Assassins Creed: Revelations (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)

Has it really been 2 months-ish since my last review? Time really does fly when you’re having fun. Anyway, I’m jumping back to Christmas just gone, during which period I was given a copy of Assassins Creed Revelations amongst other games (thanks go out to Al, Alex & Abi). So for your amusement, Assassins Creed Revelations.

For those who don’t know what Assassins Creed is, Have you been living under a rock for the past 4-5years? If so let me give you a quick overview of the series. Assassins Creed first takes place in the Holy Land during the period of the Third Crusade (1191 to be precise). You play as Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, an assassin who’s tasked with stopping the Templars from discovering the Apple, an ancient device which would allow complete domination over the minds of the masses. Actually I lie, it’s about a barman named Desmond Miles who has been kidnapped by the evil Abstergo corporation in order to re-live his genetic memories to find the resting place of the Apple, an ancient device which would allow complete domination over the minds of the masses. Revelations and the previous 2 Assassins Creed games are much the same except you’re working with the Scooby Gang and your genetic memories focus on the time of the Renaissance playing as Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, just generally being a bad-ass.

Now the first Assassins Creed was a game of two halves. Alot of great moments within the game spoiled by a few annoyances. For example, the fanatically enforced speed limits of the Holy Land which can force Templars from as far as Constantinople to come and stabath ye arse for mealy running down a street. This coupled with having to travel from the Assassin’s castle to your ancient city of the week makes for some frustrating gaming experiences. On the other hand the free roaming parkour esque running and jumping of ancient rooftops as well as the planning and assassination of targets makes for great fun. Then 2nd instalment fixed the minor annoyances of the first games, which I think made it the best game of the series. Brotherhood took the prized winning trifle that was Ass Creed 2 and started tweaking with it in a Windows esque manor, adding stuff that worked well like a pinch of cinnamon (which in the case of this metaphor is the addition of multi-player) and adding stuff that doesn’t work like Branston Pickle (which in the case of this metaphor is the text based management of your assassin minions), essentially making Brotherhood more like Assassins Creed 2.5 The Borgia Strikes Back.

Revelations continues this trend by being Assassins Creed 2.75 Return of the Altaïr. The main additions brought by Revelations are the white chocolate shavings (which in the case.. blah, blah, blah the addition of a hook-blade) and a blob of Marmite (…blah, blah Bomb Crafting and Tower Defence mini games). The hook blade adds a bit more fun to the runny, jumpy roof top flinging by now being able to zip-line down randomly placed wires, which allows for new roof top routes as well as some humorous assassinations. The bomb crafting and tower defence mini games on the other hand are both boring and unnecessary. The bomb crafting although allows for more tactical choices, it just makes the game less of a challenge, just chuck a bomb, it kills people to walk past undisturbed. The tower defence mini games force you rescue an Assassin outpost if your notoriety becomes too high in an attempt to try and give consequence to Ezio’s constant disregard for Templar right to life, but notoriety is that easily lowered it just becomes a chore and distracts you from what your supposed to be doing.

Speaking of what I’m supposed to be doing, this gives me an excuse to discuss the plot. Ezio discovers that in the Assassins base of operation’s during the reign of Altaïr there is a secret door which is believed to be sealing Altaïr’s secret library and since Ezio cannot leave alone anything to do with Altaïr and the Assassins, he heads to Constantinople in order to fine these keys. There are other sub plots, like the power struggle among the officials of the Ottoman Empire and Ezio getting himself a bit of sweet, sweet putang by finding lost books but much like the main plot are weak at best. Throughout the game Ezio has no idea what is behind the sealed door assuming that it must be something to do with the Pieces of Eden because Altaïr’s involved, although it could be just as likely that behind the door he could find  Altaïr’s stamp collection. The whole game gives off a Metal Gear Solid 4 feel. Frantically tying loose ends like David Beckham with the dirty boot bin. Ezio feels as though he’s finding all the keys out of simple curiosity, which doesn’t make for a deep or dramatic story.

At this point I would comment on the multi-player mode but since I haven’t played it nor do I have the intention to do so (not that I think the multi-player is going to be poor, I just don’t like multi-player gaming. Answering the door for my take-away is more than enough social interaction for me).

