Welcome to review guide for The Refined Geek. If you don’t need the full explanation of why I review the way I do feel free to skip to the TLDR section at the bottom.
It’s come to my attention that whilst I think my method for reviewing games is somewhat transparent it’s really anything but. Although I’ve tried to keep the same format and style over the past couple years I’ve noticed that my initial reviews are really worlds away from my current format. So in the effort of transparency (and hopefully adding some clarity) I thought I’d give you a brief overview of the process I go through in order to bring you game reviews every other week or so.
The first, and of course most enjoyable part, is that I’ll play the game that gets reviewed. Now my preference for games is the PC as that’s the best platform I’ve found for conducting reviews. I’m not adverse to playing on other platforms (as shown by my reviews of games like Assassin’s Creed, Heavy Rain, Red Dead Redemption, etc.) but I prefer it since I can take my own screen shots (all console games have thus far used press kit screen shots) and I’m not taking up the main TV which I have to sometimes fight my wife for. I am working on a solution for reviewing console only titles but I haven’t found a solution that works exactly the way I want it to.
One big point I make is to finish all the games that I play before reviewing them. This can be something of a burden with games that pack on the game time (like Skyrim, for instance) but I feel reviewing a game I didn’t complete doesn’t do it justice. The problem with this of course is that some games will drag out too long and I won’t finish them or, what usually happens, is that the game has nothing redeeming about it and I won’t attempt to finish it. I’ve had several games like this and unfortunately since my time is somewhat limited I don’t like to waste it on titles that just aren’t fun to slog through.
My review scoring system is quite simplistic: all games start off with a perfect 10/10 score and then will lose points for things that detract from the game experience. Think of it like an innocent until proven guilty sort of scenario where I like to err on the side of a game being good rather than it being bad. The issues are mostly subjective but there are also some objective things like game breaking bugs, bad performance or poor game design. The amount I take off is somewhat subjective, usually based around how bad something detracts from the game, and I haven’t bothered itemizing it since if you read my review you can easily tell where the game lost points. Still if there’s interest in seeing a breakdown of why I took points off for certain things I’ll be sure to include it in future reviews.
I’ve had some complaints that my review scores are too high and hopefully the last 2 paragraphs have explained the reasons as to why this might be. The high scores are a combination of my scoring scheme (everything starts out high) and the fact that I simply don’t finish crap games (so everything that gets reviewed meets a certain standard). I’m not one of those 7/10 guys nor are the game developers paying me for their reviews as all games (bar one exception, which I made clear at the time and will always do so) has been bought with my own money and played just like any other retail customer. Whether that makes the final score useful to you or not is left as an exercise for the reader but it is a useful guide to how I feel if you’re not in the mood for reading the entire review.
I try to keep the structure consistent if for the sole reason that it stops me writing an incoherent mess. For the most part I’ll start with some background of the game, genre or developers depending on what kind of history I have with those aspects. Then I’ll usually set the scene for the game to give the following sections some context. Then I’ll usually break it down into specific sections like graphics and performance, game and set design, combat, game mechanics, overall plot summary and finally multiplayer. The multiplayer section is a relatively recent addition to the reviews as I had avoided it previously but since I’ve had many games that are defined by their multiplayer experience I found it necessary to include it.
If you feel like I’m missing something important or you’d like to see a particular aspect included in future reviews feel free to drop me a comment here, send a tweet to @davidklemke or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org