Greg Noe's reviews and writings

  • Blackwell Deception

    Full Review

    Blackwell Deception CoverThe Blackwell series hasn’t changed a lot over four games released across five years. The screen resolution and accompanying art still seems reminiscent of 1990s adventure games, the point and click gameplay is also rooted in the classics, and the story is still well polished and very entertaining. But none of this at all is a bad thing, it enables indie developer Wadjet Eye Games to release quality games at a manageable pace.

    And I have certainly had it well off the last few months having just discovered the Blackwell series. Four games that I almost instantly fell in love with at my fingertips! But now that they’re done, I find myself playing the waiting game like the rest of the fans. Much like when I caught up with the A Song of Ice and Fire book series in 2008 or The Wheel of Time in 2007, waiting really can be the hardest part.

    So I present my review for Blackwell Deception. You can also read my reviews for The Blackwell Legacy, Blackwell Unbound, and Blackwell Convergence, or just play the games. They’re great.

  • Temple Run

    Full Review

    Temple run CoverI wasn't planning on writing about Temple Run orginally. It's a 3D auto-running game where you swipe the screen of your phone or tablet to avoid obstacles. It's free and supported by micro-transcations. Basically a list of things I should find really wrong with a video game. But if I ever spent the time to wonder what mobile game I was playing in April and May 2012, without this review, I may never have the answer.

    So yes, I've been rather addicted to this simple run-and-avoid-obstacles game. From the graphics on the title screen I gather you're making off with some idol from some cursed ruins and then a couple of devil monkeys start chasing after you. There's really no other lore to go on, and when you start unlocking different characters later on like a geisha and football player, all logic goes out the window. But that doesn't really matter because you're in a desperate struggle for points.

  • Infamous

    First Hour Review

    Infamous CoverThere's something fun about playing catchup on a console like the PlayStation 3. I already know what most gamers think are the best games, and I can pick and choose from the rest that appeal to me. The games are cheap, the library huge, and the experiences brand new.

    So here I am with Infamous (also known as inFAMOUS, but that's just awful), Developed by Sucker Punch Productions and released in mid 2009 on just the PlayStation 3. It didn't leave much of an impression with me at the time except that it was going head to head with a game called Prototype, which from afar seemed like a relatively similar gaming experience. Both games were successful in their own right, Infamous 2 landed last year which Nate reviewed, and Prototype 2 shipped last month.

    Infamous is my fourth PS3 catchup game this year, following Batman: Arkham City, Heavy Rain, and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. I've enjoyed them all, and am currently very fond of the PS3 experience. Of course, I'm limiting myself so far to games I know are pretty great, so I may be biased. Here's my first hour review of Infamous.

  • Dear Microsoft and Sony: Go Nuclear! Don't allow used games next generation

    Editorial

    Nuke em allBoth Microsoft and Sony have tested the waters on not allowing used games on their next generation consoles. Whether it’s right or not, Gamestop has been blamed by developers and publishers for ruining the industry with their aggressive used game sales tactics, and as a potential preventive measure, used games may soon be a thing of the past.

    And I say, let them do it! Pick the nuclear option! Block used games from running on your console. I don’t say this as a former THQ executive trying to protect my bonus, or even as a lowly developer simply trying to protect my job. I say it as a consumer of the gaming industry who thinks there might actually be a huge benefit to gamers if this is pulled off correctly. I just don’t think it will be pulled off correctly.

  • Epic Astro Story

    Full Review

    Epic Astro Story CoverAll good things must come to an end: I just finished the first Kairosoft game I would call bad. I’ve played a few Kairosoft sims that were unbalanced or boring, but never both. Epic Astro Story is the official low bar among a great series of games that range from training a soccer team to running a game design studio.

    Epic Astro Story is a space colony sim where you build up an industrial/tourism complex on an empty planet while sending out away-parties to explore the darkness around you. While traveling through caves, mountains, and deserts, your team will fight against local bad guys for the right to the land.

    I’ve had great success with Kairosoft games so far, most of them have clicked really well with me and my tastes, but from the start I had issues with Epic Astro Story. Here’s my review.

