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An Xbox review:

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey -- FunCom/Aspyr

What the Game Is: Adventure. (Like Myst). Sequel to The Longest Journey. Set in the near future, but in a universe where our world of technology has a secret alternate twin world of fantasy and magic.

(Detailed Review of the Game) )

Grade: A-

Summation: This is an amazing game. It is phenomenal. It is gripping. It is engaging. It will draw you in...it will make you feel...it will make you feel bad. I wish this game would sell lots and lots. But I have to say there are bunches of people who should never play this game because they will really, really hate it. I can only recommend those folks who think they might like a game like this to pick it up...but gosh...if you have no patience, if you want to win...if you don't like downer endings that aren't cathartic downers...just downers...then stay away.

If You Liked...You'd Love...: Hm...if you like cut scene heavy games, if you like adventure games, if you are into Video Games are Art...then you'd like this game.

What's next?
Quickie Game: I don't know, I'm finding myself not having lots of time for quickie games. Maybe Need for Speed: Most Wanted...though I wonder if Ultracorps is filling in my Quickie game space (an online strategy game, currently free: http://ultracorps.sjgames.com/)
Main Feature Game: Silent Hill 4: The Room (which I'm really close to the end)...and World of Warcraft...and OBLIVION!
On the Horizon: I can see nothing past Oblivion...Oblivion...
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Quick note to those out there in Cyberspace....

Guess which awesome game is getting a sequel? Indigo Prophesy...which I never put a review up for, but it is so awesome that it totally knocked my socks off.

Anyway, a sequel is being made. It is called "Heavy Rain"

Some info from Lunabean:

http://www.lunabean.com/news/001944.php
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An Xbox review:

The Godfather -- EA

What the Game Is: 3rd Person sandbox action-adventure, set in the world of the film The Godfather.

Detailed Review of The Godfather )

Grade: A-

Summation: I really enjoyed the game...it distracted me from WoW...so that's impressive...it also distracted me from Silent Hill 4. So that says quite a bit about the game. There are bits that can be repetitive, though this can be tolerated. I don't know if the game will appeal to people aren't fans of The Godfather. I'm a huge Godfather fan and grew up watching it over and over again. So being really invested in the films, the game was like a huge treat for me. I don't what the game would be like without the investment I had in the films. It was really great to see two of my fave people from Godfather--Sonny and Tom Hagen. So that was awesome. There was one really annoying thing--the traffic. There is a lot of traffic in New York, it turns out. Sometimes there are really slow moving patches of traffic. It annoyed me...but I really loved it anyway...I wish more video games had bad traffic. I remember being totally stupefied by the lack of traffic on the 10 freeway in True Crime: Streets of LA. So thumbs up for annoying traffic!


If You Liked...You'd Love...: If you are a fan of sandbox games, fan of The Godfather...then by all means pick it up.

What's next?
Quickie Game: I don't know, I'm finding myself not having lots of time for quickie games. Maybe Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Main Feature Game: Silent Hill 4: The Room (which I'm really close to the end)...and World of Warcraft
On the Horizon: I really have to find a game to be a contrast to Godfather and Silent Hill 4. I'm thinking of playing Beyond Good and Evil Next, then perhaps sliding over to an RPG.
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[It has occured to me that I haven't done one of these in a really long time...I've just finished GUN, so I thought I 'd put in a review of it...I also realize that I haven't done a review of Indigo Prophesy...so I'll do that too.]

An Xbox review:

GUN -- Activision

Review of GUN )

Grade: A-/B+

Summation: This game is violent and not for folks who don't want to deal with lots of violence that is done bloodily and a tad creepily. I'm not a Western fanatic, but I do like Westerns. Yet I'm not sure the game would pull in folks who aren't positively disposed to the genre. But I found it fun and exciting.

If You Liked...You'd Love...: Do you like gritty Western movies? Then maybe you should check it out.

What's next?
Quickie Game: Um...probably back into FIFA 2005...but I'm not sure.
Main Feature Game: Silent Hill 4: The Room...and World of Warcraft
On the Horizon: I'm really excited about The Godfather, which should be coming out soon. I'm also really looking forward to Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion...but I probably won't pick up an Xbox 360 for a while.
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An Xbox review:

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy -- Raven/Lucas Arts

Detailed Review of Jedi Academy )

Grade: B

Summation: This game is not the Oscar contender, but it is a good solid summer action flick. And there is value in that. However, I have found that it is hard to find, and I finally found my used copy and paid $45...used (!) for it. People don't seem to want to let this game go. That speaks well of it. I suspect live support might have something to do with it. But I'll be able to comment on that later. This is a good solid game that I had fun while playing and will play again. It is not super innovative, but it is fun.

