reader in, like this review on Solar Ash :
I’m increasingly convinced that movement-driven games aren’t just my type of game; they’re the best type of game. Demonstrably – mathematically, even. Because a game that turns the simple act of getting to point B into a constant delight, and then presents infinite points to get to, is always at its best. No dips, no clutter, just 100% uptime on the thing you signed up for.
If you find that you’re struggling to express your thoughts while staying under the appropriate word count, reach out to your editor to discuss whether they’d be comfortable with a longer game review. Focus on expressing yourself as you write your review, and try not to worry too much about mechanics during your first draft. You’ll have plenty of time to polish your draft during your revision.
When you complete your draft, it’s time to go back and revise. Carefully review your text, and keep an eye out for spelling and grammatical errors . You may want to run your text through an online spelling and grammar tool to ensure that you’ve corrected all mistakes.
Consider asking another gamer who has played the game to take a look at your review before you submit it for publication. Getting another set of eyes on your work can be a valuable tool in ensuring that you’ve hit all the necessary main points.
After you’ve revised and cleaned up your draft, it’s time to publish. Whether you choose to share your draft on social media, with friends, a gaming website, or a print publication, be sure to share your work. Looking for more how-to-guide articles? You might find our guide on how to write a testimonial helpful in writing that testimonial on a product or service you enjoyed.
If you’re getting started with writing video game reviews, you’ll want to identify your audience, get experience playing the game, and create an outline prior to writing your review. Then, you’ll move on to the writing, revision, and publishing stage. Enjoy the process—sharing your newfound knowledge of the latest video game with other games is fun, exciting, and worthwhile.
FAQs On How To Write A Game Review
You can publish a video game review on your own website, or you can submit your review to an online or print publication.
While requested word counts can differ from publication, most video game reviews are approximately 500 words.
Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.
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How To Become A Game Reviewer (2021 Updated Edition)
About eight years ago, I wrote the below article called “How To Become A Game Reviewer & Get Game Review Copies.” It was a pretty popular post, did a lot of traffic and generated more comments and emails than anything else we’ve done on this site. Who know, lots of folks are interested in being a game reviewer.
More importantly, the original guide helped people who wanted to get started as a game reviewer. That’s what I wanted to do when I originally wrote it.
Two years ago, I returned to it for an update and expand slightly on some things.
When this was originally posted, it was about 4,000 words. The first updated, the expanded edition, brought it to almost 8,000.
This update for 2021 has trimmed some fat in an effort to make it more reader friendly. Nothing of value was cut and some stuff was re-worded. It’s still over 7,000 words on how to become a game reviewer.
We’re looking to get more engaged in social media; FOLLOW us on Twitter and be sure to drop a LIKE on our Facebook page. Your support is appreciated!
As always, you are encouraged to leave a comment with feedback or ask any questions that you may still have after reading through the guide. I’m here to help.
Throughout the post are random gaming images from games we’ve reviewed. They’re just there to break up the text since this is a very long read.
How To Become A Video Game Reviewer
So you want to be a video game reviewer, huh? You want to sit back and get free video games in exchange for writing, or speaking if you’re doing a video review, your opinion about the game? Well you’re in the right place; I can tell you how to become a game reviewer and maybe get those copies.
In my decade as a game reviewer, or blogger, I’ve received quite a few free games for review. These games range from the full-blown $60 so-called “AAA” blockbuster titles for console or PC, to the small and cheap downloadable indie games for PC, PSN, and XBLM.
On the occasions where I’ve scored a review copy of a big release title before its release, say Madden or Saints Row IV, I ALWAYS get a ton of new PSN friend requests and messages of “how did you get the game early?” It never fails, and the amount that came after getting the platinum for Saints Row IV before its release was absurd.
I may not accept all friend requests, but in general I always try to explain via a reply that I’m reviewing the game and it was a review copy. This always gets followed up with “what’s your site?,” “is it (getting review copies) hard?,” and “how can I go about doing that?”
Here’s the number one thing that should be your main take away from this article:
You should not become a game reviewer to simply try and score copies!
That is the absolute wrong attitude to have, and if you start out with that mentality and don’t quickly change it, you’re going to fail.
Have a passion for gaming and writing, and treat it professionally even if you aren’t making money at it. Write about gaming and the latest news or trailers; but don’t just regurgitate press releases. Buy games and review them; the more you write the better you will get, and the more reviews you write the better they will become.
Treat your reviews professionally, which means try to use proper grammar and spelling. No one is going to take you serious if you’re writing like you’re sending a text message or posting some drivel in the comments on YouTube.
“Is getting game reviewer copies hard?”
The short answer is no. Honestly, it isn’t that difficult at all.
I have had blogs in the past, and I had written game reviews before, but had never even given thought to review copies or free games.
Before this site got its start in April 2011, I was writing wrestling columns for LordsOfPain.net.
When the demo for the WWE All Stars game hit PSN, I tweeted to THQ and the WWE Games community manager at the time, Marcus Stephenson, that I really liked the demo and was looking forward to the games release.
They were fans of LOP and asked if I would be interested in receiving a copy of the game to review.
And so, WWE All Stars was my first review copy. Since I was getting burned out and growing tired of writing about wrestling under a deadline with no pay, I decided to leave LOP and start my own site with a focus on gaming. Thus, here we are today.
My first retail review copy for this site came a few months after I started the site, and it was a PS3 copy of Madden NFL 12 which I had not even requested (I’ll cover this process soon) but had covered.
Honestly, I had no business receiving a copy of that game. It in no way benefited EA Sports; traffic was maybe 100 visitors a day at that time. See, you don’t have to be a big or pull in a ton of visitors.
“How can I go about becoming a game reviewer?”
If you’re looking to do video reviews then you have to start a YouTube channel (or some other platform). I’m not a YouTuber, so I can’t help you on that front. If that’s the route you’re going, then there’s equipment that you’re going to want to invest at least a little bit in.
You’re going to need a decent microphone, and if you’re going to show yourself in the video then you’ll need a decent camera. These are Amazon affiliate links, but good starters would be Blue Snowball and Logitech C922x.
You’re also going to need a way to capture your gameplay. There are built in ways to do that on PlayStation and Xbox, and free ways on PC. If you’re serious, on consoles, you’ll want to invest in a capture device like an Elgato. You’ll also need software to edit video, and a program to record audio (the free Audacity program is pretty great).
My recommendation here would be to start small and work with what you’ve got. Unless you’re rich, don’t spend a ton of money when you’re just starting out.
Use what you have and see if it’s something you’re going to like doing and be able to stick with before investing a ton of money.
Blogging As A Game Reviewer
If you’re like me, video content’s not going to be your thing. You want to write, not talk (although you video folks still should write a script). For that you need an outlet. Unless you can get in with someone else who already has a site going, you’re going to want to create a blog or website. I want to point out for the would be video reviewers, the rest of this chapter is geared towards those who will be going the blog route.
You could pay for a webhost and set up a site, but I personally wouldn’t recommend starting that way. Maybe I’m just cheap, but spending money on a host and then trying to build an audience, which takes time, seems counterproductive when there are viable free options out there. I say that particularly to those of you who might be more prone to giving up when you’re getting very few to no visitors three months after starting. Don’t waste money if you aren’t sure you’ll stick with it.
For that reason, if you don’t already have a blog/site, I recommend using WordPress.com. It’s free and easy, and when you eventually feel like taking the site to a paid host and running the self hosted WordPress platform, you’ll be able to easily import all of your posts, comments, and subscribers.
WordPress.com vs WordPress.org Self Hosting
WordPress.com has its restrictions. You can’t install plugins (except with Business plan) or run ads (outside of WordAds). But it is the best option for starting out when you just want to focus on the content and building an audience.
It gives you the time to see if it is something you’re going to want to stick with without having to spend money.
If you know for sure that you’re going to be doing this and not give up on it, getting your own web host and using the WordPress.org platform may be the best option for you.
You’ll have the most freedom there and will be able to customize to your heart’s content. But, I’d still recommend starting out on the freely hosted WordPress.com.
Before going any further down the blog route I must point out that less and less people care about reading.
Video content is typically king these days and more and more folks would rather watch a streamer than they would read someone’s opinion.
Text based reviews is a bit of an uphill battle.
With that said, there’s certainly nothing stopping you from doing a hybrid of the two.
If you go with a blog, you can post your written review and also include a video review if you want.
That’s probably the best route to take because it covers all the bases. If you can also stream the new release game on Twitch or YouTube, all the better.
If you want a site, the first thing you have to do is determine where you want to host it. Again, I recommend a beginner to just go with WordPress.com. It’s completely free and it’s reliable.
You don’t have to worry about anything. You can just focus on building your brand and writing. It’s a platform that can expand with you via paid upgrades, but if you feel you outgrow it or want more freedom then you can always take your site with you.
But unless you know 100% that you’re going to be dedicated completely and a success, why waste money at the beginning on a web host that’s going to charge you by the month or year?
Right now, this site, Vortainment.com, is still on WordPress.com. I’m extremely happy here; it’s a great service. I actually stuck with them as the host while practically full WordPress.org functionality as we’re on the business plan.
Self Hosting Isn’t Right For Everyone
There was a time when I thought the time was right to move my site to a paid host and to the self-hosted WordPress platform. I went with DreamHost, who I had heard and read nothing but good things about. It was a fine experience for a while, but eventually the site got to where it was down more than it was up.
Then I was having to be in contact with support and working on backend stuff instead of writing content. They have a pretty generous 90-day hassle free refund period, and I was a couple of days away from that when I decided to forget it and just move back to WordPress.com and got my money back.
Obviously tons of people have success with that method, but that one ultimately bad experience caused me to just be happy with WordPress.com. You might have a completely different experience, perhaps smooth sailing for you.
When you’re just starting out fresh, I personally advocate taking a smart free approach that allows you to write and build an audience without having to worry about anything else.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t invest any money in your site at the beginning. I do recommend getting a domain if nothing else
I’d also recommend purchasing a good theme, although they can be a little costly. The more you can customize it, the better it is because you don’t want your site looking like every site that also uses the same theme.
Starting Out As A Game Reviewer
Once you have your host and your name, and you have picked out a theme, you’re ready to start fixing up the site itself. I recommend you keep things simple and organized from the very beginning.
Two things you’re going need to use for that organization are categories and tags. A post should only be in one category the majority of the time. In the case of reviews, the category could be “Reviews” if you’re just doing video games. I do games, movies, books, and other stuff, so I actually put it in two categories; Reviews and Gaming. You do what you think works best for your own organizational needs.
Tags are the other organizational tool that you’ll use and will have a lot of value for your audience, so it’s important to have a plan for them and get it right at the beginning.
Take it from me, because I speak from personal experience, you don’t want to have to restructure your site later on and have to edit thousands of posts to have a tagging system that makes sense and is simple to readers.
So let’s say you’re posting a review of a game, and for this example we’ll use Borderlands 3 , here’s how you might go about organizing it.
Example of Game Review Organization
Title: Borderlands 3 Review Category: Reviews, Gaming Tags: gearbox, 2k games, borderlands, ps4, xbox one, pc, fps, looter shooter
That’s really all the tags you need. That’s all the relevant information; developer, publisher, game title, platforms, and genre. If you want, you can even list the score as a tag (that tends to work better if you use a star system) and also “game reviews” as a tag.
The point is to keep it simple. You don’t need to go overboard with tags. Think of them as an index for your site; it’s relevant information so that your readers can easily find all posts of a similar nature.
You’ll notice that the category is capitalized and the tags are all lower case. You can capitalize the first letter in your tag, but it’s best to do tags in lowercase. There’s no SEO (search engine optimization) law about it, but it just helps keep categories and tags distinct for your reader. If you look at the tags as the index, then think of the categories as the chapters of your blog.
Building a Portfolio and an Audience
So you have your blog up and running, now you need to start writing content.
By this point you’ve put in a lot thought to backend stuff and now you’ve reached the point where it’s time to put your original plan into action and make use of everything you’ve set up. It’s time to write that first review, or post, and get it published on your site.
As a rule, know that demand for a review constantly dwindles from the time the game launches. There’s less people looking for a review of a new game that’s been out a week than there is the first two days of launch.
So as a beginner, you’re already fighting an uphill battle. You’re having to buy the game, and then you’re having to invest enough hours into playing it to have a legitimate opinion on the game. By the time you get around to posting that review, few people are going to care.
For that reason, the beginning of a site is a fantastic time to just write. You don’t have an audience. Take the time to enjoy just writing reviews (and other opinion pieces) about whatever games you want and honing your style. This all a practice stage for you; you should be finding your voice.
This Is One of The Best Times For You As A Writer
At this point in your journey you can feel free to review whatever game you want. Look at your shelf and just start reviewing. If you’ve got NES games, cool you have a retro review to write. You’re just writing to get better at it, and also to have a nice portfolio of reviews to help build your site.
It’s important not to get carried away here. Don’t just start reviewing every game you’ve ever played and posting them one after the other. If you haven’t played that game in years, then perhaps your memory of it isn’t good enough to review it. So play it again, then possibly review it.
The idea of reviewing older games, and by that I mean anything that isn’t a new release, is just to have reviews be posted on the site when you’re not able to review new games. Try to get a schedule going if at all possible, that way readers will know when and how often they should expect to see a review be posted on your site.
You don’t want to flood your site with old reviews at all once because they aren’t going to be big hits. You’re not going to be getting a lot of views on those reviews, and if that’s all you’re posting because you’re trying to build a portfolio then you aren’t likely to be succeeding at also building an audience up.
Game Reviewers Should Also Write Gaming News
I know you’re reading this because you want to be a game reviewer, but unless you can get hired on with someone else’s site as just a reviewer then you’re going to have to do more than just review games on your site. Reviews of games from three months ago, let alone three years ago, just isn’t going to bring more than one or two visitors to your site. And those visitors aren’t likely to be repeat visitors.
