Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Quick Impressions: Recently Played Games

Review: Here are some quick impressions of games I've been playing in the last few months, with letter grades:

  • Nintendo DS: Metroid Prime Hunters

    About 15 minutes in. Looks and plays just like Metroid Prime on the GameCube. Pretty fun. A-

  • Nintendo GameCube: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

    About a half hour in. Good graphics considering the platform. So far it seems similar to Ocarina of Time but somewhat more grown-up. Don't like the horse as much as Agro from Shadow of the Colossus; the animations, especially the transitions between animations, are not as good. B+

  • PC: Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

    Played through the tutorial. Looks like fun. Reminds me of Ground Control. A-

  • PC: Doom3

    Completed on normal difficulty. Okay shooter, outstanding graphics. B

  • PC: Doom3: Resurrection of Evil

    A few hours in. It's much like Doom3; see pretty graphics, enter dark room, things attack from behind and in front, shoot them, continue to next dark room. It's okay but not spectacular. And everything looks just a little too shiny. B

  • PC: Galactic Civilizations

    About five minutes in. Looks and plays much like Galactic Civilizations II, which I got first. Pretty graphics, turn-based gameplay like Civilization or Alpha Centauri but in space, factions, etc. Looks pretty good. B+

  • PC: Rhem

    About 20 minutes in. Disappointed. Was expecting Myst and got something less. Glad it was cheap. D

  • PS2: Burnout 3 Takedown

    Lots of fun. Two words: road rage. The rush when you engage boost mode will scorch your face and blow your eyeballs back into your brain. A

  • PS2: Burnout Revenge

    Fun fun. Two words: traffic checking. The rush when you engage boost mode will scorch your face and blow your eyeballs back into your brain. A

  • PS2: Dragon Quest 8

    Several hours in. Pretty fun. Fairly standard pure turn-based JRPG fare but well-balanced, highly polished, and with a nice Dragonball anime art style that works well with the PS2's graphical limitations. A-

  • PS2: Final Fantasy X

    Around 80% of the way through. Engrossing, entertaining game. Production values are top-notch. The story and characters are well-done, even for a Western audience. Could do without the unskippable cutscenes (and there are a lot of them) and the overly complex levelling and crafting systems. But these are minor drawbacks. B+

  • PS2: Flatout 2

    Fun. Demolition derby is a blast, racing is fun, and ragdoll stunts are a hoot. A-

  • PS2: God of War II

    About 15 minutes in. Looks like more of the same as God of War, and that's a good thing. Greek myth plus outstanding gameplay equals gaming goodness. A

  • PS2: Guitar Hero

    Finished on easy, replaying for perfection. It's a blast. Super fun. A

  • PS2: Guitar Hero II

    Played a bunch of songs in "quick play" mode. It's a blast. Super fun. The addition of practice mode and two-player jamming makes it a bit better than the first. A

  • PS2: James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing

    About an hour in. Fun game. Good cover mechanic. First mission (Egypt) is really hard, even on the easiest difficulty available. It's like being in a Bond movie. Series regulars and Hollywood stars lend their voices and likenesses, including Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Richard Kiel, Shannon Elizabeth, and Willem Dafoe. A

  • PS2: Rogue Galaxy

    A couple of hours in - off the desert planet and into space. It's a pretty standard JRPG, so far. Combat is real-time. A reasonably fun science fantasy. B

  • PS2: Shadow of the Colossus

    Finished once. Replaying to make machinima. This game is a work of art; sublime. Less than a full review cannot do it justice. Play it and see for yourself. A+

  • PS2: Star Trek Encounters

    Completed tutorial and first two or three missions. Not fun. Control scheme is a mess, and the addition of the third dimension is poorly handled. Should have left the three-level third dimension off. D

  • PSP: Burnout Legends

    About 15% complete. Looks and plays much like Burnout 3: Takedown. Fun. Minor quibble: where are the car stats? A-

  • PSP: Coded Arms

    An hour or two in. Poor attempt at a first-person shooter. None of the control schemes compensate well for the platform's lack of a second analog input. Something like the scheme in Metroid Prime or Tomb Raider Legend would have worked but they didn't do that. The game is also an object lesson in the pitfalls of randomly-generated content; all the levels seem pretty much the same, lacking tactical interest. Dull. D

  • PSP: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

    About an hour in. Fun and funny. Within the limitations of the platform, plays just like GTA3. B+

  • PSP: Killzone Liberation

    About 20 minutes in. Seems okay so far. Interesting game design - isometric view, but still a shooter. B

  • PSP: Me and My Katamari

    Completed first two missions. Pretty fun. Plays much like Katamari Damacy, but the controls don't work as well because of the PSP's lack of a second analog nub. B

  • PSP: Metal Gear Acid 2

    About halfway through. It's okay. Not as fun as the first game, somehow. Same card-based RPG action. Maybe it's the cartoony art style. B

