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Mass Effect 3

First Hour Review

Mass Effect 3 CoverSequels to your favorite games of all time don't come out very often, and the results are often mixed. Chrono Cross had me giddy for a while until eventual disappointment set in, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island was incredible and I love it more than the original, and Mass Effect 2 was a supreme success, a better game in almost every way than the first, but I still love Mass Effect more.

So here we are with Mass Effect 3. The first hour to the first two games were both great, each setting the tone and pace for the rest of their respective title. I'm excited to see where Mass Effect 3 will take us, was the demo from a few weeks back the opening, or does Bioware have something else in store? I don't think I've been this excited to play a game since, well, Mass Effect 2 came out. Heck, the last time I paid full price for a game was Mass Effect 2.

So let's just get right to it. I'm excited, honored, and extremely biased to present the first hour of Mass Effect 3.

The Blackwell Legacy

Indie Impression

Blackwell Legacy CoverWhen we were selecting games for our new Indie Impression column, variety was the most important factor. We've had a cartoony roguelike, fast-paced platformer, and a spelunking adventure, all relatively action oriented games in their own right, but it turns out, one of the most popular genres for indie developers is the point and click adventure. Thanks to tools such as Adventure Game Studio, even you can make your own Monkey Island.

The Blackwell Legacy is the first title in a series of point and click adventure games developed by Wadjet Eye Games. With the first three games recently included in an Indie Royale bundle, our growing backlog of unplayed games seemed to double in one day. So in an effort to possibly kill three birds with one stone, we decided to check out the first Blackwell game and see if this series is worth playing.

As usual, impressions are presented individually, with a variety of time put into the game. If you have a suggestion on an indie title to highlight, or are a developer yourself, leave a comment or shoot us an email.

Cave Story+

Indie Impression

Cave Story CoverCave Story was originally released all the way back in 2004, with development starting five years before that by a single guy, Daisuke Amaya. The side-scrolling adventure has gained momentum over the years, and is now recognized as being one of the original independent games that has spawned what is nearly a total upheavel of the video game industry. With the Humble Indie Bundle, Steam, Desura, and a slew of very talented developers, indie games are making huge waves, and sales.

While Cave Story is available on nearly every platform, it finally hit Steam a few months ago with the release of the fourth Humble Bundle. To note the higher resolution graphics and a new soundtrack, the game was re-titled Cave Story+, but there is an option to revert to the original look and sound.

We're very happy to present Cave Story+ as our third Indie Impression, following Super Meat Boy and Dungeons of Dredmor. Blackwell Legacy will be following in a few days.

Super Meat Boy

Full Review

Super Meat boy CoverI started playing Super Meat Boy for our new Indie Impression feature, planning on maybe putting in a half hour with the meat and then heading off to write down my thoughts. Two weeks later and 10 hours of gaming in the can, I beat all of Super Meat Boy’s light world levels, rescued Bandage Girl over a hundred times, and died 2,345 times (to be exact). And even though poor Meat Boy splattered every 15 seconds, I still had an awesome time.

It’s a testament to developer Team Meat’s ability that they can make a platformer not only crazy hard, but also very fun. Almost nothing is harder in game development than properly ramping the challenge up for every kind of gamer, but they pull it off with Super Meat Boy.

Released on Windows, Linux, OSX, and Xbox Live Arcade (a WiiWare release was planned and then scrapped when the game exceeded the platform’s size limits) in 2010, it has since sold over one million copies, not bad for an indie release. Here’s my review.

Mass Effect 3 demo

Preview

Mass Effect 3 CoverFor reasons actually completely unrelated to me running this video game website, I was given early access to the Mass Effect 3 demo. This doesn't make me particularly special or anything, but since I am playing it a wee bit earlier than most other interested gamers, I thought I'd take a minute to write about it.

This is the first Mass Effect title with a demo available before the game's initial release, but if you've been following its hype in any reasonable manner, you'll quickly find out that the demo just gives normal gamers the opportunity to try out the levels that were playable last E3. They're probably in their near-final polished state now, however.