  • A Valley Without Wind

    Indie Impression

    a Valley Without Wind CoverThere are ambitious indie games like Fez, which go all out on their insane puzzles and clever solutions. Then there are ambitious indie games like the Blackwell series, which tells a tale of death with believable characters and full voice acting. And then there are ambitious indie games like A Valley Without Wind, which features a fully procedurally generated, side-scrolling action, massively multiplayer online world.

    Developed by Arcen Games, A Valley Without Wind is, if anything, ambitious. It’s also genre defining, I personally haven’t played a lot of action RPG 2D MMOs, but now at least one exists. Released last week for Windows and Mac, here are our impressions on the game. They’re unsurprisingly varied.

  • Gratuitous Tank Battles

    Preview

    Gratuitous Tank Battles CoverThe tower defense genre feels older than it is, with basically only five years under its belt since Desktop Tower Defense and its kin. But its games have seen so many variations to the model and appeared on so many platforms, that it feels very mature in its parameters of game design and implementation. And this is from a genre that has essentially never received a “triple-A” release and most sales come from direct downloads, not on discs or cartridges.

    Solo indie developer Cliff Harris of Positech Games is now officially tackling the genre with Gratuitous Tank Battles, a sort of sequel to his popular Gratuitous Space Battles game from 2009. I had a great time playing that game, but didn’t realize at the time that Space Battles, boiled down, really is a tower defense game too. An excellent example on how varied the genre is, even if you don’t realize it.

    But Tank Battles is a proper tower defense game with the familiar onslaught of units marching across the screen and grid-based gameplay that veterans of the genre will instantly recognize. It also features an attack mode for most missions letting you experience the other side of combat, and it wouldn’t be a Gratuitous game without an insane amount of unit creation and modification at your fingertips.

  • Mass Effect 3

    Full Review

    Mass Effect 3 CoverI love the Mass Effect franchise. Mass Effect 3 is the first console game I bought new in over two years (previous new purchase was Mass Effect 2). I beat the first game six times. I’ve read the novels and comics that accompany the games. I own two Commander Shepard action figures and a mini Normandy SR2. I have a one year old son named Shepard.

    So you could say with some confidence that I was really looking forward to Mass Effect 3. I made the day one Collector’s Edition purchase and popped up my first hour review of the game immediately. The game doesn’t start with as much energy as Mass Effect 2, but it’s hard to argue that there’s anything more powerful than beginning with the Reapers invading Earth.

    Mass Effect 3 has received a huge amount of controversy regarding its ending. Do you know how hard it is to take two weeks to beat a game you’ve been waiting for two years while seemingly everyone on the internet is talking about its conclusion? Ugh. I’ll say right now that I certainly didn’t hate the ending, but didn’t love it either.

    Now for my review on the other 99.5% of Mass Effect 3. I also have my review of the first DLC available, From Ashes.

  • Blackwell Convergence

    Full Review

    Blackwell Convergence CoverBlackwell Convergence follows The Blackwell Legacy and Blackwell Unbound in Wadjet Eye Games’ story-driven adventure game series. I found Unbound to be a stunning entry that rectified many of Legacy’s issues while building on the series’ mysteries. It also had a ton of style that is sadly absent in many games today.

    So I had high expectations for Convergence, as the story was brought back to present day with our original heroine Rosangela Blackwell. The detour Unbound took to the past was engrossing and informative, and gave the series that much more emotional weight. I knew it would be tough for Convergence to keep up the momentum, but I promised myself that if it did, I’d be waving the Blackwell flag for many years to come.

    Released in 2009 for Windows and once again built in Adventure Game Studios, here’s my review for Blackwell Convergence.

  • Angry Birds Space and Cut the Rope Experiments

    Full Review

    Angry Birds Space CoverThree of my favorite mobile series recently received updates, so it’s time to revisit them. Angry Birds Space is the new Super Mario Galaxy inspired spinoff of the original bird-flinging game, and Cut the Rope: Experiments expands upon the original Cut the Rope concept with new ideas and 125 levels. Finally, the genius Where’s My Water? has received some new levels since my original review, so I’ll touch on that too.

    Laugh if you want, but I really love these games for their quintessential mobile experiences. Levels are short and sweet, difficulty ramps up slowly, and gameplay variety is injected constantly. Each of them have fun with physics and benefit greatly from the touchscreen. Plus, they’re dirt cheap.

    My thoughts will hopefully be short and efficient, just like the games I’m reviewing. I played each game on my Android EVO 4G phone.

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