xbox 360

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.

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Full Review

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga CoverLego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is the combination of the first two Lego Star Wars games (The Video Game and Original Trilogy) in what is an obvious attempt to sell more copies of the games and reach that same Star Wars audience that will only buy the DVDs when they're all available in one, giant box set. So basically we have all the levels from the first game, plus all the levels from the second game, plus some more (minor) stuff in case you already own the first two. I received this game for the Nintendo DS, which is essentially my platform of choice of late, and played the heck out of it for the last week and a half. And surprisingly, I loved every minute of it.

I'm not sure why it took so long for someone to realize that Legos are awesome, Star Wars is awesome, and video games are awesome, so why not put them all together. But it finally happened a few years ago and it was like my childhood fantasies were coming together for one last amazing adventure. Somehow though, I never played the first one (Episodes I-III) but got the chance to play The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI). I thought the game was fun but short. The Complete Saga has allowed me to play the first game and replay the second, giving me a much more satisfying experience. It took me a solid 21.5 hours to achieve 100% completion and I'm a little sad to say goodbye. Thankfully though, Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Batman are only a few months away... Now let's get to the review!

Gears of War

First Hour Review

Gears of War CoverGears of War is a third-person shooter for the Xbox 360 that came out in late 2006. The game was one of the first to use the Unreal Engine 3 (seen recently in Mass Effect), a game engine created in-house at Epic. Gears of War's combat system differs greatly from the typical shooter, focusing more on using cover effectively to engage the enemy. Hiding behind cover is built into the game and you either learn it quickly, or die trying. People were obviously looking for something a little different because the game sold quite well and it was just recently released on the PC.

Gears takes place in the future after an alien race has attacked humans living on the planet Sera, a world used to harvest fuel. All the men in the future seem abnormally large, as basically everyone in this game could play American football and dominate the game. I kind of like that style though as it serves the bombed-out, nuclear winter setting well. So I already like the atmosphere, let's see how the rest of the first hour of Gears of War turns out.

For my review on the whole game, please see my Gears of War review at Beyond the First Hour.

Mass Effect

Full Review

Mass Effect CoverMass Effect was my "must-play" game of 2007. Alas, it wasn't until 2008 that I finally got to play it. And play it I did: nearly 40 hours of gaming in 10 days is probably the most gaming I've done since Final Fantasy VIII was released (or any period of time that I played World of Warcraft). The game is not perfect, but I was engrossed the entire time and the game kept throwing surprises at me around every turn. I went in thinking I understood the game and thought I could play it the way I wanted to play it. Instead, Mass Effect played me like it was my first time saving the universe. I came out extremely satisfied and wanted to start it over again right away.

For my review on just the first hour, please see my Mass Effect review at The First Hour.

Bioware's epic is a combination of role-playing game and third-person shooter. Think of the best things Knights of the Old Republic has to offer and carefully mesh it with the best features of Gears of War, and you will have Mass Effect. However, the game is much more action-oriented than Knights but isn't as demanding as Gears, it really finds a perfect balance between the two that makes you wonder how they pulled it off. Geez, I don't know how I can go on without going into too much detail, so let's get right to the specifics!

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.

Halo 3

Full Review

Halo 3 CoverHalo 3 probably doesn't need much introduction, being one of the most hyped game of the year and the climax to one of the most popular series ever. For the unaware, Halo 3 is a first person shooter putting you in the role of Master Chief, a super soldier in super armor. The game focuses on fast action and throws hordes of enemies at you. Halo 3 also features a variety of vehicles that are actually fun to drive and add substantially to the gameplay. Let's just get straight to the review.

Gears of War

Full Review

Gears of war CoverGears of War is a third-person shooter for the Xbox 360 and was the original poster child for Epic's new Unreal Engine 3. It's a gritty look on a post alien-ravaged Earth and its main feature is many very large linebackers hiding behind stuff and shooting guns wildly. That's my one sentence summing up, but this game is actually deeper than it seems to be. The cover system, while not completely original, is what all the combat and gameplay is built around. The game punishes you severely for run-and-gun style of play and forces you to be patient in a world of chainsaws and spiked grenades. Gears of War sold very well, but it was not until this last month that I got to play through it completely, and that I did (twice). Now let's get right into my review.

Assassin's Creed

First Hour Review

Assassin's Creed CoverAssassin's Creed is a new action-adventure game for the Xbox 360 and PS3 from Ubisoft. The game tells the story of Altair, an assassin in the Holy Land in the 12th century. Altair controls somewhat like the Prince from the Prince of Persia series, but focuses more on stealth and silent killing similar to the Metal Gear Solid games. But instead of hiding in boxes and camouflaging yourself in the trees, Altair hides himself among the people of Jerusalem, attempting to blend in with the public and not stand out to the guards. This makes for some interesting gameplay as Ubisoft spent a lot of time working on crowd reactions for their new kind of camouflage. Without much further ado though, let's dive into the first hour of Assassin's Creed.

For my review on the whole game, please see my Assassin's Creed review at Beyond the First Hour.

Assassin's Creed

Full Review

Assassins Creed CoverAssassin's Creed is the newest action-adventure game from Ubisoft. Since it was released about a month ago it has seen pretty good reviews and has become the fastest selling new IP since 2002 (The Getaway, seriously??). I can't argue with facts but I can't believe how many unbelievable scores this game has gotten: a 10 from Games Radar, a 9.5 from Game Informer, and 37/40 from Famitsu are just a few scores that make me go "WTF?"

For my review on just the first hour, please see my Assassin's Creed review at The First Hour.

Before I defend myself and get into why this game is both incredibly awesome and incredibly horrible at the same time, let's have a little more history. Assassin's Creed is in the same vein as the recent Prince of Persia trilogy, you can run up walls, kill bad guys with your sword, and basically just do cool acrobatics. Ubisoft made a good decision giving the Prince a break and trying something a little different. Breaking away from the Prince of Persia games, Assassin's Creed gives you a giant sandbox to play around with in three giant 12th century cities. Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus are rendered beautifully and you can tell were created meticulously and carefully. The main character, Altair, is basically a white-clad ninja in the Holy Land, so it seems like it would be really fun to dive into his stealth-killing world. What could possibly go wrong?

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Full Review

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare CoverI've recently had the opportunity to borrow a friend's Xbox 360 and five select games. I played the first hour of all five of those for my first hour review site, and ended up playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare last. I did not stop playing until 3 am last night when I finished it. I simply could not put the game down.

I missed out on Call of Duty 1, 2, and 3, so it was kind of a wonder that I was even interested in playing this game in the first place. I gave it a chance however, and I loved it. The previous installments of Call of Duty have all taken place during World War II, which I think has been done to death. Infinity Ward instead made the correct decision to set Call of Duty 4 in our own turbulent, modern day Middle East. This makes for an ultra high-action, technology driven war experience. And this is very fun. I'm not sure how else to describe this game without creeping in on what I want to say later, so let's just get right down to it.

For my review on just the first hour, please see my Call of Duty 4 review at The First Hour.

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