While I suspect that Vanishing Point is another one of Microsoft's elaborate "get people to like Vista" ad campaigns (much like their pathetic—albeit clever and absolutely hilarious—team-up with comedian Demetri Martin), I really have to hand it to them for making a superb puzzle game with depth and intricacy that is likely to astound even the most seasoned of puzzlers.
Teaming up with the fabulous 42 Entertainment, Microsoft has created a game that is one-half God Tower-esque puzzling, and one-half alternate reality game (ARG) goodness with obsession potential. Seriously, Microsoft's gone all-out on this one. They've even included some pretty outrageous prizes, which include, believe it or not, one grand prize trip to outer space.
Now, before I get started, just know that because of the game's ARG elements, Vanishing Point has a large dedicated fanbase and a plethora of puzzles that extend far beyond the scope of the flash portion of the game, far more than I could possibly cover in this one review. If you want to know more about the intimidating underwater portion of this iceberg, there's an entire wiki devoted to the game.
Before you begin you must register on the site, but it only takes a minute and it's worth it. Every week a group of twelve new puzzles will be released (four easy, four medium, and four hard) in the guise of a puzzle box. So far, two have been released, and two have yet to be released. You can play these puzzles in any order and get points each time you complete an individual puzzle. But here's the innovative kicker: to complete any flash-based puzzle, you'll (probably) need the corresponding ARG-based clue, each of which are released in real-time live events all over the globe. The first happened in Las Vegas, the second set of clues were written in the sky all over the world, and god only knows what else Microsoft's got up their sleeves for the next two events. If you're lucky enough to live near one of the countdown sites, I seriously suggest you try and visit these mind-blowing events.
Analysis: The flash puzzles are clever and of extremely high quality. Even without the incredible ARG-elements, this is one awesome puzzle game, and likely to be entertaining far after the event has ended. Conversely, even without the flash puzzles the ARG half of this game is still of unbelievable quality. Kudos to 42 Entertainment for putting out this piece of gold.
Great prizes, great fun, and it's free. They put a lot into this game, and you'll get a lot out of it as well.
Cheers to Deadzone and Pierce for submitting this one!