So, it turns out that I posted 16 reviews in November. Two were on sites other than HonestGamers, and the remaining 14 are exclusives you won't find anywhere else but HonestGamers. So yeah, I had a busy month. Below are links to those reviews, along with a little description of the story behind each one.
Trauma Center: New Blood (WII)
If you look online, you'll find several negative reviews for this game from high-profile sites. If you read those reviews, you'll see talk about how the difficulty broke their spirits, how the game is a nightmare and so forth. Well, it IS brutally difficult. I had a lot of trouble with the DS version of the first (the Wii port simplified things and felt more intuitive), and this was the first Wii-exclusive entry in the series. Aside from its difficulty, it's pretty much perfect. And as I see it, a little difficulty (or a lot, in this case) isn't always a bad thing. This game isn't good for the casual players that will likely pick it up, but for the hardcore ones it's a real treat and one of the most rewarding games of its type on ANY system. That made it difficult to rate, but I came down on the side of 8.
LUXOR: Pharaoh's Challenge (PS2)
Someone has to review casual games, and this time that someone was me. I was interested in LUXOR, since it looked a lot like Magnetica for the DS (which I like). In some ways, Magnetica remains the better game, but as a $20 bit of software, LUXOR: Pharaoh's Wrath is a solid investment for puzzle fans and should last them a long while.
Time Crisis 4 (PS3)
Light gun games are awesome but they've traditionally been out of my budget. That's still true, but I had the chance to get this one free so I did. Now I have a light gun, so any future releases on the PS3 won't be too costly for me. Hopefully, they actually come. I have my doubts that they will. In any event, I really enjoyed the 'Arcade' mode of this game, but the story campaign shares far too much in common with dog crap for my liking.
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)
Hardcore Gamer Magazine did a write-up on this that really caught my eye, so I was anxious to play one of the top PS3 titles of the year, plus Naughty Dog has a fantastic track record. After playing through it, I can safely say that Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is one of their top projects to date. It's just an incredible experience. I only gave it an 8 because it does fall victim to some of the same flaws other really good games do--a few annoying areas detract from the whole experience, plus there IS a lot of shooting and not so much in the way of pleasant diversions--but this is a must-play for any PS3 owner and the most compelling reason yet to give the system a look. Sony is building up a huge library of really good exclusives that just aren't quite system sellers, and this is the pick of the litter.
Strawberry Shortcake: The Four Seasons Cake (DS)
Shin'en can sometimes make really great games, even if it does stick to children's licenses most of the time. This isn't one of the developer's best efforts, but it's a solid game that should appeal to younger kids... who will probably have trouble finishing it, since it can get more challenging toward the end. I know that kids can theoretically mop the floor with us older gamers since they have so much time to play games, but that's mostly the males of the species. The little girls this game is aimed for are more likely to find a tough spot in the game, shrug, then go play 'tea party' with their dolls.
Assassin's Creed (X360)
I had been watching this game for most of a year, thanks to IGN's regular coverage. When I asked Ubisoft to send it, I anticipated disappointment. Instead, I got a notice that it was on its way. When it arrived, I dove into it as soon as I my other obligations let me, and I had a heck of a time. I did find that things were getting redundant, though. Penny-Arcade wrote that if you take the time to finish every objective along the way, the game suddenly becomes better. I found the complete opposite to be the case. I don't care how much time you have; running around the environment searching in every corner for a useless flag is not going to thrill you. Still, it's a great game. Even when you're sick of some task, you'll probably be stunned by how excellently it is presented. I highly recommend this game. And since it's an Ubisoft title and is bound to eventually drop to $30, there's no reason it shouldn't eventually be in your library of games if you like action titles at all.
Rayman: Raving Rabbids 2 (WII)
I really liked the first Rayman: Raving Rabbids, so when I saw that the second was coming, I asked Ubisoft to send it along with Assassin's Creed. They did. I've since read other reviews that score this game lower than I did, most of them. I'm really not sure why. Theoretically, the first one was 'new and exciting,' but now the same gameplay that people liked the first time around is no longer good? To me, it still is. Not only that, but Ubisoft really went the extra mile with the FPS bits, which are a hoot (even if they drag on a bit). The mini-games are a riot, too. I was playing this with my brother-in-law after posting the review, and we couldn't stop laughing.
