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)

The Abyssal Void War, Book 1 is Done!

Well there it is, the book, my - first ever, is largely done and I am now just waiting for the cover art to be completed. Two hundred and fifty-seven A4/Letter pages (line and a half spaced), fifty-four chapters and approximately eighty-five thousand words.

I've given details of the book itself before and I still don't want to give too much away right now but it is set nearly eight hundred years in the future, not ours, but that of an alternate history (which is why I call it an alternate future history) and humanity is once again engaged in what it does best, blowing the hell out of each other.

The book falls into the science-fiction sub-genre of Military Space Warfare and, with some exceptions, I do my best to keep the physics as real as possible. The exceptions are, of course, those required to facilitate the story, to allow my characters to get to the places they need to be to allow the story to progress. In "Doctor Who" that's the TARDIS, in Star Trek it's "Warp Drive", in "Star Wars" it's "Hyperspace" and in my universe it's "Tachyon Space" more commonly known as Hyperspace and typically accessed via the "Hypergate network".

When I last wrote about it the book comprised seven large chapters and an equally large prologue but I came to the conclusion that shorter was better with the book falling into two acts, "Akatsu" and "Aumakua".

The cover art is, I believe, important and, once I have permission from the artist, I hope to update this article with some of the sample art I've received. So now it is just a waiting game which I am using to update some appendices as well as check my grammar and tech.

I am hopeful the artwork will be complete within a month and, once done, the book can be reviewed by the group I hope to publish with.

I will post a further update when it is complete ... thanks for reading.

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

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