| "What's the deal with your reviews?"
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We do believe games are a form of art, but we also want to have a great, fun experience with our games. To use a movie analogy, perhaps something deep like "The Hours" is the pinnacle of film making, but something like Jet Li's "Fist of Legend" is simply an unforgettable rollercoaster ride. As such, We try to base our reviews on the enjoyable experience that we had with the game. A certain game might not be deep, or crafted by an expert eye to contain cinematic scope and a sweeping story.
But it may still be an intense, memorable, balls-out blast to play. So we don't believe in penalizing such a game just because there's some big epic sitting next to it on the shelf. The epic warrants a higher score only if the reviewer found his or her experience with the epic to be better, NOT just because it's an epic. (Exception: if the epic-ness of the game is what makes a particular person's experience with the game better, then that's perfectly fine.)
Sometimes people take reviews as the law of the land: "This review is the definitive answer as to why you are wrong for disliking this game. We like such-and-such about this game -- therefore, you have to like that about the game as well." Our reviews are a reflection of the reviewer's enjoyment of the game, and the review score is a recommendation or criticism based on that experience. So, please read our reviews as if the reviewer were saying: "This is what I liked about it, and based on that I think you should give it a try. If you don't think you will like what I liked, then that's okay too."
If you are writing a review for us, and you get the most enjoyment out of amazing visuals, understand that it's alright to praise a game that's only pretty and not much else.
And, if we write a review that contains utter disgust for a game that you think is heavenly, don't take it personally -- we all have our opinions. We're not telling you that you're wrong -- we're telling you why we don't like it; perhaps someone else likes it for completely other reasons. Keep this in mind when reading our reviews and reviews from any other magazine or website -- no matter how definitive they claim to be, they're not. That's only said to sell subscriptions and garner website hits.
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We've changed our reviews philosophy;
for the most part we think numbers have become useless. At one point they were helpful but with the rise of fanboys and irrationality,
numbers have become more useful for mudslinging and arguing. Today, we eschew numbers. Readers wanting to find out how we feel about
games will just have to read for once. We give a short assessment of four sub-categories: graphics, sound, gameplay,
and value. Then we give a short overall assessment. Following these assessments is a full, in-depth text review.
Here is an explanation of the four sub-categories: graphics, sound, gameplay, and value.
- Graphics: Everything you see; it's a balance between performance and image quality. Is the game hard to see? Do you find the artwork utterly disgustingly drawn? We're not really considering options and enhancements such as 480p support, but given the proper equipment, we may.
- Sound: Everything you hear; it's a balance between music and sound effects. Are you fine with a game not having much music or does it bother you enough to drop the rating? Are the sound effects or voice acting annoying? We're not really considering Dolby Digital options yet, but given the proper equipment, we may.
- Gameplay: The meat of the sammich (for vegetarians and vegans, the stuff between your bread). Is the control tight? Intuitive? Is it not deep enough for you? Simple enough? Fun enough? Innovative enough? Too hard or easy?
- Value: Getting what you pay for, in terms of money AND time. Some games are bargain bin or free... but you can never get back lost time. Is there enough replay value? Is it so fun that you'd play it again and again, even if it was short? Did the developers spend enough time making it a good, bug-free product?
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Love a game that you feel we've poopooed on? Want your different point of view to be heard? Well, go ahead! We will post reader reviews, as long as certain guidelines are met:
- Your review is spellchecked, grammar checked and ready to go. We will not sit there and correct your every spelling mistake, but we will cut and paste the contents into a word processing program and run through it quickly. If we see any stupid spelling mistakes or horrible grammar, it's out. If you let little things like "teh graphics need some improvement" slip out, that's alright -- but "the grafx were rediclous and definately were stunk real bad" will guarantee that your review will be sent back for correction and resubmission.
- Please do not resort to insulting. Example -- refrain from, "If you can't get used to this control scheme, then
you're pretty much an idiot and shouldn't be playing games anyway" or "The gameplay is so deep and that makes it flawless; if
you disagree, you're just shallow-witted." That may prevent you from getting any reviews submitted (we'll write your
name/email/other aliases down if we have to). If you have a personal agenda or feel strongly about something, making bold and
questionable statements is alright to further help the reader understand your position on the game in question. But insulting is
NOT alright in a review. Save that for editorial pieces or if you'd like to contribute to our blog-style Weekend Updates.
- You have played the game for a substantial amount of time. For instance, if you've played through 2 hours of Final Fantasy XI, don't think you can write a review on the game -- you can, however, write a FIMP. For a short game like Strider 2 or Contra, the same things apply -- in fact, you have no excuse not to play it to completion! At the very least, play through most of it. Make sure you've played the game enough to fully explore all of the gameplay modes. For a game like Tony Hawk 3, you don't have to unlock every single character but at least finish the game with a skater or two and acknowledge the replay value by saying "there are more things to unlock" besides what you personally may have already done.
- Please give us all assessments pertaining to our format. Not doing so makes it seem as if you want us to do that work for you, or
too lazy to analyze the game thoroughly enough
yourself. Please give us all four short category assessments with a final overall short assessment.
- Please send a review to email@example.com by attaching it as a TXT file or a Microsoft
file. Or, you can include it within the body of the email itself. We need all short category and overall assessments included in the
review, as well as the game name (obviously), publisher, developer and genre. We also kindly ask that you provide a final
recommendation in the overall assessment, but it's not necessary as long as you get your opinion across.
- Note we also accept FIMPs (explained below), opinion articles, or Weekend Updates (for those who like to blog about videogames)
through the same method. For Articles, please provide a title for your article. For Weekend Updates, think of it as a blog -- go crazy,
do whatever you like. Be warned that while personal attacks are tolerated, harsh retaliation is also strictly endorsed ;)
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Fimp = First Impression. We're lazy.
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