Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What is wrong with 500 words?

When you're given the task of reviewing a monolith of a game like GTA IV in under 500 words, you cringe.

I'm all for brevity and look to cut unnecessary words out of any review I do, but the Escapist's challenge had me in a spin. The challenge was to review GTA IV in under 500 words, but it proved to be a bitch of a piece to write.

First of all, GTA IV is one of those games with so many aspects to them, that spending 50 words on each does not do the game or its many facets justice. There was the Euphora engine, the story (the most impressive aspect of the game for mine), the graphics, the police, the networking, the multiplayer to name just a few.

So what did I do when faced with this task?

One of the guidelines said that they were looking for originality and creativity, so I decided on something I've been toying around with for a while now.

I decided to write it in first person.

For this particular piece, I decided to write the review in the guise of a letter from the protagonist, Niko Bellic, back to the homeland, chronicling his experiences in Liberty City. The first person review I think, is a huge area for exploration in games reviewing, and it's a style I'll be doing more of depending on the reception it gets.

Anyhow, let me know what you think of it.



It's been a long time, I'm sorry.

Roman is well, although not as well as I hoped. Liberty City is...a contradiction. I hope I spelt that right. Some of the most beautiful things I have seen in my life I owe to this city.

Sometimes I look up at all the lights, the way they reflect off the pavement and I am in awe. I have learned to appreciate the little things, the way the rain falls and even the beaten buildings of the city make me stand in wonder. I guess these small things are important in an ugly place. This place has a beauty that is all its own, sometimes I feel as if I am in a movie it is that beautiful, but Liberty City is a dangerous place.

I am unsure whether I was safer back home or not.

Ever since I got here, people have wanted me to do things. They seemed to be fun at first, but as I worked my way up the food chain, choices had to be made. I have never had to make choices like these before, except maybe during the war. I guess Liberty City is a war zone all of its own, but you do not want to hear such things.

The police here are a lot more....zealous here than back home. The other day I got a speeding ticket, I do not have my papers yet, so I had to flee. Luckily, I was able to get far away enough from them in the end, but it was a wild ride while I did so.

You'll be pleased to know that I have made some new friends while I am here. Liberty City is a big place, so it is nice that I can call them on the cellular phone anytime I want some company (I love Roman dearly but he can be grating). It makes my stay here bearable knowing that I can go bowling with one of my buddies.

The city is full of places to take my mind off ugly things. I can go shoot pool, darts, or even just get drunk to name a few. The other day I even took a ride in a helicopter!

Your letter asked me if I had met that special someone, but I have not. I will try until the end of my days to find someone, but what I do when I meet them, I still don't know.

There is this one girl though, Kate. She's not like all the other girls in the city, you would like her. She's nice. It's early, but someday I hope to hold her in my arms at a church.

I'll finish now, as I'm sure I'm boring you. Liberty City is a place that is full of interesting people, beautiful sites and full of things to do, but it is also dark. It is a beautiful world, but under the surface, you find that life is complicated.

1 comment:

Melaisis said...

I do a little work for on the side now and again; y'know, a few reviews every 6 months.

The first time I ever submitted a staff review, it was around 1,200 words. I got absolutely ripped to shreds by the community: they went on and on about how wordy it was, how unnecessary a lot of the features I mentioned were and how it just appeared to be a huge wall of text.

500 words, when it comes to independent gaming sites, should be the absolute maximum. Look at 3scapism, after all: Our 700 word reviews look like bloody text monoliths.