It's been a while since I wrote in this thing, but that's a combination of heading back to college and getting wrapped up in some really good games! Over the past few weeks, I've had the pleasure of playing the universally lauded Bioshock for PC, and the slightly-under-the-radar Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the DS. I'm not really going to review anything here, I'm just gonna tell you how my experience was playing these and my general opinion about them.
I'll start will Bioshock. I fired this baby up shortly after I finished building my new machine
and binged on it. Hard. I played right up until I had to leave for school and then finished it up shortly thereafter. I completely enjoyed it - there wasn't another game this year that has engrossed me in such a way. I think the graphical polish of this game was the main contributing factor, the art and detail in the world of Rapture made it totally convincing. The Unreal Engine has some real horsepower and this was my first chance to see it in action. All in all, a great first impression. But it wasn't just the graphics that had me in a tizzy. This FPS has the most genre-pushing-forward gameplay I've seen in a shooter since Half-Life 2. The combination of weapons, plasmids to alter the environment and enhance your attacks, and the very environment itself provides a multitude of options for the player. I'm sure you heard this time and again in many reviews, but this is the reason Bioshock will be Game of the Year - you simply haven't played a game like this before (except arguably its spiritual predecessor System Shock). Keep your Halos and GTAs, Bioshock will make everything shooter that comes after it seem all the more stale and tired.
Now for something completely different. I got a DS for my birthday over the summer, so of course I was on the look out for some good games. Over the past year, I kept hearing the name Hotel Dusk pop up time and again. I knew it was a mystery game and took advantage the DS's hardware in interesting ways. It's no Pokeman or Mario in terms of press time, but Hotel Dusk deserves your play time if you are a DS owner. This game is simply so charming and well presented that you can't help but love it. Cheesy cop movie dialog intertwines with touch-screen puzzles and wonderful hand drawn characters push along a surprisingly engrossing story of betrayal, hope and discovery. I've read a few reviews of this game to see what the critics said, and of those that enjoyed it the least, they pointed out the "gimmicky" nature of the gameplay and poor dialog. I guess that all depends on how you approach it. Hotel Dusk is definitely a tongue-in-cheek homage to the pulp detective novels and films of the mid-twentieth century, but I feel that the game maintains enough distance from that to keep the characters and story plausible. As for gimmicky puzzle solving, I didn't feel this way. The only thing I didn't enjoy about Hotel Dusk was the occasionally arbitrary dialog choices that could lead to a game over, which requires an annoying replay of the entire dialog. However, you won't ever have to replay more than five minutes or so of the game.
Well, that's that. As for the next couple weeks, I hope to get my hands on some sweet Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and Team Fortress action (I already got Orange Box preordered on Steam) and possibly World in Conflict. And of course, I'll make every effort to get my hands on someone's 360 to get in some Halo 3. 'Till then!