Title: Two months of 2007... and the rest
Posted: March 03, 2007 (07:38 AM)
Tortuga: Two Treasures Preview (PC) 2/1/07
Never let my commitment be called into play! I wrote this still suffering from one hell of a hangover as I once again took on my old foe, New Years Day and lost in spectacular fashion.
Previews are bloody tough. Don’t believe me? Download a pre-release demo and try to write one – I dare you! Most people who have stop at only the one, and I don’t blame them. You can't even talk in an assured tone because you have no way of knowing if what you’re talking about will even make the final cut of the full game.
Anyway, I quite like how this one came out, although it does drag the points it makes onwards too far. Still, it’s a tough job done in tough conditions, so I award myself self-kudos.
I also like that previews haven’t been put into the new borderless, toneless review page style therefore do not look like complete crap.
Sam & Max 3: The Mole, the Mob and the Meatball. (PC) 26/1/07
The hardest thing about this review was trying to say enough about a game I beat in about an hour and a half while still making it different to the last two Sam & Max reviews I'd written. I’m moderately happy with how this one came out, but it still reads a little jaunted and shunty to me. It’s the only thing I wrote all January.
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (XBox) 8/2/07
Now with screenshots built into the body of the review!
This was the first piece I’d written outside of the review codes I’d been swamped with for a while and served as a warm-up for Zig’s tourney. I like the first half but feel the second half gets bogged down as it goes on. Adding the screens into the body of the review is something I wanted to avoid at one point, but I’m very happy with how they came out, so all's good. I get the feeling this one got buried under a slew of other works and will quickly become one of those ‘lost’ reviews that no one remembers.
Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (PC) 15/2/07
And back to the review codes. This game was a devil to play though, always mocking me with intricately hidden clues that remained just outside my reach. The review as all about letting the reader know what they were getting into, a logical point ‘n’ click that made no bones about having you re-examine evidence again and again and again. The intro and conclusion may feel cop-out-ish, but I quite like how it frames the less creative meat of the review. I’m happy with how this one turned out, but I'm sure many find it a dull read.
UFO: Afterlight (PC) 22/2/07
This thing was a major pain to get right. First we got sent a preview disk with an activation code that wore out after 28 days use. It didn’t work on my system or on Hobun’s who got stuck with it shortly after me. Then we got a review version with the same code that nerfed the game after 28 days and, again, it didn’t work on either of our computers. Eventually, we got something working and I played the game non-stop for a few days to try and beat it as quick as I can. Thankfully, it’s about as close to a new X-Com game as I’ll ever find, so playing it was a lot of fun.
The review got basically written at work between dead spots as my time at home was spent playing it. I HG mailed what I had to myself and use the back-and–forth efforts to mould the review you see today. It does suffer for this, but it turned out okay. It’s also racking up a lot of hits, which is somewhat gratifying after all the legwork I poured into this one.
Also, check out the assets section, should you feel bored. I flew through several focus window attempts before settling on the red one. Thank Tur’s nagging for that.
Now translated into Russian and hosted on a review site over there. EmP has an internatinal fanbase.
Sam & Max: Episode 4 – Abe Lincoln Must Die (PC) 26/2/07
Before reviewing this one, I got an e-mail from Telltale (because I’m on talking terms with MANY game developers, you see... Really! I’ll name drop and show you all!) pointing out several things that had been worked on and explaining the deadlines and such. Pretty normal stuff, but I liked the way the mentioned how the feedback gained from the reviews written on their games had been noted and applied to the later episodes of Sam & Max. And in Episodes 4, it kind of shows. I wanted to try and mention that within the review but also wanted to come at it from a different angle than I did with the last 3 episodes. I change my mind constantly if I managed to pull this off or not! This was the first review where I inserted screenshots into the review, and I liked it enough to go back to Dreamfall and do the same to that.