If You Liked...You'd Love...: Well, Star Wars fans should certainly get this game, no doubt about it. If you are looking for an RPG...then don't get this game. If you've always wanted to run around doing real-time light saber combat and feeling all hardcore...yeah, this is the game for you!

What's next?
Quickie Game: Um...probably back into FIFA 2005 with some Need For Speed thrown in for variety.
Main Feature Game: Kingdom under Fire: The Crusades
On the Horizon: Well, Indigo Prophecy is coming out tomorrow...and I want it bad!

(I have recently finished the main Quest from Morrowind, and I will be writing a review of that soon)
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An Xbox review:

Psychonauts -- Majesco

Detailed Review of Psychonauts )
Grade: B+ (I'm working on fighting grad inflation).

Summation: This is a very funny game. It has some really cool levels. The platforming is fun, the writing is good, the audio is good. There are some touching moments, there are some sad moments, there are moments that will make you laugh, there are moments that will make you scratch your head. This is a good game. I'm not a fan of the cute...and I really liked the game. I recommend it for folks who like platformers and who are not anymore curmudgeonly than I am. I recommend it for folks who liked The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. I recommend it for some folks who want some whimsy. Good solid game.

What's next?
Quickie Game:
Main Feature Game:

(Since this review is for a game I finished a while ago, there is no what's next section)
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An Xbox review:

Sid Meier's Pirates -- Firaxis

Detailed Review of Pirates )
Grade: D

Summation: Unfortunately I can't recommend this game. Not even as a fun, party, knockabout sort of game. And not as a quickie game either. The first time through, the game is quite compelling. After all, it did keep me up for an ungodly number of hours (this was all before class started...so my recent late nights have been all prepping for class not goofing off on video games). But the second time I played it, I just got more and more annoyed. I found it all so repetitive and I got no closer to finishing the overall mission. I think one's ability to finish that final mission has a lot more to do with luck (if one is lucky enough to get easy/conveniant lead-up missions) than skill. If one is interested in Pirates, rent it...but certainly don't buy it. I did find fun in it. I did find compelling parts, but I also really found it frustrating. And that frustration wasn't a good frustration.

What's next?
Quickie Game:
Main Feature Game:

(Since this review is for a game I finished a while ago, there is no what's next section)
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I'm going to start using tags for real now. Okay, here is an article on a blog about video games. I think the article is right on in every way and am pleased to hear someone say it....the argument is one I've made numerous times about pop music. Basically the author criticizes the "old games were great, new games suck because they are commercial" meme.

For those who like that sort of think, enjoy!

http://designsynthesis.blogspot.com/2005/08/illusion-of-degradation.html
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An Xbox review:

Still Life -- The Adventure Company

Review of Sill Life )

Grade: B

Recommended: Well. There are very few adventure games on consoles and the conventional wisdom is that twitch gamers don't want to sit for two hours trying to figure out how to solve the Logic Puzzle of Fate. If you don't have a lot of patience, then I can not recommend this game. You won't like it. If you like happy puppy games. Don't get this game. It is dark and graphic, and there are autopsies, and it deserves its mature rating. That said. I finished this game in two days, and it kept me up really late yesterday. I found it completely compelling and engrossing and engaging. I couldn't put down the controller--even though I new I had to wake up early the next day (or three hours later, as it ended up being). I laughed out loud a couple times and I really enjoyed the people I met in the game (even if their sound engineer wasn't very good). The game was cinematic and exciting. I know I'm only rating the game a B--I'd give it an A-, but for the audio/controller annoyances. For full disclosure, my undergrad degree in Electronic Music Composition included a bunch of classes on recording technique, and I did work doing audio for Leapfrog Toys the summer before I came to UCLA...and those annoyances really stand out to me. It may not stand out to anyone else as much as it did to me--but ooh was I distracted by it.

On the other hand, here's the thing though--The game cut some corners...BUT the game also only costs $20. For that price range, the game rocks on toast, and I'd like to encourage the production of more lower price games. For $20 this game is a A. If you are like noodling over puzzles and you like movies like Silence of the Lambs...I recommend the game highly!

What's next?
Quickie Game: Continuing Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.
Main Feature Game: I have to write my Billy Tipton article, so I'm not going to start a new game until I'm done. If I must play for a bit of stress relief, I'll try to push forward some more on Ninja Gaiden...who knows, I may even finish it.
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An Xbox review:

Advent Rising -- Majesco

Detailed Review of Advent Rising )

Grade: A-

Recommended: A good solid third person sci-fi action-adventure title. If you think you'd like that, go for it!

What's next?
Quickie Game: Continuing Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. I've finished most of the races in the Championship mode and half the races in Hot Pursuit mode. This means that most of the races I have left are really, really hard. Which means they no longer take a quick 10 minutes. Which means I'm slowing down a bit on this one.
Main Feature Game: Next up--after progress on my Billy Tipton article--Still Life. I'm imagining that it is shorter than GTA: San Andreas, and it is still in the window of the collective unconscious bonus.

