Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I've seen the future

And I was pretty pleased. I am, of course, talking about the Fable 2 DLC currently available on the Xbox Live market place. It comes in at a less-than-average 580 Microsoft points, and, being related to Fable, I snapped it up the day it came out. And finished it the next day. Despite having to do the first quest twice due to a glitch. And than taking my time. And having exams. It is short, I can't hide that from you. However, what there is, is pretty good, albeit missing any moral decisions. Included are three quests and glimpse of the future. Without wanting to give too much away, here are my thoughts.

The first quest takes place in a black and white world in which you must restore colour. While I do think they could have used this backdrop more thoroughly, it was an enjoyable quest. At least, it was the first time, but I'll get to that in a minute. The thing that really made the quest work were the enemies. Each enemy could only be killed through one of the combat disciplines (melee, ranged or Will) While I wouldn't describe it as hard in the traditional sense, being forced to use your different abilities added variety to an otherwise dull combat system. It got particularly interesting when the game started throwing different colours at you, and you were forced to play much more dynamically instead of just spamming level 1 fire spells.

The quest was somewhat undermined when, at the end, I got stuck in a wall. The game would only let me fast travel if I reset the quest, but, when faced with an eternity living in a wall, that seemed like a small price to pay. None the less, it was frustrating and to top it all, I ended up with far less of the collectibles at the end.

The second quest was quite amusing, as you were forced to dress up in various different costumes and perform expressions, which is always fun. Also, towards the end it had these interesting puzzles which were almost lemming-like. You had to summon various different types of Hobbes, each with their own unique uses. You had to use them to solve some environmental puzzles. For example, there was a toxic river which you couldn't cross. First, you had to summon an explosive Hobbe to destroy a wall which reveals a second summoning point. You use this one to summon a Hobbe with stilts to walk across the river and activate a switch. Once again, it wasn't very hard, but they were enjoyable enough to work out. I would have liked to see this mechanic expanded upon.

When you do go to see the future, you will, most likely, be unimpressed. There is hardly some ground breaking secret within it. It varies a little depending on your character. Sadly, little is the operative word. All you can definitely get from it is that Lionhead plan to make another Fable. If you wanted, you could read in to it that they are considering making a real time strategy game, but that is quite a stretch.

The third and final stretch of the game is definitely the highlight. Although not hard, as Lionhead promised, the arena poses an interesting challenge with its high scores. You are tasked with killing as much as you can in a tight time limit. It is not hard to get all the prizes, but I have yet to face the final boss, so it isn't easy. It also emphasises the need for two screens in co-op, as it is virtually impossible to actually co-operate. Instead, you end up fighting for the single view, making shooting specific things and getting the combo things virtually impossible.

As you would expect from Fable DLC, it comes with nice costumes and collectibles. This time, it even has some amusing achievements in addition to the normal collection ones. It has a couple of nice locations to explore, new characters to meet and weapons to use. The only obvious omission is the lack of any moral decisions there were so focal in Fable 2. I would have liked to see many of the mechanics expanded upon. None the less, for 580 Microsoft points I do recommend it. It is an enjoyable reason to return to Fable with some interesting quests.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Posting hiatus is over

I know it is early than I said it would be. However, I had to end the posting hiatus prematurely for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I have written my Fable 2: See the Future impressions and can see no real reason for keeping them from you! As a sneak preview (I'll be posting it tomorrow) I really enjoyed it, but it didn't have a moral decision, which I felt was odd at best.

Secondly, THQ have just granted me a review copy of Red Faction: Guerrilla (!) which, while I haven't covered before, does look very cool (see video below). Also, it looks like it has a Team Fortress 2 style online, which, given how much I am enjoying that, should be good to see. Anyway, as I am being given a copy of this game, I feel somewhat obliged to review it around the time when it was released. The review embargo is until the 5th of June, so expect the review some time around then.

Also, as you may have gathered, I have the Orange Box. Steam were selling it at the outrageous price of £5, so I couldn't refuse. And what a package! I can't work out which game I like most. I have the Cinematic Mod for Half-Life 2 and I am loving every second of this beautifully well paced first person shooter, more than any other FPS ever (except maybe Metroid Prime, but that isn't a real shooter). Then there is Portal, which I am going to devote a whole post to just expressing my shear love for the game. And then there is Team Fortress Two, which was recently patched to include some really cool maps (it's like Steam love me). The whole game is that amazingly balanced online experience that hasn't got old yet.

Talking of free maps, Relic have added more maps and even a new game mode to Dawn of War 2. The game goes from strength to strength, with the 2v2 mode adding even more strategy to the game, but I'll be talking more about that too.

And I sold out and got both map packs for Halo 3. I haven't really played much of Legendary, but I have made a map that I am pretty pleased with in Sandbox (I'll probably be posting about it on my game development blog). I really got it as I was going to have points left over from Fable, and I wanted Sandbox, so I just got it all so I could play it online.

Oh yes, and the small point that E3 is coming and I best get my predictions in early. And guessing Forza 3 doesn't count as a prediction, it's like "predicting" that the sun will rise tomorrow, it's all but guaranteed.

Anyway, hope all is well with everyone. I am 3/5s of my way through my exams, I am addicted to Twitter and the weather was fantastic, until today.

"All your base are belong to us"