Posts by GordonFroman117:
Tons of information regarding BioWare’s latest entry in the epic Dragon Age series has gotten me and many others that I’ve talked to excited to jump back into the world of Thedas. What we do know is that Inquisition is a much larger game than its predecessors, with everything from Ferelden, to Orlais, and everything in between up for exploration. Familiar characters will be making a return, Inquisition uses the Frostbite engine, and new monsters and demons to fight is just scratching the surface of what the game will offer.
There was one small, but important bit of info that wasn’t announced until now: the release date! Check out this awesome gameplay trailer showing you some of the game in action and get ready to mark your calendar.
We’re still several months away from actually seeing Inquisition in stores, but now we can take comfort that it is coming out this fall. What we got from the trailer was a bit of the story and the new threat that looms over Thedas – The Breach. Apparently this cataclysmic event tore a hole through The Veil and opened a path to The Fade where demons have begun to cross into Thedas. The resulting tear reduces thousands of soldiers to husks of charred flesh, but you somehow survived. But what I found interesting was what Cassandra said in the beginning: “You walked out of The Fade”. What was he doing in there? And how did he get there in the first place? Such questions however will be answered in due time.
Along with a solid release date, we also have the box art!
Dragon Age: Inquisition is slated to launch on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this October.
Date Released: March 4th, 2014
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment & South Park Digital Studios
Platform: [Reviewed Xbox 360], PlayStation 3, PC
Rated: M for Mature
With an endless source of satirical gold, South Park is well into its 17th season and still going strong by taking anything currently trending in society and making it into a hilarious half hour of balls-to-the-wall situations with no censorship. This formula has made the show into a cultural phenomenon; however, the same can’t be said for any videogame adaptations out there. None of the past South Park titles have even come close to capturing the spirit of their source material, until now.
The boys of South Park are engaged in a LARPing (live action role-play) game that has them split into two factions fighting for the control of The Stick of Truth. A prophecy has been foretold that a mysterious figure will have the power to turn the tide of the war and that’s where the player comes in. Just moving in to the “quiet” mountain town, you, a seemingly mute kid with a strange past, must go out and make friends because your parents told you to. You will soon join Cartman, Kenny, Stan, and Kyle on the hunt for The Stick of Truth, and like clockwork, insanity ensues, attracting more attention than South Park kids bargained for.
South Park: The Stick of Truth plays like any traditional RPG: leveling, gaining XP, upgrading equipment, classes, and turn-based combat much like the older Final Fantasy games. Seeking The Stick of Truth will pit you against various others like elves, hobos, meth addicts, and hallway monitors. You can gain the upper hand in a fight by scoring a preemptive strike which allows you to attack first; striking them with an arrow, a fart, or both will add debuffs on your enemy before the actual fight begins. There are environmental hazards you can set off that will take out some or all of your enemies, saving you time and making combat much more manageable if one foe happens to avoid the trap.
Each turn can consist of two phases: using “potions” to heal and attacking; if you are low on health make sure to heal first before attacking as doing so will end your turn. Just before striking an enemy an indicator prompts players the opportunity to perform perfect attacks, adding extra damage to your target, as well as perfect blocks that reduces damage received and avoiding debuffs being placed on you. If a fight is more than you can handle you can call upon one of four potential summons to perform a devastating super move that pretty much wins the battle for you. But once you’ve summoned those characters you’ll have to wait till the next day to summon them again; they also refuse to aid in boss battles so they can’t win all your battles for you.
Players are accompanied by one of six buddies that join you on your quest: Butters, Kenny, Jimmy, Stan, Cartman, and Kyle. Some characters join your fellowship later on in the game and that presents a little nitpick; the game goes on for three in-game days and two friends are unlocked each day, so when the third day comes you really don’t get enough time with your newly enlisted compatriots. Another problem is with difficulty. Though the game plays very well, the overall experience diminishes when there is no real threat posed by your opponents; not once did I fall in battle and by the last third of the game I became too overpowered. I recommend to all players to start at the highest difficulty which can be done at any time in the options menu.