  • PSP: Pinball Hall of Fame: Gottlieb Collection

    Great for pinball fans. Authentic tables. Quick pick-up-and-play. Some platform related limitations. Fun. Don't like having to earn tokens to play Black Hole. Genie is a blast. B+

  • Xbox: Battlestar Galactica

    About an hour in. I've enjoyed it quite a lot, but then I'm a fan of mission-based space fighter games. It follows in the tradition of games like X-Wing, Wing Commander, Freespace, Starlancer, and Star Wars Starfighter. In that tradition, there's no in-mission save, and some of the missions are long and difficult. So it's not for everyone. B+

  • Xbox: Beyond Good and Evil

    Several hours in. It's a fairly enjoyable game. I'm not as fond of it as some of its more vocal fans. I found its mix of children's themes (cartoon talking animals) and adult themes (your protectors in league with your enemies) mildly offputting. Good gameplay though; the ideas are well-executed. C

  • Xbox: Black

    About an hour in. Gameplay is a blast (literally!). Cutscenes are over-the-top silly, too long, and (worst of all) unskippable. B

  • Xbox: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

    A few hours in. Creepy. Best chase scene in any game. Best heartbeat vibration effect. Really good story. Voicework pretty good. Slightly subpar graphics but gameplay and story more than make up for it. Very good LOD. A-

  • Xbox: Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge

    A couple hours in. It's a blast, but then I love flying games. It's fun on Xbox Live as well, but I am not yet worthy to travel in their company. A

  • Xbox: Destroy All Humans

    About four hours in. Fun and funny. Lampoons the politics, popular culture and morés of the U.S.A. of the 1950's. Penalty for dying is having to restart the mission - that is, very little. A-

  • Xbox: Fatal Frame

    About three hours in. Creepy. Scary. Well worth playing. A

  • Xbox: Halo 2

    Finished on Easy, replaying on Legendary. Excellent shooter, though not quite as good as Halo: Combat Evolved. The story is not as coherent. The cliffhanger ending didn't bother me as much as it did some fans. A-

  • Xbox: The Matrix: Path of Neo

    Completed first mission and part of second. Okay so far, controls a little loose. Okay cover mechanic. Not as fun as Enter The Matrix. C+

  • Xbox: Ninja Gaiden Black

    Almost completed first/tutorial level. Lots of fun. The first boss is very hard. A-

  • Xbox: Quantum Redshift

    Just started. This game plays and looks just like the WipEout games for the PlayStation. I love those games, so this is a good thing. B+

  • Xbox: Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy

    About an hour in. Nifty 3rd-person action game. Combines platforming and puzzle-solving with themes from ancient Egyptian mythology. Zelda-like in some ways. Enjoyable. B+

  • Xbox 360: Burnout Revenge

    Fun. Fun. Fun. Two words: traffic checking. The rush when you engage boost mode will melt your face off and blow your eyeballs out the back of your skull. A+

  • Xbox 360: Condemned Criminal Origins

    A few hours in. Seems to be getting a little repetitious. Follow serial killer, beat drug-crazed attackers to death. Rinse, repeat. Environments don't vary too much. Good presentation, solid gameplay. C+

  • Xbox 360: Crackdown

    About a quarter of the way in. Super fun. GTA-style cartoony graphics work well. It's a blast to leap a tall building in a single bound while getting a headshot on a crook, or throwing a dumpster into a crowd of criminals. No real penalty for dying. A-

  • Xbox 360: Dead Rising

    A couple of hours in, sort of. A blast. GTA with zombies and RPG-style leveling. Being able to restart the game while keeping your level is a fun twist. A

  • Xbox 360: Far Cry Instincts Predator

    About an hour in. Pretty fun. Nifty jeep escape sequence. Gorgeous environments. Hard. B+

  • Xbox 360: Gears of War

    Completed story on Casual. This is a fun shooter. No one aspect of the game is a new innovation, but every aspect (except possibly the plot) is best-of-breed. And all the parts mesh seamlessly to create an outstanding gameplay experience. A

  • Xbox 360: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter

    Finished first mission. Fantastic looking and playing game. Good cover mechanic. Tons of fun. A

  • Xbox 360: Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

    Finished tutorial, started first mission. Seems much like the first, with some minor graphical and gameplay improvements. Challenging and fun. Good game. A

  • Xbox 360: Need for Speed: Most Wanted

    About a third of the way through. This game is fun. I enjoy the GTA-like open city aspect. The graphics are very good, the cars are slick and the tuning aspect is well done. Races are fun and evading the cops is even more fun. B+

  • Xbox 360: Oblivion

    Main quest completed, now playing the expansion and mods. Beautiful. Engrossing. Immersive. Addictive. Entertaining. Fun. Play. This. Game. A

  • Xbox 360: Perfect Dark Zero

    Completed first storyline mission (nightclub). Fair shooter. Good cover mechanic. B

  • Xbox 360: Pinball FX

    Okay pinball simulator. Tables invented for the game, none taken from real life. B-

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