Because of that, you’re going to want to spend a lot of your time writing about games that haven’t come out yet. If a trailer for a game you’re interested in gets released, post that YouTube video and write about the trailer. A new piece of information for an upcoming game gets announced, write about that.
Don’t just copy and paste press releases though. That’s lazy and is content found word for word on countless sites. Don’t be like those sites. At least have the decency to rewrite the information contained in the release to put it in your own words. Put your own spin on things.
Some folks have a problem with what we’ll call opinionated news. That is news that has your opinion, or your bias, mixed in with it. To that end, you’re not a journalist just reporting news. You are a blogger, and that means sharing news largely by expressing your opinion about it.
Opinions and Lists
I like to try and keep a happy medium though; write the facts and things your audience needs to know, and then follow it up underneath with your thoughts on the subject. I do this with either a bolded “Patriot’s Position” heading so readers know they’re getting an opinion.
Another thing you should start writing is non-review opinion pieces. Do things like lists or most anticipated games releasing this fall. It’s the news posts and opinion pieces that will bring in the most visitors to your site. If all you’re doing is reviewing old games, then you’re just writing for yourself. If that’s what you want, fine, but you’re not going to see much growth.
At this point, getting review copies isn’t likely to happen. Any new release game that you review is going to have to be a game you buy. That means you’ll get it release day, spend a few days plaything it, and then write a review that gets posted almost a week after release when there isn’t as much interest.
That’s just the nature of it. That’s why you want to be posting other content to help bring in viewers.
Covering games in the months before they release is what’s going to allow you to begin to become known to the public relations people at the publishing studios. Making contact with the publishers is the next chapter, so don’t worry about that part yet, but it is how you will ultimately go about getting review copies.
How To Cover Games As A Game Reviewer
Don’t read into that last paragraph and think that you should be covering games with a slant to getting in good with publishers. That’s not the goal.
Never become a mouthpiece for the publishers; it’s not your job to give them free advertising.
Again, and I stress, recycling their press releases is something anyone can do; there are bot sites that automatically do that. That takes no effort and is neither satisfying to you as a hopeful writer or the readership you’re trying to establish. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone copy and paste a press release and call it a day. That’s as low effort as it gets.
Ultimately though, at this stage and any other, the one thing you should be doing is just writing.
That’s it, just write.
You have total freedom in the beginning. No one is reading; you’re not going to get instantly flooded with comments from people telling you that you’re a terrible writer. The more you write the better you will get at it.
That goes for any type of writing. If you’re in your free time and you’re not writing, you should be thinking about writing. Keep a notepad with you and write down any ideas you get for potential opinion piece topics. For whatever reason the Internet loves lists, so the more of them you do the better.
After several months of doing all of this, you should have plenty of content on your site and you should be getting visitors now. You should also know by now whether or not it’s something you’re going to stick with.
If you’ve made it this far and are confident that you’ll keep going, then you’re finally ready to reach out and introduce yourself to the PR folks at the publishers. You’re still likely a ways off from considering requesting review copies, but you’re at the point where you’re ready to get put on the press mailing list to receive press releases and assets.
Contacting Publishers As A Game Reviewer
Once your site has been established for a while and you’ve seen that you’re going to be committed to this journey and have begun to build an audience, it’s time to reach out and introduce yourself to publishers.
You’re not trying to get review copies here, at least not from most outlets. Your goal here is to just make yourself known and try to get put on press email lists. You want to be on these lists so that you get press releases and assets (like trailers and screenshots) emailed to you.
With this, you’re no longer having to scour other sites to find something to write about. The news is coming to you straight from the publisher or third party PR firm that they have working for them.
This process is routine and simple, and you should keep things short and to the point. You’re introducing yourself to a PR person, and that should only take a sentence or two.
They’re busy folks and they get a ton of emails, so please don’t waste their time by writing out your life story here. That should go without saying, but I’ve had people looking to get started doing this email me copies of their introductory emails before because a publisher didn’t respond. They’ve ranged from four to seven long paragraphs.
To show how easy it is, below is an actual email I sent when I was introducing myself and requesting to be put on a press list. This email was the first one I sent, and it was to a PR manager at Square Enix:
I’m Gary Smith, I am the Editor-in-Chief of Vortainment ( https://vortainment.com ). I’m writing to request to be added to the Square Enix press list to help stay up-to-date on the latest news, press releases, and assets for quicker coverage of Square Enix games.
Thanks for your time.
All the best,
Now that email was sent to a general PR address at Square Enix as I didn’t have any contacts there. Had I known the name of the person I was emailing, I would’ve included their first name after “Hi.”
That was basically my go to email when I was requesting to be put on these lists. It’s pretty straightforward, and I could copy/paste and just change the publisher’s name.
Once you’ve sent off the email, that’s it. There’s nothing else you can do. Some will reply back, and I would say on average that is the case. It could be a while though; hours to days, and of course sometimes it’s just a matter of minutes. Again, these people are getting a lot of emails and are also busy doing a lot of other tasks.
Examples of Actual Responses
In the case of Square Enix, a lady replied back around five hours later with the following email:
We can definitely add you to the press list!
That’s a pretty standard reply. Sometimes they might be longer like the one below from Bethesda, and sometimes they’ll be really short like the one below that from Deep Silver:
Hope all is well with you! I’ll make sure you’re added to our press database so you’re in the loop on all things Bethesda. You can also register for our press asset site where you’ll find assets for each of our games.
Drop me a line if there’s anything else you need in the meantime.
Yes, despite my email containing my name four times, this lady at Bethesda still managed to type “Greg” instead of “Gary.” And from Deep Silver:
Sure, I’ll add you to our news list. 🙂
Sometimes I followed up these responses with a simple “Thanks, I appreciate it,” but most of the time I didn’t because it really isn’t necessary. You do what feels right for you.
You Might Not Get A Response
I sent that example email off to basically all of the big publishers. Some, like the three above, responded back fairly quickly. Others never responded, and the only thing I can say there is to not send another one.
In the case of THQ, Activision, EA, and Ubisoft I never heard anything back. With that said, all of them except Ubisoft added me to their press lists. So just because they don’t respond back doesn’t mean they didn’t add you. Now if it’s been a couple of months and you haven’t received any press releases from them when you know they’ve been sending them out, feel free to try them again.
The great thing about a response is that it will more than likely be coming from a person’s email address. So in the case of Square Enix, the response came from an actual person’s account. That gives a named contact whose address can be used next time and a person with whom you can build a rapport.
Once you’ve been getting press releases and assets, and using them to create posts, the next time you’ll want to contact publishers is to send them your coverage links.
When To Email Coverage
I know some people who send links off every time they post about a game. I’ve never been one to do that. Instead, I send off bulk coverage links. That is to say I’ll cover a game several times and then send off one email that contains links to several different pieces of coverage.
A lot of times these days, I don’t even bother doing it at all unless there’s a note in their email asking for coverage links if I post about whatever information they sent over.
One thing you’ll notice when contacting publishers is that you might get a reply from someone at a different company. That’s because some publishers, while having a PR or marketing group, will outsource to a dedicated PR firm.
You’ll encounter the likes of FortySeven, TriplePoint, B/H Impact, and Evolve amongst others. Some of these can be difficult, others fantastic.
The folks at Evolve are wonderful and have hands down the best site for press members, YouTuber’s or streamers as they make it super easy to submit coverage or request review codes and so that you always know who the correct contact for a specific game they’re representing is.
When and How to Request Game Review Copies
There is no real, sure fire way to answer this. It depends on the game and your relationship with the publisher or firm handling the title; i.e. have you worked with them in the past on getting a review copy, or is this the first time they’re hearing about you.
If it’s a big release title that is guaranteed to have a lot of interest, I’d say request a month out. In most cases, two weeks will suffice because the smaller sites typically aren’t going to get copies early anyway. Release day copies are pretty much the norm for the non-big sites.
If you request a month out, the worst thing that is going to happen is you’ll possibly get a reply back stating they’ll make a note of your request but won’t start putting together a list until closer to launch. If that happens, simply follow up two weeks before the game is scheduled to be released.
The “how” is the easiest part (again, once you get past feeling weird about it… which may just be me, I don’t know).
You should have already been familiar with the contact for the game and been emailing your coverage to them, but of course you don’t always have to take that route. Your request may be the first time you’ve emailed anything about the game.
Example Email of Game Review Request
I like to keep it short, and I do have a go-to request. Here is an actual request that I sent out where I did get a copy:
I’m Gary Smith, I am the Editor-in-Chief of, and a reviewer at, Vortainment ( https://vortainment.com ). I’m writing to put in a request to be added to the review list for “REDACTED”. Specifically, I’m inquiring about receiving a PS4 copy of the game for review. If I can be added to the list, my mailing address is included below…”
If it’s a first time contacting them, introduce yourself and then tell them why you’re writing. Short and sweet.
If they ask about stats, be honest. Plenty of publishers, including big ones, are willingly to work with smaller sites.
The main thing is to be professional and respectful with it.
There is no magic formula. You’ll get some, and you won’t get some (most). When you do receive a game, play it thoroughly and write a review of it in a timely manner and always send the link to your review to your contact.
When you do that all you have to say is, “here’s the link to my review, thanks for sending it out, have a great day!” and usually they’ll respond with “thanks for the review.”
Don’t be nervous sending the link if you score the game low either.
Also, don’t request more games than you can potentially handle. The object is not to acquire as many free games as you can.
Misconceptions About Game Reviewers, Reviews, & Publishers
If you read around gaming communities, you’ll find that a lot of people are suspicious of reviewers who receive review copies of games. A publisher gave you a game to review, so there obviously must be a catch. Your review can no longer be trusted because of this. And that’s simply not true.
Never have I encountered a PR person who wanted a game to receive a certain score or better. Could shady stuff happen between publishing companies and large sites like say IGN? Absolutely. I get suspicious myself when I see a site plastered with ads for a game, that gets an exclusive early review of the game (when everyone else has to follow an embargo), and then that game scores highly.
It doesn’t happen on the small sites; no publisher is ever going to tell you to give a game a certain score in exchange for getting a copy. They don’t care that much. And if for some reason you ever do get that email, post it and let the world know because its wrong and would need to be exposed.
Never, ever, be beholden to the publisher.
Yes, as a game reviewer, they control whether or not you get a review copy. The publisher-reviewer relationship, like all relationships, is very much quid-pro-quo; something for something. They are giving you a review copy; in exchange you are writing your opinion on the game in a public sphere.
This is done under the agreement that the review will be honest. If you think the game is bad, say so and describe how so. When you email the link to your contact, they will thank you for the review. And that’s that; they’re not furious and plotting revenge and blacklisting you because you gave the game a low score.
Always remember that a review is simply one person’s opinion; not everyone is going to like the same thing.
Your only responsibility as a game reviewer is to provide an accurate and honest portrayal about your thoughts on the game. If you think you’re going to write simply to please a publisher to hope they send you more games, then you need not even start this process.
Write honest reviews and remember that your readers are more important than the publishers . If a game is bad, explain to your readers how so that they can make an informed decision. You are critiquing a game for potential consumers, not writing an advertisement to please the publisher. Always remember that.
Be true to yourself, honest with your readers, and professional to the publishers.
Game Reviewers Have Embargoes
If you do receive an early copy of a game, it will most likely come with an embargo date. An embargo means you aren’t allowed to post a review, impressions, or gameplay of the game until after a specific date.
A lot of people think that by adhering to embargoes that you are being beholden to the publisher. They don’t want you to talk about their bad game until it releases; and you’re doing gamers a disservice by not informing them before release
Of course there’s a couple of things wrong with that. If someone has pre-ordered, they didn’t need or care about a review.
Breaking embargo will most likely get you blacklisted. You have to adhere to the embargo; sorry people who think that is a problem.
Just like the publishers send you a review copy under the agreement that you’ll say whatever you honestly think about the game, you accept that review copy under the agreement that you will not post your review until the embargo is up.
For you as a game reviewer, embargos can actually be useful. Depending on how early you get the game, you may have time to finish it.
Why is this important to a game reviewer?
Well just like you’re competing with other reviewers for copies, you’re also competing with them for hits. The sooner you can get your review out, the better for you in that department.
If there were no embargos, some folks would get through the game faster than you. They may not play through it in order to be the first to get a review out there; thus they would bring in all the traffic. Some may even try to do this anyway by giving a good game a low score, just for the controversy.
Embargos tend to make it a level playing field; even if the intention is basically to control hype or do damage control.
Sometimes an outlet like IGN gets an exclusive and are able to post days ahead of everyone else. There’s nothing you can do about that though, and it doesn’t happen often.
Understand You Won’t Get Every Game You Request
As said earlier, reviewing to simply try and get free games is not the approach to take. It takes time to start getting review copies.
Start small. Request indie games for your platform. You’re much more likely to get those codes, and it’s a great place to start. Work your way up to retail releases.
Understand also that you aren’t going to get most games you request; and you aren’t likely to know why. Don’t let your failure to get anything from a company result in some misplaced grudge or blacklisting their stuff.
The worse mentality you can have is “well they won’t give me review copies, so I won’t cover their stuff.” Cover everything you’re interested in, and some you aren’t (you do have readers who have different interests), and don’t worry about review copies.
For example, I can’t get anything from Ubisoft (outside of a PSN copy of From Dust).
But who cares? Assassin’s Creed is still my favorite franchise and I’m still going to write about it.
They don’t owe me copies, and I don’t expect them. Every one I’ve had contact with at Ubisoft has been friendly; it’s just one of those things that happen.
