Calling All Gaming Critics - Open Call for PC Gaming Reviews!

At Tom's Hardware, we are all about the community. Seriously, we love you guys! You make us what we are, so we take every opportunity we can to give back, from giveaways and contests to providing content for and by the community.

To that end, we are going to be opening up our curation channel to the community! If you've ever been interested in games reviews, this is a great chance to get your feet wet! We're going to give you a chance to recommend games to others and get your name out there!

Below you’ll find a list of recommendations we put together for each review. These suggestions are by no means requirements, but we believe the best reviews will include these sections and recommendations. Please submit all reviews to this thread. The best reviews will be highlighted in each weeks Community Roundup and published in our Steam Group.

Introduction
1 - 2 paragraphs introducing readers to the game. The introduction should educate readers on the game’s genre, developer, and any other pertinent background for the game, such as a history of the series the game is a part of. You may also want to include a brief summary of what you thought of the game or your expectations for the game. We also recommend 1 header image that best captures the game.

Story
• 1 paragraph summary and critique of the game’s story. What did you like? What did you not like about it. Was the story enthralling? Was it predictable? Were there any standout characters you liked?
• Please do not include any spoilers. Set up the plot in basic terms.
• Readers love screenshots! You may want to include one or two screenshots of the main character or characters.

Gameplay
• We recommend 1 to 2 paragraphs and 1 to 2 screenshots in this section.
• The best reviews summarize and explain gameplay mechanics using common terminology that most gamers can understand.
• To write this a great gameplay section you will want to focus on answering the following questions: How does the game mechanics support the story? What is unique about the gameplay mechanics? What elements of gameplay did you like? What gameplay elements did you dislike? What was the overall difficulty of the game? Was it too hard? Too easy? How long did it take to complete the game?

Graphics and Art
• We recommend 1 to 2 paragraphs and 1 to 2 screenshots in this section.
• To write this a great gameplay section you will want to focus on answering the following questions: What is your qualitative opinion of the game’s graphics? Are the graphics realistic? Are they beautiful? Simplistic? Are you impressed by the game’s sound effects or sound track? What is the graphical style? How does the graphical style add to the gameplay and/or story?

Conclusion/Summary
• This section is the equivalent of the TL;DR part of your review. You’ll want to summarize the pros and cons of the reviewed game in an easy to read bullet point format.
• We also recommend for you to include a points score. 0/10 or 0/5. Up to you!

Quality Checks:
• Your review must be original and unique.
• Reviews are not to advertise any specific app, software, or hardware.
• Reviews cannot include exploits or cheats or include actions that cause players to be banned from online play.
• Reviews cannot use or link to any pirated software.
Reply to _Johnny5
5 answers Last reply
More about calling gaming critics open call gaming reviews
  1. The Stanley Parable non-review

    This is a recommendation. This is not a recommendation.

    The Stanley Parable is a work of art, and a game best played with no idea what to expect. This review will attempt to do the not easy balancing of reviewing without spoiling.

    The Stanley Parable is a somewhat academic entertainment. What I mean is, you are not going to find the game genres of things like action and combat and so on.

    It can be a dark game. I'd mention existentialism as a theme, but that's hard to appreciate without playing, and if you could appreciate it it'd lessen the novelty of the game.

    They made a free demo, which is in the same ballpark of the type of game, but different so it doesn't spoil the main game - it's worth playing if you want to get an idea whether the game is at all for you.

    If you are open to a unique and quality 'game experience' without the normal metrics of competitiveness, replayability, levels, and so on, give it a try. If you are demanding about 'value' by those sorts of metrics, you might be disappointed. I suspect this is a 'love it or hate it' game.

    But it is a work of art.

    And those who will like it would be sorry to miss it I think.

    If you like the movie like 'Being John Malkovich' - I'm not saying the game is like the movie, I'm saying I think the same people seem likely to me to like both - you would probably love this game. That movie could be a bit dark also. But quit reading reviews - they're likely to give away too much.
    Reply to Craig234
  2. Spellweaver

    Spellweaver is a trading card game. That's the genre - but there are a lot of those. The question is, is it good?

