Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, a puzzle-platformer developed by Oddworld Inhabitants, was released in 1997 for the PlayStation and PC. It uses pre-rendered graphics for its backgrounds and sprites, and has a large list of actions that can be taken by the player, including making the player character speak.
I remember playing the demo of this game at Toys'R'Us, and being impressed by its graphics and gameplay features, as well as the odd feeling of it all.
Oddworld is now available through Steam for play on the PC, and that's where I got the copy I'll be playing. Although it can be played with the keyboard, I will be using a gamepad because I find it very cumbersome to use a keyboard to play a game designed for a controller.
Back in the day, Lucasarts made good games. They made point-and-click adventures, some of the best ever. One thing their adventures were famous for was an odd sense of humor.
Secret of Monkey Island was Lucasarts' first humor game. I've always wanted to play it, so when they repackaged it with new graphics and voice acting, I jumped on it.
I played the first hour for review, and well, I couldn't stop playing: I beat the whole game in the next couple of days. I think that says enough about the first hour experience. Here's the full review.
Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is a repackaging of Secret of Monkey Island. It follows the story of Guybrush Threepwood, a young man who wants nothing more than to sail the high seas, pillaging and plundering, looting and.... well he wants to be a pirate. He starts off on Melee Island to talk to the Pirate Leaders in order to join them. They set him off with three seemingly impossible tasks to accomplish. Along the way he might just fall in love, confront a ghost pirate, and slide down a cable on a rubber-chicken-with-a-pulley-in-the-middle.
I used to call it one of my favorite games of all-time, I'm honestly not sure where it falls now since I've only played it once, and that game started 10 years ago. Final Fantasy VIII was released on September 9th, 1999, Sony's answer to the Sega Dreamcast North American release on the same day. I plowed through it in epic sessions of high school gaming, finishing it less than a month later after 60+ hours of gaming. While I'm a huge fan of the Dreamcast and will probably dig mine out over the next few days to honor its 10th anniversary also, Final Fantasy VIII just clicked with me. I'm not going to get into Final Fantasy VII versus VIII or anything, save that for some forums, I will, however, get into the first hour of Final Fantasy VIII shortly.
Well, I said I wouldn't get into FF7, but that game had a great first hour! Especially for a Japanese role-playing game that usually spends more time explaining the intricacies of the turn-based battle system than actually being, you know... fun. So it's been a while since I started a new game in Final Fantasy VIII, I remember the great opening video, and that's about it. So here's the setting: it's 1999, the sequel to one of the most popular games ever is now in your hands, and you're about to make the decision to either sign the next month away to it, or try to recover some of your cash at EB Games. So let's play the first hour of Final Fantasy VIII and make our decision.
Call of Duty: World at War is the fifth Call of Duty game as the series once again, goes back to World War II. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was simply one of the most amazing games I've ever played, and I awarded it the first perfect score for a first hour review ever (I don't give numerical scores anymore, but I'll let you all know if I play one better). World at War was released in 2008 on all modern consoles and the PC and uses a modified version of the Modern Warfare engine. I will be playing the Windows version.
I was a bit disappointed to hear that Activision chose to set their latest during World War II, since the technology in Modern Warfare is part of what made the game so great. I wasn't planning to play the game, but I received a free copy with my graphics card, so how could I refuse to play at least the first hour of it? Of course, the multiplayer portion of the Call of Duty series is undoubtedly one of the more popular aspects, but I will be limiting my time to the single player campaign.
Tomorrow marks the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II. Let us hope there is never another one like it.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is an action RPG released for the Xbox and Windows in 2003. Before KotOR, Star Wars games had plenty of success in the action genre, but had never ventured far beyond the standard platformer, space sim, or shooter. BioWare changed all that with Knights, and in the process kicked off their own line of very successful console-first RPGs. Many fans would call this an incredible amalgamation of LucasArts and BioWare, of Star Wars and Western RPGs. I'll save my judgement for after I save (or destroy?) the galaxy.
I played the game a bit during college when it first came out, but never got into the "series" until Jade Empire and then later Mass Effect. Since I'm experienced with their newer games, it will be very interesting to see how they evolved since Star Wars. Let's get into the first hour of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Hitman: Blood Money is a stealth action game for the Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Windows. It's the fourth game in the Hitman series and the last to come out. I will admit, I was influenced in playing this game after seeing the movie. I think that is probably the first time a film adaptation has done that, pretty special considering that's one of their main reasons for existence. I had never played a Hitman game before, and I will admit, I really enjoyed it. It's almost a sandbox game considering everything you can do, and no two gamers will play it the same way. What's nice about Blood Money is that someone without any experience with the series can come in and enjoy it. So maybe this review will convince you to check out the game like the movie did for me.
I wrote up a first hour review of the game a few weeks ago, check it out if you're interested.
Remember the old days when video game were hard? Back in the NES days of Mega-Man, Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and the like? These games were all about skill, requiring split-second timing, precision button presses, acute pattern memorization, and that was just to get past the first level!
More recently, game developers cater to a broader audience and make games that are so easy we could beat them in our sleep. There's no challenge, no thrill of achievement, no bragging rights... hey ya dern kids, get off my lawn!
Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly set out to change that with I Wanna Be The Guy, which is available for free download to play on Windows. It's a throwback to the days when video games were difficult. It's in the style of an 8-bit action platformer, and it's hard. How hard? Let's find out.
Note: It will be of use to inform you of my process of writing this review. I made an audio recording of myself narrating as I played the game, then listened to it and wrote the review based on that recording. I noticed some strange things towards the end of the hour because of this. Read on:
BioShock is a first-person shooter released in 2007 for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Many moons back, I reviewed the first hour of BioShock in a series of Xbox 360 reviews I did while borrowing my friend's system. I enjoyed the game immensely, but sadly, it was the one game I borrowed that I didn't beat (I even wasted my time playing all the way through Assassin's Creed). I'm not sure why I didn't choose to play through it, though I think I was actually scared. BioShock is a dystopian game set underwater with tons of crazed lunatics running around with masks on, not to mention its the spiritual successor to System Shock 2, considered one of the scariest games of all time by fans. So my wits got the better of me and I set it aside until now, and with my own Xbox 360 on the shelf and a copy of BioShock in my hand, I headed back into Rapture.
Waiting to play it was probably the best possible outcome, however. Late last year, I read Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. When I first played BioShock, I had no idea who Rand was, what Objectivism is, and what any of that has to do with a first-person shooter. Well, now I've done my reading and I can honestly say I understand everything marginally more than I would have if I hadn't read the books. Anyways, I can definitely sense that BioShock is far more ambitious than just being a unique shooter with plasmids and great physics.
Here's my full review of BioShock for the Xbox 360.
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 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.