Now for my final thought. I’m glad to see the back of Revelations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it was a bad game, it’s just now the development team can focus on produce another game that does to Assassins Creed 2 what Assassins Creed 2 did to the original Assassins Creed. Do away with the Marmite and Branston Pickle and stuff in more custard, cream and sponge because in fairness that’s all we want from an Assassins Creed game. Although, I’m not sure what to think about moving the series to the era of the American Civil War. I would have thought jumping the rooftops of Victorian London would have been more in place with the series. Meeting influential people such as Charles Darwin, Jack the Ripper, Queen Victoria, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale just to name a few, but that’s just  me.

Best and Worst Games of 2011

I suppose I really should have done this last week but I completely forgot about it before now (now being Sunday 8th at 5pm GMT). 2011 has very much been the year of the sequel. Not alot of original titles being released but I suppose that’s the way of the gaming industry these days. Some big names in the business choosing 2011 to be the year of their series new release. Now lets take an overview of them (btw, if your favourite game isn’t here it’s for one of 2 reasons, 1) I enjoyed it less/more than those mentioned or 2) I didn’t play it). Lets make a start shall we?

3rd Worst Game – Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3


Modern Warfare 3 shows us just how gullible the average gamer can be. Being served the same old shit and calling it sugar. Although the actual game isn’t bad, it’s what the game represents which is why it sits 3rd in this list. The corporate sham that sits atop of the gaming charts because of corporate backhands just so Activision can add another golden toilet to their palace that the unthinking masses paid for. It’s frightening thinking that the same game can be sold many times over with just a new coat of paint and a few minor tweaks  The west is meant to be in a state of economic crisis, although you would never notice given how many copies of Modern Warfare shifted upon it’s release. Come to your senses people!! Modern Warfare isn’t as good as you think it is!!

3rd Best Game – Batman Arkham City



Now I get to talk about someone I like, Batman. It seems every time Rocksteady put their name to something it instantly turns to gold. Arkham Asylum was critically acclaimed and unlike the former mention game, it deserved the credit. It’s dark depiction of everyday life of out caped crusader had everything you wanted from a game, the interesting story, the thick atmosphere, crisp gameplay. Also if my memory doesn’t deceive me, I think it was the first game adaptation of any comic book which was actually any good, one that someone who wasn’t even all that into the Batman comics could pick up, play and still say it was a good game. Now we have the sequel, which tries to take the winning formula of the original and improve it. Although Arkham City doesn’t quite reach the giddy heights of the original it is still to all intents and purposes a good game and worthy of 3rd place. The story may be somewhat lax compared to the original, but it’s still interesting enough to see through to the end and defiantly a game worth picking up, even as I’ve mentioned before if you’re not a big comic geek.

2nd Worst Game – FIFA 2012


Another game that was never going to fair well in my books for all the same reasons Modern Warfare 3 is in my bad books and more. FIFA games have been infecting our consoles since 1993. I remember playing FIFA 1996 on my PSone all those years ago. I had stints on a few FIFA games since then up till about FIFA 2000 then lost track of them until my brother bought FIFA 10, then FIFA 11 and then FIFA 12. To this day I am actually unsure as to what the difference is between the last 3 were. Ok, in fairness Blackpool were only in the Premiership in one of those games I get that much, but past the modernising of Leagues and stuff their isn’t really anything new to add. The problem all FIFA games have is that they are expected to create a game every year to keep their leagues up to date, but with very little that’s new to bring to the table every year means that very little that’s new is added so all anyone can do is tweak and update and hope for the best, which in the end becomes over tweaked and ruined. I remember the game mechanics being alot more controllable and smoother when playing FIFA 98. Also back then you could get actually tackle people, unlike this day and age where you get banned for 8 matches for calling someone black.

