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Forums > Contributor Zone > Re-Review Tourney Results!

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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: May 17, 2011 (11:09 AM)
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Well, here it is finally. The results for the Re-review tourney. I apologize profusely for delaying so long, but life gets in the way sometimes. Anyway, I commend all four of you for taking the time to rework your reviews. In all cases, all the rewrites were a considerable improvement over the original, and regardless of how well you score here, you should all be very proud of that fact.

Because of the nature of variables in this tourney, it's interesting to see how each of us three judges handled the “Old vs. New” comparison. I hope you all find our comments useful and meaningful.

A note on my scoring: totals are based only on the scores for the rewrite, not the original.

CoarseDragon:
Old: Ultima IV
New: Ultima IV

Asherdeus: This is a good review to rewrite. Your original review is all over the place. There's very little flow or cohesiveness. You bounced from point to point without ever creating a true image of the game for the reader to latch onto as you explained some of the deeper points. The first "sentence" in your new review seems to be missing some punctuation. You also seem to avoid commas throughout the review, despite how helpful they would be in helping pace your review. Your new review follows the original review quite closely, and it reads as though you simply rewrote the review in question without going back and considering what worked and didn't in the original and using those insights to produce something better. In this contest, this is something important and what separates the best reviews from the worst. Ignoring this contest and considering it simply as a review, as someone who has never played an Ultima game, I felt left wanting to know more. I wanted to know more about how the game played, how the story progressed, how the game stood compared to the other games in such a venerated franchise. Your new review is better than the first, but compared to the other entries in the contest, this is sadly a weaker entry.

Score: 60

Wolfqueen: Compared to your old review, the newer version is a remarkably better. Both still have issues, mind – there are quite a few grammatical and spelling errors in both, and you also try to directly justify your score at the end of each, which I personally find irrelevant in reviews because what you say throughout the review (your arguments, choice of emphasis, etc) should justify it enough. I also found some of the developer information to be irrelevant because it felt like you just sort of threw it in there to throw it in there. Whatever accomplishments these people made should be clear from your description of the game, not merely saying “so and so made great strides for their time with this game,” or some such. If you do address the research element, which can be quite interesting if done right, you need to make the reason for its inclusion clear and give it a specific purpose in your argument. In any case, I have a considerably better understanding of the game from the rewrite than I do the original. The original just sort of bounced around from point to point without any real coherency, and I didn't really understand what made the game unique or why the story was so good. The rewrite elaborates on that a bit, and I feel as though your points are somewhat better linked, and therefore they make more sense, than the original. However, I still feel that, in addition to some cleaning and tightening up, it could be elaborated on quite a lot more than it is. For example, what defines an evil creature as opposed to a good one? How do you commit crime in this game, unintentionally or not? Things like that could use a bit more explanation, but even so, I commend you for reworking this one the way you did.

Score: 65
Old review: 40.

Leroux: On the original:
Two points stood out to me as this review's biggest flaws: 1) The claim that Ultima IV is like nothing that came before it, despite being the fourth in the series (this needs some explanation) and 2) Mentioning that the graphics and sound do not compare to today's standards (not exactly unexpected). This is the kind of early review ideal for a rewrite, as your growth as a writer should automatically make it better.

On the rewrite:
Definitely better. I appreciate the new emphasis on this old game's history, especially the tidbit on Garriott's inspiration, and the new emphasis on transport around the world is great. That first flaw I mentioned is addressed well – it is much clearer what Ultima IV does that perhaps no other RPG has accomplished, with its unique mission and lack of a “bad guy”. I'm a little disappointed the different classes and the mentioning of the dungeon of deceit didn't make the cut – I think they would add some more meaningful discussion to the review and augment this well.

I'm a little lost as to why you're downgrading this title three whole points on the basis of its graphics and sound aging, and doing it so late in the review. I can understand how it might happen, but I think more discussion, nuance, maybe a specific example of something that was great for its time but a humdrum moment now would help. It doesn't seem right because no other point of the review was geared toward this downturn. Your argument all along seemed to be that Ultima IV was great because of its play based around the eight virtues, and that would seem in tact even twenty five years later. There are plenty of games with graphics that haven't aged well but are still great games, as equally appreciable now as they were before – I'm curious why this one is an exception, and it seems assumptive to throw it out there at the end and expect it not to raise eyebrows.

