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Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Guest First Hour Review

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars CoverGrand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is Rockstar's first game for the Nintendo DS and it joins the ranks as one of the few Mature rated titles for the handheld. Developed by Rockstar Leeds, the creators of the PSP GTA games, Chinatown Wars was one of Nintendo's biggest announcements at last year's E3. After the massive scope of the console GTA games, many wondered if the DS could accurately duplicate the experience. If Rockstar can pull it off, prepare to hear pleas for a GTA Wii for many months to come.

This first hour guest review was written by my good friend Grant. I never knew he was a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series so this was quite a surprise when he submitted the review to me. If you're interested in writing for the First Hour in this style or your own, send me an email. Let's get to the first hour of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

First Hour Review

Lost Planet CoverLost Planet: Extreme Condition is a 2007 third-person shooter for the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3. You control an amnesiac soldier named Wayne on the frigid planet E.D.N. III. Earth has supposedly been devastated from its own problems so humans decided to head out into the galaxy and find a new planet to mess around with. E.D.N. III must have been the only semi-habitable planet they found because there's no way they would have picked this world if they had known better. It has an average temperature of -100 degrees and is filled with horrible, nasty, giant bug monsters.

The game's creator, Keiji Inafune, has an absolute crazy gaming history. The guy helped design Mega Man, worked on the original Street Fighter, and has produced every major Onimusha game. Don't forget that he also worked on Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, one of the best side-scrollers ever. But how did he end up writing a game like Lost Planet? Turns out he used The Thing, the classic John Carpenter movie as inspiration. Not a bad place to start. Neither is the first hour of a video game, so let's get into Lost Planet: Extreme Condition's.

World of Goo

First Hour Review

World of Goo CoverWorld of Goo is a 2D puzzle game for the PC, Mac, Linux, and WiiWare released last year. It was independently made by 2D-Boy and has been a huge hit across the board. The goal of the game is to get the required number of goo balls into each level's pipe. You use the goos to build bridges, towers, and anything else you can imagine and construct. The game's impressive physics are really its highlight, but it doesn't slack in any other areas either.

World of Goo is available in a box, as a direct download, and even over Steam. As you'll see, this game's first hour is so good you'll want to go right out and buy a copy, so don't complain when you can't find it anywhere!

Braid

First Hour Review

Braid CoverBraid is a time-manipulating 2D platformer for the Xbox Live Arcade. You control Tim, a young man trying to get the girl back that he lost... or is he? Either way, the game was independently made by Jonathon Blow and released last year to quite a bit of acclaim. Hailed for its extremely original platforming experience, Braid was the first game I bought for my Xbox 360 after I got it. This is the my experience at playing Braid's first hour for the first time.

February is First Hour's unofficial indy game month, and Braid is just the first of four straight independently made games featured.

Aladdin

First Hour Review

Aladdin CoverAladdin for the Sega Genesis was released in 1993 about a year after the film was in the theaters. It was created by the same team that would go on to make Earthworm Jim and features animations drawn by Disney animators. The game was released on a wide range of systems, but the Super Nintendo Aladdin was actually an entirely different game created by Capcom. For all these years I asssumed it was Nintendo's infamous censorship at work because you couldn't use a sword like on the Genesis, but it was simply a different game under the same name (though I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo still had a hand in swordless Aladdin).

I reviewed the first hour of Lion King back in March and did not have a good experience. Considering both Aladdin and The Lion King were both developed by Virgin Interactive, could I possibly have a similar first hour? Let's get into it.

Pilotwings 64

First Hour Review

Pilotwings 64 CoverPilotwings 64 is a flight simulator and one of the original launch games for the Nintendo 64. The game doesn't feature any standard flight simulator vehicles such as fighter planes or a Cessna single-engine, but more unique craft like the gyrocopter and hang glider. There is a lot of interaction with the environments such as photographing landmarks and even some battle-themed stages pitting you against giant robots. The game was really overlooked when it was released even though there was only one other Nintendo 64 game available at the time, but of course, that game was none other than Super Mario 64. Let's take a look at the first hour of the other launch title, Pilotwings 64.

