24: Redemption doesn’t really redeem

I watched 24: Redemption tonight with Marti. I mean, it wasn’t bad. Nothing really happened during it, is all. While it tried to set up what went on between seasons 6 and 7, you really didn’t miss much. Jack was in Africa, he saved some kids, and then went back to America because of a subpeona. Meanwhile, some senator’s funding terrorism. Big whoop.

While we’re on the subject of 24, it’s on my probation list. Yes, I actually do have a list of shows that are on probation. Desperate Housewives was on it, but proved itself early on this season. Heroes was definitely on it, but I’m enjoying myself in spite of its loss in quality this time around. And now 24 is in the danger zone. They definitely changed their formula around this year, so I’m willing to give it another go. If they were still set on returning to the same old stuff, I’d be done with it. Yeah, I’m a little pissed that apparantly Tony’s alive. That’s just idiotic. But I’ll give it another chance, if only because I need the adrenaline rush next semester when I’m not doing any theater.

Rare Backs Down

Well, well, well. Looks like Rare decided that alienating the majority of their audience might not be such a good idea after all. Ah, the power of an angry mob on the internet.

My original post was here. Text issues aside, the game was only getting so-so reviews, so I’m probably going to rent it, if anything. A shame, too. I enjoy the bear and bird duo.

Final Review of Fable II

Summary: Fable II was designed for gamers like me, who want a game that seems to be hardcore, while on the inside, it’s simply a fun game that you will complete no matter what.

I finished Fable a few nights ago. It took me a little while to gather my thoughts on it, because I was so overwhelmed with how quickly it went by. The ending just hits you like a brick wall. Anyways, I liked Fable a lot. I’m excited to start it over again from scratch soon, in order to pick a different ending. I definitely can see myself trying it over and over again, with different strategies each time (I’m going to be Evil next time). But here are some thoughts on different categories.

STORY: The story is fine. Reviews said it was very lame, but I enjoyed it. The voice acting is fantastic, and that really helps pull you in. It’s interesting to see the connections between this game and the last, like learning that your guide in this game happens to be a blind seer named Theresa. The story’s very straightforward, but there were definitely a few times I found myself a little shocked. There is a continual theme of loss throughout the game, and it all comes together at the end, when you’re forced to make your final decision. Again, like all the reviews said, the ending is terrible. (Minor spoiler: there is no final boss battle) It ends, you make a final decision (each of the choices gives you a different achievement). That’s a shame. Luckily, the story doesn’t completely end after the game does. There’s new quests that open up, and purchasing certain properties unlock new stories to investigate. As does getting married and having children. Just last night, I was earning some money, and my wife told me that my child had run away and gotten lost in a cave. Those bastard Hobbes had locked him in a cage and were planning on eating him. So that was kind of cool.

SOCIALIZING: I’m talking two different aspects of socializing. The first, the NPC, is cute. Very simple, though. Each person has likes/dislikes. You perform the expressions for them that they like, using a little timed button press, and they like you more. Eventually, everyone in town falls in love with you. Just like that. It’s simple, but it’s kinda fun to squawk like a chicken and make hand puppets for them. Gathering a crowd of 20 people and then dancing is actually really fun to watch.

The other part of socializing is the Xbox Live aspect. Throughout the world, other players appear as orbs. When you’re near them, you can hear them talking. On the one hand, there are a lot of people playing, so it gets kinda noisy. In fact, you can’t really hear the important quest-givers in-game unless you plug a headset in just to shut out the extraneous noise. That’s annoying. But on the other hand, it really gives the game an awesome MMO feel to it. I run into people all the time, asking “Hey, where can I find this store?”, and I happily help them out. It’s really nice to feel like there’s a community of players all helping each other out. I must have run into 50 people so far all offering to give away gold to anyone who needs it. That’s just awesome.

COMBAT: People complained that combat was too simple. And, well, it is, but it’s perfect for me. X is melee, Y is ranged, and B is magic. Each button can do different things depending on the skills you’ve learned, and how long you hold it, etc. I really like being able to switch up the weapons whenever I get bored with one. I’ll swing the sword around for a while, then switch it up to my pistol, then jump over to some fireballs. It’s quick and easy.

The change in the magic system from Fable I was an interesting choice. The lack of a mana bar is great, because you never have to worry about it. As you earn higher levels of spells, you can charge up the higher ones simply by holding the B button down for longer. Because spells don’t get interrupted when you get hit, you basically have a tradeoff between charging up a high level spell, and taking a few hits while you do it. It’s kinda cool.