    A limitation is that I haven't played that many, and I'm not expert in the genre. So, I might think something is great, that may or may not be better than some of the competition.

    Having said that: I think Spellweaver is, overall, outstanding.

    It has great creativity and diversity of cards. There are six 'colors', themes, none of which would surprise, and as usual decks can be one or more colors.

    The quality of the gameplay not only seems high, it's innovative - they have added various mechanics.

    One is 'speed' - faster cards, of speed 1 to 4, can attack or block slower cards, but not the reverse. Of course there are mechanics to manipulate speed as well as each creature having a default speed.

    There are two rows, front and rear/support; usually byt not always creatures in the rear cannot be attacked by other creatures, and can only attack from the rear if they are flying creatures.

    There are far too many aspects to the gameplay to do justice to trying to give an idea about it, and that's a good thing. You never know what you'll run into in game.

    The game is free to play - but the most generous free to play I've seen. It has a gentle ramping, unlocking one color at a time as you play, starting playing the AI at the easiest of three levels.

    It has regularly refreshing 'quests' which award cards and gold, used to buy packs of new cards, for doing things like gaining 'fame' - like experience for each game played - or playing a certain color deck.

    The cash currency are 'crystals', but it is very easy to play and not feel limited for free. It's an almost 'pay if you want to support the game' model.

    Crystals primarily provide cosmetic card backs, and new card decks which differ from the 'gold' purchased decks by not giving you duplicates of cards you have until you have 4 (the deck limit) of each card in that rarity level.

    (Rarity level is an attribute of cards for distribution of cards in decks, and the expense for the crafting system - all cards can be crafted, with a currency obtained by converting excess cards you have).


    The devs are active and continually provide updates, mostly in changes to cards, but there has been one large
    expansion with new cards and they sometimes add others.

    When you play, you can choose to play the AI, or to play other players in 'friendly' or 'ranked' matches, the difference being whether you gain or lose points to your 'ranking'.

    There are also multiple tournaments daily of several formats, one of which leads to a monthly championship with a case prize of a couple hundred dollars, which you can watch and winning decks are published.

    It has yet another gameplay mode called 'trials', in which each player is offered card choices where you pick one of three cards repeatedly until you have a deck for the trial, as opposed to the premade decks, making the
    matches more equal for newer players. You then can lose three matches before the trial ends; the more matches you win the more the reward.

    Player interaction is minimal. The only difference between playing a player or the AI is the delays of the player and that their decks are somewhat different.

    The exception is if you add someone to the 'friends' list, which then allows challenge matches and chat.

    Matches tend to last about ten minutes; the matches have time limits ranging from 45 minutes for an AI game, to 20 minutes per player for 'friendly' to 15 minutes per player for ranked. Some do time out.

    The art is great, the variety is great. It feels like a game that deserves players and support.

    It feels like it's having a hard time in that you can't always quickly find matches of the type you want; but the player base is incredibly international.

    It's not surprising to find of ten players on a tournament screen, I'm the only one from the US and no two are from the same country. I see places such as Russia, Iran, Serbia, Italy, Ireland - all over.

    Like any trading card game, there's a learning curve as you play dozens and hundreds of games to learn the various cards - making the AI gameplay valuable for that.

    I would say that the more 'serious' players can be clearly harder to beat, with their finely tuned decks - but it's not a large negative and not that common to encounter such 'top' players while playing.

    It's an easy recommendation. It's become a 'go to' game for me; I just got a new PC and it was my first Steam game of nearly 2000 installed.

    I'd suggest 'let's play' videos if you'd like to see more details on the cards and gameplay.

    Score: 95%
    Reply to Craig234
  3. Rift

    Rift is an evolutionary, six year old fantasy MMO.

    It's based on the traditional setup - but just as WoW was largely a 'change what users don't like about Everquest', Rift was a 'change what users don't like about either', and add some new twists.

    Like many MMO's, Rift began with subscriptions and moved to 'free to play', which continued for five years, until the most recent expansion - it's still free to play from level 1 to 65, but the latest expansion for 65 to 70 is sold - though it can be purchased indirectly with in-game currency.

    (What I mean is, it's sold for a cash currency - but that cash currency is readily available for purchase in-game from the players who paid cash, by paying
    in-game currency).