Man, February kept me busy…
Deus Ex (PS2) 1/3/07
I have always wanted to write a Deus Ex review, but other reviews also ganged up and got in the way. I managed to squeeze this one in and went with it for Zig’s tourney which really gave me the excuse to write (finished with a high-80's score.) Even Veems stopped listening to toneless metal garbage long enough to read this! The intro itself has undergone many, many revisions and edits but the rest of the review is pretty unchanged since first draft side a little editing and tightening here and there. It’s so refreshing not to have to slave over a review for once and just have it say what you want to say first time out! Also drew disco1960 out of hiding, so it receives bonus points for that.
Not reading this review is the same as condemning a scabby ho to pimp abuse!
The Mark (PC) 4/3/07
This was a bad game but one I felt catious in just ripping into seeing as it was a publisher-sent title. As it was, said pubslisher sent an e-mail thanking me for the review and labeling it 'fair'. Phew! The game really is poor, though. The screens on site are from the game's site the ones I took got accidently deleted in a snafu and I wasn't about to replay the game enough to re-capture them.
Used in the first round of the TT against Draqq, where it lost 2-1 and was slated by Genj. get used to seeinf this phrase.
SkiFree (PC) 8/3/07
I wrote the majority of this on a slow day at work and e-mailed it to myself to work on when I got back home. originally, I wasn't going to do anything with it aside from maybe sub it to FAQs, but after doing a little research and working on it a bit (and finding then addng the yeit .gif) i thought it had turned out well. So it got put up, and owned the focus window for only two days shy of a full week.
Check out the game's assets for a disturbing and unsed added bonus .gif of our yeti chum.
PDC World Championship Darts (PS2) 19/3/07
I've just reviewed a darts game.
It was a fun darts game that I play quite often against a friend, but it's still a darts game. Writing this was more work than I would have imagined, though. Sports games are a pain to begin with, but when it's such a niche sport.... hard.
All things considered, I remain pleased with how this one turned out.
Space Hulk: Vengence of the Blood Angels (PSX) 30/3/07
This was a surprisingly tough game to write for. I couldn't decide on the angle to take and the piece suffered many re-drafts, deletions and mass edits. I went with having the primary focus on the dreaded Genestealers in the end and still have mixed feelings on it. The entry into the License to Review tourney. And got a pretty mediocre score.
Patriots: A Nation Under Fire (PC) 2/4/07
This glichly little game could and should have been better, but it's more of an unfinished beta than a full game.
I'm torn on the intro. It was supposed to be a play against the media circus the 'States needs endure but it come out as a tad U.S bashy instead. The structure for the review was first born I ranted at DoI for a fair while about how broken the game sometimes was.
It partnered Veems' awesome NetHack review in the obscure tourney and got a good enough score to help me and my talanted sidekick pick up the win. I was over the moon for this because it's the third time we've paired up and we've missed taking the top-spot by a single point in the past.
Sam & Max Episode 5 - Reality 2.0 (PC) 9/4/07
This is probably my favourite Sam & Max episode yet in terms of script and giggles. The problem I face every month with these is what I'm going to bloody write about so as it's a new review and not a slight edit of the last. So in this one, I sused that problem as the tone for the entire review! I walk away happy with what I finished with. Episode six is going to be tough to write...
Spectrobes (DS) 23/4/07
This is a pretty bland game. I should have known it would be when Venter shipped it all the way from the US to the UK because no one there was dumb enough to want to cover. Enter EmP. The idiot.
Playing the game was a struggle because it was too grey to hold my attention but the review came with relative ease. the only provblems I faced was editing some of the smaller complaints because the review dragged somewhat. Constant reminder to hide away next time Jason offers me a game -- I have enough of my bloody own to cover!
Demolition Racer: No Exit (DC) 24/4/07
This was actualkly one of my very first reviews EVER that I was playing around with on a slow day. I dropped a lot of the redundant phraseing, the obligitory graphics and sound paragraph and mixed them into the body and played about with the pacing. It's still not a work of art, but it's solid as is. I was heartened to find that I could use the main frame of something I wrote when I first started off can be converted into something useable!
Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle (PC) 3/5/07
I love that most of the publisher sent reviews I get are for point and click games. And I loved this one.
I flew through the game and then found the review came pretty easy. Obvioulsy, the little lemur at the start had qute an effect on me, but it also allowed me to not spoil any of the main story by focusing on the alcoholic rodent. Starting to play around more with intergrating screenshots into a review's main body, think I pulled this one off pretty well.
Soccer '97 (PSX) 7/5/07
Pulled this one out of nowhere, but it's a game no one's ever heard of and really deserved some kind of coverage. Even though I wager no one will ever really read it, I always like covering the more obscure stuff. It's nice knownig that you have the best review for a game up on the internet, even if you have to cheat and make sure it's all but the only one.
Sam & Max Episode 6 - The Bright Side of the Moon (PC) 9/5/07
Season 1 down. Thank God, because I was all kinds of out of things to say. I liked the time I spend playing the new Sam & Max stuff, but writing about them was a real bitch. Knowing that there's going to be a season two at some point worries me, but it's a while away.
This was written pretty quickly which is unlike me, but I'm happy with it.
SBK ’07: Superbike World Championship ‘07 (PS2) May 14th 2007
This was a much easier review than I thought it was going to be. The problem with reviewing racing games is that, unless they’re awful, you don’t have much to talk about and it’s very hard to try and talk about them in an interesting way. I’ve made myself write about sports games in the last few years exactly because they are hard to do and, in covering them, I hope that it adds an element to my writing that wouldn’t be there otherwise. I like how this came out, so all was good.
SBK ’07 is a fun little game that can’t quite decide if it wants to be an arcade racer or a true sim. But it finds a cool middle ground and builds from there. I think I got that across well enough. This was the first review in the three-day review spree.
Alpine Ski Racing 2007 (PC) May 15th 2007
This is about as good as I can write a ski review!
I mean, come on, it’s not the easiest of games to cover. ASR07 helps me out with some pretty unique ways to slide down snow such as an awesome career mode but I had to cheat a little by padding the review with links to similar reviews and by making a talking point around the skis being waxed when it didn’t really deserve such a focus. Still, in the scheme of things, this one turned out well, especially when you consider it was my second review in so many days. Most of you will never read it.
Ankh: Heart of Osiris (PC) May 16th 2007
The three-day streak ends with Ankh. Thank god, because I was all kinds of burnt out by this point.
Ankh’s a cool game, but what with covering so many adventure games this year, I was worried I was falling into a rut of forms with the genre. I wanted to try and change out of this, but a lot of the reappearing habits still found their way in. The publisher really liked it, though!
minDStorm May 28th 2007
I hated BrainStorm. Literally hated it. Not only do I not see the fun in doing what is nothing more than glorified secondary school homework, but the interface was broken and was the reason for 80% of my wrong answers (because I is smart). MinDStorm suffers from much of the same problems but has slightly more fun mini-games and a much cooler title. Not a fun game to cover, though: how do you write about doing your maths homework? In a very stuffy and listy way, according to this review!
LMA Manager 2007 (Xbox 360) May 29th 2007
I tried to get into the habit of writing one of these a year but didn’t do 2006. This stopped me from doing my usually trick of just editing last year’s review a little and claiming it was a clever dig at the rehashing of annual titles. But I didn’t, so had to write it anew. Bah.
If you call football soccer, you should probably avoid it. It also relies on some prior knowledge.
Dawnspire June 4th 2007
This is my favourite review that I’ve written thus far this year. The publishers even went so far as to say that they loved the first 70% of the review and I should snip the last 30% away and score their game higher. I honestly wish I could.
Had a few problems getting this one up and written. Originally it went to a freelancer but they had problems running it on their PC, so I had to recall it and do it myself. However, the Post Office screwed up and I still don’t have the review copy back some 10 days later. Luckily, I know someone who bought the game, so camped at her house for a few days and racked up a lot of game time while she made me butterscotch muffins.
It’s a hard life reviewing sometimes.