Regardless, The Stick of Truth is a very competent South Park game that the show desperately deserved, but it also features the entire town of South Park to LARP in, meaning that this is the first and official layout of the town that fans will feverishly want to explore. There are dozens of familiar characters that will need a helping hand with missions that takes players to every corner of South Park, which is filled to the brim with references from the show and gaming alike. The more you wander the town of South Park the more secrets can be uncovered; hidden stashes of weapons or armor can be found in backpacks, but some are unobtainable until you receive the required ability to reach it.
Obsidian Entertainment, along with South Park Digital Studios, did a remarkable job making The Stick of Truth look and feel like an actual episode straight from the show. And just like the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone take on their roles of numerous South Park citizens with the same level of consistency and ridiculously hysterical dialog. Standard medieval tunes with a South Park twist does well enough to make this modern day medieval romp feel like you’re back in olden times. There are a few noticeable lags in the game, particularly when dealing with “almost president” Al Gore. And I had a small glitch happen where battle music continued to play even though I was just exploring around, but got fixed when I re-loaded a save. All of these bugs were a bit annoying, but didn’t do anything to ruin the game as a whole.
Finishing at 15 hours, The Stick of Truth is admittedly a short game, especially for a role-playing title. After concluding your search for the stick, you do have a chance to wrap up any remaining quests, though with less incentive. And if you were thinking of picking a different class for your next playthrough the only difference would be your abilities; every class can wield the same weapons and armors just as effectively as the other and that does hurt the games replayability as there is little diversity. On the flip side there is plenty to enjoy: the well-designed and well-paced gameplay, outrageous moments, hilarious dialog, and getting to interact with many of your favorite characters. Your focus in-game may be to search for the Stick of Truth, but for gaming, the search for a good South Park title has finally come to an end.
Overall Rating: 4/5
One playthrough, over one hundred hours in, and an estimated 180 deaths; this was my time spent in the land of Drangleic as I searched every crevice, joined every covenant, and slayed each boss. A game like Dark Souls II is a rare specimen that requires unyielding attention when soaking in all that it had to offer. The seemingly tantalizing, but richly rewarding victories after numerous grueling defeats only made the fact more obvious that this game is beyond ordinary and is far beyond anything I have ever played.
The lore of Dark Souls is drenched in tales of lords and wars, but as it has always been, your tale centers around an all too familiar curse – the curse of the undead and its plight. Set into the far distant future, where the events of the original Dark Souls are now whispered as legends, players are conflicted with the soul –draining curse of the undead and have sought out (or been drawn into) the kingdom of Drangleic. Rumors have spread that the land is brimming with souls to soothe the undead of their affliction, but those who enter it will find out that only those endure the punishment of death can even hope to retain their very humanity.
What is so brilliant about Dark Souls II’s opening sequence is that it teaches you nearly everything that you will need to know going forward. Looking carefully at your surroundings may reveal hidden paths to take or that any enemy, large or small, can easily take out reckless adventurers. Overconfidence and natural curiosity is the driving force that will teach players the most important lessons in the game – death is inevitable and to learn from it. Like a moth drawn towards a flame, your wings will burn over and over again, each death providing knowledge, but the curse of the undead means you will begin to “Hollow”. With each and every subsequent death your hollowing is represented by your total health dropping from 10% up to a total of 50% of you maximum HP. Using a Human Effigy is the main way to regain your humanity and reverse the hollowing process.
After learning some harsh truths, you are given a chance to make a unique character and choose between 8 starting classes, all of which favor certain stats depending on how you would like to play the game. Every time you acquire enough souls by killing enemies, you can trade those souls for one point on any stat you wish. Each stat benefits you character in one way or another and once that time to level up does come it makes you take a moment to really think and consider which one should be upgraded. Certain stats raises physical defense while others can provide protection against magic, so knowing what stats you need to use a certain weapon or to protect yourself better is crucial. And later on more souls can be acquired so you are able to boost stats even further, allowing you carry heavier weapons or use magic when you previously couldn’t, so you can become a more well-rounded character that is well adept in every discipline.
Every weapon and piece of armor requires your character to be at a certain stat level before you can use it effectively. If you have 20 STR (strength) and your weapon requires 30, you can still use it, but its damage output is greatly reduced unless you two-hand the weapon which basically doubles your STR stat, but leaves you vulnerable defense-wise. Equipment also includes stat scaling which determines how powerful your armor or weapon becomes when you upgrade a certain stat. The letter raking for scaling goes from E, D, C, B, A, and S (lowest to highest respectively); if your weapon has S rank scaling based on STR that means the higher your STR stat goes the more powerful your weapon becomes, and that includes armor and staves.
