Review Guidelines

Since we started back in June 2016, we’ve written and shared over 30 reviews for a variety of products. These range from scenery and aircraft to useful utilities that people may use to enhance their Flight Sim experience. With such a range of products, it’s been pointed out to us that we don’t share externally HOW we review, why the scores are chosen and what each section means. We’ve listened and I’m pleased to share our official Review Guidelines.

Background

We have a huge range of people who all contribute to the brand, and as a result, each reviewer is given the responsibility to review however they see fit. Regardless of how they review, each person uses the Community Charter as their guiding principles. We are always honest and we won’t be put under pressure by any developer or publisher in the community. If a reviewer makes a mistake, we admit our mistakes and update the review if required.

We’re very open about which product is given to us to free for the purpose of review, and if there are any other sponsorships / advertisements on the site. Regardless of if a product is given to us for free or not, we’ll review it in the same way. Free of bias and with the regular user in mind. This is our promise to you and to our developer and publishing community.

Reviewer’s Style

Each reviewer is given the freedom and flexibility to write however they see fit. If they want to write in sections (e.g. Installation, Textures, Night Lighting) with a header, that’s up to them. If they chose to write in a free-flow style – again, that’s up to them. Why do we do this? It keeps our reviews interesting and unique. This keeps the creative juices flowing and caters to a range of people who prefer reviews in different styles.

Review Header-box

Each review from February 2017 (others will be backdated if time allows) with a brand new ‘Header-Box’.

The Header-Box is intended to give you quick insight into the product we reviewed. We will tell you the known developer, publisher, price (from the store excluding and VAT / Tax) and the store that provided us with the copy. If the developer gave us a copy outside of a publisher / store, then we’ll list either A) our reputable sponsors; or B) a reputable store of our choosing.

Going forward, we will also include the version number of the product we refer to in our review. With updates happening all the time, we can’t continuously update a product review to reflect a few changes here and there. If an update happens, we’ll post a news article or share via Facebook.

What if a significant update happens that makes / breaks the product?

Well if something significant comes out, and providing our reviewer has the time, we’ll do our best to update the review.

And this is why we provide the information so you can make the most informed decision ahead of time.

*There’s no guarantee we will be able to re-visit the review.

Who’s SimMarket? And Why Sponsorship? 

We have started a new partnership with SimMarket to enable us to continue delivering you product reviews. As part of the agreement, any review products will be sponsored by them. We’ll always link to the original shop / purchase point wherever possible.

By providing their link, it enables us to continue delivering great reviews from a range of products and brands.

Second Opinions

Some reviews may carry a second opinion. This is a small paragraph given by another writer and will help to provide multiple viewpoints of the product to help you make an even more informed decision when purchasing a product.

Only some products will have this availability.

If you would like to add your own opinion you wish to share with the community, please contact us and we can add it in.

Review Sections

As we review multiple products from different categories of add-ons, we have to ensure our reviewing standard remains fair and consistent. As a result, we’ve come up with a way to keep it as consistent as possible.

Reviewers are allowed to add more categories as they see fit, providing they don’t interfere with the 4 main categories or remove them.

Each review is summarised into 4 main categories: Presentation, Features, Performance and Value.

Our final category is the “Overall” score, which is a calculated average of the 4 main categories listed above. This will be the score we refer to when publicising the product’s overall score.

Presentation

This relates to how the product is presented to the user. This will cover everything from ease of installation, the supplied manuals and if there are any configurators / setting alternatives that are given to allow the flexibility for the user. We also consider if the product feels “polished” in this section, ensuring that if there are any bugs that they don’t ruin the enjoyment. This will also cover the overall impressions from any texturing and modelling from the developer, or if it’s a utility, the ease of use for the user-interface.

A higher score in this sections means that with all things considered, it is a highly polished product.

Examples:

  • A scenery package that installs without any manuals or a configurator would achieve a low score
  • An aircraft with a basic introduction guide and a user interface that allows you to change a few elements of your product would achieve an average score.
  • A utility with an easy-to-use user-interface and allows all settings to be adjusted, along with a good manual would achieve a medium – high score.

