Friday, July 06, 2007

Quick Impressions As Of July 5, 2007

Here are some more quick game impressions for the recently played:

  • DS: GoldenEye Rogue Agent

    Completed Fort Knox mission, about an hour in. I hope it gets better soon, because right now it's pretty dull. It's marginally better than, say, Coded Arms, but that ain't saying much. C-

  • GBA: Advance Wars

    Three or four hours in, including the tutorials. This game is way more fun than it has any right to be. It's a turn-based strategy game, and it's a hoot. Even the extensive tutorials are enjoyable. Besides the actual gameplay being good, the interface is elegant, and every aspect of the presentation displays a sense of light-hearted fun. A+

  • GBA: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance

    Three battles (about one hour) in. I originally avoided buying this because I already had Final Fantasy Tactics for the PS1 and, based on the title, believed this to be a straight port. It's not. The main action takes place in the same world as FFT, but in a different time period and framed by a Neverending Story-like plot about a magic book in the "real world." The gameplay is fundamentally similar with a few tweaks here and there. If you enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics, you'll like this one too. I did. B+

  • PC: Tomb Raider Anniversary

    Several hours in. This game is a blast. It preserves everything that made the first Tomb Raider such fun while updating the graphics, gameplay and level design to take advantage of what the Tomb Raider Legend engine can offer. Disclaimer: I'm a Tomb Raider fan and enjoyed (and finished!) Angel of Darkness. A+

  • PS1: Air Combat

    A couple of missions in. This game is the first in the Ace Combat series, reasonably enjoyable, but all of the sequels are better. This was one of the Playstation's launch titles, and as a result has no analog control. The graphics are good for a 1995 release, but are far surpassed even by the later Playstation titles (Ace Combat 2 and Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere). The only real reason to pick this up is in order to complete your set of Ace Combat games, or to fill in that piece of the series story. C+

  • PS1: Ace Combat 2

    A few missions in. Fun game. Very good graphics for a PS1 game. It's not as pretty as its PS2 siblings, but the gameplay is fundamentally the same. Like the other titles in the series, it provides enough simulation elements to be interesting and enough arcade gameplay simplifications to make it fun. B

  • PS1: Chrono Cross

    A couple of hours in. Pretty good RPG. Interesting story involving time travel and alternate timelines. The combat system has some interesting innovations and the presentation is well done. B+

  • PS2: Ace Combat 4: Shattered Skies

    Several missions in. This game is a blast. It's the first Ace Combat title for the Playstation 2, and despite its age it still looks and plays great. A

  • PS2: Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance

    Several hours in. Fun game. This is more like Diablo or Rogue than it is the earlier semi-turn-based Forgotten Realms titles such as Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. It does employ the same Advanced Dungeons & Dragons-based ruleset as the others. Graphics, sound, voice work, gameplay, controls, and writing are all top-notch, though the plot seems a bit pedestrian. A-

  • PS2: Gran Turismo 4

    Several hours in. A really good game. It still defines the car racing genre. The (cheaty) 1080i support is nice, sound is great, gameplay is great, driving wheel support is great, etc., etc. It's so good in so many ways that it's easier to list its few flaws. The main menu is a mess; Gran Turismo 3's was far superior. I don't like license tests; I want to race. There's no online racing. There's no damage model. There are no Ferraris or Porsches. The concept cars can't be used in races. A-

  • PS2: Ico

    Finished it twice. Like Shadow of the Colossus, it's a sublime work of art. Of course not all art is to everyone's taste; there is much that's not to mine. Go read some full length reviews, then decide for yourself. A+

  • PS2: Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

    About an hour in, just past the tutorial. It's enjoyable, a pretty standard 3D platformer with double jumps, power-ups, collectibles, and a variety of combat moves. What sets it apart is its sense of humor. What diminishes it are the camera controls, which seem backwards to me (e.g. push stick left to look to the right) and are not customizable. B+