Score: 75/100

TOTAL: 200

JoetheDestroyer:
Old: Sea Monster
New: Sea Monster

Asherdeus: Your original review was about 400 words too long. It's very repetitive and too often you say "I probably shouldn't complain because of the platform...". There's not a lot to say about the game and sadly, the original review forced the players through sludge to hear that. So I was relieved to see your new review was half the length. You obviously saw the biggest problem with the review and the drastic scale down makes for a much better piece. There are a couple of grammatical errors, but this is a notable improvement over the original. You hit on all of the main points of your original review (though you spent a bit of time complaining about the difficulty level in the original and don't really mention this at all in the new review). You really did what you were asked here and hit the target. Your only real flaw is that you chose a game that you didn't really have a whole lot to say about and aren't enthusiastic for. There's not a lot of energy in the review, or passion for the game in one way or another. I am sympathetic to your struggles here. It can be difficult to muster the enthusiasm required to engage readers in a review for a subpar product. The trick is to discover your hook - what part of the game you want to really rally around, to elaborate on. This will be somewhat elaborated on in my response to Overdrive's review and I suggest you read that.

Score: 75

Wolfqueen: Your new review took a huge step in the right direction by cutting down the size tremendously (or at least it looked that way to me). It also cut out a lot of the wordiness and over-explanation that had made the original somewhat dull in places. However, the new review is also cringingly punny in places, which is sometimes amusing but also distracting as I tend to think whether you did it intentionally or not, like as a means to insert some kind of emotion into the review. I laughed a bit, sure, but I also feel it took me out of the review somewhat. I also admit to being mildly confused by your introduction at first, but this went for both versions of the review, and the newer one cleared up my confusion when you put forth the notion of actually playing a sea monster, which made the first paragraph make a lot more sense. Still, despite all that, I'm much happier with the brevity, and I also feel that you explained some of the things a bit better to boot. The comparison between the sea monsters in this game and the monsters in similar games helped a great deal in understanding their (lack of) variety. Also, the score actually seems to fit the tone of the review whereas your other one had some convoluted justifications that just didn't seem necessary. So good job trimming it down and rewording it to the point where it's considerably more effective.

Score: 75
Original review: 60

Leroux: On the original:
Seems like a good review for a rewrite. In the beginning, I sense you stalling a bit, not telling me much but not wanting to take the plunge yet for a lack of things to write about. There's a strange emphasis on the graphics for an Atari 2600 game, but the screens give plenty indication why (this IS ugly). “Enema designs” leaves something awful to the imagination.

On the rewrite:
It's shorter, it's to the point, it's (maybe) a better review, but it's not ambitious (or even as ambitious as the original). Cutting the whole graphical discussion seems a bit harsh – it should be good for a gag or two still. The game is better defined in its context, with references to Demon Attack and Phoenix explaining why it doesn't maintain interest. That's its one strong point compared to the first. But “formated” isn't a word, and it should probably be “titular” rather than “eponymous.”

Mostly, it seems like you tried to include as much wordplay as possible and called it a day: “lost in the depths”, “thank Poseidon”, “dead in the water”, “siren's spell” and “leave the treasure at the bottom of the sea.” I'd be remiss if I didn't mention I suspect these Liopleurodons are actually Kronosauruses. Mostly just not a lot to write home about here, mostly due to the game.

Score: 70/100

TOTAL: 220

pickhut:
Old: Dune: Battle for Arrakis
New: Dune: Battle for Arrakis

Asherdeus: Your first review isn't that bad (especially when I consider where my writing was in 2004!). There's nothing special or flashy about the original, but it's very serviceable, and the first review that I've read that didn't really seem to outwardly need a rewrite. Though at times it got bogged down explaining things that might seem basic to RTS newcomers, the fact that it's a Genesis game suggests that the audience might not be familiar with the genre and this inclusion is excusable. I admire you for taking on a review that's already pretty good to start with, and commend you for producing something significantly better in spite of that. The introduction to your new review demonstrates what years of work can do: in one paragraph, you were able to sum up in one paragraph what took you two in your first review. Your next brings positive points that were omitted in the original that help convey the draw of the game, suggesting that you actually went back and played the game again, a feeling I haven't gotten from the other competitors. There's great energy and enthusiasm throughout the new review that was lacking in the original. I liked your use of art to highlight how some of the game's mechanics worked, but was particularly impressed that you didn't take the easy way out and simply leave it at that. You explained those same elements as thoroughly and clearly as the images did through the text. Very strong review.

