I've been playing video games much more frequently since moving to San Diego and starting a career as a game developer. My experience with a game and opinion thereof might be valuable to somebody out there, so I decided to write mini-reviews of games in batches. I don't feel like writing lengthy reviews of most games, so sticking to batches of mini-reviews seems like the best idea. I do not claim that my reviews are original; I just guarantee that they are honest and as unbiased as I can pull off.
The grading scale will be a percentage to allow for great accuracy ("four stars out of five" just doesn't convey enough detail for my tastes), and I will have at least a short statement about each game.
- Genre: RPG
- Release Date: October 2007
- Platform: PC
- The Witcher Official Site
- Demo Download Link
- Score: 90%
- Summary: It takes effort to play; it is a time investment that really pays off if you stick with it. It is not a casual gaming experience, and the depth of complexity translates into depth of immersion and reward in the form of an interactive story. I believe it is the best RPG in a long time, from the perspective of a pure Role-Playing-Game. In other words, The Witcher shines in the areas of character development, intriguing plot, and unique character expression, instead of huge landscapes or lots of dungeons/monsters like Oblivion. It does have technical issues like sporadic crashes and long load times, and each patch has significantly improved the situation. The "Advanced Edition" coming in May claims to solve every known technical issue. The Witcher is very raw, mature, and honest, and you really feel like you are in an accurate rendition of a fantasy land where barfights are common and city slums actually contain prostitutes. Please note that it contains offensive material, roughly equivalent to an R-rated movie, although the American version is edited down a bit from the European English version.
Super Mario Galaxy
- Genre: Action Adventure/Platformer
- Release Date: November 2007
- Platform: Nintendo Wii
- Super Mario Galaxy Official Website
- Score: 94%
- Summary: Great 3d platform game. My wife & I bought it on Black Friday and played it for 2.5 solid days until I'd gotten all 120 stars (I think it only took 60 to beat the boss). It was a blast, and we loved how she could contribute with a 2nd controller by freezing the enemies and collecting "star bits." Having a 2nd person freeze enemies is extremely useful, but you could beat the game just fine without it. They did a great job giving a 2nd player a role that is very helpful, but not really necessary. The game is really fun most of the way through, and there were only around 5 frustrating parts that I had to replay several times to get. A true classic that any fan of classic Mario games should play. As others have said, this is the first true sequel to Mario 64, and it has many elements in common with that game.
- Genre: FPS (First-Person Shooter)
- Release Date: March 2004
- Platform: PC
- Far Cry Official Website
- Score: 75%
- Summary: I must admit, I did not get as much out of this game as so many others did. It is a pretty good shooter, but I felt that the 3d engine got more polish than the game itself did. I encountered a number of very annoying glitches or mistakes, such as enemies shooting me accurately through walls (even on the easiest difficulty), big bad guys killing me in one shot after somehow silently sneaking up on me from behind (even on the easiest difficulty), and more. Most of the bugs/mistakes were of the type that are extremely frustrating, making the game hard for all the wrong reasons. One great example was a time that I was walking through a building, cleared a room and confirmed it to be empty. I walk into the next room and a bad guy spawns in the room behind me and hits me from behind, nearly killing me. I also thought the characters were shallow and undeveloped, making it difficult to get into the plot and give a flying monkey about what happened along the way. On the bright side, the graphics are stunning, the island is frequently fun to explore, and at times, it is an intense FPS tactical experience. It's an OK game, but it simply doesn't compare to FPS experiences like the Halo and Half Life series.
- Genre: Exploration Adventure?
- Release Date: January 2008 (American release; it was called "Forever Blue" in Japan originally)
- Platform: Nintendo Wii
- Endless Ocean Official Website
- Score: 80%
- Summary: A very surprising experience. It's not a full-fledged game per se; it is a relaxing exploring experience. You scuba dive around gorgeous scuba-dive-type-places, finding sea creatures and ancient artifacts and the like. There are some objectives and plots along the way, but they are a little half-baked. The fact that they are in the game at all, but not fully polished, detracted from my score a bit. They should have either omitted them (and replaced with even more areas to explore), or developed them to the level other games would have. Weak side plots aside, this game is the best low-stress, good-for-the-soul experience I've seen in a while. I personally don't have the patience to swim around slowly and find animals, but my wife loves it.