2nd Best Game – Portal 2


It’s been 4 years since Portal descended from the heavens and graces us all with it’s presence. Showing us all that Valve weren’t doing what we wanted them to (making Half-Life 3), but we can forgive them for since they gave us Portal. Portal was and still is the most fun I’ve had for £12 ever. It may have been a bit short at maybe 3-4hrs but given that it is at its heart a puzzle game, if it were any longer it wouldn’t have had the same appeal. The gaming mechanics were interesting and to add the icing to the proverbial cake it contained the best use of dark humour in any computer game to date. Now we have Portal 2. Like Arkham City, it may not shine as brightly as Portal but on it’s own it stands up very well. The single player although being more story orientated than fixated on gameplay is still interesting enough to keep you entertained all the way through. True it’s not as puzzle based as the original and does loose it’s charm a little in the single player, it more than makes up for it in the multi-player. Portal showed us how much fun we could have with just a room and 2 portals. Portal 2 in giving us a partner shows us how much more fun it can be when we add another pair of portals, lasers, light platforms, repulsion gel as well as many other weird and wonderful things. A must own. Also I recommend buying the game on the PS3, since you do get a free PC copy with it.

Worst Game of 2011 – Duke Nukem Forever
 


I couldn’t in my right mind give this mark of dishonour to any other game than Duke Nukem Forever. It’s just bad, bad, bad, bad, terrible, rubbish, appalling, dreadful, horrible and bottom line shit. Which is a shame because I love Duke. His quirky one liners and complete disregard for any sexual equality made him cool. Man wanted to be him, women wanted to be with him. That was all well and good back in the 20th century but in this day and age of equality to all races and sexes Duke is just a bit of an embarrassment. It’s like dad dancing. Sure it might have been cool when he was young, now he’s just making a fool of himself. Duke is a relic of years gone by. Duke Nukem Forever is proof of this. For starters the game itself encompasses everything bad about modern First Person shooters. It’s gimmicky, the story flows like a river of bricks and Duke’s snappy one liners now just seem desperate like a child craving attention by breaking his grandma’s porcelain clown just because she wouldn’t let you have any ice cream after dinner… anyway.

Best Game of 2011 – The Elder’s Scroll V: Skyrim


I don’t think I could have possibly given this award to any other game.I must have enjoyed over 100+hrs of gameplay on this game over the past two months, which is a staggering amount of time. Every hour I have enjoyed just as much if not more so than the last. My only complaint about the game is that every 2hrs or so the game will crash to desktop. As annoying as it is. I can’t help but think how many more sleepless nights I would have had if the game hadn’t crashed to desktop at 3am. It is a game of sheer brilliance, beauty and overwhelming enjoyment. If you have to play one game from 2011. Make sure it is this.

Well that was 2011, now we get to look forward to 2012 and what that has to offer us. Some of the bigger titles to grace us through 2012 include Tomb Raider, Hitman Absolution, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Max Payne 3, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Soul Calibre V, Metal Gear Rising and the one I’m looking forward to most Mass Effect 3. As usual, I’m looking forward to the year ahead but at the same time trying not to get my hopes up too much.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, PS3, Wii, XBOX 360)

Christmas and New Year have come and gone and with it I received a wealth of new games in which to play and share my opinion on. This week isn’t one of them but it was a game that I did get the opportunity to play over the festive period. A game that has a bigger following than Charlie Sheen and OK magazine. The most recent game in a series that started off a bit bland but after a change of scenery popularity rose immediately, only to then become horribly clique and predictable. Ladies and Gentleman. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

The Call of Duty series started as most series around war do with re-enacting the 2nd World War in the most unrealistic and stomach turningly patriotic way. For 3 instalments the series found medium success never really rising above it’s peers, such as Medal of Honour and Battlefield. It was only when the series switched to Modern Warfare in which as the name suggests is about warfare in modern times did the series find that edge that first person shooters were missing. It was the first to really add a story to the first person shooter and bring it to the masses. There was the Half-Life series but that always seemed a bit too snobbish to be mingling with the console playing plebs, but I digress. Previous FPS’s had stories but they just hung around with nothing better to do. Call of Duty 4 actually integrated the story into the game in such a way that it neither outshone or was outshone by the gameplay. This included a scene that I still hold to my heart, the nuke scene, where funny enough a nuclear explosion is detonated in the vicinity of fleeing Rangers to which you quantum leap into the perspective of a lone Ranger slowing dying in the fallout, alone and unloved thousands of miles away from home. Although it adds nothing to the story as an artistic feature it is pretty amazing. After trying to bring what worked in Modern Warfare back to the past with World of War, Modern Warfare found a sequel. Modern Warfare 2 which took the intense raspberry with white chocolate swirls and real fruity bits flavour of the original and made it bland vanilla. Not that there’s anything wrong with vanilla but it is one of the blander ice cream flavours out there. Then came Black Ops which had a story so out of whack I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers were sectioned for it.

