Full Reviews

Full game reviews as we beat them, there will be a balance of both new and old games reviewed. We review the basics of the game and deliver scores in a few categories and an overall score out of 10.

  • Plants vs. Zombies

    Full Review

    Plants vs Zombies CoverFew games on the iOS platform get me excited. There's just such a surplus of bad that even when you hear about Super Popular Game X, you wonder if the masses are just falling for more of the same. When Plants vs. Zombies was announced early this year as a port of the PC/Mac release, I didn't think twice about picking it up. The $3 price tag didn't even make me think twice.

    I had watched my brother in law play the full version on his Mac last year, and was intrigued by its porch defense gameplay. I had never even played a tower defense game before Plants vs. Zombies. A genre virgin so to speak. It was easy to see without even playing it why the game was so popular. The zombies would walk slowly from right to left and it's your job to fend them off with some bizarre garden variety plants.

    This review will just be on the iOS version (played on a second generation iPod Touch). I have no experience with any other version (though I'm secretly planning to replay it on the Nintendo DS).

  • Alan Wake

    Full Review

    Alan Wake CoverAlan Wake has been a long time coming. After Max Payne 2 released in 2003, Remedy has used the majority of their resources for this game. Originally announced in 2005, it has naturally undergone significant revisions. Once a freeroaming affair, Alan Wake is now almost entirely linear. Instead of releasing on consoles and PC, Remedy ended up partnering with Microsoft for an exclusive 360 release. As one would expect from a partnership, the game got bigger and bigger and eventually ended up being a high-profile, big-budget release when it finally hit in May 2010. Such a big game for a small company would carry with it many risks and increasingly impatient onlookers. Is the survival-horror tale worth the wait in the end? Is the Alan Wake concept still relevant and contemporary enough several years later? Most importantly, is the game good and does it work? Let's take a dive into the darkness...

  • Infinite Space

    Full Review

    Infinite Space CoverThere is no reason I should have enjoyed Infinite Space.

    Infinite Space is a 60 hour Japanese RPG released on the Nintendo DS earlier this year. This is exactly the kind of game I didn’t want to play anymore, but somehow found myself drawn into. I played, and I played, and I played some more until the end credits ran. Then I closed my DS and smiled.

    It’s hard to quickly describe Infinite Space. Yes, it’s an RPG in space, which means lots of dialogue and battles. And yes, it was developed by a Japanese studio, called Nude Maker nonetheless (and slightly more amazing, published by Sega, who seemingly haven’t had a successful game in ages). I’ve had a recent aversion to JRPGs (which I documented extensively in April), but looking back, Infinite Space isn’t very Japanesey. The character art is drawn in the distinctive manga style, and there are random battles, but that’s about it. The story is actually comprehensible, and while heavy on the politics at times, features many identifiable and memorable characters.

    Infinite Space is also kind of the epitome of what the First Hour is all about. It's a super long game that got the thumbs up after an hour from Paul Eastwood. I took his advice and went all the way.

  • Dragon Age: Origins

    Full Review

    Dragon age Origins CoverSince I built my new PC in October, I've been playing games that I had not had a chance to in quite some time. My brother in law had come into ownership of a few games I had really wanted to play, and while in the mess of mediocrity, one game stood out as a gem that ended up sucking my time away. That game was Dragon Age: Origins.

    Let me begin this review by saying I am a big fan of Bioware fantasy RPGs. I loved Baldurs Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights. I love the DND based RPGs. These types of games, these fantasy RPGs with choices are fantastic and end up taking hours away.

    However, despite me loving these past titles, I never finished a single one. I always ended up failing to complete the main story line, so when I installed Dragon Age, I was worried I wouldn't finish it.

    Dragon Age: Origins was released by Bioware, the makers of Mass Effect, on November 3rd, 2009. It was well received, and it was announced months ago that Dragon Age 2 would be released in March, 2011. It's the first time Bioware has made a fantasy RPG that does not include DND rules. Many people were upset at this, but honestly, the DND elements are still there. You can still intimidate or persuade folks, or randomly kill them in conversation, making for some hilarious conversations.

  • Kirby's Epic Yarn

    Full Review

    Kirbys Epic Yarn CoverAttendees of the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo were witness to many exciting announcements on June 15th during Nintendo’s press conference—one of them being the highly awaited return of Kirby to home consoles. This would mark Kirby’s first appearance on a home console since 2003’s Kirby Air Ride for the Gamecube, and his first platforming adventure since 2000’s Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. It clearly had a lot to live up to. But alongside roaring applause, the announcement was met with many raised eyebrows regarding our pink hero’s return—for he had undergone a change the likes of which a Nintendo mascot hasn’t seen since Paper Mario. Kirby was made of yarn. Yes, yarn. And his new game, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, would see him battle across a world of felt and fabric against a new foe, and with a new friend. Nevertheless, everyone was excited and anxiously awaiting its release. So, did Nintendo weave the world a masterpiece (yes, I just said that)?