Build-A-Bear Workshop (DS)
This is one of those games that just showed up uninvited. It's not even really so much a game as it is a 'pet' simulator, only the pet is a teddy bear. When I played through the game, I kept getting flashbacks to all the fun little games kids play when they're bored, and the presentation was really solid. I gave this game a pretty solid score because it really deserves it. If you have an 8-year-old or whatever, this is the perfect title for him or her and should last a good long while because of the customization options and fun mini-games, plus it's not violent. All around, it's a much better game than you might suppose (though it's not even remotely appropriate for hardcore gamers).
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (X360)
As press, I was invited to the multi-player beta for this game. I was thrilled, because I'd wanted to play it since the first videos surfaced. I had a blast then, and I had a blast when it finally showed up and I got to play through the single-player campaign. The training area recommended that I run through the game on the lowest difficulty level, but I didn't. I ramped up the difficulty a bit to keep my pride intact, then had a fun trip through the game. It's a short trip, but wow is it fantastic! Then I went online, and even though I played around 20 hours in the beta, I've played that many again in the final version, as well. I kind of feel like playing it right now, but alas, I have other games I'm obligated to play. When I'm done with those, though... Anyway, of all the games I've actually played this year (still haven't played Galaxy, sadly), this would easily be my pick for "Game of the Year." There's just no question.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Zombie Ninja Pro-Am (PS2)
I'd barely seen the cartoon at all before playing this one, but I liked the idea of cart racing, golf and action all rolled into one delightful package. Unfortunately, that's not what I got, even if the ads seemed to promise it. Instead, it's almost exclusively a golf game, with plodding segments between each swipe at the ball that are theoretically action but more like tedium. The driving bits are pretty freaking bad, too. Still, there's no denying the game's unique sense of humor. And you get to watch four episodes of the show, uncut, so that's a treat if you haven't seen them.
THQ sent two versions of this game: PS3 and Xbox 360. I kept the PS3 version and played through it in a few short hours. It was a fun game but I wasn't terribly disappointed when it ended so soon. Nice graphics in places, killer boss battles (the best part of the game) and a character I wanted to strangle. I guess I'm not a Ron Perlman fan. Anyway, the Xbox 360 version went out to zigfried and seems to be lost in the mail. If it ever arrives, look for an opinion on that edition from him.
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP)
I loved the first Disgaea, and this port is about as perfect as you can imagine a port ever being on the PSP. It even adds extra content. Most of my time with this release was spent with that new content, which took me around 20 hours to clear all by itself! It was nuts, and quite difficult in places. It only reminded me why Disgaea is such a great game, though. If you haven't already played it, this might just be the PSP's best release of the year!
Tony Hawk's Proving Ground (X360)
I really like the THPS games, so I had really high hopes for this one (especially after Tony Hawk's Project 8 was so good). Unfortunately, I was in for a crushing disappointment. This is a convoluted mess with barely any focus on skating, and even that has been butchered. The Skate franchise is looking better all the time. There's still hope for Tony Hawk's franhise, but at this point it does look like Project 8 may be its last worthwhile entry.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (XLA) (X360)
I had heard a lot of good things about this game, so I finally got to try the Xbox 360 version... and promptly became addicted. I played it several nights into the early morning hours (to my wife's chagrin) and had a lot of fun most of the time. I eventually even beat the single-player mode. Online was a wasteland with pretty much no competition, but that's not the game's fault. Anyway, this is a great download and you should pick it up if you don't have a DS on which to play it (of the two handheld versions, it's widely reported that the game works best on the DS). What you hear about this one being addictive is true.
In case you wondered, those other two reviews for other sites that I mentioned were Victorious Boxers Revolution for realmofgaming.com and Cooking Mama 2 for GamesRadar.com. Pup has reviewed both of those here, and did a darn fine job.
After posting 16 reviews in one month, I have two words: "Never again." You'll almost never even see me hit double digits from here on out, I figure. I plan to spend a lot more time on behind-the-scenes stuff like game database work, screenshots, movies and news stories. I'll still review, of course, but I'm going to take it a bit easier. Don't want burnout!
|Most recent blog posts from Jason Venter...|
|Felix_Arabia - December 01, 2007 (08:14 PM)
During Christmas of 2008, not 2007, you're going to see the 12 days of Felix, where I will sub a grand total of 78 reviews all over the course of 12 days.
|pup - December 01, 2007 (09:55 PM)
Editing and submitting the rest of your backlog or something?
|Felix_Arabia - December 02, 2007 (12:27 AM)
No man, the idea is that they're all new.
I sub one on day one, two on day two . . . twelve on day twelve. It's not going to happen because that would require a lot of planning, playing, and writing. You wouldn't see me sub a review for a whole year.
Jason's all into subbing a ton of reviews, though.