As you reach Majula, the game’s main hub, you are free to roam to any destination as you see fit. There is a recommended path to take, but I didn’t figure that out until I was already fighting bosses that players normally face much later into the game and I paid for it with fights that punished and pushed my poor underdeveloped character to her limits. But again, that is the beauty of this game.
Dark Souls II’s gameplay is highly influenced by that of old-school titles like Castlevania where you simply can’t rush into a situation and hope for the best – that just won’t fly here. Well over 100 enemies and bosses inhabit the world, all with their own strengths and weaknesses and you must take your time to learn your enemies moves and patters while figuring out how to deal the most damage
Another aspect that has set Dark Souls II apart from any other game is its multiplayer. Players connected online will always be moments away from cooperative play or player vs. player set-ups. As you go on about your quest you will notice spectral form walking about and words written on the ground; these are other players that are sharing your world in their dimension. Players can help others out by leaving helpful hints or offering aid in the form of a white phantom, which you can summon into your world. However, there are players that can hinder your progress by invading as red phantoms. When a player is invaded they must protect themselves as the only reason one is invaded is to be killed. Covenants are groups that players can align themselves with to offer more multiplayer options like duels or summoning players as grey phantoms if they “intrude” in designated location. But for those who don’t want any interruptions will have to disconnect before being able to play offline, thought there is no feeling quite like that rush of fighting for your life or joining in jolly cooperation!
Reaching the end of the game does not mean that your adventures end. Once the credits stop rolling you do have the option to return to your current playthrough to finish some unconcluded business. But if you’re feeling up for the challenge you can go into New Game+ where you will start the game from the very beginning of the game with all your gear. Excluding keeping all your stats, the main difference in New Game+ is that all the enemies receive a massive 150% damage output, higher HP, and you will only deal 50% of the normal damage, but you will discover new or more potent versions of some items to help you. On top of that, new enemies like powerful red phantoms will populate every location, meaning places you thought safe before will more than likely have a nasty secret waiting for you. The more you clear the game the more challenging your next playthrough will be.
The moment you emerge out of the darkness for the first time you will stare out in awe at the gorgeous setting sun over an expansive ocean. From the quaint, sunbathed village of Majula to the horrifyingly tenebrous depths of The Gutter, every location is remarkably detailed and every creature you encounter is wonderfully designed to the point where you can literally tell how much of a threat they pose by simply looking at them; If they look like they will ruin your day, they can and will! A new mechanic has been implemented into Dark Souls II and it’s more intriguing than I thought: torches. Obviously used as a light source, the torch also features FromSoftware’s new lighting engine that demonstrates impressive lighting and shadow effects. I found myself lighting up my torch whenever possible for practical and unpractical uses.
For most of you adventure there is little to no music and you are left to ponder your predicament in quiet solace and that’s a good thing. The atmosphere is laid on thick and it really allows players to really focus and take in the environment. As you cautiously venture forth subtle noises can be picked up that alert you to traps being set off or enemies coming up from behind; music during these crucial moments would tarnish an otherwise magnificent game and I am glad that FromSoftware continues this trend. The only moments where you hear the game’s beautifully composed score is during boss battles and each boss is accompanied with chillingly haunting themes that help players truly realize what they are up against.
This sequel needs to be taken seriously and that will intimidate people. Dark Souls II is not a casual game and demands its players to dedicate effort and time to overcome the many obstacles that stand before you. Every path you take will lead to your inevitable death, but death is only a tool used to help you; if you can persevere you will learn from your mistakes, and you will be rewarded with an ineffable sense of accomplishment. Dark Souls II isn’t just more of what made Dark Souls amazing, Dark Souls II is a true sequel that takes those same elements and improves them greatly while adding so much more. It is so rare for a game to meld all of its components together to form a nearly flawless experience and Dark Souls II delivers on every level.
Overall Rating: 5/5
Date Released: February 25th, 2014
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Rated: M for Mature
Thief is one of those landmarks in gaming that reinvented an entire genre and paved the way for others to follow suit. Back in the day Thief was known for its dynamic stealth gameplay and how players interacted with light and shadows, using it to their advantage and using sound as indicators of enemy presence and noise level. Of course as the trend would have it, after a decade since its last game, this “first person sneaker” marks the return of Master Thief Garrett and his trademark five-finger discounts.
