I've played a couple of new games this weekend. Well, new. New to me. Here are my impressions based on about an hour or two per game:
Zuma. Nice, if a bit low-res. Lots of interesting feedback and risk-reward aspects. Move the mouse away from the center and you can be more precise, but it takes longer to aim somewhere else, etc. I pretty much finished the 60 minute trial period. I wouldn't mind playing again, but I don't want to pay $20 for it.
Peggle. Another nice casual game. I was surprised something requiring so little skill could be fun, but then it's basically Pachinko, so why should I be surprised? This game has the best level complete feedback I've ever seen. The production values are really nice. Again, I would play more, but not for $20.
Mass Effect. My initial impression is negative. The story was meh to me. I was hoping for a well-developed sci-fi setting, but somehow it is not compelling. I found the UI annoying and cumbersome, and the levels unreadable. I literally got lost the moment I set foot on the first planet. How hard is it to turn the characters the right way at the start of the level? However, the unreadability might be because my flat-screen TV was set to the wrong mode. I will give it another try. Maybe I will grow used to the UI as well.
Assassin's Creed. Looks great, and kudos to Ubisoft for making the story a bit more complex than it needs to be. However, I just failed the pickpocketing mission twice and I am still angry. I had to read the manual to find out what 'Low Profile' means - it means walking around without pressing the right trigger, i.e. 'not High Profile'. The pickpocketing target is insanely jumpy and I have no clue how to pick his pockets. Once detected I couldn't find a single hiding place and being cut to pieces by my own colleagues (what the hell is that all about?) was preferable to running around like an idiot. What a waste of time. I also found the controls overly complex. Press this trigger, than that button, then find out you can and should release them by jumping to your death a couple of times. Gah.
What did you think of these games?
Update: I just remembered Penny Arcade warned me about Mass Effect. Also: all Assassin's Creed FAQs say 'just pickpocket the guy'. Thanks. Thanks so much.