Saturday, 6 June 2009

Fable 2 review

Fable 2


Fable 2 has finally arrived, four years after the original masterpiece on Xbox. Developed by Lion Head studios, Fable 2 is famously led by Peter Molyneux, who unfortunately has, over the years, given himself a bad reputation as an “Over hyper”. After the major disappointment that many fans felt after Fable 1 and Fable TLC, the Lion Head crew obviously realised that they needed to up the ante.
This game includes many new features, some that were promised for Fable 1 and TLC; some entirely new, such as the amazing dog AI. The game does not only boast itself as an amazing RPG based game, set in a mythical, free roaming land, but features many ideas and game play design quirks such as sandbox game play and mini-games.

The story starts with you; a child living the rough life in Albion with your sister Rose. As you start the game, it’s clear that Lion Head must’ve sat down and thoroughly discussed the best way to begin. After all, the final result ended up being a bird dropping feces upon your head. Other ideas must have included finding a dead rabbit and lopping its foot off, or maybe finding a horse shoe, the world will never know.

Anyway, after being pelted with bird droppings, you are thrust into a world of similar to that of a 17th Century Christmas novel. You are then sent on a series of tasks, quests if you will. These “quests” consist of doing small errands for the locals, so that you can gain enough gold to buy a musical box. Yes. A musical box. After this series of events, you are brought into another realm, one in which you are an adult, and this is where your adventure truly starts. The plot has plenty of depth and although a little short, it nonetheless provides laughs, tears and at least 12 hours of game play for the “hardcore gamers” out there.

I have nothing but praise for the NPCs in this game. They are a huge part of this game, as it is a game in which you can interact however you like, whether it’s slaughtering a village, being the town fool, or being the town sweetheart. Furthermore, depending on how you choose to act with the NPCs, they will have appropriate reactions for you. As I stated earlier, new features have been implemented into this game. However, there are also some features that were simply improved, such as the family system that the last game offered. In Fable 2, the family system is much more personalized, giving you the opportunity to marry and have kids. And it's not just a “have a wife and kids for achievements” kinda thing - this game offers you specific quests that tie into your family. Sadly, I can't really describe these without spoiling the story, but the way you become emotionally attached is amazing.

Now onto one of the biggest features of the game: the dog. In the beginning, there was a lot of scepticism over the dog, but clearly the doubt was misplaced. The dog is an excellent feature. In fact, if you were to play through the game without your canine companion, you'd likely feel lost. Not only does he proves to be a cute little buddy, but he also provides a treasure hunting service which comes especially in handy for specific quests, and sometimes is even a necessity to quests.

This game takes full advantage of the 360’s capabilities. Not only is the scenery huge and open, but it’s huge, open and magnificent. The best example of this would be Bower Lake, and as you first set foot onto the lake, you get the full package of what this game can offer you. With the lake in front of you lit by either sunlight or moonlight; the amazing view across to Hero Hill; the trees blowing steadily near you, on just one map, I’d actually say the visuals were breathtaking.

The soundtrack is made by the famous Danny Elfman, who is also known for his work on Tim Burton movies. Along with Russell Shaw, they cook up a storm of music, which is now available on free download from the Fable 2 site. But the music pales in comparison to one of the most epic features of this game: the voice cast. It includes some famous names, such as; Gemma Boyle, Oliver Cotton, Stephen Fry, Ron Glass, Julia Sawalha and Zoë Wanamaker, with plenty of other voice actors joining in on the action.

The depth that these voice actors give you is amazing, and personally, a favourite of mine was Stephen Fry. His character known as Reaver not only provides you with a passion for him, whether that is love or hate, but gets you really interested in him as a character and you feel you want to know more. The same could be said for Ron Glass, formerly known for his work in the show “Firefly”. He gives off a specific aura, not only due to his character, but because his voice acting is simply superb. Julia Sawalha provides the voice of Sister Hannah and because you'll get to know her pretty well, the voice acting of this particular character was fairly important. When you meet her, she is singing. I personally found her voice enchanting, which at first didn't really seem suit the character, but upon evaluation, this character is a little topsy-turvy, so an elegant voice such as Julia Sawalha's is perfect. Zoë Wanamaker provides narration throughout the game and also serves as the voice of Theresa, a blind seeress, whom you meet fairly early in the game, although I couldn't help but think of her as anything except/other than a mother in a slightly humorous British sitcom. Once you forgot that however, she seems to fit right in.

My major criticism for this game comes in the form of “Co-op”, a term that should be used lightly in the case of Fable 2. The fundamental idea of Co-op is a good one, but I can't help but feel it was executed a little shoddily. The general idea of the multi player is that you play as your friends’ henchman, in their world. Here is mistake number one. In a game about customization, a game in which customization is such a huge feature, why would the player want to play as a generic henchman? Well, truth be told; they don't. The second issue is that the camera angle is ridiculous, to be honest, and I would have preferred split screen to the angle that you are provided with. The angle that we are given to work with is centered around player one, meaning that all action has to follow him or her.

