I’m in the midst of writing my review for Mortal Kombat 11. Taking a moment to reflect on what I’d written thus far, it was over 1,000 words long, with the vast majority of it being focused on a handful of new gameplay adjustments that I find really cool. Whether I keep it all or not, being my own boss here at In Third Person gives me the wiggle room to approach my evaluation of the game in any way I so choose.
Having that freedom is really important to me with regards to the work I do here. While reviews are a staple of the video game content mix, I also find them to be a chore. Especially when you’re writing them with the goal of covering every aspect of what a game has to offer so that your readers can make an informed purchasing decision. It’s an unnatural way to consume and write about games that can really wear someone down over time. If it’s a game you don’t like, the strain to complete the game and review is amplified further.
When you’re writing game reviews for another publication, you probably have to go through the clinical process of playing every facet of a game and writing about all of its features. It can be a grind going through that process, even for games that you like. Good games can make the steps a lot easier, but even then, there are aspects of good games I don’t like writing about.
For example, I don’t like writing about graphics. Since I try to provide images and video with everything I write, you can deduce on your own how good the blood and guts look in Mortal Kombat 11 by looking at the screenshots and video without me having to say a word. Unless there’s an impact to the gameplay, such as a bad frame rate that makes it hard to line up shots or jump on platforms, I generally gloss over it.
In certain cases, there are entire sections of games I normally wouldn’t play. For example, The Last of Us is a game I bought solely for the single-player experience, but it does have a multiplayer mode. If I were doing a formal consumer-grade review, I’d have to play it. Going the other way, there are games that I buy only for the multiplayer that might have a lengthy single-player component that I don’t want to engage in.
Is the extra effort to cover every facet of a game worth it? Can’t speak for everyone, but it certainly isn’t for me. Strictly from an analytics perspective, my video game reviews don’t perform well. Part of it might just be the quality of my reviews not being up to snuff, but I also feel like game reviews are a congested space and most readers would rather get that information from a larger and faster source, such as IGN, Gamespot, or simply refer to the Metacritic score.
I’ve thought about going as far as to not write reviews at all. If I were to drop any of the content verticals from this site, I think I’d miss reviews the least. However, there are times where I still want to summarize my thoughts on a game in a format that works best in a review format. Not even just for good games, either. As bad as Fight of Gods is, my motivation to review that game was high.
Instead, I’ve shifted my focus for writing reviews from, “Should you buy this game?” to, “Do I like this game?”. I write about the aspects I want to cover without feeling the need to clinically address everything a game has to offer. I may not go into great length about the cosmetic options that can be unlocked in Mortal Kombat 11, but you will get my multi-paragraph take on how splitting one meter into two completely changes the meta-game. It keeps the process interesting for me, while giving you a perspective on the game you won’t get anywhere else.
If your goal as a creator is to someday review games professionally, then getting really good at being able to analyze every aspect of a game is something you should still practice. That said, whether you want to work for IGN or just do this for fun, it’s important to find your unique voice as a reviewer. Not just for the sake of standing out and providing your readers with a take they can’t get anywhere else, but for your own sanity as a creator. Until it becomes your job to follow an exact template, make it your own and make it an enjoyable process!
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