For First Person Shooter (FPS) games you're pretty much stuck with one view point, but for 3rd Person Shooters (3PS) how often is your view obscured by the surroundings and can you adjust the camera angle.
Performance issues will also be discussed, such as frame rate.
Another key aspect to graphics are the intro / movie / dialogue sequences. How well are they presented, are they interactive, can you skip them if necessary and how is the lip sync. Being forced to sit through all these sequences every time can be a real pain and will certainly impact on the re-playability of the game. There are other aspects too such as death cams or crash cams. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2010 is a good example where by causing another car to crash you are forced to watch the crash in slow motion and at the same time lose the ability to steer your own car or even see where you are heading!
Touching briefly on level design here as well, this section will also cover how blatantly obvious things are. If every time you see a chest high wall you encounter enemies, then that becomes quite boring. Same is if every time you find a good weapon and pick it up, the scripting kicks in surrounding you with instantly spawning enemies. So Game Play is a vital aspect of the game. How bad / blatant is the scripting and how obvious is the spawning.
All other aspects of the game play will be covered here, that will give you an insight to just what the game offers and what you can do in the game.
Do you have an ingame map and how easy is it to see where you are or where your objective is. Can you add your own comments or notes to the map (such as points of interest, like locked doors you can't open just yet). Is there subtitles, and is there a log or journal that records all conversations so that you can review if required at a later date (quite important for RPG based games).
If the game includes providing updates to the player, usually as conversations, movies or animation can you skip them, or are you forced to watch them each time. This is very important for replayability.
How does the game handle saving. Is it auto checkpoint saving, or does it allow user Quick Save or manual save?
Anything else about how the game is designed will also be included in this section.
Does this game have a Be Good or Be Evil meter and if so is it even remotely clear as to how it operates or if indeed it has any influence on the current or future missions. Many games have the good vs evil meters where murder adds to your evil, yet you can simply offset that by giving away items? To me that seems quite unbalanced. Giving someone a bottle of free water should have considerably less impact on this meter compared to murdering them.
Does how you play the game influence the ending? Are there multiple endings available.
What level of diversity are you provided with, or does the game reuse the same maps and textures for every level. Is there consistency with the each level. By this we don't mean reuse the same textures, but keep along the same theme. Some games you start off in a building and then next level you could be on some alien planet, with the two levels seemingly unrelated.
Keyboard, can you bind any key to any action. Many games seem to have a problem assigning actions to keypad keys, or they refuse to allow you to configure actions to certain keys (such as enter or space). Many games allow you to configure actions to other keys yet in the game that key just doesn't function. So is the configuration screen intelligent enough to alert you to these issues. If a key or button has already been assigned and you attempt to assign another action to that same key or button will the game be stupid enough to simply let you do it without alerting you, or will it be smart enough to alert you to the fact that key has already been assigned AND to display what action it has been assigned to.
Then when playing, if there is ingame help / tutorials and it asks you to perform a certain action, then shows you which key you have to press, does that display show the default key or the actual key you have assigned to that task! That is an important aspect.
Do other sound effects drown out any dialogue, such as explosions. Reloading a weapon should include a few different sounds, or does the game just provide a single sound.
Can you turn it off, or can you add your own .MP3 music to the game. Is music used to enhance the atmosphere of the game or does it telegraph the fact that you're about to be attacked.
When in the game it is the same thing, can you double click on an option to select or are you forced to single click to highlight and then navigate down to a Select or OK type button to activate. This extra navigation is really not necessary.
Is the navigation consistent. For example in Mass Effect 2 you can use the mouse click on all the options to reach the Start scanning planet screen, but now there is no on screen option to return to the previous screen (planet info), you are forced to press ESC so you can return, then on that planet info screen there is a return to the previous screen (planet select), however if you press ESC on the planet info screen, instead of returning you to planet select screen, it exits the whole star map section in the game. Why would ESC allow return on the first instance but on the second instance (in the same ingame sequence) totally exit the sequence?
Another example is Fallout New Vegas. On most screens it is E to Exit, yet when you get to other areas, it is now changed to X to Exit. E and X are not keys you can reconfigure either.
Final aspect is how many keypress's does the game force you to perform before you even get to the main menu, and then how many to actually start playing the game. For some unknown reason there seems to be a trend for games to require you to press any key or enter 4 or 5 times before you're even shown the main menu?
Does the game include any subliminal puns or humour which may not be evident to the standard game player if they just focus on the primary objective.
Easter Eggs are special features of a game that are usually very difficult to discover and often don't actually have any relevance to the game you're currently playing. When you discover one they could simply provide you with information, comments, phrases, pictures or other strange / funny cut sequences. Often what you uncover are cliches of other releases, movies or celebrities. The game may reward you if you uncover all available Easter Eggs, however they are not related to the main objectives and usually do not enhance your character or provide rewards that are actually beneficial.