Anyway, I wrote the review mostly on paper while their and typed it up at home that night, making little edits and changes as I went along. It was a quick write and the finished product came out a lot better than I had expected. When the review copy of the game gets here, I’ll keep playing this one in the hope that the community picks up.
Used in the first round of the TT against Zig, where it lost 2-1 and was slated by Genj. I think pretty unfairly, but that's what judges are for! Even if 66% of the panal didn't much like it, I still do.
World Poker Championship 2 (PS2) June 5th 2007
Oxygen don’t like to make life easy for me. The first game they sent me to review was a darts one, and now, poker!
I held this one for ages, wanting to release it on-site with the PAL release date, but this seems to have been pushed back forever, so it got sent out now. Considering the source material (I know I’m saying that a lot, but I’ve had some difficult games to cover recently!) I’m pleased with how it’s come out. I also still find myself playing the game on and off as when I want to play something light.
Pacific Storm: Allies (PC) June 18th 2007
Here's a game that should have been a lot better than it was. The story behind this is that a solid war sim game was made combing three genres in a very clever way and serving the player with a unique way to wage war. Then it was sent to the publishers who thought it would be a super idea to jam in a anti-piracy code on the last day before retail release without any form of testing at all. Ther's now bugs all over the place including a very annoying one that doesn;t show explosions so you have no idea whether or not you hit your target. This only applies to the UK game that I got; the rest of Europe and NTSC will have perfect version without moronic publisher choices.
Rant aside, I'm lukewarm with the review. In an attempt to make the review applicable to all regions, I think the above point was undersold. I also should have maybe deleted the history nerd tangents I kept running off into tall together rather than try and make a running joke of them.
Safecracker (PC) June 23rd
There's this bastard puzzle in here where you need to guide a ball bearing through a maze using magnets to attarched the ball to up, down, left or right. The aim is to get it to fall in one of the five holes, but it can easily get trapped or roll off the table completely. It took me hours upon hours to do.
That's the kind of game Safecracker is. It's not about plots or characters but all about puzzles. This makes it pretty hard to write about. I hate the intro as it's a blatent cop-out and one of the things I advise other reviews not to do, but I had nothing in the bag and an incoming publisher deadline to meet. It picks up from there, but I hope to have a sudden burst of insperation one deay so I can come back and edit in a better intro.
Loki [PREVIEW] (PC) June 28th
Loki's preview disk only gave me the chance to play as a norse warrior out of the four playable classess, but it also came with a really cool glossy book that shows a lot of what the finished game will be. I usually just get an A4 press release note.
What was on the disk was old-school click-and-die fun. Ignoring this, I got too carried away in writing about the setting to convey this as much as I would hope then proceeded to oversell this point in the latter half of the preview. Looks to be a blast of a game, though; I look forward to the full release.
Return to Mysterious Island (PC) July 03
This came in a boxet along with Journey to the Moon (which I got to later!) and was actually a lot of fun. The thing I liked most about RtMI was that each goal can be completed in a differing way. So this is what I focused on whit this review. While I like how that aspect came out, it feels a bit.. samey. Like I'm getting a little too much into a rut. I need a break!
Armored Core 4 (XBOX360) July 04
My attempt at getting out of my rut failed horribly and this review got lambasted for the fan-fic like cut aways I'd included throughout. Knowing when to cut my loses, the review has since been updated minus the cut-aways. Without them, I don't think it has any real soul to it, but it reads like an actual review and not a bad fan fic.
The biggest pain, finding a text to put the cut-aways in, vanished with their deletion.
Exit 2 (PSP) July 20
So, a freelance guy said he had a PSP thus I accepted a PSP review code. Said PSP was promptly sold and I was stuck.
Now I [all but] own a bloody PSP, Exit 2 is the kind of game that makes the purcahse seem worthwhile. It's a fun, quirky and unique little game that wouldn't be applicable on the DS or GBA. I played the game and wrote the review mainly from work where I decided to try and find out how much videogaming I could get away with over a slow week. The answer was a lot.
