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Forums > Contributor Zone > Review of the Week - January 2nd to January 8th - Sober Edition!

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Author: WilltheGreat
Posted: January 12, 2011 (03:04 PM)
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I'm never going to live that down, am I?

Competition week again, so lots of high-quality entries to work with. Narrowing this list down to three names was tricky, so I threw in an honorable mention to make it four. Picking the four best proved not to be much easier, though.

Here we go.



In Third Place - fleinn, Gran Turismo 5 (PS3

This review has something that is not often seen in reviews, at least here at HG: Formatting. This review uses a 'sectioned' format, but it's important to distinguish that word from the kind of review we think of when we hear it. This doesn't break the game down into chunks about sound, graphics, replayability, etc. It doesn't have big jagged edges where one paragraph falls off a cliff into the next. This review does sections right, which is something I've seen done at HG twice in recent memory (once, if you count people who aren't me). That's because of this: If you take out the headers, the review still flows. You haven't used the section headers as a crutch. You've used them for emphasis, like something you might see in a magazine. It looks very smooth and very professional, and does loads to emphasize the points you make.

If you hadn't done the formatting, this review wouldn't have made it into the top three on content alone. It really, really makes that much of a difference; the section heads reinforce what you're saying in the body of the piece and add weight, and they're so subtle you can almost read right past without noticing they're there. It does loads for flow and readability, on top of looking really impressive. This is something I think all of us should look at and experiment with in the future.

Second Place First Loser - Suskie, Beat Hazard (PC)

It seems every time you write a review in my week, Suskie, you convince me to check out a game I'd normally have no interest in whatsoever. Assume the usual praise here about your style and narrative voice that I write every time, because it's no less engaging or entertaining this week. I'm constantly impressed at how consistent your level of writing is.

Your Champion - zippdementia, ICO (PS2)

Zipp, this is probably the best review of yours I've read. Your comments on the set pieces and formulas of modern "cinematic" games also hit home, and I was impressed with how you wove them seamlessly into the rest of the review. If I tried that it would come off as preachy and tangential. Not so here. But more impressively, I've never picked up ICO, and yet the way this piece draws me into the game world makes me feel like I've seen it with my own eyes. Well done, Zipp.

Honorable Mention - asherdeus, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (X360)

I opened this review and was like, "oh no he didn't," and then I was like, "oh yes he did". The way you've written this review is hilarious. You need to record it and put it on YouTube with gameplay footage or something.

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There you have it folks. I often say how impressed I am with the reviews that get subbed here, even if they don't make it into the top three four Reviews of the Week, and I hope nobody thinks of that as hollow praise. Everybody that submitted this week should be proud, because this was a really hard week to judge.


"Either, sir, you're an ass or you're masquerading as one."
- Nero Wolfe


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 12, 2011 (05:05 PM)
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If there was ever a review of the week I wanted to win, it was this one. To win against so many good reviews this week is a real honor. I look forward to going up against Suskie's amazing Beat Hazard review again shortly.

Thank you very much for the win, former Captain Will. The "Great" Squad will never forget their comrades in arms, it seems.

As a side note, I had missed that review by Fleinn but I agree with Will that it's a really nice way to do headings. While I don't see us as ever forcing people to use headings, maybe this could provide an exception to our usual groans against them. It looks great!


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: January 12, 2011 (05:13 PM)
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Congrats to both all mentioned (who I'll still sweep in ((both)) Alphas), and Will for a timely RotW he didn't balls up.

Victory all round!


For us. For them. For you.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: January 12, 2011 (07:15 PM)
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Thanks for the mention, Will. Zipp, good shit.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: jerec
Posted: January 13, 2011 (02:55 AM)
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Congrats to the winners. Gonna be some tough competition in the alphas...


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: fleinn
Posted: January 13, 2011 (09:24 AM)
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:) that gt5 review is the kind of review I would really, really hate losing to. There's so many wrong things about it, so much unclear language. And for most of the review it's just random info - the obvious mistake to make when reviewing a large game, you're unable to lie, and want to explain everything. But the section-flow helped.. it did do that..

asherdeus' 50 cent review is made of pure win, though. :D

edit: btw, was JoeTheDestroyer's 8 eyes review featured last week..?