This reboot follows the exploits of Master Thief Garrett who returns to his home town to once again rid it of excess riches and valuables. Accompanied by his partner in crime, Erin, they set to pull off a heist of the mysterious Primal Stone. Things take a turn for the worst when our duo stumbles across a ritual using the stone to unleash unnatural energies. In an accident Erin is swallowed by the stone and Garrett is knocked out in the process. Fast forward one year and our Master Thief wakes up to a city completely ravaged by disease and begins his search for answers of what transpired. But along the way he can’t help himself if he were to make some detours to a few shiny trinkets and artifacts to help fill his pockets with coin.
As the title would suggest, the main focus of the game is about breaking and entering, locating, and bagging as many valuables as you can while remaining out of sight and keeping to the darkness to conceal your whereabouts. Stealth and discretion should be your first and last line of defense against the common light dwellers, while violence and straight confrontation is only relied on as a last resort. I understand that this type of gameplay won’t suit many players expecting fast and intense looting action. The subtlety needed to progress smoothly has players taking their time to observe carefully before jumping into the unknown and to search of multiple means to solve one problem.
But just because Garrett prefers the comfort of the shadows that doesn’t mean he’s defenseless. Armed with a versatile compound bow, Garrett can use a wide assortment of arrows that serve different functions along with standard ones. Water and fire arrows are tipped with containers that will explode on impact, either dousing out flames or setting one yourself and rope arrows provide a way to climb up to certain location that is out of reach by normal means.
Players are also armed with the Blackjack. which it meant to knockout rather than kill, which means if you get yourself cornered you won’t be dealing any heavy or lethal blows. With the very simplistic combat controls, some exchanges goes as followed: you and your opponents smack each other you attempt to dodge only for it to fail miserably and then you hit the guy so many times that you and up giving him a concussion and he passes out. But if you’re engaged by more than one person your best option is to run away.
After the accident in the beginning of the game, Garrett has awoken with the supernatural abilities of Focus, a heightened sense of perception in his right eye that highlights enemies, searchable compartments, and loot. You can also upgrade this power to allow for even more benefits like seeing the footsteps of guards behind walls or slowing down time around you. If that all seems like a giant win button then you’ll be glad to know that there is an option to turn off Focus completely so you can rely on skill alone.
The missions themselves, whenever you get around to them, actually offer varied and daring heists. In one mission you find yourself stealing to your hearts content inside of a jewelry store and in another you will be navigating through smoke and fire in a collapsing building in search of a legendary vault. One mission in particular had you investigating a seemingly abandoned asylum filled with creaks and moans echoing throughout the halls, cementing this as one of my more terrifying moments in gaming.
Contained within The City are many riches to steal that only the deft hands of a Master Thief can acquire. The more you take the more coin you pocket and in return you can use your ill-gotten funds to purchase upgrades, new equipment, and trinkets that grant passive abilities. While on the prowl, eavesdrop on people to see if they reveal any intel, what you may learn are the locations of items that will fetch you a pretty penny. To make even more cash on the side, Basso, Garrett’s only friend, can give out jobs to complete.
Exploring The City is will be a love/hate situation for some. Searching every nook and cranny for valuables is not only fun, but it makes you feel like a real Thief; picking locks, finding secrets, and catching your breath as someone who got uncomfortably close walk away none the wiser is really exhilarating. But my main issue with the The City isn’t really the layout – it’s the map.
Maps in games are handy nearly every time it’s in a game: it points towards your destination, the distance to get there, color coded sections, and sometimes indicates where you’ve been and where you have not. Thief does half of those things. Arrows pointing where to go is pretty standard, but when you have a multi-sectioned, multi-tiered city to explore and your map is as vague as an amnesiac’s recollection then you’ve got a bit of a problem. A bold X to mark places completely ransacked, different colors for doors, windows, and transition points; these would’ve gone along way of insuring a smoother experience, less backtracking, and fewer instances of finding yourself in an already cleared out home.
