Fable 2 (360 / M)
This game didn't appeal to me as much as the first Fable did. Maybe it was the new setting. Maybe it was how they pissed on so much of the last game, like reducing Oakvale to a haunted swamp. Or maybe it was because the only way to really get any money in this game is to take up one of three monotonous jobs that all amount to pressing a button when the game tells you to. Fable 1 also had something resembling a final boss, even if it was totally piss easy. Fable 2's pretty infamous for the fact the "final boss" doesn't do crap and is literally impossible to lose to.
Banjo-Kazooie (N64 / E)
The camera could have been better, swimming was annoying, and I hated every minute I was in Rusty Bucket Bay, but otherwise a solid N64 collect-a-thon platformer, and most of the other levels are enjoyable to be in. And unlike the rest of the games in this review quickie session, it both has a final boss, and the final boss was actually good!
It's obvious where all the effort for this game went. My jaw dropped when I first saw the gorgeous first level loading screen, and the graphics went on to blow my mind throughout the game, but the soundtrack is kind of noisy and inappropriate, and enemies just lazily fly on screen for your magic owl to shoot down. The final level is probably harder than the entire rest of the game combined, but most of that difficulty comes from the game cramming as many enemies and projectiles that are the same reds and browns as the background as they felt an Amiga's 68000 processor could handle into the screen, and it culminates in a final boss that may seem overwhelming at first, but is easily felled by a very simple trick. Other sections of the game can also be cheesed through, like how you can get through almost all of the fifth level by hanging around the bottom left of the screen holding the fire button.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Xbox / T)
A collection of potentially good ideas that just didn't congeal into anything greater than the sum of its parts. Puzzle solving is satisfying, and the acrobatics work but are let down by cinematic camera angles throwing off your distance judgement and leaving you not knowing how to get where you need to. But the combat is almost game-breakingly awful. Battles consist of fighting the same respawning enemies again and again, and not only are there only six or seven different enemies throughout the entire game, there might as well only be two - an enemy you can beat by vaulting over again and again, and one you can't. And not only did I beat the final boss on my first try he didn't even get a single hit on me.
Resident Evil 4 (PS2 / M)
The shooting bits are decent, but best part of this game are the set pieces, such as the boss fights and things like the mine cart chase, and there is some neat scenery like the town built on rickety planks in a windy mountainside. I was a little worried about having to escort Ashley around for most of the game, but fortunately, it's just Leon for about 2/3 of it. The game starts out kind of scary, but then you run into Squeeky-Voiced Midgit Napoleon and the plot only gets stupider as it goes along, finally saying "Screw it" and taking you from rural Spain to Shadow Moses Island for the final part of the game (although those chainsaw guys scared the hell out of me no matter how far into the game I was).
Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox / M)
Bland, boring, and level design is made up of about three rooms and one hallway for each area copy-pasted over and over and over, and even though the whole game only took me two days to finish (okay, plus half an hour of a third to finally pull of the Warthog escape) most levels, particularly the Library, felt like they took forever and a day to get through. As if the obnoxious repetition within each level wasn't enough, the last three levels are half rehashes of earlier ones. While thoroughly mediocre throughout, the very last part of the game, the escape in the Warthog so badly ripped of Aliens I was shocked there was no final boss fight with a Flood stowaway (or any final boss. Or any bosses in the whole game), is the most irritating part of the entire game thanks to the Warthog's shitty controls and physics and leaves a horrid final impression. It's like eating a can of unflavored oatmeal and finding a layer of rotten egg at the bottom.