Journey to the Moon (PC) July 30
There's a real steampunk/sci-fi setting around this one, and how they've managed to bring the books to life is quite the feat. Even if Ancell looks like a derranged killer and not the brilliant explorer he was meant to be. Also, got to love the English accents on the French protaganists.
Like its sister game, Return to Mysterious Island, there's a multi-branch puzzle solutions deal going on, but it's not quite as free-flowing. For atmosphere, JttM destroys RtMI, but roles are reversed for gameplay.
Interesting note: This game is called Voyage: Inspired by Jules Verne in the states. Haha, your title sucks.
Persona (PSX) August 22
I've been wanting to review this game for ages (HG already has a staff review for this but it's, to be blunt, awful) and despite it loosing to Boo in the TT (Curse you, tubby!) I'm really happy with how it came out. I threw the discussion points around a pit to take familiarity out of the picture and spent most of the review comparing the JP and NA versions, which are so different, they may as well have been released under different names. Whereas I caught some stick for this in the TT judgement, it's not someting I'm going to change.
PS: Mark dances sexy.
Sam & Max: Season One (PC) August 29th
Just when I think I'm done with the bloody series..
The intro isn't just there for comedic effect: I really did launch into a huge speil about the history of the series that went on for a good four or so paragraphs. Obvioulsy, this was overkill, so I scaled it right back into what you see now.
Big thanks to VM on this one. We had an obligitory fight the day before the TT deadline and proofed each other's reviews still with an air of hostility, but we predictably got bored of bickering half-way through. Shame, too; she's always so much quieter when she's sulking.
I must rememeber to go back and hyperlink the hell out of this later. I didn't review all six episodes seperately to not spam them hard in a season sum-up!
WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 (360) August 31st
Time-killer review penned at work, written from a pretty smarked point of view, but it should find a niche, at least! Not actually played a wrestling game in any depth since the glory days fo the N64, so comparisons are rather shallow.
True INSOLENTLY didn't do his obligitory WWE review this year, so I fugured I'd have to do it for him.
UFO: Aftermath (PC) September 15th
This was an odd title to review retrospectivly as I had already played and reviewed the third title in the series and, as you can guess, this one still had a littering of teething problems the later game I played had long ironed out. The biggest problem with writing reviews for games like this is that they may still be fun but later titles have made them obsolete. And that's why it lurks right at the bottom of my hit-counter.
All I wrote all September. Thank two weeka in Ibiza for that. And I still got online to help Ben and Veems for TT stuff. I'm such a martyr.
Quake 4 (Xbox 360) October 2nd
Less a Quake 4 review for the first half and more a chance to bash the crap out of the awful Doom 3. Which, in case I've not said, is awful.
But the review is far too long and really is in need of a good edit. I've already cut a lot of fat off this one, but despite this there being some good ideas in here, it still feels like it needs to lose more. I may have to enlist an editor for this one.
Requital (PC) October 15th
Requital's an odd game and when I said odd I mean medicore. It has some good ideas but never take full advantage of them and remains mostly hundrum. Which makes writing about it pretty hard. Daggnammit.
It's a good game to get covered, though, as not many sites seemed to bother.
Halo 3 (Xbox 360) October 18th
I know, odds are you've never heard of this one.
I had no real intentions of covering Halo 3 for the site as I try to shy away from the bigger names. forcing Zig to carry that burden instead. But, much like the Gears or War situation, a certain editor insisted as soon as he (or she) heard I bought, played and beat it upon release. Which was a pain.
What worked out was the FPS review tourney being annouched, allowing me to kill two birds with one plasma grenade. I romped to victory.
I like this one. The intro worked and by the time I got into the less interesting parts in the latter parts, I think I have enough momentium stored to not let it slow things down.
Valhalla Knights (PSP) October 24th
Buying a PSP for review codes ahs almost paid for itself already. Sadly, Valhalla Knights isn't a game I feel happy dropping all that cash on to play. While it was nice to get back to penning a bash review (I was starting to feel that I would forver be stuck in the 6-10/10 range!) it came at a super-busy time and there were over games I would have prefer to get played and reviewed, especially since Zig already had a review for the same game up live.
