First Hour Reviews

  • Borderlands

    First Hour Review

    Borderlands CoverWhen I first heard about Borderlands, I somehow just knew it was going to be a game that I would like.  I don’t know how I knew, I just knew.  It reminds me of the days when I was 12 years old and shopped for video games by looking at the pictures on the back of the game box in the toy store so long ago.  I don’t know how it worked, but I could look at those 2 or 3 screenshots and read that lonely paragraph and know with certainty if I would like the game or not.  Just like shopping in the toy store years ago, I actually knew very little about the details of Borderlands.  I knew it was an FPS, and I had heard it had RPG elements. I had read a story on Kotaku that discussed a drastic shift from “realistic” graphics to a more “cartoony” cell shaded design.  There was little else I could tell you about the game.  But somehow, I wanted it. 

    So, I added it to my mental list of games to play without too much thought. I wasn’t in a big hurry, simply because I’m generally pretty patient about getting games.  This allows me to scoop up great deals from the Target clearance game shelf.  As Greg, purveyor of First Hour, noted in a recent conversation on LIVE, I’m a person who often likes games that other people don’t.  Well, I’m also a person who loves to get a bargain and both traits suit me well for the clearance shelf.  If I wait that first month to buy a game and it’s a critical and commercial failure, there’s a good chance it will see 50% off on the Target clearance shelf. It wasn’t long before I realized that Borderlands would not be one of those games.  Apparently, people were liking it. Good for the developers and bad for my wallet.  This only fueled my desire to play the game sooner rather than later. I finally found a Sunday ad with the game on sale for $39.99 and decided it was fate.  You’re about to read the first hour of what fate decided was a game I must play.

  • Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter

    First Hour Review

    Serious sam hd the First Encounter CoverSerious Sam HD: The First Encounter is a recent remake of the fps classic, Serious Sam, both developed by Croteam. While I own the original Serious Sam Second Encounter, I really never played it, being somewhat put-off by the seemingly cheesy nature and waves of ugly enemies. But I recently got the update fairly cheap and decided to give it another shot. After quickly running through the demo level, I start the actual game here, so here we go... and if you wish, you can follow along with the youtube playlist.

  • Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

    First Hour Review

    Super Ghouls n Ghosts CoverSuper Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a game I knew very little about. When I was about eight years old, a few of my friends said it was "the destroyer of worlds." Not just difficult, but impossible. None of my friends could progress very far, and as an eight year old, I wanted to prove to them that I was superior. Unfortunately, none of them would lend it to me, and I never really had the money to buy it and every time I went to the video store to rent it, it was always out. I don't know if it was just that popular, or if they lost it. I'm guessing the latter.

    Now, I understand that it was made in 1991 by Capcom. It’s been ported to a bunch of different gaming platforms including the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable and Virtual Console on the Wii. 

    It is the sequel to Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and also loosely related to Demon's Crest. I've played games like Contra and got pretty far before hitting a mark that was impassable for me, even at the wee ages of nine. So I figured… how hard can this game be?  Here's the first hour of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts.

  • Armada

    First Hour Review

    Armada CoverTime for a first hour review/chance to test out my capture card abilities. Today I'll be playing Armada, a Dreamcast game semi-randomly selected from those in my possession that have not been previously played through. Well, I think I actually played a few minutes of it when I got it, but nothing I particularly remember and certainly nothing particularly substantial. All I really recall is that it seemed to be received fairly positively and was supposedly a fine multiplayer game. So anyway, let's try it out. If you want to follow along with the video playthrough, you can find it at my YouTube playlist.

  • Major League Baseball 2K10

    First Hour Review
    Mlb 2k10 Cover

    While I love baseball, I don't play a lot of baseball games anymore. The last baseball game I played was MVP Baseball 2005 from EA, and before that it was Major League Baseball featuring Ken Griffey Jr. I also grew up playing the Bases Loaded series and Base Wars on the NES along with a smattering of sims on the PC such as Earl Weaver Baseball. An erratic and interesting history, to say the least.

    So when 2K Sports offered me a review copy of their newest baseball iteration: Major League Baseball 2K10, I jumped at it. I really have very little idea how the baseball genre has evolved over the years, but I like the direction 2K10 is taking it. MLB 2K09 was generally panned by reviewers and let Sony's The Show really grab the spotlight. So developers Visual Concepts really had a lot to prove with 2K10, and while I'm not totally sold on the entire game yet, I do like the My Player mode.

    My Player mode is new to MLB 2K10, and let's you create a baseball player and guide him from AA baseball in the minor leagues to the Major Leagues and maybe eventually election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's curious that this feature is just being added to the series since The Show has featured this since the series was introduced in 2006, but I'm really glad it's there because it is all I've been playing. My Player mode only let's you play as the character you created, so games move quicker and you really feel like you're part of a team effort.