Features

This includes everything that the product offers. This includes features within the scenery that add immersion. As for aircraft, this varies depending on the target audience. Some aircraft are aimed at being study level sims, whilst others are form the pilot viewpoint. Depending on the audience will vary this score.

A higher score in this section means with all things considered, it is feature rich and adds immersion.

Examples:

  • Scenery which accurately depicts the airport, but adds no special features would achieve a low score.
  • A study level aircraft which accurately performs to expectations, but lacks anything to add immersion or doesn’t make processes easier would achieve an average score.
  • An aircraft aimed at a more casual audience, includes all basic features you would expect from an aircraft and then adds some extra immersion would achieve a medium – high score.

Performance

includes everything from frame rates to VAS usage and the impact it has on the sim / PC itself. When considering performance, we take into consideration things such as location in the sim (as we know some areas are more intense than others), the size / complexity of the scenery or aircraft, and also, the impact on loading into the sim. We also use the recommended settings from the developer’s manual when considering this factor.

A higher score in this section means with all things considered, it performs well.

Examples:

  • A small airfield in the middle of nowhere with a high VAS usage and low frame rate would achieve a low score
  • A complex and detailed airline with good frames, but high VAS usage would achieve an average score
  • A large airport in an urban city with relatively high VAS and sustainable / smooth frame rate would achieve a medium – high score

Value

Very subjective and down to the reviewer to come to a fair conclusion based on multiple factors. This includes overall price of the product in relation to usage. It also takes into consideration whether other products are required to enjoy the product to its full extent. Factors from performance, presentation and features are considered as well.

A higher score in this section means with all things considered, it is good value for money (regardless of overall price).

Examples:

  • A utility which required you to purchase the original product as well as charge a high price for very few features would achieve a low score.
  • Low usage scenery for the average simmer. Despite being rich with features, it required an additional scenery package for use. This would achieve an average score.
  • A highly priced aircraft, which was full of features, performed well and included a range of manuals and accurate flying dynamics would achieve a medium – high score.

Scoring System

At FSElite, we want to share if we feel a product is worth your time or money. As a result, we use a simple 1-10 scale. Whilst scores will always remain subjective and down to the reviewer’s discretion, FSElite always encourage the reader to read the body of the review. Not just the score. Understandably, we realise that many people will scroll to the bottom of the review to check the score. Our scores are simply based on expectations set out by the developer in the eyes of the reviewer.

Again, remember that scores are the opinion of the reviewer and will vary depending on the person.

If we had to label what a score means to us, the below are some guidelines to help you (higher is better):

1 – 3

A category in this range often means it doesn’t meet expectations set out by the developer for the community. It doesn’t mean it’s bad per se, but requires significant attention to be worthwhile for the vast majority of the community.

4 – 6

A category in this range means that it falls within the expectation of the reviewer which was set out for the developer. What we mean by this is that the developer promised feature X and we got feature X. It’s not bad, nor is it great – it falls in the middle. A score in this range means the product is still usable and enjoyable for the community.

7 – 9

A category in this range means that it exceeds expectation is most areas for the reviewer in question. This means the product promised X, yet the developer delivered X and Y in an exceptional manner. A score in this range means it’s great and the vast majority of the community members will be very happy with the outcome. Note that a score of 7 is NOT average.

10

A category that scores a 10 isn’t considered perfect, but considered to be exceptional in all areas of that category. It shows the clear investment of work from the development team, as well as their commitment to the community and to their product. It’s awarded only when our reviewers deem fit, so this really is an exceptional achievement.

Closing

We hope that our Review Guidelines are clear and provide clarity the original questions. HOW do we review, WHY we score the way we do and WHAT each category means.

The guidelines may change in the future, and if they do, we’ll be sure to update this and the community on this.

If you have any comments, concerns or questions, please use of contact page and get in touch. We’re always happy to listen to feedback.

 

[Last updated 15th Mar 2017]

Update

  • Changes to the Sponsorship section to clarify why we use Real Flight Shop