There are a couple of specific areas that are added in, to give you more exposure with certain weapons, as well as practice with different weapon combinations. The Proving Grounds are areas specific to one weapon. You can only use that weapon noted, although you can use any upgrades you've purchased. If certain conditions are met (time-specific or number of enemies conquered), you earn a special token, depending on whether you earned third, second, or first prize, that is useful later on. Initially, I thought that just getting third place was sufficient, but finding out the specific tactic that earns you first prize, is usually beneficial in the game levels. There is also a place called Who Knows Where, in which wave after wave of differing combinations of enemies you've met come after you. Not only do you earn experience points to help you level up, and some of the game's currency, but you also get a good sense of which weapon loadout works best for your style, and the types of enemies you'll be facing.
Bastion is a graphically enriched game. The colors are vibrant and lush, yet still manage to remain appropriate for this wasteland of a world. Jen Zee deserves any accolades she earns by bringing the team's vision of Bastion to life. There were many times I wished the characters were larger so I could see them better in more detail. The variety of creatures and the details in areas are amazing. I would see that it was time to stop playing, but would want to see what kind of creatures I would come across, if I experienced just 'one more level,'
As was previously mentioned, the narrator's Tom Waits/Clint Eastwood voice, coupled with his instinctive comments, really add to the game. When he's not giving a play by play of your actions (I would still chuckle, even when I had played over 5 hours into the game), the snippets of the backstory he's divulging are a nice touch. Typically I tend to block out a lot of the extraneous chatter from game announcers/narrators, but you really do have to pay attention to what he's saying while you're playing. The narrator pushes Bastion over the edge from your basic RPG.
The main game most likely will take somewhere between 8-10 hours of your time, which seems reasonable for a game with this price. I rarely had it feel tedious, but I didn't sit for long periods and play. it was more like an hour here and an hour there. Once the main game is finished, there is a new game + mode, if you're interested in continuing your adventure with The Kid.
I'm not a fan of the trend of more and more Xbox Arcade games breaking the 800 MSP barrier, but Bastion is treading that fine line. While it's most likely worthy of my $15, I think my score would have been a bit higher, if it had stayed at that 800 MSP line. Overall, though, a fun adventure with outstanding art direction, and an innovation narration system, which is certainly worthy of your time, kind of like if The Legend of Zelda games had stayed 2D
Bastion for Xbox 360 Arcade is priced at 1200 Microsoft Points ($15) and is available now.