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This was a good review and I'd be interested in seeing you submit more. I liked your conversational tone, which I thought you handled well, though there were some places where you digressed a bit much or where it felt like the organization could have used a bit of work. Some tightening and focus would have made this a fantastic read, but as it was I still learned a lot about how the game works and you did a good job of homing in on those points that most deserved focus. Thanks for contributing!
Edit: I was interested in the game too, by the way. It sounds like my sort of racer. I wasn't sure because I hadn't read any reviews, but now I may have to pick it up and give it a shot.
"Players who pick up Split/Second and demand a plot, character development, or any sort of customization system are to be disappointed, but it’s only their fault."
That was a good sentence.
Some of the breaks are a bit off - "Back to what I was saying." - you've shifted focus a few times already, so it's a bit difficult to find out what it was.
Theme of the day: casual. Aha. :p
But I still don't like "as I was saying", and "anyway" as the beginning of the sentences. :)
I agree that this is a good review, first attempt or not. I'm one of the people who write "review of the week" here, and you got my week, so I will try to give more in depth comments. Hopefully they're helpful to you. I don't know how much editorial advice you want. Here's a good place to post if you want it toned down, etc. Overall, good job. I just love to try to hammer on the obvious details that might help someone figure out more stuff they want to do. I find it's practice for my own writing, which may or may not need it even more.
The first two pargaraphs show interesting potential but perhaps go too far afield from being a review. It's tough for a writer to separate the game, his opinions of the game, and his own emotions, but it's important. I like the start of the 3rd paragraph. It's like you finally got it right and it ties up the ideas in the first two. Perhaps those could be cut down into something that follows the "unapologetic and blunt" sentence. The whole argument of if it's your fault or not is an important recurring one. The plot sounds interesting, and perhaps you could say 1) the game provides excitement 2) here's what you do 3) I thought it was a bit too much, or it was a contrived reason to travel the world and view different surroundings, and they could've pitched the storyline.
I think also you may've dwelt too long on copyright names too--perhaps saying the take-offs on popular car names were interesting.
I'm not a fan of the conversational tone as I think it works great in 1st drafts til you write what you really want, but here I think it's useful for transitions. I remember a comment "democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that've been tried." I may be making this sort of argument with the conversational tone too. However, phrases like "don't get me wrong" give a red light in real life--and do so for writing, too. I am being harsh in a 1st-time criticism of a review, but I think it's the reviewer's job not to be gotten wrong. Often, these awkward transitions you make are followed up with VERY salient sentences, and so it looks like the hard stuff is done. It's just finding a more meaningful way to flow that's not there, yet. I'd guess it will be if you want to pursue reviewing more.
Also, using gameplay as a noun is risky because it is not a concrete one--we all did this, and maybe it's a slight fashion thing, but even something like "...driving style. And developing the style is fun, because the game's fast like Project Gotham Racing." There are truisms like "the game feels very fast, especially...a lot of action." followed by a sentence that works much better. I think there's some comfort level in writing anything when you realize what can be assumed and what can't, and a few reviews under your belt and you'll have a really good idea.
Stuff like "back to what I was saying" is also risky--again, you have control of this, and so I feel buffeted around as a reader. I think comparisons with other series are good, e.g. why one game feels like 200MPH and others, who just throw out blurs, don't.
Also one thing in a review that flows so well that can be a problem is hedging and admitting the game might be boring: "Scattered throughout the campaign are refreshing mini modes to break up the monotony of what would be just race after race." Perhaps say "For a change of pace, sewers allow..."
Stuff like "Go Wisconsin" or taxes or skater bros does seem frivolous, but mentioning that $60 retail is more than you usually pay but you liked this is a strong endorsement. But then on the other hand, I think it's a legitimate complaint that you have all this technology and can't place sticuers where you want to. Amusing contrast. Again I think the narrative voice runs away here as your sentence about telling your buddy sort of tells what you'd already shown well enough. It's a lack of confidence, but that's curable.
The second last paragraph works better than the last as a conclusion works though maybe more examples of why S/S is over the top would work well. The game comparisons seem a bit thrown in.
...oh, and this is your first time, but the last sentence? Ditch it, if you plan to rewrite. I'm still nervous when I send a new review in. But it's not lying in writing to eliminate these sorts of doubts we all have that we submitted something lousy or that doesn't build on what we had.
I noticed a few grammar issues. These are not as important as writing a clear coherent review as you've done. You're good enough that it'll be no problem to find someone to exchange rough drafts with to weed out the small stuff. But the small stuff piles up. For instance, rubber-banding is an awkward neologism, but the next sentence to explain it gets tangled, too.
some passive voice can be fixed "explosions are events cued" <- Power plays, critical moments in the game triggered by drifting etc., cause explosions and obstacles for your opponents, and timing them perfectly can destroy...
One sentence uses the word "drift" 3x and that is a bit much.
onto the meat and potatoes =cliche and weak transition
But, you didn't <- no comma
Corbetti's -> Corbettis
They competition -> The competition
tracks and blunders=2nd word should be something else?
set amount of, "Manufacturers," <- no comma
it's beauty/it's drawback
The big power plays are gargantuan. = repetitive
runway you previous thought was a racetrack -> previously
it’s pointed and directive -> its pointed, direct