Closeoutwarrior Review Format

Now that I have a few reviews under my belt, I thought it would be a good time for me to go into how the review system works around here.

Each review has to be at least 500 words (or fairly close) and have a minimum of two categories: The Review and the Summary.


This is pretty straightforward. If I can’t take 500-ish words to tell you how much I liked/hated game X then I haven’t given you sufficient evidence to support my assertions. There are thousands of reviews on the Internet that are so short they barely qualify as a paragraph, much less a review. Thankfully, most of those kinds of ‘reviews’ are relegated to the Reader Reviews or some similarly named section in the back of certain sites.

The Review

For the Review section I try to not break down the games into component catagories. How often have you played a game that looked great, but sounded like a sackful of wet cats? Or how many times have you started to play a game that sounded beautifully but looked like animated mud? Scores in any areas that I would likely choose would all hover around similar values anyway. It is unlikely that a given game company would pour significantly more effort into one area than another. Besides, generally when you play a game you experience all the parts together. It just doesn’t make sense to me to carve up a game into arbitrary pieces, comment on the pieces, and then try to connect the fragments into a ‘review’. I may point out things about the visuals, audio, or other areas that are noteworthy, but generally a distinction doesn’t need to be made. I’m reviewing the experiences you get with the game as a whole.

I also have a problem with giving a numeric score to a game (or its components). Numeric scores just have baggage attached to them that I don’t want to have to deal with. Looking at sites that use numeric systems makes me really wonder what the differences are in one game that got an 8.4 and another that got an 8.5. What does that 0.1 point difference represent? Is there a checklist of requirements that a game must pass to attain a particular score or is it up to the whimsy of the reviewer that day? Then there is the dilemma of a ‘perfect’ score. What does a perfect score mean? Does it mean that the particular game is the best game of its class? The best game ever? The best that particular game can possibly be? What happens if I find a game week/month/year that is better? What then?

Most of the games that I’ve ever played need to be ranked on a continuum. Some days they’re just not fun, while on others, you just crave playing them. Trying to pin down the specific amount of enjoyment you might get out of a game in discrete units just seems so counterintuitive.

What I decided to use was a slightly unorthodox method to rank games that I get on this site. I’ve taken the approach that I will write the review like I am talking to a friend about whether or not the game is worth the purchase. I have never walked up to a friend and said: “While the game looked amazing, the sound wasn’t quite up to par with my expectations from this company. I give it a 9.4 out of 10 (not an average).” More likely I’ll say, “That game was pretty good, the things I liked were… *blah blah*” and then just babble on about the game for a few minutes.

The Summary

This is where the rating system comes in. The overall ratings for each game consist of one or two words that summarize my impression of the particular game from the time I spent with it, pretty much like I would give to someone in a conversation. I can’t really tell you how much better a game that gets a ‘fantastic’ rating is than one that gets a ‘dismal’ rating, but you’ll probably be able to determine whether I think a game was worth my cash or not. It is also here that I’ll disclose where I got the game and how much money I blew on it.

In my experience, the people who read reviews have already decided whether or not they want to play a particular game and just read the review to see if the reviewer agrees with their opinion. If they do, the the reviewer is doing a good job. If not, then it was either a bad review or a poor reviewer. One of the great things about the Internet is that everyone has an opinion and believes that everyone else should know about it. That’s one of the reasons I started this site. The other is this stack of games in the corner that collectively cost me less than my copy of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.