Score: 95

Wolfqueen: I have to say that the new review is a marked improvement over the original. The original felt like a typical formulaic review, going from point to point without much energy and a little too much explanation in places. It felt listy in places, especially with the distinct mentioning of graphics and sound, and the argument to modern gamers seemed forced. I actually found myself skimming or even skipping some paragraphs towards the end because of their repetitive nature and my assumption of what they would say. However, the new review has none of these unintended negative effects. The new review is very engaging and intriguing. I actually cared about what you were saying, and the clarity with which you explained the politics and other features of the game made me understand what you were trying to say a whole lot better, too. Therefore, I felt little need to skim or skip and even wanted to know more about the world. You put energy into the new version that didn't exist at all before, and it really adds to the flow and reader interest level. The pics were a nice addition, too, even though I couldn't really make out what they were due to Genesis-era graphics,. They still added more than just the simple text explanation your first review gave. Great job with this.

Score: 90
Old review: 70

P.S. When I read the last word of the conclusion, I couldn't help but add “Like me,” at the end because it felt like that would totally fit there, haha.

Leroux: On the original:
This one started with me nodding my head along with the introduction, followed by me nodding off at about the end of the second paragraph. Some of the details here really didn't interest me I guess but a third good rewrite candidate that I think can be topped.

On the rewrite:
This is a great effort that is much more aggressive than the original at trying to sell the game – in this one, even the sand worm is seen as a perk. I love the enthusiasm and the inclusion of something trivial like that really helps to sell an old strategy game that could easily blend in with the pack. I like this review because it is a fresh approach to strategy games – it realizes that there's more than explaining how 'x' counterbalances 'y' necessary to grab interest.

There's a few minor places where I think it hits some cliché – the contrasting “From a modern day viewpoint,” and “But...” paragraphs; “Can you believe this is just the beginning...” to move the review along – but this avoids the main fault of the original and is interesting throughout. Nice job recognizing the issues with the original review and addressing them.

Score: 88/100

TOTAL: 273

Overdrive:
Old: Wings of Wor
New: Wings of Wor

Asherdeus: Here's another original review that isn't bad to start with. I liked how the original was defensive of Wings of Wor, which helps demonstrate to readers to perhaps give the game - or the reviewer - a chance to convince them. You hyped up the reader with the boss battle descriptions only to shatter it perfectly with your discussion on the events that lead up to them. You really rallied around this one key point and developed the review around this core idea, with almost everything coming back to these battles - the stage design, the style of gameplay, etc. This is extremely important to do, as it's incredibly effective at getting your point across. The original review could have benefited from a little pruning, perhaps weaving some of your thoughts into other paragraphs and cutting back on some more superfluous discussion. And I think you recognized this because your new review gets right into the good, juicy stuff and cuts out a lot of the fat without sacrificing anything that made the original review good. You stay on point and never lose your enthusiasm, even though you're writing about a game that admittedly has faults. In the end, you write a great review that improves over the already solid original.

Score: 90

Wolfqueen: Hm... There are pros and cons to both reviews here, but I definitely think your second version is better. The first was excruciatingly long, and though it had some colorful imagery with the descriptions of the stages and power ups and such, it carried on way too long. The second is mercifully shorter and condensed, and, to its greatest strength, the colorful imagery is even more exaggerated, but not in such a way as to grow tiresome. In other words, the new review was very engaging, more so than the original, which was engaging in itself, but not as much as this one. However, I do feel that you could have cut out some descriptions of the stages to the most powerful ones because you still describe all of them, which might be a bit excessive. I say this because in rewriting this review, you took out the description of the power ups and such, instead covered them briefly, which I found rather enjoyable in the original (if, again, a little overdone). However, because it's a rewrite, it's totally understandable that you no longer considered that part of the game as important as the rest, which appears to be the case because the language suggests you'd gone back and played the game in order to effectively do a rewrite, which is a definite plus. Regardless of my personal tastes, this is definitely an improvement of the original. As I said earlier, it's highly engaging and has a lot of creative descriptions and techniques that the other lacked. Good job.

