Recording Gameplay/ Writing Critical Review

  • I posed this question (although slightly edited here) regarding reviews to the Allies on Frame Trap and The Podcast but to no avail. However, I think you lads may be able to give me some advice too.

    A professional question: I aspire to produce critical reviews in a similar tone and style of a GT/EZA Review. I've appreciated their style for years and I think in an era of informal YouTubers or entertainment first style of criticism (think Angry Joe), the third-person critical review is more important now than ever.

    While I'm not working on my thesis project, I wish to begin capturing gameplay, writing, and editing video reviews. I know this community has a lot of critics they personally trust and you have a certain standard of expectations when it comes to reviews. What are some critics you go to as I look for inspiration to develop my style?

    Also, for those who record gameplay, what hardware (software?) options should I look into for PC and PS4?

    I appreciate any response. I trust this community to give good responses.


    P.S. I don't hate Angry Joe or anybody like him. I just do not think that should be the standard for a critique. Sometime's you watch a review like that and you still do not fully understand how a game plays or functions. It is what it is - entertainment, but I think there is room for more formal reviewing these days.

  • Generally, I think the value of short form review videos like Easy Allies does are timeliness, professionalism, and the variety of coverage. Though they might on occasion be later then they were at Gametrailers, they are still in the window of when a game is new, and are very useful for someone considering buying a game. They are consistently well edited, give a good overview of the features in a game, and give a concise opinion of the quality(all without spoiling much). IGN and Gamespot also fill this roll well, but I personally prefer Easy Allies (Brandon Jones VO truly is best in the biz).

    I think this type of review would be difficult to produce as an individual, and I personally don't know of any individuals who do such. I'm sure it is possible, but lack of access to review copies, and find time to play each 50+hr game while pumping out a review in a timely manner would make it tough.

    There are several solo video producers who tend to focus on long form, or in depth analysis of games. They really dissect games, trying to analyze what the creators were going for, what the game itself is going for, and whether it is successful. My personal favorite is Joseph Anderson. The video I linked is his review of No Man's Sky, in which he is exceptionally thorough with his criticisms, but also tells a story of his experience with the game. It makes for a great watch. Another is Matthew Matosis who is excellent. They both do a good job of being pretty objective (I don't think anyone can ever be objective when critiquing art, but your opinions will be stronger if you strive towards objectivity), while also presenting a unique and valuable viewpoint.

    Of course there are so many more ways people review games. Some focus on Indies or specific series, some eat a hot pepper before attempting their review. There's absolutely no right or wrong way to go about it, so just try to express yourself honestly and see what comes out. Good luck!
    (Disclaimer: I have absolutely no knowledge of video editing or production. I am just a dummy who likes to watch videos about video games)

  • @GoTaco said in Recording Gameplay/ Writing Critical Review:

    Also, for those who record gameplay, what hardware (software?) options should I look into for PC and PS4?

    For the PS4 you can do just fine with the built-in Share feature. It's also handy to be able to record something that happened when you weren't recording (since you can specify how long you wish the PS4 to remember your gameplay and record it in the background, you can then at any time choose to save said recording).
    Something to be aware of with the PS4 however is that it can block out recording for some scenes (to hide story sensitive cutcenes for example) or mute cutscenes with the Share function.

    For PC I really like recording gameplay with Nvidia Shadowplay which you get for free with later graphics cards (760 an onwards, I think?).

    I also recommend that you practice your "review voice". Things tend to sound better in your head than in reality.

  • @RyanBates @suplextrain

    Thanks for the thorough replies.

    You're right Ryan, it isn't likely this is possible alone. I do wish to try to write and edit a few solid reviews as practice and to create a reel. Hopefully from there more job opportunities will arise. Whether we know it or not, gaming is growing and I personally feel as though more of mainstream media will cover gaming. I think now is a great time to get my foot in the door.

    I also have interest in documentary, have produced a few short docs, and am currently producing two at the moment. I'd like to do behind-the-scenes type work in the gaming industry as well. Any way to get my foot in the door and see where life takes me. Reviews are sort of a personal interest that I believe I can accomplish with some practice.

    tl;dr - thanks lads! :)

  • @GoTaco

    This a tough industry to break into, so you have to be a strong writer. As someone in roughly in the same spot, let me give you some tips.

    1. Write everyday - This might be a no brainer but you have to do this to hone your skills.
    2. Read different reviews - Start looking at car reviews, restaurant reviews, etc. These will give you different perspective on how you to write about games.
    3. Watch things you disagree with - Just like reading different reviews, they give you a different way of designing your videos.

    People that I look up to are the Allies, Michael Martin(e-Sports writer), Alanah Pearce(IGN Writer), and all of the Game Informer staff.

    Now with the video side, I don't know too much about that but I do want you watch Alton Brown. He is a professional chef but also has a filmography degree. His show Good Eats combines fantastic elements to create a fun show.
    Also, watch Jimmy Champane on YouTube. Although, he is kinda my "rival", this guy knows how to create fun reviews but still talk about the core mechanics of the game.
    I hope this helps!

  • @MXAGhost

    Thanks for the required readings!

    Like I said earlier, I'm not necessarily trying to break into games media but being paid to work in the realm of playing video games would be a dream come true. I see myself pursuing a career more in documentary, especially focusing on Canadian culture (because I am Canadian and I think I want to base my career here for now) but I certainly want to try to develop video reviews for the opportunity that a production house in games media is hiring. Even something like EP Media (Electric Playground, Reviews on the Run) would make me very happy. I intend on trying some After Effects animations and really making it look broadcast quality and professional as opposed to the YouTuber ethos.

  • Banned

    Nice post & I must say that this is something new for me as well, I have been offering HND business assignments writing service for many years but never did anything related to game play critical writing ever.