Even if the The City is constantly shrouded by perpetual night, this is one of the better looking games for next-gen hardware. If you upgraded to an Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or PC, these will fully capture the beautiful aesthetics of this Victorian, steampunk inspired world. There are some texture pop-ups that occur on consoles right after a lengthy load screen or in the beginning of a cutscene and the framerate does tend to dip at times. PC on the other hand is definitely a beauty, running smoothly with a solid framerate and sharper textures.
Garrett’s movement and agility translates superbly on screen with the games tight controls and fluid animation, making players feel like a master thief. Granted that most of your time will be crouching to avoid making any noise, Garrett does have his Swoop ability. Whenever Garrett needs to move quickly in and out of cover, or to make a hasty retreat after pickpocketing someone, he can quickly dash or “Swoop” in any direction without producing a sound, making this one of Garrett’s most used skill.
Unfortunately I wasn’t as engaged with the story as I really wanted to be. Most of my time was focused on picking locks, snatching coin purses, and locating unique loot. Even on missions I was more concerned with stuffing my bag than solving some problem with a dying city or something of that regards. That doesn’t mean that the game isn’t filled with rewarding and intense (sometimes scary) moments. Edios Montreal did a great job reimagining the world of Thief while stepping over the line on what made the original game’s gameplay tiresome a little too often. I had succumbed to trial-and-error a few times and felt compelled to retry again because I wanted remain hidden throughout. But if you can look past the slower pacing then Thief will definitely satiate your twitchy stealing fingers.
Overall Rating: 3.75/5
Date Released: February 18th, 2014
Developer: Double Helix Games & Capcom Osaka Studio
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox One], PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Rated: 10+ for Ages 10 and Up
Growing up in the 1990’s and having my interest in video games reach a crux in the early 2000’s I never heard of or knew Strider even existed until later on in my life. Looking back on the history of this awesome character I’m surprised that Capcom never made more games centering on Strider Hiryu! But now Strider has returned on modern consoles after a 14 year hiatus and I finally get to play for myself without no previous experience or expectations. To say the least, my time with Strider has turned me into a fan and will find new audiences with newcomers like me and enthusiast of the past entries alike.
Strider is a retelling of the original arcade Strider game where the Grandmaster Meio, a vicious dictator, claims dominion over the world. Hiryu, he youngest and best Special-A Class member of an organization of high-tech ninja-like mercenaries known as “Striders”, is tasked with ending Grandmaster Meio’s reign of tyranny and is sent to the Russian metropolis of Kazakh City.
Diving right into the fray, players will quickly familiarize themselves with the tight controls and fast-paced action of the game. Encounters with a few grunts ease the player in as they can mess with jumping, climbing, and using Hiryu’s main weapon, his Cypher “Falchion”, a tonfa-like blade weapon that generates high-voltage plasma that can slice through nearly anything. With this weapon Hiryu can cleave straight though enemies almost effortlessly; the more you get into the groove of things the easier it becomes to navigate, avoid, and evade enemy attacks.
Players will feel empowered taking out platoons of enemies without a scratch by using your own skills and not having to rely on button prompts. When you do something as awesome as rushing towards a crowd of foes, sliding into them as you slice them in half, avoid the last guy’s gunfire, and jump over him as you tear him in half is nothing short of satisfying. As you advance though the game you will notice an excellent stride the game possesses with its pacing. Every new ability or upgrade that you add to your repertoire is obtained evenly enough to get that steady balance of avatar strength and enemy difficulty. But some players may find normal difficulty a bit too easy and may want to start with hard instead.
As you progress through the game you will traverse a Metroid-like map that is actually broken up into smaller yet still large sections. Each area is filled with hidden collectables, alternate costumes, upgrades, and blocked pathways that require you to return until you obtain the right skill needed to open them. Included is a mini-map that shows your current location; exploring a new location will unveil the room layout on you map the more you advance through. This can in turn help zero out possible hidden locations to upgrades, and collectibles. What can be tedious is if you want all of the collectibles then you will do a fair bit of back tracking to do so.
Along with traversing on foot there are plenty of areas that need players to scale up walls and ceilings to reach higher platforms. Certain segments will have player avoiding hazards to keep even the platforming challenging. Later on, the game throws some curveballs with gravity-based challenges where you’ll need to hop from one gravity sphere to the next, making sure that you jump into the next ones gravity field.