The point is, don’t take not getting review copies personally. Just continue doing what you’re doing and don’t worry about it.
Don’t Become A Game Reviewer To Get Free Games
Again, I can’t stress it enough though… DON’T REVIEW GAMES TO TRY AND GET FREE GAMES . Just don’t do it. It will not work out and no one will care because it will be obvious. If that is your goal, you’re probably going to compromise your thoughts.
If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend not even using review scores. Be the change in the system. Don’t let people focus on that meaningless number.
Don’t be a “me too” game reviewer. Be honest, and be thorough. Scores don’t matter , so don’t feel you have to use them simply because most others do.
All told, writing game reviews should be something that is fun for you, and it can be rewarding. Read the reviews written by other bloggers, and I mean actually READ the reviews, and leave them comments.
Become part of the game reviewer community.
Connecting with other bloggers or game reviewers is far more rewarding than getting some free video game.
Finally, if you do receive a review copy, be honest and upfront with your readers and treat them with respect. Always disclose to your readers when you a review copy was provided.
The most important thing you can do is simply be honest with your readers; they’re the most important thing you’ve got. Write to make the best possible recommendation to your readers, and don’t worry about the publishers and what they think. Be the best game reviewer for your audience.
If you need help in the beginning finding out press contacts and keeping up with the latest press releases, then register at Games Press.
Again, if you have questions about becoming a game reviewer, you can always ask in the comments below or our integrated forums .
Gary is Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Vortainment. He’s usually posting news and reviews, and doing all the back end stuff as well. He likes to play video games, watch movies, wrestling and college football (Roll Tide Roll).
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How to Write a Great Video Game Review
- January 25, 2022
- Ajax Moroni
Playing video games can be a lot of fun. But, writing a critique on them can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the gaming world. We’ve put together some crucial tips to help you craft an impressive video game review.
Playing the Game and Taking Notes
One of the best ways to write game reviews is to keep taking notes while you play. Do not get too indulged in the game. Keep reminding yourself you’re playing it to write a review. While you’re playing, you’d note several features and different aspects of different stages. It is better to pause the game right away and jot it down. Otherwise, you’ll forget some of the details when you’ll sit to write later. Remember, there are professional essay writers and law essay writing services available that can provide guidance and support if you need help with your academic writing tasks. Experts at Essay Zoo also suggest that playing a game to write a review is the best way. You can ask your gamer friends for feedback or read online reviews, but you won’t be able to craft an impressive piece until you experience it yourself. So, never rely on others’ feedback to write your own. Experiencing it yourself gives you the advantage of checking all its features. Besides, it also allows you to make an opinion about it.
Consequently, you’d be able to write a great piece. But remember to keep noting everything down, even if you’re good at making mental notes. Taking notes will help you create an outline and not miss anything important. And it will also allow you to write your draft fastly and appropriately. So, spare a reasonable amount of time for playing and taking notes. You can play it for several hours before you start writing your first draft.
Prepare an Impactful Introduction
Want to know how to write video game reviews that leave an impression? If so, make sure you understand the proper structure. Your draft should be divided into three parts:
But this doesn’t mean you have to put a heading before each section. Simply divide your video game review into logical paragraphs. The first paragraph is the introduction. The last paragraph is the conclusion. And the paragraphs in the middle are the body. To create an impact, ensure your introduction is impressive. Here are some suggestions to craft a great intro:
- It must include a hook to engage the reader right from the start
- Avoid using cliche statements
- Start with an exciting background statement
- Mention the name of the game you’re reviewing and its launching date etc
- Give an interesting fact and your opinion about it briefly
Explain The Gameplay
After the introduction, explain the reason behind your opinion. Tell the reader more about the different aspects of the game, such as:
- Sound effects
- Difficulty level
But, above all, you must explain the story and why it is played. Explain it in a way that you’re telling someone who has never played it.
- What are players required to do?
- Why is gameplay compelling?
- What is the ultimate motive of players?
- What challenges do they have to face to achieve it?
- How are these challenges overcome?
There is a lot of explanation other than the graphics and sounds. But, if you feel stuck, check out some essays on video games available online. Reading them will give you an idea about how to go about it. You can also opt to take professional writing help if you think you can’t do it on your own. Writing reviews can be challenging, especially when you have a lot on your plate. And, it’s okay to ask for help.
Be Concise and Straight To The Point
Are you wondering how to rate a game? The simple way to do so would be to gather the overall experience and rate it on a scale of 1-10. Do keep these questions in mind when rating:
- Did I enjoy it while playing?
- Did you feel like playing again after quitting it?
- Were the sound effects pleasing or annoying?
- Was it easy to understand?
- What ages of players can play it?
- Does it have a message?
- Does it contain violence?
Having these questions in mind will help you craft an impressive game critique. However, make sure you don’t go overboard. Include only relevant details that are concise and straight to the point. Explaining the same issue in different ways won’t do you any good. It will give a wrong impression to the reader. So, have a clear outline in your mind. And write your critique precisely. Besides, ensure you have divided it into logical paragraphs and have maintained cohesiveness.
Don’t Add Spoilers
It is effortless to give spoilers when reviewing something without even realizing it. Remember, you don’t have to reveal the plot twist or climax. Although giving spoilers won’t decrease the reader’s enjoyment when they play it, it is not recommended. If it is inevitable to reveal some crucial details, provide a spoiler alert. It will allow the reader to decide whether or not to continue reading it. If you’re writing this critique for your blog, you must remember this tip. If you’re writing it for a class assignment, your professor will also note all of these points. So, make sure you follow all the rules of crafting an excellent critique. When writing an essay about video games, don’t forget to give your opinion. Also, your conclusion must have a rating and whether you recommend it to others or not.
Compare the Game with Previous Releases
Another crucial aspect to keep in mind is to discuss the previous releases or versions. If the game you’re reviewing is the latest version, compare it with the earlier versions. Here are some questions to consider:
- Which version is the most popular among gamers and why?
- What are the differences and similarities between these versions?
- Was it necessary to launch a new version?
- Does the new version cater to the issues found in the previous versions?
- Can the players easily transit from the earlier version to the new one?
The answers to these questions will give a unique angle to your critique. Inscribing about the current game features only could be boring. So, don’t forget to add exciting yet relevant details.
All in all, crafting a critique requires good writing skills and some techniques. Now that you know the techniques of writing a great review make sure you keep them in mind. These tips are sure to help you craft a perfect piece.
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How to write a video game review.
Don't you know how to rate a video game and write a review? We will tell you what you should pay attention to, what parts the article should consist of and what mistakes should not be made.
In the modern world, video games are one of the largest segments of the entertainment industry. The scale of the gaming industry is comparable to, for example, the film industry. And in terms of growth rate over the past five years, the video game industry has significantly outpaced it. In 2021, the global gaming market will be $159,3 billion. Therefore, it is not surprising that writing gaming commentary is becoming more and more popular. Not sure how to structure your paper? Then our guide will be the best assistant for you.
Steps To Create A Video Game Review
Conventionally, the process of writing a review can be divided into two stages:
- Testing and notes.
- Compilation of a video game review.
Below we have described each step by which you will achieve the desired result.
Testing & Notes
First, decide for whom you are writing a review. For example, for game review sites, a magazine, or for an educational institution. If you are writing an article for a magazine, the question arises: "How do I get paid for writing for magazines?" Of course, you must agree on the moment of payment with the magazine. The amount for a journal article can vary from $ 50 to $ 200 - it all depends on your writing skills.
If you are writing an article for a website, you may be concerned about the question: "How much should I charge for a 500-word article?" Writers who write in this area charge $ 50 per article of 500 words. This is the most reasonable price to which website owners respond well. However, you can set a higher price list, provided that your article is entirely original and does not contain errors.
Separately, we would like to pay attention to articles for the educational institution. Teachers set very high requirements: the paper must be 100% free of plagiarism, properly structured, formatted in the same style, and include a list of citations. In this case, we recommend you to ask to write my paper for me from experienced experts. An expert's advantage is that he gets into the subject and knows how to please a strict teacher. Note that research papers help - is cheap, reliable, fast, and safe because professors, and sometimes doctors of sciences work with the texts. Now let's get back to how to take notes and test the game.
Play the Game 7-10 Hours
Sometimes it can take you a month to test a game. However, most websites that publish articles expect to see a video game review a couple of days after its release. Therefore, you should spend 7-10 hours playing the game to see all the functions and get a feel for it. During this time, find out the advantages and disadvantages of the game. If the game has levels, try to get to a high level to see how the game develops. If the game is like an open world like Minecraft, explore it thoroughly.
Write Down What You Liked About The Game
Notes while testing the game will help you when creating an article. You can use a simple notepad or apply modern technologies: voice recorder or screen recording. The experts from essaypay.com offer to uncover game features and add-on purchases. Uncover game features, add-on purchases, graphic design, and sound effects. Write down what you remember and liked the most. For example, you are attracted by 3D trees and the player's clothing. Describing these points in detail will help the reader understand what the game world looks like.
Write Down What You Would Like To Change In The Game
Games cannot be perfect, so your review should include any flaws or points you would like to change. Perhaps the graphics are too simple, or the sound in the game sounds loud. If any of these elements irritate you, be sure to mention them. Don't write in general phrases. Use specific examples.
Compare the Game with Previous Releases
If the game is not new, such as The Sims, you can compare it to previous releases. For example, indicate that the updated version has more features or additional customization functions. You should also note the genre the creators submitted the game: action, horror, racing, building, etc.
Compilation of a Video Game Review
When you have made all the notes and have tested the game well, you can start the writing process. Below we have described a few steps that you should pay attention to.
Review papers samples before you start creating your review. This is necessary for you to understand how many words you will need for the article, what parts the paper should include, what to look for. Readers appreciate reviews that don't exceed 1,000 words. Papers over this volume tire readers, and most likely, people will ignore your review.
Write an Introduction
How do you start a review? We recommend that you remember the essay format, which includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. Introduce the reader to the game in the introduction. You can use the hook to grab attention: statistics, quotes, aphorisms, examples, etc. For example: "Among Us is the most played game in history, and it amassed half a billion monthly active users."
In the central part, you can discuss all those points that you tested in the game. For example, discuss sound effects and graphics. You can also tell readers if the game is available on a computer, TV, smartphone, or other gadget. If the video games contain characters, describe them. Mark the character that is best to play with. If the game is racing, describe the cars and their functions. You can also give examples of what your feelings were during the game. Add images to make the review more informative.
Write a Conclusion
At the end of the review, add your own opinion. Write if you recommend your readers to play the game or if it's not worthy of their attention. You can also rate the game on a ten-point scale. For example: "The game left a pleasant impression, so my score is 10 out of 10." Remember! Before submitting your review, proofread the text and eliminate any errors. Good luck.
The Final Insight
The video game review is usually an easy task since most of the games are interesting. Thus, you will be involved in the task to the fullest. Nonetheless, you have to be very attentive and follow the outline to make your review amazing.
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How To Write A Game Review?
Everyone has an opinion about something, but not all can express it in an interesting and substantive way. Writing a review, which is in a way expressing one’s opinion, is not an easy task. How to write an engaging, argumentative, and crisp review of a game or anything else for that matter?
It starts with fun
Writing any review must be preceded by the most fun part of all. Before you sit down to write an opinion, you need to get to know the subject of your review. It applies to everything, including movies, books, games, and casino reviews . In this situation (as in any other), a reviewer should play casino games to get a sense of how everything works. Then, anyone else interested in playing online casino games can read the review first and decide which game and site they want to visit based on it. After all, this is what all reviews are about. Today, anyone can post a review. However, it is more reliable if it comes from professionals in the area, such as the individuals behind Vegas Slots Online, who have been reviewing casinos since 2013, providing an honest, unbiased, and comprehensive review based on criteria that built their reputation. This is why it has been trusted by so many people.
Let’s go back to writing a game review. As you already know, it starts with trying the game out. However, what is important is that it’s not about fun, at least this is not your main goal of yours, even if it is one of the best games of a given year. While you’re playing, you need to take notes. This might seem like a nuisance, and if you are new in the reviewing business, you might think that you can remember it all. With all probability, you can’t. Making notes from the game is an essential part of writing a review. Luckily, there is a tip for that. Instead of writing something down, you might record yourself on your phone or tape recorder. Another important issue is that quite often you won’t finish the game, but you still need to know it a bit to write a trustworthy review. If you have a tight deadline, you still should spend at least 7 to 10 hours on a game. When there are levels, try your best to achieve as much as possible and when it’s an open world, make everything in your power to discover all you can.
Notes turning into a review
As you were taking notes during the game, the next steps will be much easier. First, it’s good to write down what you liked about the game. These might be small elements or bit parts of the game, like graphic design. Then, you need to include all that you did not like about the game. It’s equally crucial to criticize as it is to praise for a job well done. When you know what was engaging and unique in the game, as well as what should be improved, you can start writing down your review.
A good review
Not every review is good, even if it meticulously compares the assets and downsides of a given game. Besides writing down what you liked and disliked, you might want to answer some questions. While playing, pay attention to any problems you may encounter, whether the story is cohesive or maybe you are getting bored. Any emotions and thoughts that appear in your head might turn out to be useful in writing a review.
When you start creating a review, remember to start with a brief explanation of the game, but no spoilers included! Rate its difficulty level and graphics. When you write a review, remember to focus on all elements, not only the storyline but also visual effects, sound, music, navigation, simply everything.
Yet another issue is the length of your review. It needs to be engaging, you should cover as many aspects of a game as possible, but the whole text cannot be too long because no one will want to read it. There is no point in writing a review that will be of no use to anyone, and you will certainly not become a professional reviewer this way. Your text should include a brief introduction and conclusions, but the body of the text needs to appeal to people, and you might want to include some comparison with similar productions, which would certainly interest the audience.