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Author: WilltheGreat
Posted: January 13, 2011 (01:34 PM)
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that gt5 review is the kind of review I would really, really hate losing to. There's so many wrong things about it, so much unclear language. And for most of the review it's just random info - the obvious mistake to make when reviewing a large game, you're unable to lie, and want to explain everything. But the section-flow helped.. it did do that..

Like I said, the formatting was good enough to justify placing all on its own. It really made that big a difference on how the review presented itself.


"Either, sir, you're an ass or you're masquerading as one."
- Nero Wolfe


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 13, 2011 (02:19 PM)
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You know what's nice about headers? The fact that you can quickly summarize a review by its "key points." If the headers are well made, you can glance at them to see what was special about a game (special enough to talk about or crappy enough to critique). You can also jump to headers that are particularly important to you. Only the most obtuse menus bother me, so I might skip that section at first and instead read "Driving." Then, if that perks my interest, but I'm not decided, I might read "Hidden Options" to get a sense of the replay value/unlockability of new content.

It's a very nice way to present information and is the kind of feature that might make someone read an Honest Gamer review over a less organized IGN review.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: fleinn
Posted: January 13, 2011 (05:05 PM)
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Ouch. IGN. You're hard on the criticism there, Zipp. :D But I've wondered a bit about the sections sometimes. I hate the formulaic sections in some reviews. Worst thing I see. But if the jumps have some sort of narrative, it would be very nice to have a small jump-menu on a bubble somewhere near the top.


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Author: WilltheGreat
Posted: January 13, 2011 (06:31 PM)
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You mean like a table of contents? HG is pretty generous about HTML in the submission forms, so it'd be pretty easy to do. I should try it and see if it works.


"Either, sir, you're an ass or you're masquerading as one."
- Nero Wolfe


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Author: Suskie
Posted: January 13, 2011 (07:38 PM)
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I don't like headers when they're of the generic gameplay/graphics/sound variety, for a wide variety of reasons, but Fleinn's GT5 review makes far more practical use of them.


You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 13, 2011 (08:18 PM)
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I second Suskie's statement.


Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer
Posted: January 14, 2011 (01:55 AM)
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I am late on my congratulatory speech, but congrats to you Zipp. It was a marvelous ICO review, one which I agreed with 100%. And nicely done Suskie, Ash and fleinn. I will say that I now have Beat Hazard in my Steam wishlist. One day when I'm not broke I may purchase it.

I also agree with Suskie and Zipp. I used to do sectioned reviews ages ago, but the first step toward breaking away from them was inventing key sections that weren't just graphics, sound, etc.


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.


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Author: fleinn
Posted: January 14, 2011 (01:44 PM)
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Code might be something like this..
<textarea cols=30 rows=7>
<div style="border: 3px teal solid; float: right;">
<table>
<caption> Sections </caption>
<tr> This</tr>
<tr> And that</tr>
</table>
</div>
</textarea>

And then some more
<textarea>
<a name="section1">More about this...
</textarea cols=30 rows=5>
..name and anchor tags.

..Why did I try to make a table inside.. anyway. I think a div-tag is going to be float inside the document, instead of on the rest of the page now. A better way to do it would be to use something the css on the site already overrides, or else use a class the site has defined, to get the formatting consistent..


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Author: fleinn
Posted: January 15, 2011 (07:12 PM)
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...oops, I broke the post with the html... :/

Um.. Yeah. I updated the review a little bit with some extremely inexpertly done css. It's basically a floating div-tag. Since the review is rendered in it's own context, the div-tag will float to the right of the review just fine, instead of jumping across to the rest of the site. So some style="float: right;border: something something;" inside a div-box works fine. I had to create full links to the document when I created the anchors - not sure why, probably has something to do with the rendering context again. So the links would be href="http://www.honestgamers.com/reviews/9204/Gran-Turismo-5.html#section" inside the a tag. And the name="#section" pairs further down.

Not too difficult. If someone can figure out a way to post formatted code, I could try to set up some copy-paste examples (will do the same for pictures, and so on).

..oh, and the headers :D Accidentally found out that the h2 tag is overridden somewhere in the global stylesheet. So if you use that (put an h2 tag across text), it follows the style of the board. I'm sure there are a few others like that.

If we knew the names of some of the classes, we could do the same with the borders and writing in the menus :)

(last off topic tips: if you use Opera Dragonfly.. comes with Opera 11, you can inspect the markup for some particular element on a page - neat for checking on syntax, and copying examples).


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