Greg Noe's reviews and writings

  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

    Full Review

    Uncharted CoverI was disappointed in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, I’ll just put that out there right away. The game received near universal acclaim upon release (it scores an 88 on Metacritic), but I’ve heard rumblings in the recent years that the game has problems. This isn’t uncommon, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was released two years later to even higher scores (96 average!), so people discover things to gripe about as time passes. But I haven’t played any other Uncharteds, though the game is over four years old, maybe I’ve just soured on it in other ways.

    Released in 2007 and quickly labeled as the year old PlayStation 3’s best game, Drake’s Fortune kicks off the Uncharted series that has gone on to sell millions of copies on both the PS3 and PSP, and is headlining the recent Vita launch. It stars Nathan Drake as the supposed ancestor to real treasure hunter Francis Drake, and combines cover-system firefights with Assassin’s Creed-like climbing.

    I recently published my first hour review on Uncharted, along with the complete video of its opening. If you watch it, you should definitely be able to see why I was so excited to keep playing: it has action, intrigue, and witty writing, along with a cast you can’t help but love. But problems eventually plague all aspects of the game, let’s get into them.

  • 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.

  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

    First Hour Review

    Uncharted CoverI’m honestly not sure if there’s ever been a decent Indiana Jones video game, I’ve played a few including the recent LEGO release and the ancient point and click adventures, but as an active observer of the industry, I’ve never seen any of the games rise to the top. Whoever owns the rights to the series couldn’t even release a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull game to coincide with the film’s release. Imagine climbing into a refrigerator to survive a nuclear blast. It’d be exhilarating.

    But even if Indy never sold successfully off the silver screen, the Uncharted series has been doing great, not to mention the numerous accolades bestowed upon it by the press. Now that I finally own a PlayStation 3, catching up with its best games is easy, if not time consuming. After finishing Heavy Rain, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune seemed like the next logical step.

    And like Heavy Rain, I recorded the entire first hour of Uncharted and uploaded it to YouTube. So follow along if you’d like, or find an interesting minute and skip to that in the video. And I promise you, the first hour of Uncharted is chock full of interesting minutes. I've also broken up the video into chapters if you just want to see specific adventures.

  • Pocket League Story

    Full Review

    Pocket League Story CoverI find soccer boring. It has its exciting moments, but those usually happen when I’m getting a snack. On the other hand, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed lots of soccer video games over the years, starting with Nintendo World Cup for the NES and peaking with the insane Sega Soccer Slam on the GameCube. There’s just something so simplistic and fun about kicking a ball into a goal, especially when that ball is on fire.

    So truthfully, I like arcade soccer, the kind of stuff displayed in the movie Shaolin Soccer. But when I discovered I was four games behind on Kairosoft’s Android releases, I decided to start with the soccer simulator: Pocket League Story.

    In the same vein as Game Dev Story and Grand Prix Story, Pocket League Story has you guiding a soccer team from the dirt pile in your backyard to the top of the world. There are lots of numbers and tons of crunching, but most refreshing, every soccer game plays out in front of your eyes. If you thought watching your cars race in Grand Prix Story got me excited, well, you should have seen me when my first 11 versus 11 match played out. Here’s my review of Pocket League Story.

  • 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.

  • Heavy Rain

    Full Review

    Heavy Rain CoverI am willing to give every video game genre a try, including what Wikipedia describes Heavy Rain as an “interactive drama” and “psychological thriller.” To the traditional gamer, those probably rank right up with the dating sim and train simulators of the world. Why play an interactive drama when I could just watch a movie?

    But this is a valid question that can be used to juxtapose any type of media. Movies are an excellent format at telling a story in about two hours, while many games take a two hour story and stretch it across 12 hours with bits of action padding the time. Heavy Rain was created from the ground up to challenge the idea that not only can a video game tell a compelling story, but that it can deliver the same emotional punches that a movie can too.

    Released in February 2010 by French developer Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain tells the story of a father, a journalist, a detective, and an FBI profiler all tracking down an elusive serial killer who targets young boys. As one of the PlayStation 3 exclusives I’ve wanted to play the most, I was very excited to get my hands on the game after two years. You can see my first hour review here, or read on for spoiler-free thoughts on Heavy Rain.

  • 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.

  • Batman: Arkham City - Catwoman

    Downloadable Content

    Batman Arkham City CoverThis console generation will probably be well remembered for the rise of downloadable content. In an era where publishers whine about used game sales, they certainly found one of the most effective ways to further their profits. Whether it’s armor for your horse, patches that turn burlesque breasts tassel-less, or multiple hours worth of new content, DLC is here to stay.

    I generally have little problem with it, most of the time I pass, especially when I pick up games used for cheap and I have to spend more on the DLC than the actual game itself. But I’ve also bought some quality downloads that are worth the money. I begin to have issues with it when a game is advertised in such a way that you expect that content to be there in the first place.

    Take Batman: Arkham City, an excellent game starring the caped crusader. When Game Informer featured the title on its cover, we got an artsy and sexy preview for it with Catwoman right alongside Batman. That pairing, however, is not guaranteed for all owners of the game. Here’s my review of the Catwoman DLC in Batman: Arkham City.

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