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What you should look for when reviewing video games
The gaming industry is thriving. With more people starting to write reviews, there’s a huge opportunity to stand out as a trusted source. Many reviews are confusing and hard to navigate, but this is easily fixed by following a few best practices. You don’t need to be a great writer to write a great review, you simply need to know what to look out for.
Whether you review video games for fun or are looking to turn it into a paying gig, here are some tips that will help you write a review that’s polished, personal, and truly useful for your reader.
1. Play the game for 7-10 hours
Most gaming publications don’t provide reviewers with advanced copies, so you’ll likely have to wait until release day to get a copy of the game. Since most gamers want to read reviews within a week of release, this doesn’t leave much time to play the game and put together a review.
However, most people agree that 7-10 hours of play is all it takes to get a strong enough sense of the game to write a useful review on it. If you haven’t finished the game at the time of writing the review, be sure to say so. Be honest with your reader. It helps them make an informed decision. You can always write a more detailed review later, especially if it becomes a highly-rated game .
2. Take notes while you’re playing
Develop the habit of taking notes as you play. This will make your life easier when it comes to sitting down to write your review. A great review is specific. Instead of simply listing features, it gives the reader examples and comparisons. By jotting down notes as you go, you’ll be able to note specific examples within the game to illustrate your points and make your review more engaging.
For instance, instead of noting, “The sound is bad”, note, “The explosion sound effects are distracting because they lag.” Then you’ll be able to explain why and how this distraction affected your experience playing the game.
Here are some helpful prompts to keep in mind as you play:
- What elements are engaging or distracting?
- How did the game live up to preview footage?
- What is done well?
- What could be improved?
- Are there any obvious problems or glitches?
- Do any parts surprise you?
- What other games does it remind you of?
3. Compile your notes and write your review
Organize your review into sections so it’s easy for your reader to navigate. You don’t need to be a graphics or sound expert to write a great review. Your personal reactions, impressions, and experience is what will be valuable to other gamers.
In general, your review should cover the following elements of the game:
Control and gameplay
- How easy or difficult is it to control the game? Let the reader know by giving examples. If there’s an area you struggle with chances are they will too.
- This is also where you can include the control setups that were most useful for you and other tips that would make a gamers experience more enjoyable.
- Graphics are an extremely important element of any game. Note your initial reactions to them. Do the graphics keep you immersed in the game or are they distracting? Evaluate graphics based on clarity, believability, and performance.
- While sound is often seen as secondary to graphics, it’s a vital element and what can separate a good game from a great one. Again, judge sounds by how realistic and clear they are. If they contribute to or detract from your experience, note that.
Story and characters
- Story is what puts characters into context. This is the heart of the game and what makes you invested in playing it. Does the story flow well or is it awkward? Explain the style by giving examples of other games it reminds you of. This will help the reader judge if they’ll enjoy it or not.
- Gamers want to know if they’ll be able to play a game repeatedly. Give the reader a sense of game length and addictiveness based on your initial playing experience. This helps people decide if the game is worth investing their time and money into.
Your personal opinion
- Finally, include your personal take on the game. Share what you liked and disliked, and what you think could be improved about the game overall. Be specific. If you didn’t like part of the game explain why by giving an example.
- Be honest. Disclose if you received the game for free or are being paid to write the review.
These six elements will make up the body content of your review. After that, you’ll want to write a short introduction and conclusion that highlights and summarizes your overall thoughts. Make sure the intro hooks your reader and the conclusion offers clear takeaways.
4. Edit and polish your review
Whether you’re self-publishing your review or submitting it to a publication, take the time to edit and clean it up. Grammar errors are one of the most common video game writing mistakes, and having these in your work can put a dent in your credibility.
Here’s what to look out for when editing:
- In terms of article length, your review should be around 1000 words. If you’re writing for a publication they may specify desired length, but 1000 words is a good benchmark to aim for.
- Break up long paragraphs and use subheadings. This will make your review easy to read and navigate.
- Make sure there are no spoilers. While examples are important, don’t give away the plot of the game.
- Be concise. Don’t repeat yourself or say in three sentences what you could say in one.
- Use an editing software, like Grammarly, to correct any spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Read your article out loud and fix any awkward sentences. The goal is to write like you talk.
That’s it! That’s all you need to know to write a great video game review. Keep your process simple and focused by following this basic outline every time. With practice you’ll become a stronger, more efficient writer. And who knows, you might end up making great money doing it!
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Writing contests, make money writing, hottest topics, writing your first freelance video game review.
So the big moment has arrived. An online gaming publication has given you the greenlight to write your first game review.
- Where do you begin?
- What should you talk about?
- How long should you play the game for?
- How much time do you need to write your review?
These and other questions are probably swirling through your head right now. But fear not! I am here to provide you with some handy tips for crafting a review that is both professional-looking and infused with your personal flair.
Time Limits & Commitments
Since many online gaming publications don’t provide reviewers with an advanced review copy of a particular game, chances are high you’ll have to snag a copy of the game after it is released to the public. And since many gamers usually read a game’s review on the day it comes out or maybe a few days after, that means you’re working within a narrow window to play through the game, write the review, edit it, and get it to the site you’re writing it for.
As a general rule of thumb, most online publications usually expect a game’s review to be up on their site no more than a week after the game has been released.
Now, don’t panic, because if you do it right a solid review doesn’t actually take too much time to write. You also don’t have to devote hours upon hours playing a game to form a solid opinion on it (7-10 hours is more than enough).
Jotting Down Notes
One important habit to develop early is to take notes as you play.
- Does a specific element of the game stand out to you?
- Are there any glaring problems?
- How well do the game’s unique features (if any) work for you?
- What elements excited or bored you?
- How does the game compare to competing games?
Having a handy list of notes can help you quickly recall your likes and dislikes, and even certain emotions you had experienced during and after gameplay.
Word Length & Substance
Writing a good review is all about maintaining balance. You want to provide the reader with essential details and insightful opinions without bogging them down with unnecessary details and useless musings.
A typical word count for a finished review should be around 1,000 words: some sites might want more (maybe 1,200 to 1,500 words), and some might want less (800 to 900 words).
Several factors can determine the length of the review, two of which include:
- A big triple : an expansive or in-depth game like an RPG. You’ll want to shoot for that 1,000+ word goal.
- An indie game : a lesser-known indie game or a smaller game like a mobile phone or handheld app. You can focus less on length and more on substance, 800-900 words.
When deciding what to cover in your review, many gaming sites will want you to discuss:
Even if you don’t normally pay attention to a certain element, such as a game’s music or graphics, it’s important to mention what the game offers in those key areas as they could matter a great deal to the reader.
However, don’t force yourself into devoting more time to a subject than you feel comfortable doing. If you admire a particular part of a game, write about it! Readers always enjoy reading about how much the reviewer enjoyed a certain element of a game, rather than staring at a few stock paragraphs showing how “neat” or “interesting” the reviewer thought another element was.
Polishing Your Review
Once you’ve played through the game, jotted down notes, and crafted your review, the next steps are important:
- Step away from your review and wait a couple hours, maybe even a whole day if you can spare it.
- Give your brain some time to refresh itself and then go back and read through your review again.
- Correct any spelling/grammar/punctuation errors you find.
- Fix any sentences that look awkward. (If a sentence sounds awkward when you say it out loud, then it’ll probably look awkward to your readers.)
- Break up any paragraphs that are too long.
- Let a trusted friend or relative read through your review to find any errors that you may have missed.
Any error that you catch now is one less error your site’s editor will have to fix.
If your editor wants you to provide images for your review, Google’s Image Search is your best friend. Just make sure:
- the image fits the site’s size requirements (if any);
- the image doesn’t contain another site’s watermark (which is usually located in one of the image’s lower corners); and
- you have permission to use the image, or the image is released into the public domain, or is sharable under a Creative Commons license.
If you need to resize any images or screenshots, you can use the free online browser program Pixlr.com to do just that.
Submitting Your Review
When your review is all set, spell-checked, proofread, and edited, and you’ve picked out a few images if needed, now all that’s left is to submit your review and breathe a deep sigh of relief. Usually what will happen next is one of the site’s editors will look over your review, make changes that are needed, and then post the review to their site for the world to admire. Most editors offer some form of feedback, whether it’s advice, praise, or criticism. Be sure to share your live review with anyone you know!
While writing a solid game review may seem like a daunting task at first, it gets easier the more you do it. You’ll also find that the more reviews you write, the better quality they’ll become. Just remember that a review is about more than just listing what’s good and what’s bad about a game. It’s an opportunity to delve in and express your thoughts through a medium that can reach millions of Internet users worldwide. Every great game reviewer has to start somewhere; hopefully this article will make your first game review less intimidating to tackle.
About the author :
Shortly after graduating from college, Nate realized that his writing skills were at their strongest when he applied them towards what he is truly passionate about: gaming. While he does enjoy covering the latest happenings within the gaming industry, Nate is also keenly aware of how gaming affects other aspects of our culture such as politics, history, social media, and the arts and, naturally, enjoys writing about them even more so. Nate is currently based in his home state of Massachusetts where he balances his freelance writing career along with helping his folks care for their three horses.
Also by Nathaniel Hohl: 1. How to Use Your Publisher’s Backend Content Management System (article) 2. Engage Your Video Game Readers with These Five Article Templates (article)
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How to Write Reviews for IGN
Last Updated: July 27, 2022
This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Jennifer Mueller is a wikiHow Content Creator. She specializes in reviewing, fact-checking, and evaluating wikiHow's content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. Jennifer holds a JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006. This article has been viewed 8,776 times.
If you want to write reviews for IGN officially , you would first have to get hired as a game reviewer by the company that owns the IGN website. The good news is you don't have to be an IGN employee to see your review land on the front page of the website. Just start an account with My IGN, connect with the community of gamers on the site, and start publishing your game reviews on your blog.  X Research source
Opening a MyIGN Account
- You'll be prompted to choose a user name, and provide an email address and password. Choose a user name that you think best identifies you as a gamer.
- You can include game IDs as well, if you want to be able to play online with other IGN users who see your profile.
- Following games you love will lead you to other people who also enjoy that game. Follow and talk to these people to expand your network.
- At least at first, follow back everyone who follows you, unless they never post about anything you'd want to see or read. Right now you want to expand your network.
- You have to be at least level five and have an account at least two weeks old before you will be allowed to post blogs or reviews.
Getting Involved in the Community
- You also can get a feel for what types of writing are most popular, and start finding your voice, or the style you'll use when you write your review.
- You also can introduce yourself through comments and reach out to other users who you think would enjoy your work. For example, you might comment "I thought your discussion of color was interesting here. I just started, but I'm planning a blog entirely devoted to the use of color in Skyrim. If you're interested, check it out!"
- Reading others' posts can also help you get a sense of what your niche should be. If you see a lot of people writing about a particular topic, ask yourself if you have anything new to contribute to their discussion.
- When you show up on others' blogs frequently, they'll have greater recognition of your username and be more likely to read your posts when they see them.
- Supportive notes in particular are likely to get you more support from those who follow you.
- For example, you may want to allow anyone to message you, or you may want to restrict messages to followers who you also follow.
- The more interaction you have with other users, the more interested and supportive they'll be of your posts. Don't necessarily think about it in those terms, though. Just relax and have fun talking to other gamers.
- You can use a header image to make your blog more attractive to view. Play around with this to get your page looking the way you want. If you change your mind about it later, you can always upload a new image.
- Use the same writing style and voice you plan to use for your reviews. This gives first-time readers an introduction to your writing style as well.
- Start by introducing yourself as a person, using highlights that are relevant to your gaming interests. Then discuss the structure and focus of your reviews and your schedule for posting them, if you have one.
- Once you publish your blog, anyone who follows it will see it pop up in the feed on their home page.
- Use the email to briefly sell yourself and your blog post. Talk about what makes it (or you) special, and why your post deserves to be featured.
- You'll receive an email notification if your blog post is selected to be featured on the IGN homepage.
- The more popular your blog posts are, the more likely you are to be featured on the IGN homepage on a regular basis.
- Even if you're not featured, if you have a lot of users following your blog your reviews will still get a lot of attention.
- Be careful with this and make sure your post is actually relevant to the discussion. You don't want to spam people, and most people are put off if they feel like you're only talking to them to promote your work.
You might also like.
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/wikis/ign-community-central/My_IGN_Community_FAQ
- ↑ http://my.ign.com/get-started
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/wikis/ign-community-central/Writing_Your_First_Blog
- ↑ http://www.ign.com/wikis/ign-community-central/Making_Yourself_Known
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How to Write Movie, Music, and Video Game Reviews
Last Updated: May 2, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 82,996 times.
If you are a fan of movies, music, or video games, writing reviews can be a fun way express your opinions about media. For some people, it can also be a source of income, as some websites and publications will pay for well-written reviews (or at least give you free copies to review). While music, game, and film reviews are somewhat different from each other, there are also similarities both in their features and the process of writing them.
Sample Movie Reviews
Researching the Game, Movie, or Music
- For movies, you should plan on watching the film at least 2 or 3 times. The first time, just watch and enjoy as your normally would. During the later viewings, try to think about the more the film in more critical terms.
- For music, you'll likewise want to listen to an album or single several times. There's no magic number for how many times is enough. Several listens over a few days is usually adequate, but you also don't want to overdo it, because you can end up second-guessing your initial reaction. For at least some listening, do it in a couple of natural settings, such as while jogging, driving, doing dishes, or however you would normally listen to music, rather than focusing too intently.