    Editor's Note: If you're interested to see how Kirby's Epic Yarn starts, check out Nate's first hour review of the game (and his overall conclusions at the end of the article).

  • Penumbra: Overture

    Full Review

    Penumbra Overture CoverAtmosphere. Danger. Environment. Expectation. These words are integral to any sort of horror-based media, and yet many have seemingly forgotten all about the reasons behind fear and instead rely on cheap tactics to do the job. Penumbra: Overture shows a much more sophisticated ability to keep players on edge without relying on grotesque visuals and cheap 'jump moments' to elicit responses. I was particularly curious as to how this game could effect me since I'm not easily frightened and cheap attempts at fear usually seem more humorous than scary. And overall, the game does a fairly good job at its goals. Let me explain.

    Overture almost takes advantage of those modern media shortcuts to create a fully engrossing experience with the capability to be legitimately frightening. As a response to these movies, shows, and games, your mind now expects something to happen when you travel down a dark hallway, into a new room, or when encountering an enemy. Instead, nothing typically happens in Penumbra. In fact, very little "happens" throughout the whole game. Almost all of the happenings and story events involve Phillip sorting out the past of his forgotten surroundings instead of building the story himself or primarily creating a story. At heart, Overture is a first-person adventure game, with the atmosphere as really the only major demarker to the survival-horror tag. I can recall only a handful of actual "events" Phillip was directly involved in. And yet this feels perfectly fine in the context of the game.

  • Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

    Full Review

    sin and Punishment Star Successor CoverThe original Sin & Punishment was released in late 2000 for the N64. Due to developer Treasure's cancellation of its North American release, the game never made it outside of Japan until its rerelease for the Wii's Virtual Console seven years later. Its success, combined with the prospect of creating an all new experience utilizing the Wii's motion controls prompted the Treasure team to make a sequel; Sin & Punishment: Star Successor.

    Control in Star Successor is done via the Wii Remote and Nunchuck by default. Motion controls are implemented perfectly, allowing for smooth, precise targeting, though I found my wrist getting strained after long periods (there's a joke in there somewhere). You can also use the Classic Controller, GameCube Controller, or Wii Zapper, but I feel the standard setup works best.

    Editor's Note: Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is Jonathan's second review here at The First Hour. This review was previously posted at IGN and Destructoid. Nate has previously written a first hour review of the game also.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog 4 - Episode 1

    Full Review

    Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 CoverThe gaming world first learned of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 back in September of 2009, under the code name “Project Needlemouse”. Sega declared a return to the franchise’s 2D roots, promising the Sonic game old-school fans have been anxiously awaiting for years. Well, there’s no doubt that if you spent the better part of your Saturday mornings as a child dashing through shuttle loops, this is definitely the Sonic game for you.

    Sonic 4 picks up where the blue blur left off 16 years ago in Sonic & Knuckles, for the Sega Genesis. Dr. Eggman (or Robotnik, if you prefer) is up to his old tricks, and it’s up to none other than the fastest thing alive, Sonic the Hedgehog, to stop him; chasing the evil scientist through 4 zones (3 acts each, plus a boss battle) before a final showdown against the doctor’s ultimate creation...

    Editor's Note: Jonathan is a brand new writer and contributer to The First Hour. Please welcome him! This review was originally posted at IGN.

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

    Full Review

    Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 CoverRemember that big game from late last year? The one with all the controversy where you shot civilians in an airport, defended America's cities against direct attack, and weren't allowed to run your own multiplayer dedicated server? Yeah, that one. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. In my circle of gaming friends this game came and went. I beat it and pretty much put it away for good. Apparently it is still really popular though, and I like to keep track of every game I beat now, so I present my full review of Modern Warfare 2.

    The game was released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows, and is the direct sequel to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, a game that features what I believe to be one of the best first hours I have ever played (so good, in fact, that I went on to beat the game in one sitting). The game as a whole was also very good, so I had high expectations for Modern Warfare 2. The first hour of it was impressive and pressed me to play on (but across multiple sittings this time), but in the end, it wasn't able to hold my attention as much as the original.

    Here's my impression on the single player campaign, I did not play enough multiplayer to properly grade or judge it, in my opinion.

  • Game Dev Story

    Full Review

    Game dev Story CoverI’ve played a few iOS games this year, mostly just picked stuff up from word of mouth or something a friend developed. I started hearing about this little simulation title called Game Dev Story, and after reading up on the premise and reading about some crazy sounding experiences on Twitter, I had to check it out.

    In a way, it’s basically in the genre of games my wife loves on her iPod Touch: the simple yet addictive management simulator. She loves Sally’s Spa and Diner Dash (and I’ll admit, I tried them both out and while I could easily recognize why someone would like them, they quickly became stale), and on the surface, Game Dev Story isn’t much different.

    But it is different, and that’s why I’m bothering to write about it. Warning: Game Dev Story is extremely addictive, deep, and funny. Read on for my review.

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