Just by looking at Strider Hiryu you know he’s a bona-fide badass. Everything he does is just awesome: from running to flipping over enemies and off walls, he just screams badass. Even when he just stands still with his arms crossed and his plasma scarf flowing with the wind is too much cool to handle! The locations you visit range from the inside of the heavily oppressed walls of Kazakh to abandoned train stations beneath the city to underground caverns filled.
All of that, including the impressive backgrounds, are beautifully detailed. I will note that if you have the option, get Strider for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC. The last gen versions are identical in every way, except for slightly lower visual fidelity, but regardless, you shouldn’t let something so trivial keep you from this game.
I’ve talked about how a lot of games have tight controls and whatnot, but not this game – it controls like butter. Every action you do has an uncanny elegance to it that it can only be fully comprehended if you can imagine a dazzling figure skater performing a flawless routine while swinging blades that seems to slice the very air around her.
You’ll have you standard jump and attack which is simple enough, and even when you gain more and more abilities it is never a hassle to remember simple button combos or switching between different plasma types for your Cypher. Lastly, the most notable aspect of the controls is the basic attack; depending on how fast you press that attack button Strider can strike as fast or as slow as you want. I highly commend the developers for this because I can’t tell you how useful this really is, especially during boss fights where we were neck-in-neck health-wise, and I’m pressing the button so fast that Hiryu became a tornado of death and insured my victory.
I simply had no clue what I was getting into when I first started up Strider. When I finally put down my controller after completing the 8 hour campaign, I wanted to play it all over again and proclaimed myself a Strider fan. Besides some minute nitpicks like the backtracking and the basic story, none of those aspects spoil the quintessential joy you will experience with the smooth gameplay, ideal pacing, fun boss fights, and excellent level design. Strider is a must-own for anyone that enjoys the series or fantastic action games.
Overall Rating: 4.75/5
Legendary director Shinji Mikami and the folks at Tango Gameworks are proud to announce that The Evil Within will be available in North America on August 26th, 2014 and throughout Europe on August 29th, 2014.
The Evil Within is in development for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PC.
A complement to the upcoming Paramount Picture’s film coming this June, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is a third-person action adventure title that unites the Michael Bay films with the Cybertron universe. Following up to both the live-action films and Activision’s two Transformers titles, Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark focuses on the hunt for an ancient relic of immense power that rivals even that of the Matrix of Leadership – the Dark Spark.
Jump worlds and factions as players will be able to switch between the Autobots or Decepticons throughout the single-player campaign and engage in fast-paced running-and-gunning combat similar to the highly regarded Cybertron series. Players will see the return of the fan-favorite Escalation mode, a waved-based survival multiplayer mode allowing up to four player online cooperative play. Additionally, an exciting new leveling system combines single and multiplayer into one unified, persistent development path. Any experience earn in any aspect of the game goes toward unlocking rewards – including new characters, stronger weapons, special abilities, and consumables for use throughout the entire game.
Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is slated for release on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, 3DS, and PC sometime this summer.
Originally released as an add-on, Freedom Cry had been announced as a stand-alone game – not requiring Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to play. Freedom Cry will be available for exclusive for download on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 consoles on February 19th and on PC February 25th.
Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry centers on the story of Adewale, a man born into slavery. Once a pirate and now a trained Assassin, Adewale ends up shipwrecked in 18th-century Haiti, infamously known to house the most brutal slavery in the West Indies. The more Adewale fights to get back to sea and to freedom, the more he’s drawn into the slave community. As Adewale forms a crew of his own and using his skills as an Assassin, he sets to liberate and deliver merciless justice in plantations and cities alike.
Date Released: February 4th, 2014
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure, RPG
Rated: M for Mature
There have been a lot of HD remakes lately flooding store shelves and I always believed this to be a good thing; being able to relive nostalgic gaming moments in a higher fidelity has a certain magic to it that is undeniable. Fable Anniversary on the other hand doesn’t just up the texture resolution; it is completely remade using the powerful Unreal Engine 3 to make Fable look more gorgeous than ever before, and like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary before it, the difference from the source material is monumental. But after a decade being away from you all, do Fable’s core elements still hold up today?