    This isn't going to be a typical first hour review where I play 60 minutes and describe the action, but instead I'm going to describe my experience of trying to make the Major Leagues. The road to the Show (sorry, can't help it) does take a few hours, but it is a unique and fun experience to someone who's picking up their first baseball video game in a while.

  • BioShock 2

    First Hour Review
    Bioshock 2 Cover

    In 2008, I played the first hour of BioShock and loved it. Last year, I beat it and declared BioShock as one of the best games I played all year. That's when I started reading up on the already announced BioShock 2 though. I honestly didn't see the point. BioShock was a perfectly contained game: the good guys won, the bad guys lost, and Rapture was left to crumble. Sequels are usually an easy sell, BioShock 2 was not.

    I wanted to give it a chance though, I never like to judge a game without playing it. But I will admit, things are a bit stacked against it. The original development team has moved on to something new, handing the reins to 2K Marin. While they worked on the PlayStation 3 port of BioShock, this is their first new game. You also play as a Big Daddy in BioShock 2, to me, this just screams one giant hand-holding game as you move from body to body with a Little Sister. Talk about one of the worst scenarios a game designer can put the player in.

    But let's have some hope here, this is BioShock. It features the same engine and the same world (the single best environment ever to appear in a video game), it's going to take a lot to mess this one up. So here we go, the first hour of BioShock 2 and our glorious return to Rapture. I'll be playing a review copy provided by 2K Games on the Xbox 360.

  • Odin Sphere

    First Hour Review
    Odin Sphere Cover

    If there’s ever a time to start completing your PlayStation 2 collection, now is that time. A bunch of solid PS2 titles are still being sold in the numerous brick and mortar businesses that like to hock videogames. Each one will most likely cost less than $20.00, and given the number of games filling bargain bins to the brim, there’s good reasoning to dig around.

    For example, Odin Sphere. A stylized, 2D action RPG based on Norse mythology from Atlus, it won’t win any "games as art" debates, but it could probably put up a decent fight for "games with great art." How will it play though? Let’s give it an hour.

  • Mass Effect 2

    First Hour Review
    Mass Effect 2 Cover

    Mass Effect 2. It is only the sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. It is only the biggest release so far in 2010, and might be for the entire year. It is only... Mass Effect 2.

    All right, I'll come back down to earth for a bit. I will admit, I am very excited for this game. I haven't been this hyped for a game since Majora's Mask. But I will try not to let it interfere with my duty as an amateur video game reviewer to answer the burning question: Would I keep playing? (spoilers: YES!)

    Mass Effect 2 is the latest science fiction action/shooter/RPG hybrid from BioWare. The game picks up a few years after the first Mass Effect closed with Commander Shepard still in the starring role. The original galaxy threat is still at large, but is taking a backseat to a much more pressing and immediate menace. One of the game's big features is the ability to import your Shepard from save files from the first game. This is one of the reasons I beat the original six different times with four different Shepards. Maybe a bit excessive, but I was just preparing myself for the full experience come January 26, 2010.

    So here we go, the first hour of Mass Effect 2. I will be creating a brand new character for the experience. If you're interested in checking out all of our other Mass Effect series content, we've got a ton of it.

  • Final Fantasy IV

    First Hour Review
    Final Fantasy 4 Cover

    Square's Final Fantasy IV was originally released in Japan on the Super Famicom in 1991 and was localized in the US as Final Fantasy II, since the previous two games weren't released in America.

    Final Fantasy IV changed the face of RPGs and set the standard for the name final Fantasy for years to come. The storytelling was unparalleled in video games and the amount of detail lavished on the game was staggering.

    For the 20th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series, Square-Enix remade FFIV in full 3D and released it on the DS in 2008, this time with the proper number in the title.

    I've never played the original Super NES version, so this will be my first encounter with Final Fantasy IV. Can it hold up in this day and age?

    Note: I considered reviewing this as a Half-Hour Handheld, but since it was originally released as a console game, I will go ahead and play it for the full hour.

  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

    First Hour Review
    Mario Luigi Bowsers Inside Story Cover

    The Mario & Luigi series has become one of the more interesting handheld exclusive franchises. Although heavily inspired by the console Mario RPG games, it has managed to make a name for itself with its unique battle system and comical dialogue. The series debuted on the Game Boy Advance with Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and continued on the DS with Partners in Time, which many regarded as inferior to the previous title. Developer AlphaDream brings us another entry with an off the wall premise and putting Bowser in the role of co-protagonist. First hour of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story incoming:

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