- For game reviews, it's common to need to have the review completed very quickly, as gaming websites and publications try to have reviews out the day the game is released. This can present a challenge, because games are generally longer than movies or albums. You may not be able to complete the game by the time the review is due. Usually, 7-10 hours is enough to form a solid impression of the game.  X Research source
- For movies, take notes on the acting, lighting, editing, and special effects. What specific aspects of the film stood out to you? What did you like about the film's technical features stand out, such as the lighting, editing, writing, costumes, cinematography, etc.?
- For music, take notes on the production and performance. How would you describe the sound of the music? What instruments did they use? What stood out about the music? How was the music mixed? What was the melody and rhythm of each song? What was the singer's voice like? What was the tone, melody, style, timing, volume, etc.?  X Research source
- For games, you'll want to make some notes about the control, level of difficulty, music, sound, and graphics. What were the visuals of the game like? How do the controls compare to other types of games? What was challenging about the game?  X Research source
- For movies and games, what makes the story interesting or boring? Is it believable? Why or why not? Is there a deeper message you think the movie or game is trying to communicate or issue you think it is seeking to address? What is it? How do you know?
- For music, what are the features that stand out about the lyrics? Are they interesting? Meaningful? Poetic? Unintelligent? Are there common themes that come up repeatedly over the course of an album or body of songs?  X Research source
- Much of the basic information you need will usually be found in the credits, for movies and games. For music recordings, you may have to do some more independent research to find out who all the musicians are, who the producer is, etc.
- Find out what projects the key artists have been involved in in the past, and read anything you can find about them.
- It's also a good idea to look at reviews for similar movies, music, or games. If you aren't a regular reader of such reviews, spending some time familiarizing yourself with how others have written about similar media will give you a better sense of the format and conventions.
- It can be very helpful to make comparisons in your review to previous works by the same artists.  X Research source This allows you to make statements such as "This album is much more melodic than the band's previous work" or "This film is par for the course for this director. All he ever seems to produce are silly slapstick comedy films."
Writing the Review
- Keep in mind that, depending where you hope to publish your review, you will typically only have 600 to 1,200 words to get your ideas across.  X Research source Make sure to familiarize yourself with the publication where you hope to publish your review.
- Some reviewers find it helpful to think of reviews in narrative terms: what story do you want to tell about this movie, album, or game?
- Some writers like to create an outline to determine which points they want to make and in what order. This can lead to a more smoothly flowing review.
- The introduction may be one paragraph or a few short paragraphs.
- It should include information about who the key artists involved are.
- The introduction should give the reader a general idea of what the film or game is about, or for music, what style or genre the music is.
- For example, was the theater crowded with excited movie fans, or was it empty and quiet? Did listening to the album make you feel happy? Sad? Did playing the game get your heart racing?
- For a movie or game, this is the portion of the review where you would describe the plot. Don't spoil the ending--remember that your readers may not have seen the movie or played the game yet.  X Research source
- As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to describe at least five events that occurred in the story, spanning most of the plot for movie reviews.  X Research source For a plot-driven game, this probably also works well. Make sure that you are being as descriptive as possible, such as by saying the guitars sounded “angular and clean,” rather than saying that the guitar sounded “good.”
- It should be very obvious whether or not you enjoyed the media you are reviewing.  X Research source It should also be very clear why you did or didn't like it.  X Research source
- Be detailed in your evaluation of the actors/musicians, plot/lyrics, as well as the lighting, graphics, production, and other relevant technical themes.  X Research source
- Don't, for example, say, "the graphics were bad." Describe what it was that bothered you about the graphics. Were they too pixelated? Were the characters to blocky? Were the scenes too dark? Were the backgrounds distracting? Be specific!
- For example, you might say, "If you like heavy metal that sounds like it came out in 1987, you might enjoy this record. But if you're looking for something with a more modern sound, I recommend skipping this."
Editing and Submitting the Review
- Taking some time away from your review will make it easier to see the flaws in it when you come back to it later.
- It goes without saying that you should fix any typos you find. You should also look for sentences that might be confusing, or places where you could have stated things more effectively.  X Research source
- Don't be afraid to make major revisions. You might decide, for example, to move, delete, or rewrite an entire paragraph. If it makes the review better, then embrace this opportunity to improve your work.
- Someone else will be more likely to spot typos or grammatical errors than you might be at this point.
- Ideally, this should be someone who is already familiar with the type of media you are reviewing. Giving a review of a new first-person shooter to someone who hasn't played a video game since the 1970s might not be the most helpful.
- It's possible the editor will ask you to make some more revisions before the review is published. Other times, the editor will makes changes him or herself. Don't be surprised if the published review doesn't look exactly like the one you submitted.
- When taking notes, be as detailed as possible, so that you can easily draw from specific examples when writing your review. Readers won't want to read a review that says "The acting in this film was great." They'll be much more interested if you can describe what makes the star of the film's portrayal of their character compelling or convincing.  X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Tailor your review for your audience. If you know who you're writing for, write the review in such a way that it will be fun and informative for them. If your review is for a website that caters to "music nerds," for example, making obscure references to bands from the 1970s might be just fine. If your review is for the local paper's arts section, this might be confusing for your readers.  X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Not every review needs to follow the format described in this article. It's a common way to write reviews, but there is no single right way. After you get comfortable writing reviews, feel free to get creative and experiment with other approaches. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- In rare instances, being overly harsh or nasty in a review could lead to legal action from the artist or company that produced the media produce you've written about.  X Research source Be honest in your opinions, but avoid being unnecessarily mean, and don't make factual claims that you can't support with evidence. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iv734xC4Y8
- ↑ http://gallery.carnegiefoundation.org/collections/castl_k12/ewojcicki/Writing%20Styles/musicreview.html
- ↑ http://www.moviefilmreview.com/ht
- ↑ http://www.dailywritingtips.com/7-tips-for-writing-a-film-review/
- ↑ http://www.freelancewriting.com/articles/FF-writing-a-video-game-review.php
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One More Cup of Coffee
Get Paid To Write Game Reviews
This idea could be particularly appealing if you’re already an avid gamer or if you want to get further into the field. So, this post will show you exactly what is involved and why the field is worth considering.
Are You Ready To Work Your Ass Off to Earn Your Lifestyle?
Are you tired of the daily grind? With a laptop and an internet connection I built a small website to generate income , and my life completely changed. Let me show you exactly how I’ve been doing it for more than 13 years .
Table of Contents
What Game Reviewers Actually Do
The basic concept of a game reviewer is what you would expect. So, you need to spend some time playing a game and then write a review of it. Sounds simple enough, right? In some ways, it is. But, there are also some complexities.
One aspect is that you’re often under a time constraint. That’s particularly true for games that have just been released or that you are reviewing prior to release. Some companies also have fairly tight time restrictions and the specifics vary across companies and individual games.
Additionally, reviewers have to play enough of the game to actually understand it and be able to give a fair evaluation. In some cases, that might mean you have to pour 20 hours or more into a game, especially for RPGs or open world games. That’s hard to do on a tight deadline – and you have to keep going even if you don’t actually enjoy the game.
If you’re working for a company , you only get to review the games that you are actually given. This means that you’ll sometimes have to review games you don’t like and ones in styles that you don’t really care for. Some positions give you more control than others. But, in general, expect to review some games you would rather skip.
Reviewers are also constantly looking for strengths and weaknesses, right from the beginning. This gives you less chance to actually enjoy the game and means you have to always be paying attention.
If you are starting a gaming review blog , you still have to put in the time, and at end end of the day, you might not even get paid. Doing a YouTube channel or a WordPress website about gaming sounds like an incredible, freedom-enabling opportunity, but many forget that you need the skills to get your content found, and you need to actually create awesome content people will watch or read.
The end result is that game reviewing can be hard work. It can also decrease your interest in gaming. After all, if you play games to earn money, their allure is bound to decrease. Plus, it’s hard to stop looking for strengths and weaknesses once you’re used to doing so.
So then, game reviewing is like any job – it has its share of challenges and it isn’t as amazing as it might sound on paper. But, there are still advantages and you can make money this way.
What You Need
You don’t need a specific background to be a game reviewer. Instead, you simply need to be relatively decent at writing and at the games you plan to review.
For example, if you play games like Battlefield or Call of Duty and die almost immediately, you shouldn’t try to review first person shooters. Likewise, it’s no good reviewing a game if getting past the first level is extremely difficult for you.
But, you don’t have to be a master at gaming. After all, many people who read reviews won’t be either.
A similar thing is true for writing. You need to be interesting and have a good grasp of spelling and grammar. You may also want to pick up more skills as you go along. Nevertheless, the style is similar to what you see on blogs – meaning that writing game reviews isn’t an incredibly difficult process.
So, you don’t have to be an expert writer or gamer. But, you need some skills in both areas.
How To Get Started
If game reviewing still sounds exciting to you, the next step is to work out how to get involved. There are various paths you can take but they will all require some samples of your work.
This means you’re going to have to sit down and write some reviews, ones that you won’t earn money from. To do this, you’ll want to spend time reading current reviews and working out the general themes and patterns.
For example, reviewers will often talk about the same key elements, such as story, graphics, enjoyment, replayability and the presence of any bugs. Reviews are also articles. As such, they follow common structures, such as an introduction, body and conclusion.
A review also should be somewhat objective. You can’t simply write a negative review because something annoyed you about a given game. Instead, you have to weigh up the positives and negatives, aiming to decrease your own bias.
Once you’ve spent time researching and writing on your own, the next step is to find companies to target. There are many different sites (and physical magazines) that regularly review games, so there is no shortage of ones to choose from.
When you’ve found companies, look for information about how to write for them. Some will have a page with details (like Killer Guides ). Others will have email addresses that you can use to get in contact.
The goal is to pitch your work to these sites in a compelling manner. To do so, you’ll need to be respectful and patient. Of the sites you contact, many won’t even get back to you. Some of those that do won’t be currently hiring, while others may not be interested in you specifically.
It takes a considerable amount of time to find a site that is looking for writers and is willing to take you on. However, the gaming industry continues to grow, so there is demand for writers.
You can also increase your chances by getting some work published online. For example, some gaming review sites don’t pay people for reviews, offering exposure instead. Working for free isn’t ideal but it can be a good way to get noticed. Plus, it’s often easier to get published at a site that doesn’t offer compensation.
Throughout this process, you need to pay close attention to the requirements and the compensation rates. Sometimes companies will pay well for reviews but others may pay very little. For that matter, many sites don’t publish details about their compensation rates.
You may be prepared to work for free or at a low rate to get your foot in the door, which is fine. But, just be wary. Many sites simply take advantage of writers, partly because there is so much interest in this field.
Reviewing On The Side
Getting a formal job as a game reviewer (or a game journalist) isn’t the only way to go. Instead, many game review sites have people contributing on a casual basis. Some companies may also start you out at this point, to see what you’re capable of and how well you fit into their company.
When you’re reviewing on the side, you may not be given specific assignments. In some cases, there may be a list of games to choose from, often ones that no one else wants. Alternatively, you may be responsible for pitching reviews to them.
You’ll often have a better chance when you’re focusing on relatively obscure games, such as indie titles. The competition for this type of review tends to be lower, which gives you an edge. Additionally, such games are often shorter and/or simpler. This makes them easier to review.
You may also be able to pitch the same game review to multiple sites, especially if it is a fairly unusual game. You would still have to write individual reviews, suited to the needs of the site. However, this approach gives you the ability to earn more for the time that you spend playing.
The one catch is the games themselves. If you’re officially working for a company, then you’ll often get the games for free. This doesn’t normally happen if you’re working on a casual basis, so you have additional expenses to consider.
Earning Money Entirely On Your Own
The traditional approach with reviews has been a single review when the game comes out. The reviewer spends whatever time they need to get a comprehensive understanding of the game and they then write the review. And, that’s it.
But, the video game industry is changing. Games are no longer as static as they once were. Instead, they come with many updates, expansions and downloadable content. These changes can sometimes have dramatic impacts on the game. In fact, some games are rushed to completion and are then refined through patches.
Because of this pattern, the initial review for a game often becomes obsolete. Yet, many sites don’t regularly update reviews and don’t have the resources to do so. In contrast, sites that host or aggregate reviews (like Steam or MetaCritic) provide users with the information they need.
With these changes, the availability of video game reviewing roles is likely to change and potentially decrease. But, you don’t need a formal position anyway. As a writer, you already have the skill set needed to make money on your own – such as through a video game website .
Now, competing against large aggregate review sites doesn’t make sense. But, offering something more focused is achievable. For example, I’ve seen sites that focus on a single game or on a single genre (like first person shooters or JRPGs). You could also expand beyond reviews into other areas, such as gaming articles or guides . Likewise, you might talk about related products.
There are also many affiliate programs for video games out there – so, there are many directions that you can go to make money.
As a writer, you have an in-demand talent that can be used to earn you TONS of money online. You can earn money freelance writing, for sure, but it's still just trading dollars for hours. Personally, I recommend starting your own website! Information is the currency of the internet, so why not leverage your talents to build yourself a serious online income! Learn how to create your own blog-style website and make money through advertising.
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I’ve been building profitable affiliate blogs for more than a decade, and built six-figure blogs in a wide variety of niches, including computer software, self help, and home & garden topics. I do things a bit differently, and I hope you like my perspective and my style of teaching.
June 25, 2021 at 4:01 am
honestly it’s summer and i’ve been trying to earn money easily without working hard and i think this is ghe best way to do it even if it’s only couple of dollars
August 8, 2020 at 5:13 am
I think ita a easy way to get money and gives the developer more information to work on their game
October 2, 2018 at 11:44 pm
How do you find game developers who are willing to pay for a review?
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How to Write a Video Game Review
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There might be numerous reasons why you have to write a video game review. First of all, it might be a part of your academic program if, let's say, you are majoring in game design. Alternatively, it might be a part of your job if you are working as a game tester. But, regardless of the reasons, the chances are that you will face a number of challenges in the process of writing.
