Monday, 1 October 2012

Games Reviews

One important aspect of studying and creating games is the ability to correctly review and critique existing games, so that eventually when you come to make your own games you can apply these techniques to your own games to improve them via a process of analysing your game, making a report, and applying any changes you feel necessary. This is how you test and refine your game and remove any bugs and errors it might have.

Some terminology used in game reviews:

·        Gameplay

This simply covers how the gameplay mechanics of the game work, basically what you do as your character in-game. The reviewer will look at things such as is the gameplay balanced or too difficult or easy, and whether it is interesting enough to keep you playing for hours or whether it’s repetitive and not engaging

·        Visual

On the right is a computer generated image of the character in L.A. Noire

This cover how the game looks and how “pretty” or impressive the graphics of the game are. Note that high quality and realistic graphics aren’t a necessity, with games such as Okami, and Geometry Wars using nice art styles and colour schemes to really suit their game and make it stand out.

Geometry Wars

·        Story

Fairly self-explanatory this covers how well the story is constructed and whether it engages the player or even has any real depth or purpose. Many multiplayer games for example do have single player options with a generic story to play through but so much time has gone into the multiplayer aspects of the game that the story is nothing exceptional, such as is the case in Battlefield 3.

·        Audio

This area is how well the in-game audio adds to the gaming experience, via music during gameplay or menus, ambient sounds in the background (e.g. wind, running water, traffic) character voices and any sounds of any kind that appear in the game. This is often overlooked but audio can be a major part of getting your player immersed into your game and bad audio can really hamper a game. For example if you are playing a game and your character must talk to a lot of in-game characters and they are badly voiced and sound ridiculous, you won’t take the game seriously.

·        Polish

This refers to the level detailed involved in finishing the game off. A highly polished game will have few bugs, all aspects of the game will be finished to high level, and a great attention to detail (this could be something as for example a kitchen in a level having all the usual utensils and equipment you would usually find, and say a pot boiling on a cooker.) These are small things but really make a game come alive.

Notice all the background and miscellaneous object in the room 

·        Replay value/Replayability

Some games, particularly story driven games usually don’t have much replay value, in that after you finish the game there is no incentive or desire to want to play it again. Some ways to improve this is to have multiple ways to play through the game, or different story endings for the player to get, or make the game continue on after the main story is completed, e.g. The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. Multiplayer games usually don’t have an issue with replay value unless the gameplay gets boring after a while and tops you wanting to come back to play it.

·        Bugs

Any errors or glitches in the game that shouldn’t be there, such as holes in the floor you can fall through, cut scenes or story objectives not loading when they should, A.I. not behaving correctly (e.g. enemies not shooting at you in a FPS) or complete crashes that shut your game down are all bugs which ruin a game and all rest of the work done as they ruin immersion and can make a game unplayable at times. They can be subtle as well for example out of sync voice acting, when you are talking to a character in a game who is saying something but their lips are moving randomly so it feels like a badly dubbed film.

·        Fun Factor

Very simple but very important, how fun is this game? The whole point of games is to enjoy playing them so if the gameplay is repetitive, there is no substantial story, and it is full of bugs, how fun can be it to play? This is usually an overview of all the aspects of the game.

·        Rating

Reviews all rate games with their own particular system, for example marks out of ten, with 6 or 7 being good to average games, 9+ being excellent games, stars from 1 to 5, or any similar representation usually with a quick overview of the other heading explained above.

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