Comparative reviews are one thing and obviously must be done as objectively as possible but reviews of individual items are in many ways more difficult because you're not giving them context. They must be handled as objectively, as fairly, as possible and the following is the overall way in which I try to review something.

It is not enough to simply say you hated a film or loved it, you must be seen to be consistent so proper evaluation is necessary. I know it's a pain but it works quite well and can give some quite surprising results. The following outlines the method I use and the categories I use to do so, all the reviews on this site follow this method. I've given some considerable thought to these categories and hope that they make the review that little bit more objective and interesting.

Most reviews on this site will be books but occassionally I will also review films, TV & DVD, all are typically evaluated against the following categories:

  • Action: How much action (as opposed to violence) in the film.
  • Direction: Quality of direction and its effect on the final product.
  • Effects: Quality, appropriateness & effectiveness of the effects.
  • Extras: Quality and amount of extras (DVD only).
  • Music: Originality and appropriateness of the score & other music.
  • Originality: How innovative the concept behind it was.
  • Plot: How good the basic story is.
  • Presentation: Packaging, booklets & other extra stuff (DVD only)
  • Romance: How well/appropriately the romance & sex scenes are handled.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the scenario scope is.
  • Sound: How good the sound effects (as opposed to music) are.
  • Suspense: Well we didn't see that one coming ... or did we?
  • Violence: How much violence (as opposed to action) in the film

Books are typically evaluated against the following categories:

  • Action: How much action (as opposed to violence) in the book.
  • Originality: How innovative the concept behind the story is.
  • Plot: How good the basic story is.
  • Presentation: Pictures, introductions and various other aspects of the book.
  • Romance: How well/appropriately the romance & sex scenes are handled.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the book's scope is.
  • Suspense: Well we didn't see that one coming ... or did we?
  • Violence: How much violence (as opposed to action) in the book.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the book's scope is.
  • Writing: How good the author's writing style is.

Games are typically evaluated against the following categories:

  • Action: How much action (as opposed to violence) in the game.
  • Addiction: How eager you are to get back into the game.
  • Control: How easy the game is to control.
  • Difficulty: How easy or hard the game is.
  • Gameplay: Straight line play or can the player deviate from the path (linearity).
  • Graphics: How realistic/smooth the graphics are in relation to the platform.
  • Music: Originality and appropriateness of the score & other music.
  • Originality: How innovative the concept behind it was.
  • Plot: How good the basic story is.
  • Presentation: Packaging & supporting booklets etc.
  • Romance: How well/appropriately the romance & sex scenes are handled.
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the scenario scope is.
  • Suspense: Well we didn't see that one coming ... or did we?
  • Violence: How much violence (as opposed to action) in the game
  • Scope: How wide-ranging the scope is.

All reviews carry two further categories:

  • Personal: A personal score based on the reviewer's gut reaction to it.
  • Overall: Overall mark (calculated ... see below)

Guidelines for reviews:

  • Reviewers can choose the standard suggested sets of categories or adapt them.
  • Reviewers should not use inappropriate categories e.g. the action category would not normal be correct for a romance.
  • Chosen categories should be accompanied by a short comment and/or explained in greater detail in the review.

All category marks are out of 10 but the "Personal" category score is doubled.

The "Overall" score is calculated as:

(SUM + (2 * PER)) / CAT

Where:
SUM: Sum of all category scores except "Personal"
PER: "Personal"> x 2
CAT: No. of Categories excluding "Overall"

Ultimately it up to a reviewer how they evaluate a film but this does, at least, allow for a degree of objectivity and if anyone has better suggestions we'll be only too pleased to listen.

Thanks for reading.

J. C. Rocks (aspiring author: "The Abyssal Void War" series)

Books

"The Abyssal Void War" Series

The Abyssal Void War is set in an alternative time line about eight hundred years ahead of us at a time when mankind has spread out to the local stars. At this point in time mankind occupies a roughly spherical region of about one hundred light years radius centring from Earth. The generally accepted name for this region of space is The Extent.

True faster than light travel has yet to be achieved and travel between the stars is achieved by means of a series of hyperspace gates that connect in a fixed network across The Extent.

The Extent contains some three hundred colonised planets across about two hundred systems and these are divided between various nations and tensions are extremely high. War has broken out across between the Geist and the Pax Ereban nations and surrounding nations, including Saxonia, have become involved. Although involved in supplying weaponry and covert intelligence to Saxonia the United Colonial Systems have yet to become directly involved and, although there are conflicts around an area of space known as The Abyssal Void full scale war has not yet broken out.

At the time the story begins the UCS government is heavily involved in negotiation with one of the most powerful nations in The Abyssal Void arena, The Akatsu.

The Abyssal Void War series is currently envisaged as three books the status of which are as follows:

  • Book 1: Stars, Hide Your Fires (in preparation for final draft)
  • Book 2: Let Slip The Dogs Of War (first draft completed)
  • Book 3: Unnamed

Thx

J. C. Rocks (aspiring author: "The Abyssal Void War" series)

A brilliant idea that ultimately fails in execution. It has been said of Turtledove that he is the master of the alternate history series, on the basis of the first seven books of this series I have little choice but to disagree.

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