    Rift is a good, solid, large, diverse game with a lot of charming features.

    One controversial change is that classes are effectively meaningless. There are five - the original Warrior, Rogue, Mage and Priest and the later added Primalist - but all classes can do all roles, each with different 'flavors'.

    The skillsets are called 'souls', and most are free, but each class has a few sets which cost that cash or cash currency to buy - but they're just added variety, not 'better' for more powerful characters needed for anything. But it can remove a bit of flavor for the classes to be effectively equivalent.

    Similarly, races are all but only cosmetic differences - some traditional, e.g., dwarves and elves, others original.

    So, besides the basics - explore, quest, craft, PvP, level - what's it like?

    One of its more charming, if compulsive, features is the collection of "artifacts". As you travel, you can spot a little sparkle on the ground occassionally, and that's an artifact.

    Pick it up, and it's an item with a name and graphic, and it fits into a 'set' of artifacts - there are thousands of artifacts and thousands of sets. The rewards are pretty minor, but many players really enjoy collecting them. Each artifact set need and can only be collected once per character.

    Artifacts come in different rarities and multiple 'types' have been added. After the basic type, there is another which needs a rather pointless game mechanic that wasn't really developed, where you simply buy a skill to view the other type of artifacts, which you need to remember to activate hourly to use it.

    A third type are called 'unstable' artifacts. These are only available pretty much during 30-minute long 'zone events' - 'hey, this one zone has an unstable event the next 30 minutes'. You can decide to rush there and look for some.

    Finally, there are zones which have another set of artifact types, where if you find one type, there's a chance it'll enable to you find the next type on the list, up through a number of types finishing with 'nightmare' artifacts. This buff lasts only minutes.

    Having said all that, they've exploited the mechanic a bit for income in a couple of ways. One is that the subscription level, called Patron (about the standard $15/month or as little as $99/year on sale) includes in addition to boosts to experience and other rewards, and conveniences - really a pretty nice list even with things like a slight speed increase to your mount - a limited number of 'artifact finding' skill periods - and having this skill makes a huge difference to finding artifacts, making the artifacts - which are largely hidden from you unless you carefully look behind each rock and plant, visible on the minimap.

    So, with the skill, you'll get multiple times as many artifacts while hunting that without, to the point it's rather frustrating to try to do without it. These skills are also sold as temporary potions, but the potions only spot one type, and are a quite expensive alternative.

    Artifacts can be traded and sold on the 'auction' for in-game currency. Enough about artifacts.

    Another charming feature is that each (or nearly each?) zone has a puzzle that's not easy to find. You can easily play the game a long time and not find them. Each is different and they reward achievements. One example - you find a maze of fences and have to get a rabbit to hop through it.

    The game has nice touches. You might be exploring for no good reason a mountain range, and an achievement pops on the screen for finding the mountaintop.

    PvP exists, but is considered a red-headed stepchild. It's repeatedly been 'nerfed' with features and modes removed. There's also one server with open-world player killing but it's not well liked and has a small cult following.

    One of the many conveniences in Rift is that you can change servers in a couple of seconds from a menu temporarily as often as you like - and permanently move a character to another server once per week, as often as you like, for free.

    The game has a large number of quests, including some rather huge and epic lines and stories.

    It of course has the normal modes such as dungeons and raids, with 'looking for' features for both - though they can take a long time to get a group, especially for the damage classes since they're the most played.

    One downside I've found that won't affect most isn't in the game, but that the forum moderation can be poor, with what I think are less than honest responses and rather severe moderation. It's a sort of forced happy posts only environment.

    It's a bit of an underdog MMO; and the company has expanded with a number of other games as well, tending to be more action or PvP MMO's, which it likes to cross-promote, e.g., 'get a dwarf skin' in one game by playing another currently.

    Overall, I'd recommend the game pretty solidly for people who want a rather casual but good fantasy MMO with some innovations. It will probably disappoint some people who don't find it to be quite what they want in some areas, especially PvP. It has quite a lot to offer and I think most will like it a lot.
    Reply to Craig234
  4. Subnautica

    Subnautica is an underwater exploration game with crafting and optional survival modes.