  • PS2: Medal of Honor: Frontline

    A couple of hours in. Fantastic game. The opening sequence alone, which has the player assaulting the Normandy beach on D-Day, makes it worth picking up. At the time of release the graphics, sound, and rumble were nothing short of jaw-dropping. They still look pretty good. A

  • PS2: Tomb Raider Anniversary

    This is identical to the PC version, save for the graphics. They're of necessity of lower quality, given the platform. Still, it looks and plays great. A+

  • PSP: Crush

    Just past the tutorial and first couple of missions. This is a fun puzzler and platformer. It's more puzzle than platform, and the 3D->2D crush gimmick adds an extra, er, dimension to the gameplay. I'm enjoying helping the insomniac Danny wander around inside his own psyche, looking for his marbles. B+

  • PSP: Daxter

    Several hours in. It's a hoot. This entry in the Jak and Daxter series focusses on the sidekick and has him battling increasingly dangerous bug infestations. It's funny and inventive, full of Daxter's wiseacre humor. Great platformer. B+

  • PSP: Tomb Raider Legend

    About halfway through. It's good. This game on PC and consoles breathes new life into the Tomb Raider series with its updated control scheme and Prince of Persia-inspired moves. This portable version is not the equal of those on other platforms, in large part because the PSP offers fewer buttons. But despite that, graphics and gameplay are fundamentally intact. I'm enjoying it. A

  • PSP: Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

    About two hours in. Enjoyable RPG. It has an interesting storyline, an innovative combat system, fun 2D platforming play, and a good-quality presentation. It has a few minor quirks and drawbacks, but overall it's worth the time of RPG fans. B

  • Xbox: Mafia

    About an hour in. It's pretty good. Other reviews have complained about the presentation quality when compared to the PC version, but I don't find it bothersome. Gameplay is GTA-like, and the story follows a cabbie who is unwillingly drawn into a life of crime in the families. B+

  • Xbox: Manhunt

    About an hour in. I don't know if I'd call it fun, but the game does hold one's interest. The player steps into the prison shoes of James Earl Cash, just after his botched execution. Cash must escape but can only do so by satisfying a snuff film director who controls all the doors. He must kill gang members in various gruesome ways to get the Director to let him proceed. A cynical and thought-provoking look at violent media and our relationship to it as consumers. B+

  • Xbox 360: Aegis Wing

    This is a side-scrolling arcade shoot-em-up in the same vein as R-Type. It's fun, but hard. Definitely worth the money, as it's a free download on Xbox Live Arcade. B

  • Xbox 360: DiRT

    About an hour in, unlocked the second tier in career mode. This game is a blast. I don't know how realistic the physics are, but it's certainly lots of fun to play. Every aspect of the presentation, from the menus to the graphics during racing, has been polished to a high sheen. Gorgeous. Fun. A+

  • Xbox 360: Geometry Wars Retro Evolved

    This is a clone of the old arcade classic Robotron 2084. It's fun, but hard. It might be a little much for my aging reflexes. B

  • Xbox 360: The Godfather: The Game

    About a half hour in, just past the fighting tutorial. It looks pretty good. The recognizable likenesses and music from the movies are a treat, as is the recognizable New York City. Gameplay, as in Mafia, is GTA-like and pretty fun. There appear to be more nuances and complexities than in Mafia, but introduced slowly enough not to overwhelm the player. I'm looking forward to working my way up to being the Don of Dons and wiping out the other families. A-

  • Xbox 360: Overlord

    About an hour in, seen more (girlfriend playing). This game rocks. Be the evil Overlord! Summon minions from the depths! Set them on your enemies! Subjugate villagers! Slay heroes! Today the village, tomorrow the world! Buwahahahahahaha! A

  • Xbox 360: Prince of Persia Classic

    Completed the first level. Fun. This Xbox Live Arcade facelift to the 1987 classic gives it 3d graphics while preserving the 2D platforming gameplay and level design of the original. I've had a blast with it. A

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