If you’ve read one video game review, you’ve read ‘em all. Most gaming sites have very similar, often not terribly helpful, review guidelines, which is something I attempted to rethink while at Uproxx. I believe the review system I came up with was fairly successful, but of course nothing’s perfect, so I’ve formulated a new, more refined, set of guidelines.
Like the old Uproxx system, the goal is to create reviews that better speak to what the average player actually cares about. Are most consumers really interested in a dry dissection of a game’s graphics and audio? No, but they do care about the interactive worlds they’re used to created. And what do vague terms like “gameplay” even mean? Most people are more concerned with whether a game will be accessible, easily playable, and offer them something new. You won’t get any revelations about my childhood in these reviews, they probably won’t make you any more woke, but hey, by the end of them you may actually know whether you want to buy the title in question. Sound good?
Worldbuilding - How effectively does the game use story, visuals, audio, and other forms of artistry to create its fictional world, or simulate the real world?
Innovation - What does the game offer that other games don't? What new ideas and mechanics does it bring to the table?
Playability - How accessible is the game? Are its mechanics and overall design easy to grasp? Are its challenges satisfying to master?
Durability - How long does the game take to complete, and once you're done, will you want to come back for more?
Demerits - Is the game undermined by glitches, excessive DLC, exploitative microtransactions and other unethical business decisions? A "bonus" section of sorts, which will weigh heavily on some reviews, but won't apply at all to others.
A rare game that is simply impossible to review for technical, moral or other reasons. More of a disqualification than a true value judgment. The game may be reassessed and given a proper star rating later if the critical issue is resolved.
Broken and bereft of artistic merit. You've been warned.
Significantly flawed, but not without redeeming qualities. Weigh the pros and cons, and proceed with caution.
A solidly entertaining game, held back only slightly by small oversights or a lack of ambition. Confidently recommended.
A highly polished experience that represents a notable step forward for its genre, or gaming in general. A must-play.
Over the next couple days I’ll be using these guidelines on a few 2016 games I’ve yet to review. Depending on how the test-drive goes, I may do a few extra tweaks. And hey, who knows where these guidelines might pop up in 2017!