So, where do you start? In case you are not sure if you can handle it on your own, there is a simple way to delegate the writing of a video game review to professionals. Services that let students pay someone to write my paper could help you with this task.
Typically, using such paper writing services, you can simply say, "I want to pay for essay " and get professional help with pretty much any type of assignment. But, there is also a different path. If you are interested in writing a review yourself, this article will guide you through this process step by step.
Let's dive in and see what steps you should take to create a brilliant video game review on your on!
1- Define Your Purpose and Audience
Before you get to work, you should clearly understand the purpose for which you are writing your review. It might be for a college or another educational institution, for a magazine, for a reviewing site, etc. Depending on who you are writing for, you might need to change the tone and voice of your review. So, start by defining your purpose and audience.
2- Understand the Basic Requirements
Depending on who you are writing for, the basic requirements for your review, such as length or uniqueness, can also vary. So, after identifying your purpose, be sure to take your time to understand what is expected of you in this review.
For example, if you are writing for college, your review will have to meet the word limit, be 100% unique, well-structured, include proper citations, and have a formal tone of voice.
3- Play the Game
After you know the purpose, audience, and requirements, you can finally get to your review, and, whether you like it or not, you won't be able to get it done without actually playing the game you are writing about.
So, your next step is to devote at least 7-10 hours to playing the game you will be reviewing to get a good feel of it and learn more about its features. At this stage, pay attention to the details - try to note any advantages and disadvantages, see how the plot develops, etc.
4- Take Notes
After you've played the game for a while, take your time to write down all important notes about it. Start by outlining the basic information, including the plot, characters, design, type of game, genre, main features, add-on purchases, etc.
Then take notes based on your own experience. Write down everything you liked and didn't like about the game. Be sure to describe your player's experience in detail to have more information for your future review.
5- Make a Comparison
It is always good if you can compare the game in your review with similar games or, maybe, previous releases of the same game. However, if you decide to include such comparisons, be sure to use specific examples instead of general phrases in order to make your review sound complete.
6- Write Your Review
When you have collected all the information and notes, you can start writing your video game review. Here are the key steps you should take:
- Look through several examples of such reviews to see how it should look like;
- Make an outline;
- Write an attention-grabbing introduction that starts with a hook and introduces the topic of your review;
- Write the body of your review - be sure to discuss such important points as graphics, sound effects, plot, characters, and your personal player's experience. Feel free to use examples and details. But, keep your review straight to the point and informative;
- Finish your review with a logical conclusion, and don't forget to give your final rate to the game.
7- Proofread and Edit
Finally, when your review is done, don't forget to take enough time to proofread it to make sure that your review is free of errors. Also, don't forget to check your text for plagiarism if necessary.
The Bottom Line
Just like that, in seven simple steps, you can write a compelling video game review. The good news is that handling this type of task shouldn't be too hard because video games are fun. What is more, now you have a complete guide with tips to make the process simple and enjoyable!
So, you have faced the necessity to write a compelling video game review. What's now?
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Board Games for Everyone
10 tips for writing awesome board game reviews
- August 21, 2018
- David Norris
So by now, I’ve been writing board game reviews on & off for the better part of half a decade. Before that, I wrote a number of other blogs, from personal journeys to book and video game reviews.
That’s all to say I’ve been doing this for a while!
If you want to learn more about the journey of starting a blog, and what five years looks like. I recently wrote about my experience in a blog post . It goes into details about stats, and some more of what I’ve learnt from all this experience.
This article covers my top tips from all that experience. Let’s get into it!
1. Just start writing
This advice is as true for writing your first novel as it is for writing board game reviews. You’ll find it on just about any internet post covering writing because it’s that important.
Writing is a learned skill that improves each time you put your fingers on the keyboard or pen to paper. As such, your first board game reviews are going to suck. You won’t know whether or not you’re doing it right, you’ll ramble a lot (or not enough). But as Jake says , sucking at something is the first step at being sorta good at something.
When it comes to writing board game reviews, or any kind really, there are some things that will be obvious. But then there are also a lot of non-obvious things that require you to test different approaches and see what feels right.
That takes time…. and it takes writing.
I’ve learned and internalised an incredible amount over the last five years. From writing in shorter, more punctual sentences, to joining ideas and paragraphs together fluidly. It’s been a journey and one that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t continue writing.
2. Find your style
This is A LOT easier said than done.
I’ve been writing board game reviews for five years, and only in the last year have I been confident in saying I found my style. This confidence comes on the back of years of experimentation and influence. From interpreting other people’s styles (i.e. copying other people’s writing) to finding out what comes naturally to me.
The other part of this discussion is adjusting your style so that your writing is entertaining, and people want to read it. This only happens with feedback, willingness to change and persistence.
So when it comes to writing board game reviews, find yourself a dedicated fan, and work together with them. Try to create a style that feels comfortable to you, but also entertaining for them.
3. The magic happens in the editing
One thing I’ve found in writing board game reviews is that I’m never happy with the first draft. On average only about 40% of my first drafts actually make it to the final post.
But that doesn’t mean they’re a waste of time. Far from it. The first draft is crucial for getting my ideas in a somewhat cohesive format. Although it’s not until the second draft that I start to see what works and start to massage what’s already on the page into something palatable.
Yet even knowing this, a bad first draft can leave me feeling defeated. Especially when you get writer’s block, and must force the words to come out of your fingers. My review of Detective Club was one of these. But after several edits, I couldn’t be happier with the results.
4. Give people just enough context
Too often reviewers on Board Game Geek fall into this trap when writing board game reviews. Where they turn their review into a step-by-step how-to-play of the game. Leaving the more important opinion piece to a couple of paragraphs at the end.
As a reader, I want the inverse, I want just enough context to understand your review, and then want to hear your opinions on the game.
In my experience, I’ve gone through the whole spectrum of putting in complete how-to-plays, to having none at all. What I’ve found works best is to describe the main beats and how to win the game. People reading don’t need to know every card or exception. Only the main ones, and the ones you’re going to bring up later in your review.
5. Have a strong opinion and stick with it
There’s nothing more boring than watching a reviewer vamp for 15 minutes, and once they’re done you still don’t know how they feel about the game. This is the same when writing reviews, so before you pen to paper make sure you have something to say.
Once you’ve got that strong opinion, you need to reinforce it with examples and reasoning. Make your readers understand why you feel a certain way about the game, and stand by that.
This is easy when the game is good and you’re excited to talk about it. It’s a lot harder when the game doesn’t live up to your expectations. Yet, this is also when it’s most important. Because it builds integrity into your reviews, and you as the reviewer.
6. Don’t try to do everything at once
One of the biggest problems I ran into when I first started writing board game reviews, was the laundry list of things to do. Think about the last article you read and everything that went into it:
- A great sounding title
- A feature image
- Take pictures, captions and alt-image tags
- Social media posts about the article
- Affiliate links
- An excerpt from the website
- A meta-description
- Tags, Categories and other metadata
- Internal & external linking
There is more, but this should paint a picture. When all you want to do is write, this extra stuff can turn your fun escape into a chore-ish nightmare.
But here’s the thing, you don’t need to do it. Any of it. Yes, it all helps build your website, but you can always come back and update your old posts later.
That said, it helps to start forming good habits. Instead of focusing on the whole gamut, pick out one extra task. Write a few posts until that task becomes a habit. Then pick another task, and so on. Soon you’ll be doing everything, and it won’t feel like that much at all!
7. Tools are your friend
With all of these tasks that go into every single blog post you create, it helps to eliminate any and all excess work. So that you can focus on writing board game reviews.
Here is a list of tools that I use regularly.
As a mini editor, Grammarly saves me time by picking up words and spelling mistakes that I miss. While suggesting improvements to the way I word things. From a misspelled word to a change in sentence structure, Grammarly improves my writing significantly.
When I’m feeling super unconfident about a post, I’ll turn to Hemingway. This supercharged version of Grammarly also provides you with spelling and grammar suggestions. But it’s more in-depth, highlighting sections of your text that are difficult to read.
It’s a great tool to help you find your style.
AIO SEO (Paid)
Weirdly enough, AIO SEO taught me as much about my writing style as it did about SEO. One thing I truly appreciated about the plugin was its Flesch reading score . Telling me if a post was convoluted.
Additionally, it notifies you when a section of your post is over 300 words. Helping you to remove any filler from your posts, making them concise and more interesting to read.
Rank Math (Paid)
Rank Math is my current SEO plugin, and although I bought the pro version. I end up using what comes free with the plugin more than the pro tools.
That said, it’s a great lightweight plugin that tells you your on-page SEO scores for each page. The people behind the plugin are incredibly knowledgeable and I’ve had some fantastic conversations with their team on issues I faced early on.
One page I’m particularly fond of is their Power Words page which is where I start reading whenever I want to write a headline.
A bit of a controversial choice, but when writing board game reviews I specifically use it to help me write meta-descriptions. Because it turns out I am awful at trying to sell anything.
In order to generate these descriptions, I copy and paste my entire article into Chat.GTP and then give it the prompt ‘Give me 10 meta-descriptions for this article’. Out of the 10 responses, one or two might be good enough. But then still requires me to massage it before I hit publish.
Other than that, I also turn to Chat.GTP when I’m stuck on a metaphor. I’ll ask ‘Complete this sentence,’ or ‘Give me a metaphor for…’ The suggestions it comes back with are usually awful. But they provide me with a spark of creativity, or a perspective I hadn’t thought of before.
8. Remember to take a break
While it sounds like a lot of work, writing board game reviews and maintaining a website is also extremely addicting. There’s so much you can do within the space it can be quite addicting. However, if you have a full-time job like me, it’s important to make sure you leave time for yourself – away from the blog.
Several times, I’ve been hooked on working and improving Roll to Review . Every time that happens though, I usually burn out quickly. When it does, it usually takes me months of time to recover.
So consider this as your reminder, you’re human, and you need to ensure you work at a sustainable pace. Meaning sometimes you need to take breaks when you don’t want to. Nevertheless, you have to put your health first above everything else, or else everything else will suffer for it.
9. You can’t control people
Part of the addiction to writing board game reviews is following your stats. It’s exciting when they go up, as it reinforces that you’re entertaining and good at what you do. Conversely, when they go down they can make you feel awful.
This can get frustrating when you put out a great article, and no one reads it. So this tip is letting you know mind control technology has yet to be invented. And although you can influence people to your site through great content and SEO. Whether they show up or not is random.
The other part of this is the work you do on your website sometimes won’t make an impact for days, weeks, or even months. So while you’re doing a lot of the legwork now, it’s important to remember that you’re not going to see an effect until later on.
10. Play more games and have fun
My last tip for writing board game reviews is to remember to have fun. It’s so easy to be swept up in the constant demands of running your blog. But that’s not why you’re writing about board games. Therefore, it’s important to take some time out and remember why you wanted to do this in the first place.
And of course, play more games!
There you have it, my top 10 tips for writing board game reviews. With these, I hope you can take your writing from ordinary to extraordinary! However, if you have any more tips I’ve missed then please let me know below.
10 thoughts on “ 10 tips for writing awesome board game reviews ”
Great post, David! It is something that I think about every time I write.
Regarding the “how to play,” I want to give a feel for how a game goes, but obviously the complex ones I don’t want to give a “step by step” process for it. It should just be a feel.
I’ve probably gone too far over the edge in “how to play” and I need to work on being more concise with that.
This is something I may have to refer to often as I keep going.
I don’t know, I think you do a great job especially in the monthly write ups. Give me just enough info to get excited about a game. 😛
I was very conscious of this while writing the Clank in Space review (it’s written, but I have to take a couple more pictures first, which is why it’s going up tomorrow). I could feel myself wanting to explain every little detail and I had to back off. 🙂
Well said, David. You are very right about splitting up the ‘how to play’ versus ‘review’. I find I’m not crazy about info that tries to cover both. Either I need to know how to play a game (or figure out a particular bit, that I got stuck on), or I am looking for someone’s opinion about a game.
Often knowing how they feel about similar games, helps to make those decisions of “to buy” or no.
I also think you’re right about not overshadowing the negative. That’s a hard one. I know people work hard to make these things, and things are competitive. So I hate to highlight the shortcomings, but it’s also a disservice to others, if you don’t point those things out. I think I struggle with that when giving advice about games and tools sometimes.
Definitely a moral conundrum, especially when you’re looking at an indie game that you know someone’s worked on for a really long time. Though I think you just need to bite the bullet and tell the truth.
From the designer’s perspective either the designer already knows the shortcomings of the game and is going to release anyway, or worse they didn’t know of the shortcomings and are in desperate need of real feedback.
Either way as long as you act professional and give solid reasoning behind your criticisms. Then I think everyone wins.
True, professionalism and constructive feedback are essential.
Dude…your mantra is great. You do manage to be fair with your reviews, they are concise and well worded. You’ve really made me question my reviewing style here, and how I write about games. Kudos David. Ace article.
It’s always good to learn, but I think there is a place for both! 🙂
Oh no, that was not my intention at all!
In a good way man, in a good way!
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How to Write About Board Games as a Professional Reviewer
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Playing board games is not the same as writing reviews on them. So, it’s best if you master these five tips before trying to make a review on your next board game.
The love for board games is back, and we are all for it. However, with so many new games being released each year, it’s hard to keep up with all the updates. All games are designed for certain audiences, ages, gaming skills, and preferences. There are so many of them – strategies, combats, Co-Ops, deck builders, and so much more. Of course, there is one game that is perfect for each of us. However, finding one takes time and research. That’s where board game reviews come into play.