    But it shouldn't be judged as much by the genre as the execution.

    It's a very fun, well-made game.

    It creates a great underwater world on an alien planet. It's creative, colorful, atmospheric and relaxing when you want it to be.

    And then, there's progress you can make, on a story and crafting, developing new technologies, transportation...

    I'm not the biggest fan of the genre, which seems pretty crowded now. But this one seems likely to stand out it seems to me.

    It has a nice curve into the game, and a lot to do when you're ready.

    It's just well-designed - lots of good little touches and challenges. It knows when to relax science - you can dive as deep as you want yourself and not get crushed and sunlight shines - and when to add limits.

    It has a lot of fun. That's what really stands out. It's addicting.

    I'd say it's something of a gem not to miss.

    They're still working on the final release, adding and touching it up. The worst bug to know about is that the 'portable lockers' lose items stored in them - don't use.

    The music is excellent as well - a mix of the techno, water and space themes of the game.

    Easy recommendation, 9+/10
    Reply to Craig234
  5. Star Conflict:


    Star Conflict is an MMO space shooter Free to Play title developed by Targem Games. It involves several game modes ranging from PvP, PvE, Co-Op and even an open world game mode for exploring the vast universe Star Conflict offers. The game is very fun to play and offers an unlimited amount of ways to play and build your own spaceships.

    Story:
    The story starts with an alternate timeline starting in 2062 with the human race and an unknown alien race with the humans trying to figure out and decipher several unknown communications from unknown sources that have come into the solar system.

    The story continues as it summarizes nearly 5 thousand years of human evolution. The story describes the humans as they battle with each other, how new and old governments fell and arose, and also continues about the alien race.

    The game itself is set at the very end of the story, where humans have now mastered the art of flying and surviving in outer space and are now busy with trying to conquer the alien race that started messing with them thousands of years earlier.

    Gameplay:


    The core of the game is in its ships and shipbuilding. You have several ship classes to choose from and all from three different factions with different strengths and weaknesses. Each ship has numerous amounts of modules that enable you to customize the combat capabilities of your ship in almost an unlimited amount of ways. You can even build some ships from scratch, using materials you have already gathered in game.


    The game modes are very similar to other games, PvP has several game modes to play like DeathMatch, Beacon Capture, a type of Capture the Flag and a few more. PvE doesn’t have a lot of missions, but they are more complicated in their own sort of way. Overall, it is a decently fun game, but the most fun you’ll get is trying to figure out how to build your ship to it’s most effective use and one that will suit your playstyle the best.

    Graphics:


    Star Conflict Runs on the Hammer Engine and the DX9 API, like most F2P titles the game is designed so that people with even the lowest end systems can run it. To put this into perspective, my GTX 1060 can run this game at maxed out settings at 1440P at over 250fps. My GTX 750 TI can do the same but at 150fps, and roughly 250fps at 1080P.

    However, that isn’t to say it isn’t beautiful. The game itself is still a beautiful arcade game, but isn’t as good looking as say Battlefield 1. The textures are sorta meh (devs are working on that however), and the explosions plus graphical effects don’t turn your attention away from the gameplay itself. Overall, it’s a good engine for the games purposes, with how Star Conflict works, it’s far easier to play the game with less graphical effects then say Crysis 3.

    Conclusion:
    The game mechanics and gameplay Star Conflict offers are truly unique. I know of no other game that offers the diversity in ship tactics and ship building as Star Conflict has. If you love to tinker with spaceships, this is the game for you.

    However, it still needs a few tweaks and improvements. Namely the balance, balance as of today’s post is extremely awful, several ships are overpowered beyond belief ruining almost the entire game. This leads into my second criticism which is population. The Star Conflict user population is at an all time low this year because of the balance issues. Then finally the Open Space gameplay which is bland, it’s too bland for my requirements and needs more objectives and stuff to do for it to be good and enjoyable.

    Fortunately, most of these cons should be ending relatively soon. The devs have said that they are launching a new series of patches that will buff all the ships that are currently underpowered and relaunching a whole new open space gamemode. So only time will tell.

    My recommendation as of now is a 6/10.
    Reply to TechyInAZ
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