Shout outs: [livejournal.com profile] illiaanya welcome back to KotOR! (and Los Angeles)
[livejournal.com profile] skrelnek, congrats on finishing the Sith Lords, what are you going to do next?
[livejournal.com profile] ichbinkelsey, I have been told, has been making great progress with Prince of Persia: Warrior Within--go, go go!
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So, I'm handsome again. After too long looking like an extra from the cast of Hair, I went to my barber and got a haircut. It was $20 bucks! But definitely worth it. This is the second time I've gone to this barber...and the second time I've gotten a great cut from him.

I think this fellow will be my regular barber until I leave LA. I'm very happy. Plus, I've been listening to Olivia Newton-John lots again. Hm...I need to have more music in my life.

I have frighteningly few days left to write my Billy Tipton article. (Let's think about that later).

Lastly, yesterday I took the day off. Monday I finished all of the grading, and got it all turned in. So Tuesday I slept in and hung out in my PJs all day. Tuesday night I started playing Advent Rising...well...it is this video game that has gotten mixed reviews...people complain about the framerate slowing down mostly -- though some have complained about the targeting system. Me? I'm having a great time. It is such a movie experience. It was co-written by Orson Scott Card and I think it's pretty cool so far. I've only played it for a few hours...and probably won't be able to play for a while (unless I get super productive on this Tipton paper). But right away...the game gave me this horrible desicion...in the opening sections of the game. I hade to choose between my brother or my fiancé. I chose my fiancé...but I'm still haunted by my choice...I can't go into too many details because of Stephan's Rule of Video Game Spoiler Avoidance.

Okay, I'm off to do some laundry and read.

Did I mention...I have a haircut.

Yeah!
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A review:

Brothers in Arms -- Ubisoft/Gearbox
Detailed Review of Brothers in Arms )

Grade: A

Recommended: I'd recommend it to folks who like to puzzle out things amidst their shooting. Also, if you are a war buff, highly recommended. This is one to buy rather than rent--the extras make it worth it.

What's next?
Quickie Game: Well, I picked up Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. It is a racing game using an engine that I actually like--most of the other racing games make me crazy...so that will be the game I play when I only want to spend a quick 10 minutes playing video games or when I have a pal over to play with. I'm enjoying the game so far...and it is now my official killing ten minutes game.
Main Feature Game: I will probably play Advent Rising so I can get the collective unconscious bonus.
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Well.

I finished Jade Empire. Is it cool? Aw Yeeeah!

Beautiful graphics. Cool story. Trés Epic. Neat character interactions. I really liked the combat--though people who like complicated combat with lots of combos may be underwhelmed. The actors were good. There were moments I was surprised, moments I got choked up, moments I was torn between choices. Bioware, who made Knights of the Old Republic, followed up with a very cool game indeed.

There is something that I found most impressive...and that's about the final boss confrontation...but I can't really say...because I don't want to give spoilers...but I can say that the way they implemented their morality system open palm/closed fist ended up being pretty cool. It seemed pretty black and white throughout most of the game...but by the end you say you yourself...."huh. check that out...not so black and white afterall." Not earthshattering...but pretty cool.

I wonder if I could play the game a second time closed fist? I played through as myself and ended up as open palm as open palm can be. Perhaps I'll play through as a heavy fighter who is closed fist? But that will come at another time.

The game was about 40 hours, and It had this very cool mini-game that was like one of those old school arcade scrolling flying games. The designers created a very cool universe and it was clear that this was a labor of love.

Oh and the voice overs that happen as the credits play are priceless...plus John Cleese is a guest voice actor in Jade Empire...that was a fun surprise!

If you like RPGs...then I recommend Jade Empire...highly recommended.

Grade: A.

I think I'll play Brothers in Arms next...after the homework and the laundry and the house cleaning...
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It is two hours later than I wanted it to be...and I'm dog tired.

But I've finished Thief: Deadly Shadows (XBox)
Genre: Stealth

Mini-Review--the game got generally positive reviews.
This is a stealth game. It involves sneaking into places and stealing stuff in a quasi-medieval setting.

The big critique I read is that the map is useless...well it isn't useless, but it isn't GPS...it is a scrawled, hand-drawn affair...and I like that about the game. You really get to know the city and the buildings very well.

So the graphics are great. The voice acting is good. The plot is not super heavy, but very good for a non-RPG. Cut scenes are impressive. The world background is good too.

The next to last mission was one of the scariest things I've every encountered in media...whoever did Shalebridge Cradle Art and Sound Design--genius, I tell you.

If you have lots of patience and like stealth games, I recommend it.

Grade: A

Well, I really have to go to bed. I'm way past my bed time.

No more video games for me until after my diss draft. And I'm going to the gym.

Bis Morgen!
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