Then finally we get to Modern Warfare 3. What seems to be the finale of the Modern Warfare series (I assume this because it’s the only one of the 3 that didn’t end on a cliff-hanger). You’ll be happy to know that the series continues it’s downhill slope from the peak of Modern Warfare. It’s the same game we’ve seen before but with new faces and a slight graphical upgrade. The same old missions are there, the stealth mission, the infiltration mission, the gunship mission, the ambush mission etc. The only real gameplay difference I noticed was that some guns have 2 sights on them. Fuck me, how long do you think it took Infinity Ward to come up with that stroke of genius? Imagine the development meeting when coming up with that beauty of an idea. “Ok, We need a USP (That’s Unique Selling Point for those who have no grasp of product development) for Modern Warfare 3, Go”, “I can never decide between using the Dot of the ACOG sight. Could we have both on the same gun”, “Fuck it, that’ll have to do. Lunch Time”. You really earned your pay that day guys didn’t you?

Now when people think of the Modern Warfare series, people tend to think of controversy and pushing the moral boundaries. Man dying slowly and painfully in nuclear fallout in the first is defiantly a moving scene, although the game could have done without it, its inclusion defiantly elevated the game to a higher plain. In Modern Warfare 2 there was the shoot up of civilians in the Russian airport that got every anti-games activists knickers in such a twist that some of them are still trying to remove the knots to this day. This had the greatest in game effect out of the 3 scenes because never before in any modern game were we asked to take a gun and mow down innocent civilians. The strange thing about it was (for me anyway) was that I had no moral guilt in doing it. It didn’t have the same effect as the scene in Heavy Rain where you have to cut off the end of your finger or throwing the Companion Cube into an Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator. I think it’s due to a lack of empathy towards the gunned down civilians of Russia, to us they are just pixels which we have been told to kill. Unlike my previous 2 examples where we have spent the game playing through the perspective of the character in question or we have had empathy towards the Companion Cube drilled into us through GLaDOS’s messages, telling us that the cube loves us and that we love it. Returning to the matter at hand we have the 3rd scene where we see a child explode in front of us. Although in truth the child basically disappears as soon as the explosion appears. This scene unlike the other two probably worsened my opinion of the game (not due to the killing of children, that’s a completely different kettle of fish). The main reason for this is it’s irrelevance to the game, if it were removed from the game it would not hamper my gameplay experience in the slightest. Sure I could play it in media sensitive mode “aka Pussy mode”, but the niggling thought would still be in the back of my mind that that scene is still there and is only there as a shock awe tactic and to try and generate media attention to which it ended up doing very little of both.

I’ve neglected to mention anything to do with the actual gameplay throughout this review mainly because if you’ve played any of the Call of Duty games past Modern Warfare you know what the gameplay is going to be like. Infinity Ward like to stick to what they know and by the looks of it Infinity Ward have been glued, stapled, riveted and welded to the Modern Warfare formula. The single player is horribly short and can easily be completed in an afternoon. The multi-player is exactly the same as Modern Warfare 2 but with a few extra gameplay modifications and game types, which is the same as Modern Warfare but with a few extra gameplay modifications and game types. It seems Infinity Ward can release an update for their multi-player and charge £40+ for it because it has a singleplayer campaign hanging off it like a tumorous lobe. Infinity Ward may not be great game developers but they are master business men. What does interest me though is the Special-Op missions. I must have spent a good couple of days or so with my brother trying to 3 star a lot of them. Like a series of puzzles that need solving, once you start you won’t be satisfied until you get all of them.