And lastly, there’s no dying. Which is awesome. Some people complain that it makes the game pointless. I disagree. There’s nothing more frustrating than playing a game like Splinter Cell and continually reloading at the same checkpoint over and over again. I mean, sure, some people like that, because you have a huge sense of accomplishment when you finally beat it. But that’s not what Fable is about. Fable isn’t about bragging that you beat it. It’s about pointing out all the cool things you’ve done in it. I’m now a 5-star blacksmith, and I’m working my way to a 5-star bartender. I have a wife and a kid, I own about 8 shops and 3 houses, and I’m saving up to buy the huge castle in the middle of town. THAT’S what’s cool about Fable.

So, to sum it up, I had a lot of fun playing. I’m excited for a friend to get Fable, so I can try out co-op. I’d love some company on a second playthrough.

Rare decides against allowing me to play their game

Rare, one of my favorite game developers, apparently decided that anyone with a standard television wasn’t cool enough to play their game. That is just…obnoxious. I understand completely that it would cost them a lot of money to rewrite the entire game in a bigger font. I really do. But I think that whatever the cost, it’s gotta be worth it. I mean, they’re immediately telling a huge percentage of their audience that they won’t be able to read the text in their game. How could that possibly make them money? How is that conceivably a good decision?

I played Dead Rising a while back, and while the whole “Kill zombies with every single thing you pick up” was hilariously awesome, I couldn’t read shit in the game. I had no idea what the game was telling me to do, or where to go, because I couldn’t freaking read the text. I stopped playing it, because I was so lost. That’s not okay. Yes, I badly want to buy an HDTV. But that’s not in the cards right now, as I’m sure is the case for a lot of people, so why would this be a smart move? I don’t know. It’s a shame, too, because I really wanted to play Banjo Kazooie.

Celebration!

I’ll write more tomorrow. For now…hells yeah.

My Fable II First Impressions

SUMMARY: This was an excellent purchase.

Fable II to me feels like what we all expected the original Fable to be like. Everything you do in the game has an effect on the world, and both you and the world around you morphs to reflect that. The scope of the game is huge, you are able to move through the world much more openly this time around, and there are SO many things to do that I’m not sure I’ll ever finish it.

First, the story. Most reviews have said the story is the “same old, same old” of RPG’s. While I haven’t gotten far enough to know whether that’s true or not, I happen to be enjoying it. The end of the intro is a pretty good setup for the rest of the game, and each quest I’m sent on seems to flow nicely from one to the other. I do think it’s stupid that the old guide lady (won’t say her name for spoilerific reasons) can talk to me telepathically, yet requires me to visit her to get a new quest every time. That seems a bit pointless. But there’s enough distractions on the way to keep me happy.

One review I read pointed out that having a glowing trail leading you to your next objective actually encourages exploration, and I agree. I’m not afraid that I’ll never find my way back, so I’m constantly leaving the path in order to see if my dog sniffs anything out or I find some secrets. The trail does get annoying in that it’s constantly bouncing around in different directions, it seems to get really confused when I leave the path. It also occasionally can’t load ahead of time fast enough, so I find myself reaching the end of it and waiting for more of it to load. Because of this, also, the game disc is ALWAYS whirring. I think I may experiment with installing the game to my hard drive when the NXE is released, to see if it makes it any better (it’ll at least be quieter).

So far, I’ve gotten married, had a kid (more specifically, it was an “oops” baby), almost perfected my craft of blacksmithing, bought a shop and two houses, and gotten a chicken suit. There’s so much to do, yet there’s always the nagging feeling in my mind that I should be continuing the quest, which is cool. My dog is cute. While I don’t feel the love that Peter Molyneux wanted us to feel, I definitely gasped when a bandit came up and kicked my dog early in the game. He shouldn’t have done that.

Turning on everyone’s orbs in the game is cool, it makes the game feel much more MMO-like. Last night I was doing a quest in a cave, and there happened to be two other people there doing it too. While I couldn’t see them actually doing it, they were clearly following the same paths as I was, and were doing the same parts of the quest at the same time, so it was fun to play and chat with them while I went. I haven’t tried out co-op yet, but as soon as certain friends of mine purchase a copy, I’ll definitely check it out.

Also, the achievements are great. They’re very varied between storyline ones and miscellaneous ones, and I spent last night grabbing as many as I could. It’s also cool that you can earn lots just by watching a friend do it. That saves me the trouble of doing evil stuff.

Lastly, the main reason I love this game is because there was an Anchorman reference in it. “60% of the time, it works every time.” Two thumbs up.