Hardly anyone buys a board game without reading about it first. A professional review should give you all the information you need on the game, including the overall experience and final rating. However, writing such a review is a lot of responsibility and work. A lot is at stake there since people count on such reviews, to be honest, full, and direct with you. So, let’s see how to write one of such reviews, whether it is for yourself or academic purposes. Here are the top five tips you need to know.
Play the game
Of course, before everything else, you need to see the game, hold it in your hands, observe its packaging, and, above everything else, play it. No review is possible unless you have played a game several times (or at least till you’ve mastered the rules) and made an impression about it. So, start by getting a box, unpacking it, analyzing everything you see, and reading the rules.
Give this game several chances. It’s best to play with the recommended amount of players, as it will provide you with a full gaming experience. However, try various combinations and play alone against the game, if allowed. See the common dynamics of the game, and try different strategies and characters. Time yourself while playing.
However, most of all, see how much you enjoy the game or not. That’s the main criteria you will cover later in the piece. In fact, that’s how you know whether the game is worth reviewing at all.
Discuss the logic, rules, and experience
The following next step must be the breakdown of all the main aspects of the game. So, start with the description of the game’s nature, style, genre, and overall game play. Explain what is expected from the players, how competitive or cooperative this game is, and what goals players pursue. Discuss the logic behind the rules, as well as the rules themselves. However, don’t focus too much on them.
Players did not open your review just to learn the rules. They have guidelines and other articles for such content. They want to hear your opinion on how those rules work in practice. How balanced they are. How easy it is to learn them and within how many games. They want to know how enjoyable the experience is and whether rules help or deter the game time.
Thus, your readers need to know the mechanics of the game instead of rereading the entire set of rules. Don’t go into specifics but show them what the game is all about. Here, knowing your audience may help you. More experienced players will know what to expect from the game as soon as you mention the genre and a few dominant rules. Others need a bit more information to make a decision.
Talk about the components and design
The production value is such a crucial thing in the game. How the game looks and feels is essential for the overall experience. People love pretty art, nice designs, and well-planned details that unite all components. Such things make the game truly unique and appealing. So, don’t withhold such information in your review.
Start by mentioning whether there is anything wrong with the packing, box, or quality of the components. Then, move on to their specifics, variety, numbers, and other valuable criteria. Finally, mention the overall art and design. Tell how well it fits with the nature and genre of the game.
Include final thoughts and rating
Once you are done explaining the gameplay, design, and logic of the game, it is time to conclude your experience. The best way here is to start by comparing the given game with other similar board games within the same genre. Such a comparison will help create a better idea of the given game, its strengths and weaknesses.
Next, explain your personal experience. Was it easy to understand, explain, and play? Will you play it again? What were the cons and pros that made this experience for you? Explain your rating and give it a final summary or, perhaps, a recommendation.
Follow the classical writing structure
Finally, don’t forget to follow the traditional writing structure. A review still needs a main argument, introduction, and conclusion. You have to deliver the main message by being concise, informative, and careful with your words and structure. Maybe, you can even order such a review form https://speedypaper.com/order if you worry about your writing skills. After all, a review is a big challenge for new writers. So, it’s wise to get help in some matters.
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Alan Wake II Review
The write stuff..
Thirteen years after his wife went missing in the small town of Bright Falls, author Alan Wake is trapped inside a Dark Place that he can’t seem to write himself out of. As I sit down to type out this review of Alan Wake II, I can somewhat empathize. This is just so incomparable to anything else I’ve played in recent memory that it’s tough to work out exactly where to start. Alan Wake II is a single-player adventure that seamlessly shifts from slow-burn psychological terror to frantic survival-horror action, from gorgeously rendered game worlds to striking full-motion video sequences, and from morbid investigations to show-stopping musical surprises. It’s bloody, it's bonkers, and for the most part it's utterly brilliant. Coming in at the tail end of a bumper-crop gaming year packed with absolute bangers, Alan Wake II still manages to burn as brightly as a freshly fired signal flare.
Spanning two wildly contrasting realities, Alan Wake II’s roughly 17-hour story manages to be far more coherent than that of the original – despite its substantial increase in complexity. We pick things up in present day Bright Falls, taking control of FBI Agent Saga Anderson, who’s been dispatched to the small lakeside town to investigate the latest victim in a series of ritualistic slaughters: a body found beside Cauldron Lake with a gaping hole where his heart used to be. Saga is an instantly likable addition to the weird world that Alan Wake shares with Remedy Entertainment’s other supernatural game, Control . She’s dedicated to her casework but not above a bit of playful banter with her partner, Special Agent Alex Casey, and these opening couple of hours of mostly combat-free procedural investigation give the story a realistic grounding before the darkness starts to descend and every placid hillscape transforms into a harrowing hellscape.
Part of the reason Alan Wake II’s main serial killer mystery and its numerous subplots are so easy to keep track of is due to the caseboard found in Saga’s metaphysical ‘mind place’, which can be accessed at any moment with the tap of a button. Each new piece of evidence, character profile, or foreshadowing manuscript page found in Bright Falls and its surroundings must be manually arranged onto a branching tree of red string and palm cards pinned to the wall, corralling it all into order and keeping you focused on the case. I’m not ashamed to say that I couldn’t get through a season of True Detective (at least, one of the good ones) without having one eye on my television and the other on a Reddit thread open on my phone, so I loved having this in-built method of keeping the facts straight.
As Saga’s investigation progresses in the early moments of Alan Wake II’s story, each discovery raises more unsettling questions than it answers: Why do so many of the locals behave as though they’ve known Saga for years? Why is the janitor character from Control performing karaoke in a local town hall? And why did that corpse suddenly haul his naked arse out of the morgue and into the woods? Although its difficulty level can be adjusted to three different settings, Alan Wake II’s mood is always set to uneasy mode.
The Dark Place Beyond the Pines
The mystery deepens still when Alan Wake washes up onto the shore of Cauldron Lake, rambling about the Dark Place and surprised to learn that he’s been missing for the past 13 years. Then Alan Wake II really gets weird. From here, the perspective shifts back and forth between Saga’s search for the truth in Bright Falls and Alan’s desperate attempts to escape his doomed Dark Place dimension, with both sides gradually bleeding into each other in increasingly unpredictable and discombobulating ways – to the point that I could barely discern fact from fiction (within fiction) before eventually resolving into a supremely well-executed gut-punch of an ending that neatly ties off the bulk of the story threads while tantalizingly leaving a handful of loose ones to dangle. Remedy, if you make us wait another 13 years to tie these up (and start more) that will be much less endearing.
Alan Wake II - Review Screens
The alluring power of its contrasting settings only further enhances its mystery, but while the lakeside shores of Bright Falls present some stunning sunset scenes and detail-rich forest surrounds, it’s the grimy, neon-soaked New York plaza setting of Alan’s stages that really show off the immense skill of Remedy’s team of artists. Resembling the kind of nightmare you might have after spending 24 hours eating cheese and watching Taxi Driver and Mean Streets on a loop, this rotten slice of the Big Apple is a haunting otherworld that I found consistently compelling to explore, from the graffiti-covered construction areas to the menacing sprawl of subway tunnels that lie beneath its surface.
Alan’s stages also stimulated a different part of my brain by introducing some enjoyable environmental puzzles. Using a paranormal table lamp, Alan can absorb the energy from one light source and redirect it to another in order to both create a new illuminated safe haven from the evils that lurk in the shadows – but also to physically alter the world around him and open up new paths forward. It’s a dazzling trick that recalls the pulling of the light switch cord to blink in and out of the Oceanview Hotel from the Oldest House in Control , and it grows in complexity over time: determining the right sequence to manipulate multiple light sources progressively ups the challenge involved in unlocking each new area to examine.
In place of gathering evidence and arranging it on a caseboard like in Saga’s stages, in Alan’s reality you must seek out plot elements in the form of floating pairs of orbs that must be observed from the right perspective to create an eclipse that triggers ghostly, hardboiled scenes from Alan’s own Alex Casey crime novel series. These can then be rewritten into Alan’s present scenario to distort his reality into disturbing new dioramas that bring him closer towards the dark place’s exit, and reveal ominous parallels to the Bright Falls slayings that Saga seeks to solve. (And here I was thinking Michael Cera was the only Alan desperate to escape a corrupted alternate reality this year.)
To make things all the more disconcerting, Alan Wake II’s Creative Director, Sam Lake, plays both the character of Alex Casey in Alan’s world and FBI Special Agent Alex Casey in Saga’s story, and also appears as himself in a peculiar late night talk show that Alan finds himself as a recurring guest on. You might not know his name but you probably know his famous face, since it was plastered on the mug of the original Max Payne . He even does the signature scowl! Alan Wake II’s heavy meta-mystery is like a jigsaw puzzle locked inside a Rubik’s Cube that’s covered in sudokus, and it’s honestly such a strange and wonderful trip that takes more unexpected detours and recursive loops than a disgruntled Uber driver.
The Violence of the Lamps
Indeed Alan Wake II features more plots than a cemetery, and just as high a bodycount. The fundamentals of combat remain largely the same as the enjoyable flashlight-fueled fighting of the original, but its execution has been enhanced significantly. Enemies are once again literal shadows of their former selves, and the most efficient way to dispatch them is by using the boosted beam of your flashlight to burn away their cloudy darkness shields and blasting disgusting chunks of exposed flesh off their bones with your expanding arsenal of firearms. This time around glowing weak points will occasionally be revealed on an enemies’ body, and if you manage to successfully target them you can inflict substantially more damage and save a few precious ammo rounds in the process, which felt like a nice reward for taking an extra fraction of a second to carefully line up my shots.
This won’t be a big deal to anybody used to games that allow you to run, but if you’re coming back to Alan Wake along with me it is fantastic: Both Saga and Alan are blessed with an unlimited sprint ability, which marks a huge improvement to the perennially out-of-puff Alan from the original, who couldn’t run 10 yards without doubling over like an asthmatic who just took a wrong turn into a smokers lounge. Our protagonists are generally more nimble, too; the dodge button feels snappier and allowed me to more reliably duck under swinging pipes or thrown pickaxes, and it even works on the ground should you be knocked off your feet, allowing you to quickly roll out of harm’s way and avoid any potential follow-up attacks.
What's the best horror game of 2023 so far?
But challenge is part of the charm of the original, and Remedy has not forgotten that. Saga and Alan may be more fleet-footed in Alan Wake II, but ammunition and batteries remain scarce. And although it doesn’t quite rival Resident Evil 4 in terms of enemy variety, there are enough different gloomy goons to be surprised by that I could never really anticipate which breed of shadow warrior was waiting to ambush me down any given path. From hulking brutes with sledgehammers to darting wolves and freakish, multi-limbed mirror monsters that I can’t quite accurately describe, Alan Wake II consistently shuffled its deck to keep my head on a swivel and my thumb nervously twitching over the quick select weapon menu. Some enemies even throw darkness projectiles that home in on you and must either be dodged or carefully caught with your flashlight’s beam like a fighter jet’s countermeasures. I haven’t seen this much shade thrown since the last Eminem diss track.
There are some wonderfully frantic and distinct boss fights too, including a dimly lit, close-quarters scrap with a rampaging reanimated corpse who was hellbent on caving my chest in with the sharp end of a torn-off tree branch, and another later on that had me desperately burning away an arena full of darkness blobs while trying to avoid having my head separated from my shoulders by an enemy’s rifle shots from afar.
Yet oddly enough, I found that the enemy in Alan Wake II that I feared the most was the one that more often than not couldn’t even hurt me. Alan’s reality is littered with whispering apparitions, but nine times out of 10 they dissipate into wisps of smoke if you train your flashlight on them. It’s that tenth instance you need to worry about, though, because it’s likely to be an actual physical nasty waiting to ambush you from plain sight after you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security. As a result, I started second-guessing each and every human-shaped shadow – including my own – which felt perfectly in sync with Alan’s own unraveling mental state.
Alan’s mental health isn’t the only thing here that isn’t as strong as it could be. Although the different arsenals of the two playable characters each boast their own advantages, from the heightened stopping power and reusable bolts of Saga’s crossbow to the expanded area-of-effect of Alan’s flare gun, their individual skill trees seem somewhat lopsided in their implementation. Whereas Alan’s ‘Words of Power’ skill tree features 21 different skills that can each be potentially upgraded up to three times over, Saga’s upgrades are limited to just three buffs for each firearm in her inventory, and each comes at such a high cost of the collectable manuscript scraps hidden around Bright Falls that by the time I’d reached the end credits I’d only invested in a handful of them. To be frank, they didn’t feel all that necessary on the normal difficulty setting, but perhaps they’ll be of far greater use in the planned Nightmare difficulty that’s set to be added to Alan Wake II post-launch.
Furthermore, and in contrast with Alan’s impressive environmental remixing, Saga is regularly saddled with a few too many survival-horror stereotypes, like fuse boxes to repair and combination locks to solve (although to be fair, decoding the latter does require a significant amount of brain power at times). I was also a little bit disappointed that there were no new Night Springs episodes to watch on the televisions in Bright Falls, although having said that, the commercials that are substituted in their place (starring a pair of local entrepreneurs called the Koskela brothers) were so hilariously offbeat that I still tried to track down every in-game idiot box I could find. (I’m talking about fictional commercials, that is, not poorly implemented product-placement for Verizon Wireless.)
Tristan's Favourite Horror Games
Still, any issues I had with Alan Wake II sank without a trace like an out-of-towner in Cauldron Lake, washed away by the torrent of other things that it gets right. It undoubtedly takes a lot of inspiration from film and television, taking the Twin Peaks -meets- The Twilight Zone base of the original and mixing in the best bits of True Detective , Seven , Inception , and more into the pot. But it also folds in some nods to some modern gaming classics, blindsiding you with truly unnerving, Inscryption -like fourth-wall trickery and eerie full-motion video moments that recall 2022’s found-footage freak out, Immortality .