To be honest Modern Warfare 3 was never going to go down favourably with me anyway. I’ve always seen the Modern Warfare series as the very pinnacle of what I despise about the gaming industry. Soulless corporations having the ability to release any kind of mind numbing bile and have it lapped up by the unthinking masses. I like to have faith that people will buy a game because it’s good rather than because it’s adverts are plastered everywhere. Modern Warfare is one of those games where you cannot escape the adverts for it. It was plastered all over television, all over the internet, hell it was plastered all over the buildings in the city centre. This is why I usually try to rely on user reviews on how good a game is before I buy it. Professional reviewers I find are too eager to hand out good reviews to games that really don’t deserve it. I don’t really like the use of scores, even though in a perfect world they can give us a direct comparison between one game and another, but it’s just that, “In a perfect world”. All scores are based on personal opinion, for example I would give a game with a better story a better score than that which had better gameplay. Not only that, the sheer amount of criteria that has to be taken into consideration to give a fair score is massive. Then to top it all off scores will change with the passing of times. As the years pass opinions change and as they change scores would change.

Now my final thought.  The Modern Warfare series reshaped the first person shooter genre giving it that artistic flare previous FPS’s were missing. Although the first game struck gold in the end this proved to be a  disadvantage to the development team. Both games that followed seemed to try too hard in trying to prove their worth over the original and both fall flat of their faces. Although this has never been a bother to Infinity Ward since each game has made enough money to pay the Dalai Lama to run through the streets of Kent, bollock naked, singing “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”. Lets just hope that this is the end of the Modern Warfare era, because if I hear that Modern Warfare 4 is in production which includes Captain Price and Soap have full uncensored gay sex I will not be happy. Even less so knowing Soap died in the 3rd game.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)

 

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Finally, Skyrim under the microscope (although given the size of the game it doesn’t really need to be put under the microscope).
I’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time and must say it was defiantly worth the wait. Ever since I completed Oblivion I’ve been wanting Elder Scrolls V. It was a long wait but that just means that Bethesda could take their time on the development and polish it over to a fine shine. Although it is an amazing game and definitely tops Arkham City as my Game of the Year, it isn’t without faults. Also since people don’t like it when I’m nice to a game so I will be furiously picking knits like an OCD Delia Smith.
First thing that has to be noted is that the game is huge. I thought Oblivion was big but even that is dwarfed by the Skyrim map. I read somewhere that Skyrim was meant to be 3 times bigger than Cyrodiil. This does mean that their are time where you can feel overwhelmed and lost. This is made up for by the sheer number of missions that are possible. Sadly though bar the main quests alot of the secondary missions are the same missions repeated. Either the killing of bandits or go kill a dragon. Although the game doesn’t allow you to run out of missions they do repeat themselves very regally. Like Top Gear repeats on Dave, you’ll find the same mission repeating itself every couple of hours.
The game I must say it’s very pretty. I picked up the PC version (so I can mod it later), I started playing on the medium graphic setting and it looked pretty on that. I then later managed to turn it up to High without too much of a sacrifice on the game play and I was astonished by how beautiful the game was. I enjoy going up to the tops of huge cliffs, look out onto the lands of Skyrim and just take in the scenery like some sort of Meerkat staring off into the wilderness on the lookout for Lions, Honey Badgers and other nasty characters. Although saying that some of the textures look rough and pixelated, which is a shame given the level of detail on everything else. Although you’re going to be looking into the distance that much it’s not exactly going to ruin the game for you, and if it does you are officially a snob and need to lighten up.
Like all of Bethesda’s recent games Skyrim also could have done with a bit more polishing to iron out more of the bugs. Although the game isn’t as bad as Fallout 3 or New Vegas in the bugs in the unmentionables department. They are still noticeable. Many a time I’ve found the game crashing to desktop. I’ve also found a fair amount of time where the wire frame ran underneath the patten texture, but hopefully this will be fixed when the next updates come by.
There was a big deal about the dragons in the game being unscripted, meaning that they’re not programmed to a specific set of actions every time you fight them. Although this does sound as though you’ll never have the same dragon fight twice, it can cause a few “what the fuck” moments. For example, I was asked to break a prisoner out of a prison, preferably without being detected. I couldn’t sneak in since my sneak skill was so poor. I noticed a dragon flying around nearby so I hatched a plan to direct the dragon over to the prison and have the dragon kill the guards and I can waltz in once the dust settles and smoke clears. Sadly though my plan fell apart when the dragon decided that the angry Nord firing arrows and breathing fire on him was less of a threat than the menacing looking Mud Crabs. Stupid Dragon.
I did mention last week that I would let you how Skyrim compares with Oblivion. Although I think Skyrim is the better game, be it just Oblivion with better graphics, more snow and dragons, I still have fonder feelings for Oblivion. This is less to do with the game and more to do with how I feel/felt for them. Oblivion I first picked up on a whim, I had just got my PS3 and only had one game for it, so I wanted to quickly build up my library, I heard good things about The Elders Scroll series so it made sense to pick it up. I went into the game not knowing what to expect and it blew me away. Skyrim on the other hand, was massively anticipated and had a huge hype behind it that. This meant that the game had huge expectations and was going to be difficult to clear it’s expectations by the same margin Oblivion did. It’s alot like Portal and Portal 2. Although Portal 2 is the better game, I still prefer the 1st one.
Overall I really enjoyed Skyrim, so much so that I will be playing it some more. It has defiantly taken over Arkham City as top contender for Game of the Year. Then again with over a month until the end of the year and when I review the gaming year, there’s still a chance for a few more games to impress me. There is still the new Assassins Creed, Saints Row the Third, Skyward Sword still for me to play and review. Modern Warfare 3 also (ha ha, just a joke, it’s terrible).  This does raise the question of what I’m going to be reviewing next week. Maybe Saints Row the Third or I could jump back and review something much older. Until then, I’m going to continue escapades across the lands of Skyrim.

