First Hour Reviews

  • Rogue Galaxy

    First Hour Review
    Rogue Galaxy Cover

    Rogue Galaxy is a 2006 Japanese role-playing game for the PlayStation 2. I was given this game about a year and a half ago and never got around to playing it. Well, the time has come to give it a go, so no better way to play it than to just try out the first hour. Role-playing games don't always fare that well on the First Hour, but there have been a few exceptions. I'm hoping that Rogue Galaxy can join that group. It features cel-shaded graphics and action-focused battles, which definitely brings up pleasant memories of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

    The game was developed by Level-5, most famous for their Dark Cloud series that was also very popular on the PlayStation 2. More recently, they created Professor Layton on the Nintendo DS, worked on the much-anticipated Dragon Quest IX, and developed White Knight Chronicles on the PlayStation 3. These guys have been mighty busy it seems. But for right now, let's focus on the first hour of Rogue Galaxy.

  • Battalion Wars

    Guest First Hour Review
    Battalion Wars Cover

    Battalion Wars is a GameCube exclusive real time strategy/action hybrid developed by the British second-party team Kuju and published by Nintendo. Real time strategy is a popular genre but has been mostly unsuccessful on consoles, due primarily to the lack of a mouse. Battalion Wars tries to solve this problem by introducing a new control scheme, as well as allowing the player direct control over any unit on the field at any time.

    Battalion Wars was initially announced as the console entry into the Advance Wars series, billed "Advance Wars: Under Fire," and later was spun into a new series. Did the new control scheme and 3rd person shooter mechanics bring the long-hoped-for innovation to console RTS games, or will this be a massive mess of mangled controls and muddled objectives? Only I know, and I'm going to tell you.

    Paul Eastwood returns with another action oriented game, if you like his style, check out his first hour reviews of Freedom Fighters and Enter the Matrix!

  • Mister Mosquito

    First Hour Review
    Mister Mosquito Cover

    Mister Mosquito is a 2002 PS2 action game where you play as a mosquito. I've played a couple of weird games at the First Hour, including The Haunting where you play as a poltergeist, Psychonauts starring a kid psychic, and Night Trap, where you play as... a security camera operator. But Mister Mosquito may take the cake. He may be the smallest hero ever to appear in a video game, and in a really weird way, gives off the aura of a creepy voyeur.

    The objective of Mister Mosquito is to fly around a Japanese family's house and suck their blood. As most people have had experience with mosquitoes sometime in their life, they know just how annoying these little buggers can be. Well, now's your chance to turn the table and be the annoying one. There's three family members and plenty of (exposed) skin to feast on, so let's get into the first hour of Mister Mosquito.

  • Hitman: Blood Money

    First Hour Review
    Hitman Blood Money Cover

    Hitman: Blood Money is a stealth, action game for the Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, and Windows. It was released in 2006 and is the fourth game in the Hitman series. I was actually convinced to buy this game after watching the Hitman movie a few months ago. Yes, video game movies are good for something, I guess. While the movie was okay, the concept of playing an open-ended assassination game more focused than something like Assassin's Creed seemed incredibly intriguing. By a recommendation from a friend, I decided to jump to the latest game in the series. Might as well exercise my Xbox 360.

  • NetHack

    First Hour Review
    Nethack Cover

    NetHack is a classic, Roguelike computer game infamous for its permanent death and complex gameplay. The free and open source game was released over 20 years ago in 1987 and the game is still in development. There's a huge community still playing NetHack, producing patches, and even forking the source to make new and wildly different games. The game has been ported to just about every platform known to man, and can be played online on any machine that has telnet. I could go on and on about the depth of its gameplay, challenging puzzles and enemies, or its ASCII graphics, but there are so many other resources which can do it better.

    NetHack is not the first Roguelike I've played at the First Hour, that would be Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer. Mystery Dungeon is a popular series in Japan that finally made it stateside last year. While death is not quite permanent, it's still a much bigger setback than in most games. Speaking of Roguelikes, if you've ever played Pokemon Mystery Dungeon or even ToeJam & Earl for the Sega Genesis, you've played a game in the genre. Being Roguelike can mean a lot more than ASCII graphics with vi-like controls.

  • Freedom Fighters

    Guest First Hour Review
    Freedom Fighters Cover

    Freedom Fighters is a third-person action game set in an alternate reality in which the Soviet Union became the world superpower after WWII. What sets it apart from other action games is the squad tactics: you can give orders to a number of other people, and must use them strategically to advance through the game. The more charisma you earn, the more people you can command.

    The game came out in 2003 for Xbox, PS2, GameCube and PC. I played the GameCube version.

    The story has the USSR invade the United States to "free it from a corrupt regime." You play as a guy from Brooklyn who sets out to make things right.

    Will squad tactics help this game rise above an ordinary action game, or will the first hour be mired in learning a complicated control scheme, enough to put off any player? Let's find out.

    Paul Eastwood delivers another great review just in time for the 4th of July! Enjoy!