So creating a review like we do, where the game is broken down into 10 key sections, we can focus our attention on each of these and present you with what we consider to be the good and the bad aspects the game presents to the player. Each section is individually rated so that if you wish, you can simply formulate your own opinion of the game and its worthiness to play by considering just the sections you are interested in, or of all the sections.
There are so many things which can make a game enjoyable or just frustrating to play and we will endeavor to discuss all of these within the relevant section, to provide you with a more balanced, realistic and meaningful rating of the game.
Each section is individually rated so that if you wish, you can simply formulate your own opinion of the movie and its worthiness to see by considering just the sections you are interested in, or of all the sections.
The beauty of using so many sections is that the rating score can be more accurate and not influenced too heavily by one section, even if that section rates high or low. Each sections rating is weighted based on importance and this weighting is listed on the review next to the rating.
Hopefully by rating and discussing each of the 6 sections in detail will provide you with a more balanced, realistic and meaningful rating of the movie.
One major area is how different scenes are edited together. Does this movie have scene changes blend together or are they just blatant cuts. it is always good to see how well some movies can handle scene changes.
Another aspect is the lighting. Too many movies these days can't afford decent lighting with most of the characters being draped in shadows for no reason.
For an action film the plot and story are usually relegated to the background, because they hope all the action sequences and computer graphics will carry the movie to epic status (such as Avatar relied purely on special effects). However for a drama or murder mystery then it is paramount that they handle it correctly, to make it interesting but not too contrived.
The Plot is usually the basis for the whole movie. What is the movie trying to convey, or portray. Often the plot will contain twists or outcomes that you did not forsee, but it's paramount that it still be plausible. If it is a SciFi type movie then it should contain sufficient amount Sci (that being Science) and not just all Fi (that being Fiction).
The Story is usually about the character and should provide enough information so that the audience can relate to the character, in whatever way the movie chooses (ie good guy, bad guy, misunderstood guy. etc.). Important aspects for a story would be character foundation. It's often vital to cover the key questions asked by the audience. "Who is this person?", "How did they get here?", "How did they become the person they are? (ie skills, experiences)" and "Why should I care about this person?".
SECOND how well was the movie cast. Does the cast actually fit the role. Many instances of movies they have simply cast the wrong type of actor for the role. Often they try and make characters funny, and yet the actor themselves can not convey this, so the whole performance can come off looking quite stiff and unbelievable.
Many actors have been type cast into certain roles, that is probably due to the quality of their acting and the limited range they can portray. Most just don't have the range of acting skill to be good at playing all character types.
If they base it around science or technology do they even attempt to take just a few minutes to try and explain it to the audience. This was always an issue with Star Trek. They would spend the majority of the episode/movie getting into trouble and then only the last few minutes getting out of it but using some undisclosed technology babble, or creating some unique device to resolve the problem. This makes for very bland viewing. Any Science Fiction (SciFi) movie should have a balance of Science AND Fiction. More often than not it's all just Fiction, but because it is set in a location primarily used by SciFi (such as space) it is automatically assigned to the genre of SciFi instead of Fiction or Fantasy!
If it's focus is on a specific characters abilities do they provide any back story to help us identify how that character became so special or developed such skills. It is important to create a basic understanding or attachment between the main character and the audience. If the movie fails to do this then the audience interest in that character will suffer or simply not exist at all.
Many movies include special effects that really don't enhance the movie at all. It is if they have been added simply as a draw card, or to try and keep interest in the movie when the story or plot is lacking.
Another key point with computer graphics and special effects is that they are often "Over the Top" and showcase skills or effects far beyond what is achievable in reality. Sure many of these movies are all classified as fiction, but when they incorporate real world items it would still be expected that those real world items behave normally. An example of this would be Superman. He has super powers that's all well and good, but his costume does not, yet it does not suffer any damage from fire, bullets or even get torn when he flies at great speed..
Weapon usage is also a form of special effect which many movies just don't handle correctly. Not only is this about the amount of bullets a specific type of weapon can be loaded with, but it is also quite evident when they fire too few rounds aswell. An example of this is a cop using a 9mm Pistol that can hold 16 rounds of ammunition. The cop draws their weapon and fires it for the first time. The script says shoot three rounds. The actor does this, but on firing the third round the slide of the pistol has now locked back. This indicates the weapon was ONLY loaded with 3 rounds of ammunition (or blanks in this case). That just looks stupid and destroys the immersion of the movie. Clearly the audience can see that this is not a cop because a real cop would never do that.
It has to be one of the worst aspects with modern movies, the major discrepancy between sound effect and speech volumes. You can hardly hear the dialogue if the actor mumbles, has an accent / speech impediment or is also whispering. Often the whole dialogue is very quiet for no perceivable reason. What they are saying is important to hear, so you increase the volume only to then encounter sounds effects that literally blow your toupee off and knock your false teeth out. This is absolutely annoying and totally unnecessary.
Sure many movies want to blast you with loud noises periodically as a cheap scare tactic, but more often than not the disparity in the volumes just comes across as very poor quality editing and does absolutely NOT add any enjoyment to the movie at all.