In one truly astonishing early game moment that I don’t want to completely spoil here, it even briefly becomes an interactive musical; as though the team at Remedy took one look at the ‘Jump Up, Super Star!’ level from Super Mario Odyssey and decided to appropriate it in the most bombastically bizarre way possible. For a glorious 20 minutes or so, Alan Wake II resembles something less like a survival-horror video game and more like a Rocky Horror Picture Show , and it had me grinning like a maniac from the ring of the first riff to the final blazing guitar solo. Although Alan Wake II has no shortage of out-of-your-seat scares, it’s moments like these that prove Remedy has approached the actual design of its long-awaited sequel completely without fear.
Alan Wake II delivers one of the boldest and most brain-bending survival-horror storylines this side of Silent Hill 2, presents it with uniformly immaculate art direction and audio design, and reinvigorates the series’ signature light-based shooting as though it’s been locked and loaded with a fresh pack of Energizers. Even though its skill-upgrade systems seem a little superfluous and there were a few repeated cliches in Saga’s story that stuck in my craw, I nonetheless found both sides of this twisted tale to be endlessly fascinating, frequently fear-inducing, and consistently surprising. Alan Wake II is a superb survival-horror sequel that makes the cult-classic original seem like little more than a rough first draft by comparison.
More Reviews by Tristan Ogilvie
Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Campaign Review - Return Of The Makarov
- First Released Nov 10, 2023 released
Player freedom drags down Modern Warfare 3's biggest moments.
By S.E. Doster on November 3, 2023 at 10:47PM PDT
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's campaign picks up where last year's Modern Warfare 2 left off. Captain Price's iconic Task Force 141 is back in action and, as teased in the final cutscenes of Modern Warfare 2, the new threat is Vladimir Makarov, a major antagonist of the original Modern Warfare franchise. Modern Warfare 3 sparks a hot opening with an early reveal of Makarov, but the introduction of the new Open Combat missions disrupts the story's pace for a fizzled-out ending.
Modern Warfare 3 reunites Price's team with several familiar faces from the rebooted series, including Kate Laswell, Farah Karim, and Alex Keller. General Shepherd and Commander Phillip Graves of Shadow Company also return, despite their treacherous actions against Soap, Ghost, and Los Vaqueros in Modern Warfare 2. It's an all-hands-on-deck situation with Makarov in the picture.
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Now Playing: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Campaign Video Review
The campaign opens with Operation 627, a mission in which you stealthily break into a gulag. This linear level sees you rappelling down into the Gulag with night vision goggles on, clearing guards level by level as you descend. Visually, this level looks cool and the gameplay is one of the more enjoyable and traditional missions you'll play in Modern Warfare 3. The gameplay and cinematics are of the bombastic quality you'd expect from Call of Duty, and right away the threat of Makarov is apparent. He gets an exciting jailbreak moment and emerges from confinement ready to cause some chaos. However, after this hyped opening mission, Modern Warfare 3 immediately stumbles as you're forced to play two of the game's new Open Combat missions back-to-back.
Open Combat missions are meant to provide more player freedom by expanding the playable area, offering you more choice in how you complete your goal. These missions still give you a fixed objective, but you have tons of supply crates filled with various killstreaks, equipment, weapon types, and armor to choose from. I was optimistic about these new mission types, as I'm a player who lacks patience and likes to go in guns blazing, and I was excited about having that choice as opposed to always following the prescribed, more linear path of a standard Call of Duty campaign level. I thought I wouldn't miss Call of Duty's forced stealth objectives, but I have a greater respect for those moments now that they're missing in Modern Warfare 3. Unfortunately, the freedom these open missions present come at the cost of the atmosphere and cinematic tension that would be present during a more traditional mission.
The detrimental impact of these new mission types is first noticeable after the opening of the second mission, Precious Cargo. The cinematic introduction is an emotionally charged scene with Farah and a close companion that is followed by an Open Combat mission in which you run around and loot gear as Farah, a process which felt like a very casual match of DMZ or Spec Ops. Farah just witnessed the death of someone important to her, and in the framework of a classic, scripted Call of Duty mission, the impact of that scene could've been better expressed. Sure, someone was still harping in my ear to remind me of my objective, but any real emotion or urgency about the task at hand is still completely lost within the format of an Open Combat mission.
While it's nice to see an attempt to innovate within the well-established CoD campaign formula, Open Combat missions offer too much freedom, tanking all the momentum these military storylines typically would build with cinematics and traditional gameplay. Modern Warfare 2 did a much better job of balancing choice while holding on to the action of the story, with missions that let you have more mobility options but never let you lose sight of a mission's urgency. A good example of this is MW2's vehicle chase-style mission called Violence and Timing, which I praised for altering the usual linear feel of missions to offer variety and player choice. It let me have more options for mobility and felt less restricted than Call of Duty's previous chase sequences. I had the freedom choosing to hop and mantle from vehicle to vehicle throughout the chase, but it never let me slow down or forget what was at stake.
Whereas that MW2 mission still stands out as memorable a year later, Modern Warfare 3 lacks many of these unforgettable set pieces we've come to expect from the franchise. Call of Duty campaigns usually follow a familiar formula, containing missions like a high-speed vehicle chase, a stealthy sniper session, and a slow-mo breach-and-clear hostage rescue. None of that is present in Modern Warfare 3's campaign--a shift in gameplay that disrupts Call of Duty's repetitive nature but fails to then deliver a fresh and exciting moment-to-moment experience. You can choose to approach missions differently on their own, even choosing to take a stealthy approach, but the level design is curated toward engaging in open firefights meaning other playstyles aren't fulfilling. You can take a stealth approach in pretty much all of the Open Combat missions, for example, but none offer the feel of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare's iconic All Ghillied Up mission or even last year's sniper operation in Recon By Fire. There is a player-controlled AC-130 gunship sequence near the end of the campaign to shake up the gameplay a little bit, but this one classic moment isn't enough to save Modern Warfare 3's stale gameplay.
The strongest part of the campaign is the narrative, but it never gets to truly shine due to the Open Combat missions, which make it feel disjointed. The first half of the story does a solid job of showing how Makarov is a deadly extremist, and there is a new No Russian-style mission that is impactful and shocking in equal measure. This reboot puts you on an airplane and doesn't feel quite as over-the-line and nauseating as the controversial airport massacre, but it still gives you a very uncomfortable perspective, where you're forced to be front and center of a terrorist attack resulting in major casualties. This mission doesn't offer up any actual gameplay. You're mostly watching the horror unfold, yet, oddly, the game doesn't give you the option to skip this mission. You only get a content warning that you can accept or choose to go back to the menus. I hope an option is added for skipping this, as it seems unnecessary to force you to take part in an act of terrorism.
Modern Warfare 3 doesn't shy away from showing another massacre on an even larger scale, forcing you to fight through Makarov's thugs during an ongoing shooting at Verdansk's stadium. This mission is filled with chaos and panic as civilians flood out from the stands of the arena, running for their lives and crossing your path as you work to eliminate the terrorists. You fail the mission if you accidentally kill an innocent person, so accuracy and trigger discipline are important here. This mission serves to further reinforce what Makarov is capable of, but resorting to this kind of shock value should be in service of a greater story instead for what is essentially cheap, questionable, thrills. And when it all comes to a head, Modern Warfare 3's ending leaves much to be desired.
Task Force 141's race to stop Makarov ends with an unsatisfying story resolution. All of the early build-up to show the ruthless terror of Makarov fizzles as Open Combat missions derail any narrative momentum until you eventually hit an abrupt semi-cliffhanger. This campaign sets up a narrative to go beyond the original series, teasing a fourth Modern Warfare game will likely follow, but the path there is largely forgettable.
My favorite moments in the campaign tended to rely on nostalgia, taking advantage of the return to Warzone's Verdansk map. However, these campaign highlights--such as a stealthy incursion through a military base as Kate Laswell or a bomb defusing mission on a bridge as Ghost--lean too heavily on the novelty of allowing fans to get lost in reminiscing on the golden days of Call of Duty's battle royale, as the missions themselves are otherwise not particularly enjoyable.
When you tear away all the dreadful free-roam moments of the campaign, the traditional parts still showcase Modern Warfare 3's impressive graphics, over-the-top action, and the guns still have the snappy aim and punchy feel you'd expect in your gunfights. There's just not enough of these moments to make the game feel whole.
On top of the disappointing missions, MW3's campaign fails to serve as the usual introduction to the multiplayer mode. Many of the available weapons come from MW2, despite MW3's multiplayer supposedly including a number of new weapons. And with MW3's core multiplayer mode launching with nothing but remastered maps, you won't be revisiting locations from the campaign as you normally would. While it remains to be seen how the multiplayer component shakes out, it seems as though there will be a greater disconnect between the campaign and multiplayer than ever. It's an odd feeling to have the most direct narrative sequel we've ever gotten in Call of Duty, yet have the game still feel so otherwise disconnected from the other entries of the series in terms of execution.
The number of campaign missions--14--in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 exaggerates its scope, as it should take only 4-5 hours to complete, which is shorter than the norm. Unless you really take your time exploring the wide areas of the Open Combat missions, this story shouldn't take up a lot of your time. The intention of Open Combat to offer freedom ends up feeling like filler used to introduce Makarov's arrival, leaving little motivation to stick around more than needed--and doing so would only serve to further interrupt the narrative. Modern Warfare 3 runs smoothly on PlayStation 5 and has impressive-looking cutscenes, but these two elements further highlight how vapid the gameplay is.
Although its narrative setup is enjoyable, Modern Warfare 3 can't get out of its own way, with nearly half of the missions being the underwhelming Open Combat style. The bumpy pacing and abrupt ending make Makarov's big return a disappointment, dragging Modern Warfare 3 down as the weakest entry of an otherwise strong reboot series.
- Leave Blank
- Reintroducing Makarov evokes nostalgia
- It's good to see Warzone's Verdansk again
- Punchy shooting
- Pacing suffers from all the Open Combat missions
- Not a lot of payoff to the story
- Campaign doesn't do much worth seeing in its brief runtime
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- OS: Windows® 7 or newer
- Processor: Intel Core2 Duo or better
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce GTS 450 / AMD Radeon HD 5570 or better
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 110 MB available space
- Sound Card: DirectSound Compatible
- Additional Notes: Mouse
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Wingspan designer’s The Fox Experiment helps evolve nature-themed board games
Bringing the fun back to [checks notes]... Soviet Siberia!
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Share All sharing options for: Wingspan designer’s The Fox Experiment helps evolve nature-themed board games
With the creation of Wingspan , the delightful ornithology-themed board game released in 2019, designer Elizabeth Hargrave helped give birth to the modern-day genre of nature-themed board games. Its success, buoyed by dozens of industry awards and all manner of mainstream media attention, has opened the door to dozens of similar games, from Meadow to Forest Shuffle . Now the acclaimed designer has leveraged that creative capital to delve ever deeper down a scientific rabbit hole. How deep? Well, her latest game is focused on an obscure Soviet effort to domesticate wild foxes… and it’s not half bad.
The Fox Experiment is based on a controversial project funded by the Soviet Union in 1958, with scientists using selective breeding in the hopes of transforming a wild species into a domesticated partner. Hargrave’s design, however, is not at all concerned with the political, historical, and moral ramifications of that project. Instead, it focuses on tackling the technical matter at hand — the job of selectively breeding the friendliest foxes. Over multiple generations, players draft male and female foxes and then roll handfuls of dice based on their observable traits. These results are then filtered through their offspring, which in turn display a variety of desirable and undesirable traits of their own. These pups are then selectively bred to create the next litter of cubs, creating a core loop of play that is both satisfying and evocative of the experiment being modeled.
The system is smart and straightforward. Dice are colored and represent various desired traits, such as fluffy tails and floppy ears. These map to the qualities seen in the Russian genetic experiment. As foxes become more friendly to humans over subsequent generations, they develop the qualities you are attempting to foster. Connecting this selective breeding to rolling large pools of dice is a splendid method of resolution. It allows for virtually no downtime as everyone performs their trait rolling simultaneously.
One of the more interesting aspects of the game is the influence of the up-and-coming roll-and-write genre on this design. These games typically feature the rolling of dice or flipping of cards, followed by players marking sections of a personal board — think Yahtzee with more modern themes and mechanics. This category, much like nature-themed games, has seen significant growth in the past several years. The Fox Experiment utilizes roll-and-write concepts by having players note their generated traits with a dry erase marker and then name their newly bred cub. Ticking off boxes as a result of a massively successful roll is a simple joy, but the real element of wonder here is in the naming. It opens the game up by allowing players to influence the tone of play and inject personalization. In one play, I had a long line of foxes named various forms of Jeff, and in another, there was a large litter named after members of GWAR. There is also a subtle emotional attachment developed through the process of naming your pups, and it can inject sadness or pride seeing another player scoop one of your bred foxes up in the next generation to serve as their parent for the round.
The Fox Experiment is a noteworthy title for pushing the broader hobby toward the inclusion of more sophisticated scientific themes. It’s a relatively straightforward game roughly on par with Wingspan in complexity, but it shows a far more insightful integration of its subject matter. Regardless of accomplishment, it doesn’t take much effort to goad players into rolling mounds of dice while staring at cute foxes. But the subject matter, which implies difficult topics such as captivity and forced breeding, might not sit well with everyone.
The Fox Experiment will be available at retail on Dec. 8 for $59.95. The game was reviewed using a pre-release copy provided by Pandasaurus Games. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here .
The Fox Experiment
Prices taken at time of publishing.
- $60 at Pandasaurus Games
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