  • Enter the Matrix

    Guest First Hour Review
    Enter The Matrix Cover

    Enter the Matrix is the video game tie-in with the film The Matrix Reloaded, the first of two sequels many fans were disappointed with. The video game does not allow you to replay events from the movie, rather you play as minor characters from the movie partaking in events that affect the outcome of the sequels. If I remember correctly this was kind of a big deal at the time (2003), but an even bigger deal is that the game was written by the Wachowski brothers, and contains live-action cutscenes with actors from the movie.

    So is Enter the Matrix just another movie tie-in game, a sub-par cash-in on a movie that might be considered the same, or did the Wachowskis' influence bring it to a new level, creating a new gameplay experience unlike any other? Well... we are about to find out. I will be playing the GameCube version.

    Greg Noe's Note: Paul Eastwood is a fan of the First Hour and volunteered to write this review, hopefully we'll hear more from him in the future. Hey, if he's brave enough to play Enter the Matrix, maybe he can tackle some of the other most awful video games of all time. I've personally played the game once, some random level in the middle of the game that I remember playing similar to Descent. It kept crashing on us when we clipped into walls. Somehow, Enter the Matrix managed to sell over five million copies. I consider the game a seminal moment in video game history: It was rushed to market and betrayed many gamers' trust in game publishers and movie tie-ins. Interesting to note, the game sits at around 70% on GameRankings, so either this game is unfairly panned universally, or the mainstream reviewers were afraid to give such a high profile game a really bad score.

    Back to Paul Eastwood's review of Enter the Matrix.

  • The Sims 3

    First Hour Review
    Sims 3 Cover

    The Sims 3 is the third game in the ultra-popular Sims series that has swept the globe over the last 10 years selling over 100 million copies and becoming the best-selling PC franchise of all time. The series has broken down all preconceived ideas of what a gamer is, appealing to all ages and genders. Some may call it a casual game because of this, but I would argue that there's nothing casual about balancing the lives of two adults and six babies in one household, heck, just ask my wife.

    This is the first Sims game not developed by Maxis, which was absorbed into the EA conglomerate some time ago. Supposedly, Maxis was working on Spore so they didn't have time for The Sims. Unfortunately, that game didn't have any of the Maxis Magic I've come to know and love over the last 20 years, so I think they've just been destroyed from within by Electronic Arts, too bad. Anyways, The Sims is back and hyped better than ever. Now you can walk around town without loading screens. That is either too good to be true or just a reminder of a feature that should have been part of Sims 2. Well, let's get into the first hour of The Sims 3 and see if it still has that Maxis Magic minus Maxis.

    Unfortunately I don't have any screenshots of my character as I was playing on my sister's laptop (which has coincidentally since died), enjoy the fancy images though.

  • Demon's Crest

    First Hour Review
    Demons Crest Cover

    Demon's Crest is a platformer for the Super Nintendo released in 1994. It's part of the Ghosts 'n Goblins/Ghouls 'n Ghosts series that has me seriously worried about my health for the next first hour. A couple of years ago, I played Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts as part of a contest and it has left me scarred for life. The number of times I died in that game is unholy. My only hope is that the heritage of Demon's Crest sounds a little more friendly, just check out the box cover for Gargoyle's Quest, the first game in the Gargoyle/Demon Quest/Crest sub-series.

    I have a pretty weird history with this game, back in 1998 I bought 20 Super Nintendo Games from a guy at school for $35. I hadn't even heard of most of the games but it seemed like a no brainer, 20 new games for the price of one? I gave every game I bought a shot - most sucked. The crappy games included Aaahhh!!! Real Monsters, Cybernator, Ballz, Metal Morph, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. There were a few gems, such as SimCity (which I lent to my cousin six years ago and never expect to see again) and Mega Man X. In the middle of all these was Demon's Crest. Well, I always assumed it was in the suck pile, but I found out a few months ago that the game was actually worth about $25 today, so I decided to sell it. I had only played it twice, each time I couldn't get out of the opening area. I'm honestly curious if the same will happen again today.

    So here's the first hour of Demon's Crest, the game's last hurrah before I mail it off to some guy who can actually appreciate this game.

  • Grand Theft Auto IV

    First Hour Review
    Grand Theft Auto 4 Cover

    Grand Theft Auto IV is the long awaited and critically acclaimed action-adventure game released last year on the Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows. It's the first major iteration of the series since Grand Theft Auto III and in just over a year has sold 11 million copies. A lot was riding on this game and it seems that Rockstar delivered, but I will judge that for myself.

    I've played almost all of the Grand Theft Auto games over the last few years, it's amazing how mainstream the series became after GTA III was released. Rockstar has since released the first two games for free for the PC and I reviewed the first hour of GTA 2 a year ago and my friend recently reviewed the first hour of Chinatown Wars (I also have a full review coming of the game in the next few days). Grand Theft Auto has swept the world by storm, so let's get into the latest monster, Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360.

Syndicate content