A young boy, born in the southern seaside village of Oakvale, dreams of one day becoming a Hero and that his deeds of heroism or villainy will be recognized all throughout Albion. But one fateful day a band of ferocious bandits descended on the poor hapless village and covered the streets in bodies and blood, slaying everyone in sight. The boy managed to hide from his attackers until a Hero named Maze found him and took him to the Hero’s Guild. The young boy will train for the remainder of his youth, and seek those who took his village and family way from him, unbeknownst to his role in the grander scheme to come.
As a Hero you are free to make your mark in Albion in whatever way you wish, but a Hero is nothing without Renown. Once you leave the sanctuary of the Guild you can take on many quests to build a reputation of your own through your good or evil actions. These choices will be reflected by the people’s reaction to your presence and even your physical appearance will transform as you lean more towards righteousness or wickedness by way of a lovely halo or a pair of horns.
Combat is sorted into three different categories: melee, ranged, and Will (magic). As you cleave your way through all types of creatures you will gain general experience inside Experience Orbs dropped by killing it; giving your target a good lightning bolt in the face will gain you separate experience for Will and so on. Once players accumulate enough experience they can head back to the Guild to spend it to purchase new skills, spells or to increase your health or Will bars. After each subsequent upgrade your Hero’s abilities will further increase in effectiveness.
The appeal that Fable always had was the fact that you can play the game however you saw fit. If you want to play as a heroic warrior that protects the innocent and appreciates his adoring fans, and will find love one day or an evil hulking brute that doesn’t care much for friends, loved ones or the affection of Albion’s inhabitants. You can mix and match any combination of combat like being a Spellsword, using magic to improve your melee prowess, or maybe a Ranger, picking off foes from afar and finishing them with swift sword strikes. Join all three skills together and become the most fearsome Hero to ever walk the earth.Fable Anniversary also includes The Lost Chapters expansion that adds plenty of extra side quests, new activities to partake in and a new island in the Northern Wastes that expands upon the original game’s ending.
Lionhead didn’t simply just slap high-res textures on the game; they gave Fable a complete overhaul. Using the Unreal 3 engine Fable beautifully transitions onto the 360 and rivals that of the last two Fable titles. Not only that, the character models have also gone through a redesign; the models are a huge improvement over the original, except for your own Hero’s. His large head and abnormally chiseled chin is quite disturbing when you begin your adventure, that is until you become larger in stature, then it suits him just fine. Even the UI got some well-deserved attention; everything from the menu setting to equipping items have been specifically designed to make navigating these screens easier than ever before, eliminating the cumbersome UI of the original.
There were several instances of bugs and glitches that were not there before however. I have encountered residences of South Bowerstone walking in 30° angles numerous times that thankfully resolves itself. I also got married to Lady Grey (for the dowry… I’m not evil like that, just materialistic), but I saved inside her bed chambers with her inside, turned off my console, reloaded the save, and like that she no longer existed! I tried loading the save again, checking North Bowerstone during the day and checking the bed chamber multiple times, but apparently the constellations were aligned just right to make my bride vanish from the face of the world.
Fable Anniversary allows for two control schemes. The original is for those that can’t help the muscle memory of kicking chickens for far too long. The Fable 2/3 inspired option is exactly that; if you started your inaugural introduction to the series with the second and third Fable games then this option will map each type of attack to an assigned button. This control scheme is makes combat flow much more smoothly without the need to actually unsheathe your weapons first. The main deciding factor for some players is how Will spells are mapped. As aforementioned, the Fable 2/3 inspired scheme streamlines combat, but only one spell can be used at one time. You can assign more than one spell to use, it’s just that you have to select it first which really interrupts that sweet flow. The original on the other hand allows players to assign three spells at a time where you can combine any as many as you want.
The changes with the audio is more subtle, but definitely noticeable if you have played the original release. The score for Fable has been redone in 5.1 surround mix; the music is much more booming and lively. The dialog receives the same treatment with a cleaner sound with exceptions of some instances where it seems that some audio comes out distorted.
When you try to remember something it’s through the shades of nostalgia. Fable Anniversary is just how you’d imagine all the things that you loved about the original while recreating the magic of playing the title for the first time. Sure there are some queer bugs that tend to turn up a little too often; luckily there wasn’t anything game-breaking. If you’re new to the series, missed out on the first game, or just want to relive a classic, Fable Anniversary is the best way to go.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
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