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How not to make a video review

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The vast majority of gamers agree that Zero Punctuation's fast-talking cat-in-the-hat castigator, Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw, has come closest to discovering the lightning-in-a-bottle magic formula for concocting the perfect video review. If you've never heard of him, pour some shame on your face and then go watch what you've been missing.

Zero Punctuation's style is so distinctive that anyone attempting to plagiarise it is instantly called out and subsequently derided for being a big bag of rip off. So how can hopeful DIY video reviewers stand out from the crowd? Obviously GamesRadar doesn't have the answer - if we knew how to make the Next Big Thing in video reviewing we'd be, like, doing it ourselves.

However, what we can do is watch from a safe distance and identify how it shouldn't be done. So, for the benefit of budding handy-cam critics everywhere we've put together this five point checklist that we hope will provide some priceless pointers for making better video reviews.

Of course you want to review the games you love. After all, it's easy to chatter passionately about sexy software that sets your heart ablaze like a love-struck tinder box doused in a gallon of gasoline. But simply gushing superlatives does not a valuable review make. Why is the game awesome? How exactly does it pwn the competition? These are the things your viewers will probably be interested in.

And while we vigorously applaud the entertaining hyper-enthusiasm of the reviewer in the movie below, it's a perfect example of how the spilling over of too much love can sometimes get in the way of the review.


 

We edited the original movie to make our point, but please do check out the video review in its entirety.

 

The average attention span of web users is probably around 10 seconds (we say probably because we just made it up - we got bored searching for an actual scientifically proven timeframe), so it's important to keep an eye on the clock when making your video review. Stay on topic, avoid waffle and always remember the pygmy crocodile rule: Keep it short. Keep it snappy. Not so much like this guy...

 

Got 39 minutes to spare? Then go check out the complete, un-fast forwarded version.

If you really want to dive headlong into your video review without a script, at least have a rough idea in your head of the points you want to convey to your viewers. Otherwise you risk filling your DIY broadcast with a vacuum of dead space and a whole lot of ums and ers. Case in point:


 


Watch the unabridged video review to see what happens between the bits where nothing happens.

 

You might be an eager beaver to review a game, but always make sure that you've set-up all the essential technical equipment before getting started. It's quite literally impossible to deliver any kind of critique when you don't have any means of sampling the product you intend to review - as this doomed GTA IV video review neatly demonstrates:

 

Yes, we shortened the movie. It's entirely your call if you want to see all four minutes and 24 seconds of this video review non-starter.

It always helps to be familiar with the game you've chosen to feature. It gives viewers the impression that you have, at some point, played the product you are reviewing. That you know your apples from your oranges. The best research is playing the game and experiencing its facets first-hand. If that's not a viable option, try reading the blurb on the back of the box so you're at least partially informed about the storyline.

If the blatantly not old enough to be playing GTA IV reviewer in the following clip had done some research, maybe his explanation of the game's plot wouldn't sound so much like a spoken Rubik's Cube of tumble-tongued anti-clarity.


 

This movie was edited for the purposes of extracting the relevant example. The unedited video review can be watched here.

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2 comments

  • raisonbread - July 22, 2010 9:10 a.m.

    i spent about 3 hours looking at Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw's reviews...
  • Bronxx - December 14, 2008 8:27 p.m.

    My review of this article: "OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!11!!1 it's like the BEST article ever. You should all read it. Just like go out and read right now. (15 minutes later) Ummm, yeah, er ,yeah this article talks, ummm about, yeah, it says things, er, about, er reviewing and stuff, yeah ummmm. I liked it, it was uh,good, yeah. (Another 15 minutes) So yeah I'm gonna go check out this article again and just turning on my computer...what? It's not working. Why, why's it in Spanish? That's dumb it's supposed to be in English. Alright,my review of this article: 0 out of 5 stars." -Bronxx

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