Question of the Week: Surprisingly Good Games?

by: Randy -
More On: What we're playing
Surprisingly Good

Have there been any games you've been forced to review/cover that really surprised you in a good way?

Ben Berry:  My game goes back a bit, but Zoo Tycoon 2 surprised me as did Dreamfall: The Longest Journey I didn't know much about the original of either game, and Dreamfall was particularly good.

Sean Colleli:  Back in 2007 an obscure little shooter showed up on my doorstep courtesy of Mr. Yan and Husemann. It was called You Are Empty, an FPS by developer Digital Spray and published by Atari. I don't think I've ever been so pleasantly surprised by a low-profile title.  It wasn't outstanding or anything, but the attention to detail, artistic environments and especially how the game set the mood really caught me off guard. The game was set in alternate reality 1950s Russia, and the developers are Russian so the hometown influence showed. I don't think I've played a game since that made me feel so cold and alone; those desolate, delapidated streets had a unique sadness to them. You Are Empty isn't an amazing game but it's still competent and kept me interested until the end. I highly recommend it, if just for the scenery and atmosphere.  (Currently Playing:  Dead Space, Prototype)

Randy Kalista:  Still baffles me to this day as to why I took on the assignment.  It was midyear 2007 and I'd obviously had my fill of Crackdown and Spider-Man 3 (I guess), so I told Chuck:  Sure, Fairy Godmother Tycoon?  A game about building a potion empire?  I'm apparently feeling masochistic?  Send it to me?  And then there I was, taking orders from the Fairy Godmother herself, pinstriped and sporting a mammoth pinky ring, having me handle all the legwork of building a retail empire in order to sell nutty potions to citizens various and sundry throughout the land of make-believe.  And because of its well thought-out time-management simulations, its funny ha-ha rewrites of classical characters, along with its silly but thoughtful artwork, I managed to have a good run of it.  (Currently Playing:  The Sims 3, Red Faction: Guerrilla, EVE Online)

Cyril Lachel:  While there are many, MANY games that have surprised me (including Battlestations: Pacific, the game I'm currently reviewing), there's one in particular that made me reassess my take on puzzle games.  That game is Puzzle Quest.  With its generic name and simplistic look, I was ready to write this game off long before even playing it.  However, when I got the preview build months ahead of time I found myself completely won over by its mix of role-playing and puzzle solving.  While I love puzzle games, this would have been one of those games I completely ignored on the store shelves.  But Puzzle Quest proved to not only be one of my favorite puzzle games, but my Game of the Year a couple of years ago.  The Nintendo DS version even helped me get through a tough month of not using my hand, after suffering second degree burns on half of my right paw.  The game means a lot to me, and to think I was ready to dismiss this game just from the name and look.  I'll never do that again (hopefully).

Nathan Murray:  Have you seen the games I've reviewed?  More recently I received, reviewed (this WILL be up soon), and generally liked X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the X-box 360. The thing is it didn't really surprise me how good the gameplay was but how the story from the movie was handled. While it is a movie tie in game there is a minimum retelling of the actual events in the film and in most cases a summary. This made me very happy because I did not want to sit through the same crappy story twice.  (Now Playing: Mass Effect (brushing up on my codex knowledge), Rock Band 2, Battlefield: Bad Company, Call of Duty 4, Final Fantasy Tactics(PSP), Loco Roco 2(completed))

Sean Nack:  My expectations for the upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen were, in a word, low. Like earth's core low. After playing the original before attending the event, I was expecting the same stiff controls, awful combat, and generally uninteresting gameplay; what I got was wicked-fast multiplayer, complex but natural-feeling controls, and the general impression of a game I'd want to play.  (Currently Playing:  Prototype, Left 4 Dead, Halo 3)

John Yan:  The one game I was really surprised at was MLB 07 The Show. I used to play a lot of baseball games dating back to Earl Weaver Baseball on the Amiga and Hardball on the C64 so I was pretty picky on what my baseball game should be like. It turned out that Sony's game was one of the best baseball games I've played and I was surprised at how well the action played out on the field and how many options you have in the game. The Show aspect was also a ton of fun for me when in trying to bring a player up from the minor leagues to the majors and I've been a big fan of the series ever since.  (Currently Playing: Left 4 Dead, Killzone 2)