Score: 85
Old review: 75

Leroux: On the original:
Wasn't this review originally for a competition, one I think Masters, Janus and yatesy were in? Janus wrote an awesome review that time. This one was all right too. Kind of slow in the beginning with the recap of the invention of flying and whatnot, but it happens.

On the rewrite:
Wings of Wor is one of my favorite games, and Overdrive has a whole devil's advocate paragraph early on that makes me cringe at where the review might be turning. Luckily, he quickly saves the effort, however-ing his way back on the right side of this awesome game, and describing a bunch of progressively more gruesome scenes capping off in all-caps “JEBUS”, and yes, the Wings of Wor penis. And yeah, I think that approach sort of works.

But I remember Wings of Wor having a really awesome soundtrack. I remember Wings of Wor playing super fast, and having A LOT of bullets, AND having a penis. And I think this review might overplay the the imagery just a bit without paying enough attention to the fact it always seemed to be a combination of its elements and no particular one made Gynoug a great experience.

Score: 90/100

TOTAL: 265




BREAKDOWN:

1: Pickhut – 95 + 90 + 88 = 273
2: Overdrive – 90 + 85 + 90 = 265
3: JoetheDestroyer – 75 + 75 + 70 = 220
4: CoarseDragon – 60 + 65 + 75 = 200

Let me know if I did any of the math wrong. Even though I used a calculator, there's still a chance of that happening.

Congrats to everyone for participating! And thanks fellow judges for turning out such thoughtful and considerate feedback.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: CoarseDragon
Posted: May 17, 2011 (11:51 AM)
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This review is completely new. I did not reference or read the old review at all. I tried to do something completely new. Sorry that fell short in your eyes. I was satisfied with my effort considering I have no background in review writing. As I mentioned before I write technical manuals at work and they require "feelings" to be left out. I tried to do justice to the game, the originator give the reader some insight into what I felt the game was about. I do value your opinions and thank you for them.
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Wolfqueen: there are quite a few grammatical and spelling errors in both, - Please point these out. I can find no spelling errors and I'm not sure what grammatical errors you are pointing out.

what defines an evil creature as opposed to a good one? - I did not add that because the game does not tell you. You are left to your own devices to figure that out. Perhaps I was remiss in pointing that out.
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Leroux: I'm a little disappointed the different classes and the mentioning of the dungeon of deceit didn't make the cut - I did leave that out because I thought it would be to much like the old review although I heavily considered adding, in retrospect I probably should have. But would it have been better?

I'm a little lost as to why you're downgrading this title three whole points on the basis of its graphics and sound aging, and doing it so late in the review - A point I wanted to make and perhaps you missed was to quote: "The graphics could be a drawback for some but you can find enhancements on the internet (for the PC version) that will make those dated colors look much better, but this is not a game for looking at this is a game for thinking and philosophizing over"
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Asherdeus: Your new review is better than the first, but compared to the other entries in the contest, this is sadly a weaker entry. - I thought I was competing against myself not the other reviews. I guess I misunderstood.


Again thank you for the comments. Congratulations to everyone else for their very good re-writes.


Age is a condition not a state of mind.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: May 17, 2011 (12:24 PM)
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You're competing against yourself AND other reviewers. =P

Here's a fun list. To be fair, it's mostly grammatical stuff. I just lump spelling in there with grammatical because they often go hand-in-hand.

Mans quest for enlightenment and knowledge has lead him to explore the farthest reaches of the known universe now one man, and his companions, will venture forth to seek the knowledge that has eluded the people of Britania for so long

Man's. "universe. Now, one man and his companions"

From there you will be searching for the meaning of the seven virtues

Comma after "there"; also, I thought it was eight virtues?

