Title: Time of Defiance
Strap: Normally about 5.30 p.m. on Friday Dan Griliopoulos shouts “
Need to Know: This is a new element giving the key details of the game at a glance. It contains the following:
Web address (for the game, not the publisher)
Needs: (the minimum system spec)
Wants: (the recommended system spec)
Complete in: (the length of time the game can be completed in – approximately. Not needed for half page reviews)
Reality check: (a 20 word real world fact related in some way to the game matter. Upbeat, please, no numbers of those slaughtered on D-Day in a Medal of Honor review. Not needed in half page reviews)
0.125 pages = 80 words
0.25 pages = 175 words
0.5 pages = 350 words
1 page = 450 words
2 pages = 800 words
3 pages = 1,200 words
Remember, we’re aiming for analysis, rather than straight description. Anyone can read a review by some monkey on the Web, you’ve been hand picked for ability to transcend lifeless copy with your prose. The new design elements we’ve introduced should encourage you to think a bit and enjoy your writing. We want well-written, in depth analysis, but you’re writing about games – they’re exciting and entertaining, and so should your copy be. We’ll spot lazy attempts at humour, though, so don’t try and fool us into thinking you’re clever with a couple of cock jokes. Our readers have a higher average age than any specialist games mag, so talk to them on their level. The reader is always ‘you’ (never the player or, god forbid, ‘Dear Reader’) and you are always ‘we’ (confusing, but you’ll get used to it). Having said that, first person comments may be allowed if you check with us first.
Your first hour: A collection of nouns describing a player’s likely reaction to the first hour’s play. It’s broken down into two parts – You’ll Love and You’ll Hate, each with three single or two word points, or (rarely) two longer ones. EG You’ll Love: The atmosphere, the tension, the plot. You’ll Hate: Endless unskippable cutscenes, Weak enemies. Of course, if anyone writes something as generic as that, their career is over.
Standard Boxouts: There are five new Standard Boxouts which you can use to spice up your review. You don’t have to write all of these, just a selection by the following rules.
<0.5 pages = 0 SBs
1 pages = 2 SBs
2 pages = 4 SBs
3 pages = 4 SBs
The boxouts are:
Fan sites – If they’re up already, give us four names of sites and the URLs, with a 20 word précis of each. A screen grab of the best site will be required to complete this.
Sticking point – A spoiler for the first real problem a player will encounter. Don’t make it a major spoiler, just an interesting one. We’ll need a 15-20 word title, with a grab of the event and the following elements:
Time code: How far into the game it is, minutes and seconds.
Challenge: A 50 word description of the problem.
Solution: 30-40 words of guidance for getting around it.
Don’t miss this – All games a page or more long that score over 80 must carry this boxout, but you can also use it for showing off a particularly smelly moment in a real stinker. We’ll need a screengrab of it and these elements:
Strap: 15-20 word intro describing the moment
What is it?: 40-50 words explaining what it is.
Where to find it: 20-30 words explaining where/when it happens in the game.
Mod options: Encouraging people to get their hands dirty so to speak. We want 50-60 words describing the potential of the game for the mod community, and what tools are shipped with it. We also want two URLs to community sites with downloads and tips.
Proven with statistics: A tricky one, but potentially the most rewarding. This is a table of total monsters to kill, number of cars, levels, heart pounding moments, multiplayer maps, pant pissing parts and so on. We’ll need a minimum of five five or six word stats, all with a figure. The measurement must be in the name though –eg, Hours before boredom sets in = 30, not Boredom sets in after = 30 hours.
On the nail: Self congratulatory or self effacing. This is the litmus test. We want an image of the PCF preview, along with a representative 20 word quote of our opinion then. Then you get to pass judgement in 20-30 words on how close we were.
Occassional boxouts: The more familiar form of boxout, these can take several forms. Either:
– A large half page grab with title, strap and seven or eight incredibly interesting or amusing annotations
– A two grab box (one large, one small) with a title, strap and 100 words of copy.
– A three step walkthrough with header, strap and three grabs with a 30 word caption for each. (Please don’t do one of these for a single page review)
1 page – 1 (optional) OB, do this and we’ll let you off an SB
2 page – 1 or 2 OBs, again, do two and we’ll let you off an SB
3 page – 3 OBs, no perks to this one though
Looking Elsewhere: No longer an afterthought, make this boxout work for you. We need a five or six word intro, and three games that are similar to the one in question – this can either be, for example, three random RTSs, or something more closely related. We need issue number and score from our archives. Ask if you don’t have a reviews list. For example: “Looking Elsewhere: Tom’s other success stories are: PCF93 Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Eagle Watch, 82%; PCF 131 Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, 82%; PCF 144 Tom Clany’s Navel Fluff, 94%” Don’t force this to be funny though, informative is better 9 times out of ten.
Verdict: A ten word upper, a ten word downer, a score out of 100 and a 15 word summation. Simple. Also, two 5-10 word summations of a game’s Toolset (modding options) and Multiplay Options will be needed on all reviews greater than half a page.
Images & Captions: Plenty of each. Work on the theory that we’ll need at least five per page to choose from, and caption ‘em all. For 2 and 3 page games, we’ll also need hi-res art – but we can probably source this.