Greg Noe's reviews and writings

  • 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.

  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village

    Full Review

    Professor Layton and the Curious Village CoverProfessor Layton and the Curious Village is a Nintendo DS point and click adventure puzzle game. The game features 135 brain-busting puzzles that will seriously give you a headache by the game's end, but it is an incredibly rewarding experience beating them all. In between all the puzzles is a somewhat interesting story about Professor Layton and his young apprentice, Luke, exploring the village of St. Mystere and uncovering its many secrets. There's a wide cast of characters and all the art and backgrounds are hand-drawn and looks really great. There's even some voice acting thrown in that's actually good, but the real star in Professor Layton are the puzzles.

    Within the curious village, residents will constantly offer you challenging puzzles to tackle, and clicking on certain items also triggers a puzzle from either the Professor or Luke. The puzzles range from 30 second quickies using pattern and object recognition to 30 minute Tylenol-taking nasties using advanced techniques such as shortest path, eight queens, playing card probability, and moving one giant block through a mess of smaller ones. Since there are so many puzzles, there is a ton of variety and only a few "repeats with new conditions."

    None of this probably makes any sense, so let me just get to my review.

  • Bible Adventures

    First Hour Review

    Bible Adventures CoverBible Adventures is an old, unlicensed NES game made by Wisdom Tree. Since it was unlicensed and not approved by Nintendo, they were able to do cool things like have a baby blue colored cartridge and even featured their own Wisdom Tree Seal of Quality on the box. The game is a popular target for "Worst Game of all Time," mostly thanks to Seanbaby, but honestly this game was not that bad. Definitely not even in the bottom 10%. Compare it to other officially licensed crap like Deadly Towers or Bebe's Kids and you actually have a decent game going. Anyways, Bible Adventures features three Bible stories: Baby Moses, David and Goliath, and Noah's Ark told through platformers. They all pretty much play the same, but the Baby Moses game is actually pretty bad.

    Since today is the last day of March, the month is supposed to be end like a lamb, which basically means it will be a calm Spring day. Instead, we have a heavy snow warning and are expecting 6-8 inches of slushy snow. Ugh. I reviewed The Lion King at the beginning of the month when March was supposed to come in like a lion (it was a nice day) and Bible Adventures is one of the only games that features sheep in even a small role. The other game I considered was Sheep for the PC but decided to do the more well known Bible Adventures. Well, let's get to the review.

  • Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer

    First Hour Review

    Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer CoverMystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer is a new Nintendo DS adventure that is actually a port of a 1995 Super Nintendo game released only in Japan. Shiren's gameplay is based off the classic computer games Rogue and NetHack. This means randomly generated stages, turn-based gameplay, and harsh character death penalties. Games today are wussified to the point of being able to save anywhere and three hour long tutorials that wean you into the game, Mystery Dungeon is kind of a breath of fresh air. Even if it is a 13 year-old breath, it mixes up the portable scene a bit.

    Not much left to say about Mystery Dungeon, I think the review and screenshots will explain the game pretty well.

  • Homeworld

    First Hour Review

    Homeworld CoverHomeworld is a 3D real-time strategy game released in 1999 on the PC, Mac, and Linux. It managed to garner a few Game of the Year awards in a pretty tough year of gaming which included Unreal Tournament, Alpha Centauri, Final Fantasy VIII, and the release of the Dreamcast, which of course means Soul Calibur. It wasn't an extremely strong year for the console world, so PC games did very well and Homeworld arrived at just the right time. The game is renowned for its engrossing storyline and cinematic graphical style. Not to mention a great implementation of real-time strategy in 3D space.

    I usually take screenshots with Fraps for PC games but for whatever reason it didn't work for Homeworld. ZScreen to the rescue! This is my first time using the open source program and honestly it did a great job grabbing screens of this beautiful space game. Took me a while to find a working solution but ZScreen did the job just fine and worked for me immediately. Now let's get to the first hour review of Homeworld.

  • The Haunting: Starring Polterguy

    First Hour Review

    The Haunting Starring Polterguy CoverThe Haunting Starring Polterguy is a 1993 Sega Genesis game all about scaring a rich family out of their snazzy home any way possible. This is a pretty obscure game and the only way I know anything about it is from my deep past where I used to read any video game magazine I could get my hands on. One of them was Game Players, and in one of those issues lies a review for The Haunting. I have no idea what score it got but it stuck in my mind as "this game sounds cool and someday I would like to play it." Well, that someday has finally arrived 15 years later, and it's pretty much as cool as I vaguely remembered wanting it to be.