So those are the negatives, but there are positives. You can have a lot of fun on multi player, as long as you and your friend are content with playing together and one not running off without the other. Another advantage of this system is that it's easy to use. Whether it's over live or on a single machine, you simply jump into your friend's world after a mini screen pops up asking what weapons you would like and your appearance, whilst the host chooses how much of his or her earnings you'll be taking back with you.

Personally, I love the game. I've played hours on end of it, and even after I completed it, I carried on playing, racking up a massive 40 hours of game play on one character. I've played through three times now, racking up at least 20 hours on each character. The sandbox effect that you're provided with is nice, the game isn't too linear yet you're aware that you have goals, the freedom could be described as “Oblivion, but with aims” and you never feel overwhelmed by the freedom that you have, yet you do not feel confined. Overall, this game is another example of an amazing Western RPG, but just a little too short to be classed as an epic RPG.

95%

Chris Leddy

Plants VS Zombies review

Plants VS Zombies


Whilst I was brought up to not judge a book by its cover, it's a hard task when confronted with such a weird, blunt title such as “Plants VS Zombies” But true to its name, Plants VS Zombies gives you exactly what we all want; An immense battle between the Plant kingdom and the living dead – Just what we all want – Right?

I'll start with the basics; Plants VS Zombies is not the next best in-depth Zombie survival game, I personally have trouble referring to this game as anything but a basic tower game, the kind you'd find on your average flash game site, so if you're looking for the next big Zombie game, then I'd have to direct you in the other direction, toward Valve or Capcom.
As mentioned before, Plants VS Zombies is a tower defense game, but it's much more than that, whilst the exterior of this game may seem like your basic flash (I wouldn't blame you if you avoided it because of that minor fact.) but underneath that big, ugly, generic coat is a game reeking of charm and personality; don't get me wrong, I wouldn't call what it has a “Story mode” (Or Adventure mode), but I would say there's more story there than your bog-standard flash tower defense game – Presumably this is because you're expected to pay for Plants VS Zombies and the generic mold wouldn't quite cut the cheese.

WILD IN-DEPTH PLOT DEVICE APPEARS!


The basic gist of the game is (As you might have guessed from the title) to fight the Zombies; more specifically defend your house from the Zombies. No back story is really given, but then again, it doesn't really require one, all you need to know is that you wanna kill the zombies before they get to you – And you DON'T wanna fuck with Crazy Dave; Mainly because he's crazy, but also because he gives you items that'll help you fight off the horde; such as a shovel that allows you to dig up misplaced flowers.
Crazy Dave; Sporting a very fetching sauce pan on his head.


To create your flowers and such, you need some form of currency, in Plants VS Zombies, it comes in the form of sun points, these randomly drop from the sky every once in a while giving you 25 points each time, with your generic Pea shooter tower costing 100, obviously leading you to the conclusion that there are faster and better ways to gain sun points; Well, if you had lead yourself to that conclusion, then you'd be correct; Using sunflowers you gain an extra 25 for each one at random intervals, you soon learn to use Sunflowers in every match and you find yourself placing them towards the back of the map where Zombies can't get to as they'll be the bulk of your currency supplying your vicious flower army with more ammunition and protection.

The game will have you completing levels to gain new flowers and other botanical based creatures and to carry on in the “immense, emotionally in depth” story; which basically involves bringing bigger, scarier, harder to beat enemies, such as a Zombie with a pole-vault, which manages to launch itself over any obstacle such as a Potato mine, a walnut and even a Chomper; It will also launch itself over your first line of pea shooters, which is generally a stupid move, because if you play like me, then you'll have line of ice pea shooters to freeze them and possibly even a walnut to prevent such maneuvers – After all, you gotta stay on your toes in this game, what with those crafty, sly zombies sneaking about.

My winning layout; Well, atleast it was winning on the starter levels.


Whilst some gamers may think that a pure Tower defense game can get a little stale after a while, it appears that PopCap anticipated this and included several mini-games that come up within the game, these are tasks similar to the main game, but given a little jazz and twist of the game play mechanics. One of the earliest examples of this is when Crazy Dave gives you the chance to use Walnuts to bowl the Zombies down, whilst this only lasts one round, it certainly does refresh the game play and whilst the Bowling mini-game is fun, it makes you appreciate the main game play a little more – Another example of this a little later on is when you aren't given the usual sun points to build the items that you need, but you're given a random selection of items that scroll across a bar along the top at random intervals, you are then hounded with a horde of zombies larger than the usual crowd, it's more challenging than the main game play and has the same effect that the bowling has, in that it allows you to appreciate the main game play ten fold.



In conclusion, whilst most gamers may want to avoid this for it's lack of story and in depth game play, I personally found it well worth picking up off of Steam; Especially for the meager price of £6.99; The game play is good, basic, clean fun and I recommend it to any fan of the Tower defense genre and any one just looking for a game to play for a couple of minutes every once in a while.

85%

Chris Leddy

Welcome

HAI

So yea; Basically, i'll be posting reviews, news, etc about gaming here - Possibly a couple of reports and such.
Expect alot of bias and hype from me =] And alot of hate towards Kingdom Hearts =D It's what I do best.
Sit back, enjoy some shoddy reviewing and less QQ moar PewPew.