I've never taken the time to actually research my demo history carefully to see if this is true, but I have this general feeling that I've never played a game demo that actually made me want to go out and buy the real game. Something about just playing only a part of the package bugs me, I guess. This has me slightly nervous about playing Mass Effect 3's demo as it's my current favorite series and I have very high hopes for this last entry in the trilogy. Well, here goes everything.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Full Review

Dungeons of Dredmor Cover_0Riding on the excitement of The Binding of Isaac, I decided to dive right into another roguelike, this time from indie developer Gaslamp Games. But unlike Binding of Isaac, Dungeons of Dredmor is a more traditional, turn-based dungeon crawler, complete with character classes, skill trees, item forging, and the hack and slash-style fun one would expect from classic franchises like Diablo or Baldur’s Gate. Well, maybe not that traditional. Dungeons of Dredmor is perhaps best described as a spoof of classic computer roll-playing games; nothing takes itself seriously...

Three other writers here posted their impressions of Dungeons of Dredmor last week in our new series: Indie Impression. You may consider these my extended impression that turned into a complete review.

Super Meat Boy

Indie Impression

Super Meat boy CoverOur second Indie Impression is of Super Meat Boy, the 2010 platformer from Team Meat. Known for its sadistic level design and smooth gameplay, Super Meat Boy has grown into a huge hit that's spread beyond the indie community, selling more than one million copies across all PC platforms and Xbox Live Arcade. We've got four impressions for that range from a few minutes to completing the game 100%, which is pretty much exactly how I envisioned this column working out. Greg was going to provide impressions also, but decided that since he ended up beating the game in about a week, he's going to provide a full review in the coming days.

Dungeons of Dredmor

Indie Impression

Dungeons of Dredmor Cover_0Welcome to Indie Impression, a brand new type of article for 2012. As the name implies, these articles will be impressions on some of the numerous indie games that have been rapidly appearing recently. We here have built ourselves very large collections through cheap package deals via Steam, Humble Bundle, Indie Royale, and more. Some have amazing production values, some don't. Some are incredibly fun, some aren't. But without question, these indie games generally offer creativity vastly beyond anything you'll find in mainstream gaming and will likely be the main driver behind industry innovation for a long time.

And as our indie backlogs have grown exponentially, we've decided to start sorting through our games and trying them out to get a good impression of each. To add credibility to our impressions, we will try to have at least two people play each game until they feel they have a solid, concrete opinion for writing. Impressions may be from ten minutes of gaming to ten hours, but in this case, we feel like it's important enough to have multiple strong opinions on each game. With that out of the way, let's continue to our very first candidate, Dungeons of Dredmor.

Dungeons of Dredmor is a roguelike from Gaslamp Games, released in July, 2011. Each writer has written impressions independently from each other.

Batman: Arkham City

Full Review

Batman Arkham City CoverI beat Batman: Arkham City well over a week ago, but due to a weekend vacation, work, and the flu hitting my entire family, I’m only now getting to its review. This has given me time to think heavily about the game, and in some ways find as many flaws as ways to praise it, not sure if this is a healthy game reviewing technique or not.

As the sequel to Arkham Asylum, one of the most successful and highly regarded licensed games ever, expectations were through the roof. Arkham City was released in October of last year to brisk sales and excellent reviews, skyrocketing creatorRocksteady Studios among the upper echelon of developers.

Nate covered the game’s first hour when it was released, and later named it his Game of the Year. I just named Arkham Asylum my Game of the (Other) Year as I beat it early 2011. As I’m still ailing from the effects of the flu and its corresponding medicine, I’m going to try and keep this shorter than usual.

Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale

Full Review

Recettear CoverWe have time to slip one more review into 2011, right? Let's talk about Recettear: An Item's Shop Tale, a quirky Japanese RPG released last year. Blending traditional dungeon crawling with running an RPG item shop, Recettear is unlike any game I have ever played, and probably ever play again.

I played the first hour of Recettear in October, determining that the opening was interesting enough to go on. This was probably a fair decision, as it is a rich game full of dungeons, companions, and items, but it is not without issues. If the review intrigues you, look for it on Steam sale in the next day or so, it was about $5 a few days back and may be available again.

Recettear is made up of two distinct game types: the classic dungeon crawler with randomized floor layouts, spawning bad guys, and big bosses; and an item shop where you lay out equipment, haggle with customers, and even buy items from them. Let's talk about what each type did right and wrong.

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