Although appearing simple and only needing one word questions the conversation

Comma after "questions"

Justice for example requires you

Comma after "justice" and "example"

Moongates appear at different phases of the moons

moon, unless Ultima has more than one moon... in which case that needs explaining.

Now combat, at first, can be a tedious affair because normally you will start on one side of the battle field and the enemy will be on the opposite side

The first part of this sentence is awkward. It'd sound a lot better if it read "At first, combat can be a tedious affair..." Also, "battle field" is just one word.

deceit, despise and covetous just to name a few.

Did you mean despair rather than despise? If you did mean despise, "hatred" might sound better. Also, that should be "covetousness"

There are several other places in the review where you need commas but don't have them. I didn't point them out because, for the most part, they don't distract too much from the review. The ones I did point out were meant as examples. Also, you have a lot of word repetition in places within the same sentence or same paragraph that sort of weakens the strength of the writing.

Anyway, don't feel discouraged or anything by any of this. You're still rather new at this, and you know it. It's obvious that even from the little you have done that you're improving, so I'm sure you'll be writing great reviews in no time with enough practice.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: CoarseDragon
Posted: May 17, 2011 (02:17 PM)
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Thank you Wolfqueen, I'll make some of those changes. No doubt doing RotW and other judgings has helped me understand writing better but I know I have a long way to go.

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as for Moongates appear at different phases of the moons - there are two moons.

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deceit, despise and covetous just to name a few.

Did you mean despair rather than despise? If you did mean despise, "hatred" might sound better. Also, that should be "covetousness"

Those are the acutal names from the game so they stay.

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Justice for example requires you

Comma after "justice" and "example"

Is this what you had in mind? This seems like to many commas to me.

Justice, for example, requires you, in part, to be non-hostile toward non-evil creatures.


Age is a condition not a state of mind.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: May 17, 2011 (02:54 PM)
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I'd be inclined to remove the "in part" from that altogether, but if you really need it in there, then you could probably get away with removing the commas there as they're not as necessary in my opinion.


What espiga does in his free time
[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will


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Author: CoarseDragon
Posted: May 17, 2011 (03:02 PM)
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I would like to keep that there because that is only part of the requirement and probably should be pointed out. Thanks again.


Age is a condition not a state of mind.


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Author: pickhut
Posted: May 17, 2011 (05:05 PM)
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Sweet, I didn't think I was going to win this! Even though it was just the four of us, it was still pretty competitive, and I was sure OD was going to nab the top spot. I appreciate all comments on both reviews, and it was very interesting reading what each thought of the two.

I chose to redo my Dune review since I just wasn't satisfied with how "normal" the first one turned out. It was one of my favorite Genesis games growing up, so I felt I didn't do the game justice. I still remember when I wrote the review, too, simply because my TV was on Fox at that moment, and they were airing an Alien versus Predator sneak-peek special right before the film was about to be released. And the other thing I remember was that, just after I completed the review, my computer bugged out, and I didn't get to save the whole review, which led to me saving any review, bit by bit, that came after that incident. I guess the whole moment just rubbed me the wrong way. >__>

Thanks also goes to the other three participants, OD, Joe, and Dragon, for putting up the good fight and submitting some good rewrites.


I head spaceshit noises


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Author: overdrive (Mod)
Posted: May 18, 2011 (12:37 PM)
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Thanks for the feedback and congrats to Pick.

To address a couple things: Yeah, I decided to go full-on with the imagery for the foundation of this review. Seemed a good way to work through writer's block. Find something interesting and let that carry the review instead of trying to muddle through trying to write about everything.

And Leroux, yes, the original was in a GFaqs contest and that was the reason I re-wrote it. I don't remember who got first between Janus and Masters and I don't remember the 3/4 order between Yatesy and I. I just remember thinking the top two reviews were a LOT better and more polished than mine. I'm sure I have a good number of reviews here that aren't as good as the original Wings one, but they tended to not be directly compared to those two really good ones.


I'm not afraid to die because I am invincible
Viva la muerte, that's my goddamn principle


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer
Posted: May 19, 2011 (06:14 AM)
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Thank you, thank you! I probably didn't pick the best game for this Review-Off, but I am pleased with the results, at least as far as the new review being better than before. Again, many thanks! Congrats, Pickhut!


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


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