Fable 3 (PC, XBOX 360)

This week the revolution begins as I expose the power struggle within the kingdom of Albion in Peter Molyneux’s latest fable… Fable 3
I’ve been a fan of the Fable since it’s humble beginnings. Back in the days when Microsoft were the new kids to the console wars one of it’s later exclusive titles was Fable. A game where you ran around Rural Medieval killing things and farting in public. It was like The Sims meets Elders Scroll. It’s game play ws unique and even if the story was a bit weak (Given the name of the series you’d think it’d be all about the story, guess that kinda got lost in translation somewhere along the way) it was still a good game that I still play to this day.
Then the 360 came out and thus Fable 2 soon followed which was in essence the same but with minor tweaks and upgrades. Then a few years later came Fable 3, where in someone decided that the formula needed mixing up a little, the old saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” comes to mind. It’s a game that wreaks of improvements that the series really didn’t need. For example, in the first 2 Fable’s the was to level up was done but using a melee weapon to given you melee experience, use a ranged weapon to gain ranged experience, use magic to gain magic experience and gain general experience by killing things and you levelled up different skills depending on the amount of experience points you have, sounds ok. Fable 3 however does things differently, you gain experience by doing almost anything but it killing things, making friends, making pies, buying houses, completing quests… To which it can all be used to open chests giving you upgrades in all manor of things. It just means that someone could become a master swordsman just by making lots of friends.
The story is simplistic, basically you are the younger brother/sister of the current king who is a tyrant and it’s up to you to overthrow him and bring power back to the suffering masses of Albion (which has now transcended into the Victorian era). So must gain allies and build support for a revolution. It’s enough of a story to drive the plot but not something that’s going to stick with you for years to come. After you amass your army of rebels and overthrow your brother you’re then suddenly informed of an impending doom that will invade Albion in a years time, so for an in game year you must either keep the promises you made to your companions along the way and have the country decimated by the evil blob or amass the huge amounts of gold needed to fund an army big enough to allow everyone to survive. Sounds intriguing yes, but some of the choices I have to make still have the air of one extreme or another. One choice in particular that sticks out is to abolish child labour and refurbish one of my mills into a school or I could Force child labour and have them man the mill. Why can’t I abolish child labour but keep the mill? That would make sense. Also why do I loose money if I lift prohibition on alcohol? The game has it’s own train of thought at times that is completely alien to common sense.
The combat is the same as in any Fable game where you have an arsenal of melee, ranged or magic. Although in Fable 3 instead of having to buy better weapons, you can upgrade the ones you already have by levelling up or completing certain achievements (e.g. kill 100 enemies at night, etc.). Although there are several weapons available it’s easy enough to go through the whole game with the starting weapons.
I have always enjoyed the dialogue in the Fable series, it rarely seems forced and has that quaint hint of British humour about it.Compared to the likes of the Elders Scroll series where the dialogue always seems monotone and dull. Alot of big British names also appear to do cameos for the game, the biggest probably being Stephen Fry who’s character is one of few returning character from Fable 2. Also new names to the line up include John Cleese, Jonathan Ross, Simon Pegg & Michael Fassbender.
Peter Molyneux has always been very big on mentioning with each Fable game that the player will have total freedom to do what they like during the game. Although this sounds hopeful, all 3 games have been lacking in that department. What Peter refers to as freedom I would say is nothing more than time wasting. Anything outside of the quests feels like wasted effort, sure I could marry a NPC, have a couple of kids and live in a nice house, sure I may get gifts now and again but there is no real reward for it. Although it was similar in earlier Fable games it gets worse in the 3rd instalment because it’s even more hard work to get somebody to like you. First of all you have to impress them with whistling and dancing, then run a small quest and you’re friends, repeat and you’re in love, go on a few dates, get married, take to bed, have kids… In all honesty I got bored at whistling. Sure it’s more realistic but I (as well as alot of people) don’t play games to emulate real life. I have real life to do that for me thank you very much.
Overall Fable 3 is definitely the worst game of the series. It would have been so much better if people decided not to dick about with the formula that made people fans of the first two games. Upon watching it again. During Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s video review of Fable 2 he comes out with the phrase “You can, but why would you want to?”. This speaks even truer in the 3rd instalment since it takes about three times the effort to do anything and bares about a tenth of the reward. To end, play Fable 3 if you wish, just don’t blame me if you also feel empty and unfulfilled afterwards.