I like to think I made my arguement differently to his.
Urban Dead (PC) October 26th
So, I wrote a review on a broswer-based zombie MMO for Halloween. Then I forgot it was Halloween based and released it early. Then remembered after I released and swore.
Urban Dead's a tricky little game to cover and I think I maybe used a little too much creative license and not enough cold facts in this one. Still it's a cool game and it's free -- you should all be playing it.
Honeycomb Beat (DS) November 6th
This was purely written on the publisher’s request as both Jason and Pup have a review up for this game already. Three staff reviews and no users, odd. Anyway, this meant that saying something new about it wasn’t really going to happen, so I didn’t bother checking on the aforementioned pair of reviews and just wrote. It’s a puzzle game review, so it’s not going top be my best thing ever, but it is adequate.
The jellyfish pic used to be the paragraph that you’d see on the game’s data page, but this made Jason uncomfortable. Probably because it upstaged the hell out of review effort!
Sam & Max 201: Ice Station Santa (PC) November 11th
Just when you think you’re free from a series….
Don’t get me wrong, I love playing the new Sam & Max games, but writing about them gets harder and harder each review – and this is my 8th review! I’m enjoying the games far too much to let some other slacker take the contract, though.
The new series seems to have a few key differences from the last, including an effort to drag in new players, so perhaps I’ll have something new to write about. Here’s hoping.
Escape from Paradise City (PC) November 18th
Martine was set to review this one, so it was posted to him. He couldn’t play it on his laptop. So I offered it to new boy PAJ89, but he was busy with exams. Trying to get Ben to review a PC game these days is an exercise in frustration, so I gave up and did it myself. Pretty glad I did. The game’s actually a lot more fun that I imagined and is probably the best of its kind since Syndicate back in ’93. There are a lot of good ideas within so I’m hopeful to see more from the developers in the future.
Luminious Ark (DS) November 25th
When I originally asked for a review code of this game, I was told I couldn’t have one and was sent Valhalla Knights and Honeycomb Beat instead. It was only after the PR firm employed a new guy who actually came out and asked me if I wanted a copy that one arrived. The game then got busy taking over my life.
I took it to my football matches and played it at half time. I took it to the gym to play on the treadmill a few times. Hell, I kept it on my bike and barely resisted the urge to play at red lights. It’s a great game and one I’m still playing via the new game + mode.
Best thing I’ve played on the DS bar none. But the review was tricky because it does have some rather glaring problems that needed to be addressed and not skipped over so I could praise the hell out of it. Everything considered, I’m very happy with how this one came out.
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS) November 30th
So, this one was kinda fun. The rambly bit at the front is a real love-it-or-hate-it affair and the powers that be on site decided they hated it. This was quickly downgraded to a user review and then, upon my request, moved to the secondary account. The timing of its releases is either perfect of terrible, what with all the drama revolving around reviewing thanks to Gamespot and CNet’s shenanigans, but the review was written long before these events mostly at work on the new blog forums which I have converted into a digital notepad or sorts. Hourglass is simply a dull game that’s only shot on innovation is tied in with the gimmicky system it has been released on. Someone needed to tell the world!
Felix linked it to the GameFaqs message board where it was quickly deleted for trolling. I did likewise with a review of his (Sex Vixens from Space) which was nuked for spamming.
Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS) December 1st
After the last attempt of the review was nuked, it was back to the lab again. It has pretty much the same critical commentary of the last with half the personality and none of the satire. Instead, I decided to pick on how the big Nintendo nerds like to scream about innovation before sitting down to play the newest Mario Party game. Aren’t they in double figures by now?
Posted: March 03, 2007 (09:24 AM)
All your hyperlinks are broken.
Posted: March 03, 2007 (11:16 AM)
Hyperlinks are teh suck. But I fixed them anyway.