Bioshock

First Hour Review

Bioshock CoverBioShock was widely heralded as the 2007 game of the year. I always pay close attention to games labeled as such because they're generally important to video game history and have great influence on the industry. BioShock seems like it will be no exception. It's a first-person shooter for the PC and Xbox 360 and is set on the dystopian underwater city called Rapture. Our hero unwittingly arrives there and must uncover Rapture's dark secrets while staying alive. Rapture was built by Andrew Ryan, an Objectivist who attempts to fulfill his dream society under the sea. Things obviously don't go smoothly.

BioShock has sold millions, won a ton of awards, and probably has a ton of sequels on the way. But how does the first hour of it fare? Let's dive into BioShock and experience Rapture.

Mass Effect

First Hour Review

Mass Effect CoverMass Effect is an action role-playing game for the Xbox 360. It was recently released in November and has received many great reviews and accolades since then. Of course, this doesn't always mean I will like it, but I have high hopes for it as it comes from a distinguished line of video games (notably Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire). Mass Effect takes place in the future after humans find out they're not alone in the universe and end up joining in a peaceful truce with many other powerful alien races. The human race has to deal with brand new styles of diplomacy and communication, but have also benefited from an influx of advanced technology. The concept of mass effect itself is similar to "the force" from Star Wars, but more grounded in technology and physics. It basically allows control over dark energy that species can take advantage of through the use of biotic implants and training.

For my review on the whole game, please see my Mass Effect review at Beyond the First Hour.

I'm starting 2008 (and Day 2 of reviews) where I left off with 2007: a new Xbox 360 game. And I'm actually really excited to be able to play Mass Effect finally (I've been borrowing a friend's 360 for about a month now, and have wanted to play this game more than any other, I even read the prequel book). Let's just hope my self-built hype for this game doesn't implode on itself, but from everything I've heard, I don't think it will. I'd like to quickly apologize for the choice of screenshots, they don't really fit the text but they are neat to look at! Now let's get started with Day 2 of The First Hour and my review of Mass Effect.

Psychonauts

First Hour Review

Psychonauts CoverPsychonauts is a multiplatform adventure game from the creative mind of Tim Schafer, creator of some of my favorite games: Monkey Island, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango. Up until recently, I had never played Psychonauts, call me cheap or call me foolish, but it's the sad truth. Times have changed though and Psychonauts is now a free game at Gametap through the end of the year! That did it for me and now I've been suckered into downloading Gametap and Psychonauts to my PC for the low price of free. Not a bad deal.

A little more on Psychonauts, it was released in 2005 to relatively lackluster sales but has since gathered a seemingly rabid fanbase. It has also been released on pretty much every digital distribution method including Steam, Xbox Live, and of course, Gametap. There aren't a lot of developers out there who are brave (or stupid) enough to make a "funny game," but Tim Schafer has the quality resume, so let's see if the first hour of Psychonauts lives up to his predecessors.

For my shorter review on the whole game, please see my Psychonauts review at Beyond the First Hour.

Portal

First Hour Review

Portal CoverPortal is just one game in Valve's newest release, The Orange Box. The Orange Box is a collection of a few different games but Portal is definitely the one that intrigued me the most. The concept of the game is that it is basically a first-person puzzle game that uses a special gun to navigate the areas. This special gun is the portal gun, which allows you to create a blue portal and an orange portal. You can place these portals on most surfaces and then walk/fall/hurtle yourself through it and you'll end up on the other side. Lots of cool things can be done with this and I'll try to explore its many possibilities in my first hour review.

Portal was actually based off a senior project called Narbacular Drop. From the sounds of it, Valve basically hired everyone on this project to help them create Portal! Not a bad turn of events. Oh, and you're probably thinking: "Portal is a brand new game! How is it possible you're reviewing it already!" It's true I don't normally review such brand-spanking new games, but I couldn't pass this one up! Enjoy this rare, new game review!

For my shorter review on the whole game, please see my Portal review at Beyond the First Hour.

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