Batman Arkham City (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)

 

Finally a game reviewed which wasn’t released years and/or months ago. I’ve been spending my weekend playing Arkham City and this is what I think.
Upon writing this review I have just read that Arkham City has doubles the début sales of Arkham Asylum in the UK. Since I’m mentally stuck in the mid-Victorian era where Britain ruled the world. I like to think that the British are capable of knowing a good thing when they see one (bar the unthinking masses that watch awful television such as “Big Brother” and “The Only way is Essex”, but I digress). This act of materialism proves it. Arkham City is a good game. Not quite the game I would show off as the pinnacle of computer game evolution but defiantly the strongest contender for Game of the Year so far and with my other eagerly awaited sequel being pushed back to 2012 (Mass Effect 3 for those of you who care to read) it’s looking like it’s going to be a one horse race.
Arkham City takes what we loved from the Arkham Asylum and give us more of it. More Villains, More Heroes, More Gadgets, More Challenges, More cape “whoosh” noises. The biggest difference is that Arkham City gives us just that, a whole city in which to play with. Although the names Arkham Town or District Arkham would have been more appropriate given the size of the map but I guess they didn’t go down well with the focus group. Still, it’s bigger than what we had to play with back on Arkham Island.
With a whole “city” to play about with, Batman turns into a Sandbox game, meaning Individuo’s rule of Sanbox is valid. A sandbox game no matter how good the story will fall flat on it’s face if it is tedious and boring in getting from point A to point B. To show this I have 2 examples, 1st off the blocks, Mafia. As stories go I’ve not seen many if any gangster-based games top it but driving from point to point in what felt like a cardboard box tied to a sloth kind of killed it. My second example, InFamous, on the other hand had a story that was ok, nothing outstanding, but gliding along electrical wires and rail tracks to get between objectives was as fun as a barrel of chimps. Rocksteady looks like they copied their notes from Sucker Punch in this module and it shows in the way Batman travels around the city. Gliding around Arkham City is probably one of the things I found most fun about the game. Ducking and diving around obstacles, making that “Whoosh” sound. Almost makes you feel like a real super hero.
Did someone mention the story? No? Ok, but now that we are on the subject. I found the story to be very schizophrenic. At times it can be deep and drag you in like chocolate lesbian wrestling (especially around the end). Then other times (the first half in particular) it feels frantic and rushed as if the game is moving me on so I can meet as many characters in the Batman mythos as possible before time runs out. This is not surprising then given my biggest niggle about the game. It’s short. I played it for only 2-3hrs on the Friday, then played it again for another 3-4 hrs and found I had completed the game. I wasn’t even speed playing either, I was doing my best to mess around, try out some of the side quests, pick up a few Riddler trophies and solve a few of his riddles (I had roughly 120 of them when I finished the game). The story is compressed and concentrated as opposed to Heavy Rain which its more drawn out. Heavy Rain is more of a standard coffee while Arkham City is an espresso. Heavy Rain you casually sip at it, take your time and take in the flavour, while Arkham City, you drink it down in one go and let the caffeine go nuts on your brain.