    I really don't know anything else about this game, except that it is probably the goriest 16-bit game I have ever played. There are severed heads, tons of blood, and lots of other crazy stuff that kept surprising me. Just check out the screenshots below and you'll see what I'm talking about. On that note, let's get right into the review.

  • The Lion King

    First Hour Review

    The Lion King CoverThe Lion King was the video game released to accompany the Disney movie of the same name. Games based on movies were nothing new in 1994, especially Disney tie-ins, but this is actually my first movie game review. It was released on literally every platform available at the time, including three Nintendo (NES, SNES, and Game Boy) systems and three Sega (Master System, Genesis, and Game Gear) systems, undoubtedly a feat unequaled by any other game.

    Really the only reason I'm reviewing The Lion King is because of the saying: "March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb." If you're unfamiliar with the adage, it basically means March will open up with bad weather and end calmly with Spring fast approaching. Here in the upper-Midwest though, lots of snow typically begins and ends the month. Where's our lamb? Back to the review though, here's March roaring in, now I have four weeks to find a game about lambs... could be tough. Anyways, let's get right into the first hour of The Lion King (Super Nintendo version).

  • Drawn to Life

    Full Review

    Drawn to Life CoverDrawn to Life is a Nintendo DS game that takes platformers a step forward by allowing you to draw your own character among many other objects throughout the game. It also takes platformers two steps back with its awful gameplay. Before I rip into the game though, let's take a look at the product as a whole. Drawn to Life was released in September of last year and really advertised itself as a game that would allow for so much more creativity in a genre rather lacking lately. The game is targeted for children, but I'll brave anything if it interests me, and Drawn to Life definitely did.

    Anyways, awful is a rather strong word but while I'm playing a game, I'm constantly thinking about its current overall score and how it's doing in the individual categories. Drawn to Life started at around a seven (a nice number, giving the game the benefit of the doubt that it is above average), drawing your own character was kind of cool, and I put a lot of work into it because I knew I'd be staring at "me" for the next few hours. Then the real game starts, and we're faced with an empty village and a whole bunch of villagers to rescue. This got me really excited because last year I played Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, a truly stellar title that also focused on expanding a town and opening up new things as the game progresses. So I might have bumped up Drawn to Life to an eight at that point for its potential. However, the first platforming stage begins, and I was instantly able to recognize that this game is going to be painful, I'll get more into this during the gameplay portion. Between platforming levels, you wander around town doing other painfully boring stuff, more on this below during my story review. Overall, it's a constant back and forth between crap gameplay and crap story, ending in my biggest "WTF?" moment of the year.

    Enough of this, straight to the scores out of 10.

  • Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

    First Hour Review

    Turok Dinosaur Hunter CoverTurok: Dinosaur Hunter was the first first-person shooter on the Nintendo 64 and the start of a series that is known for its ups and downs. The game is about Turok, a Native American who is sent through time to save the world and is loosely based on a comic book series of the same name. If you think this sounds a little like Prey, and you might not be too far off in some terms (interestingly enough, these games actually started development around the same time, except Turok was released in 1997 and Prey was released in 2006...). Since Turok was released on the Nintendo 64 before Goldeneye 007, there wasn't much to compare it to except for PC shooters, so reviewers at the time absolutely loved it. I can't say I'm quite as much of a fan, however.

    A few weeks ago, a new Turok game was released on the PC and newer consoles, simply called Turok. This is the first new game in the series in almost six years, but after a little reading, it appears it has nothing to do with the original games. Maybe that's a good thing, but let's take a look at the first hour of Turok's foray into video games.

  • About

    The First Hour is a unique video game review site, most of my reviews are just on the first hour of a game. There are plenty of review sites out there that review the entire game, these are definitely important and I write these too, but sometimes, just the first hour of a game is enough to either turn you off forever, or grab you hook line and sinker.

    We've all played games that totally disappointed us when we started playing them that we just couldn't go on, or maybe you forced yourself to go on because you just spent a month's worth allowance on it and had to get your money's worth. Well, this is your site for a collection of reviews on both new and classic games, from every genre. First hour reviews are posted every Monday afternoon, and full reviews on games are posted as I beat them.

    I wasted a lot of time on games that I didn't like, don't make that mistake anymore.

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