Luckily for me my flat mate who bought the game bought the collectors edition so I’ve also had a play around with the Catwomen missions. I wasn’t expecting a whole alot from the missions when going into them because it’s release date DLC. I was right to do so because I didn’t get alot from the missions either. The story is very weak at best. Kitty’s stash has been taken and she wants it back. She’s horrible in combat, since she can only get a fraction of upgrades compared to Batman. Although her wall climb and ceiling crawl is very useful for not being seen, and when she walks her hips have an amazing wiggle.
Overall I really enjoyed Arkham City, which should be obvious enough since I did say that it was front runner for Game of the Year. Although I do wish it was bulked out a little more so I could enjoy the show that little longer, then again in the words of that child loving Nazi sympathiser Walt Disney “Always leave them wanting more”. I didn’t read any of the comic books before play Arkham Asylum or afterwards, but Arkham City has actually made me more interested in the mythos of the Batman universe. I find myself looking up less known characters on the internet such as Deadshot and The Mad Hatter, to learn more about them.
So where does the future lead for the franchise? Given the main story and how it ended, it doesn’t leave anything open for a direct sequel or even any sort of sequel at all, but in one of the side mission Batman is warned about “A coming darkness”. So I don’t know. I hear rumours that Rocksteady are interested in making a Superman game. Maybe this way I can learn more about Superman’s enemies, because currently I get to Lex Luthor then I’m stumped.

Warhammer 40k Space Marine (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)

This week I’ll be taking an intergalactic look into the future with Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine.
First and foremost I think I must mention that I am not a huge fan of the Warhammer series. Not that I have anything against it, I just don’t get it is all. That disclaimer aside lets get our teeth straight into it.
The story centres around a small group of Space Marines (surprise, surprise) as they fend off an invading horde of Orks on one of the Imperial Forge Worlds. There is a sub-story but much of it may not even be there. All you have to really think about is that between you and the end of the game is a mass of enemies, they must die.
The combat is solid if at times a bit stiff, much like any modern 3rd person shooter. Feeling like the bastard child between the Warhammer universe and Gears of War. The transition between ranged and melee combat seems unnatural with our dear Captain Titus harbouring the ability to switch out a bolter and equip a bolter in but a fraction of a second. Although adding any kind of realism in this instants would just slow the pace of the game down, hence why it can be forgiven.
The game-play feels a bit schizophrenic with what can be rather large gaps between combat scenes, which can get rather boring and drag on a bit. Fans of the franchise may be more incline to keep playing because of the driving plot, but me not being a fan this was lost on me and left me feeling the game was a bit linear and plain.
The multi-player is fun with each class having their own distinctive weaknesses and strengths. I find the game options and maps to be a bit restricted giving only two types of match as of this review. Annihilation which is the first team to reach 41 and Seize Ground where your team must take strategic point, which team holds them the longest wins, with only a handful of maps the novelty wears off pretty quickly, although there are alot of unlockable armours and perks for accomplishing different objectives during the game which might keep some playing for a wile.
Overall I’d say the game was fun but defiantly not breaking ground anywhere. The game has an almost Dynasty Warriors, hack and slash feel to it. I feel the game could be better if a co-op campaign was available, because lets face it, two chain-swords carving an orks skull is always better than one.