6. Fable 2
Fable, this is a name that for many, wears grimy clothes coated with a black disappointment. Announced blows of extraordinary promises and declarations of a flamboyant prolix Peter Molyneux, the title we had finally appeared in the form of an innovative RPG, but a far cry from what was originally advanced. And now its sequel arrives today on Xbox 360.
Lord Molyneux has this time moderated his comments but has yet never hidden his ambition to make Fable II a unique and enchanting title, a full experience that should not be confined to the mere status of role play. Let us therefore turn our gaze to the shady paths of Albion and now try to examine what it is actually a good game.
Before we dive body and soul in the heart of the realm of heroes, it is first necessary to mention an interesting fact. Peter Molyneux, great purveyor of promises before the eternal, all accompanied Fable II test versions with a short letter. This letter actually took the form of a query. Sir Molyneux wanted indeed the test of her baby blessed be entrusted to a person who would absolutely not poses the slightest knowledge of video games.
If we of course have been impossible to accede to this request, we have tried to keep a relatively fresh look at Fable II, a look that without abandoning a commitment to critical and objective analysis, give you occasionally access to visceral impressions of a lover of heroic-fantasy novels. But gossip truce put on our boots, our sword and veins cling to adventure.
The Fable II story is set 500 years after the first game, and if the topography and many details obviously evoke the distant past, it is not necessary to have travelled as much the old Albion from which to adventure. However, if you had already dabbled of the first episode, you will quickly find that Fable II takes over the screenplay structure and the basic ideas while generously deepening most aspects.
This time, we will have the opportunity to play a character (boy or girl) and make it evolve from an early age until the end of his life. Its evolution will flow directly to his way of life and the decisions they take during their existence. It will therefore be to decide the fate of your character in several ages of its life.
First, we quickly fly over childhood hero. They then benefit from a small preview of Fable II mechanisms such as the fact that the game does not offer cut scenes to speak of, but in-game sequences during which we can always continue to act.
Finally act is perhaps not the right word, but we can at least express various emotions through a circular menu accessed by pressing RB. As such, please note that your stock will grow at the emotions you progress and that their use will significantly change the way people perceive you. The last, establishes the basics of Fable II scenario by ending on a tragedy that we keep course to reveal the nature.
Side Quests and Interaction
The real adventure actually begins in adolescence, because that is where, finally, you really will be able to explore Albion. The universe appears much larger than in the first Fable, alternating between open space and more confined areas. Overall, we feel much freer than before since it will finally be possible to jump over the fences and go wading in lakes and rivers.
However, Fable II has not clearly scoped of Oblivion for example, and we will find ourselves often forced to walk a well-defined path. Exploration, even if it is possible, therefore remains very marked and relatively limited. Nevertheless, Fable II offers a wide variety of different areas and finally will experience little boredom walking around this world.
It will be appreciated in particular the different cities and large towns, and populous, many merchants (which being many, are selling more or less the same things). Every building or business can now be visited, purchased, rented or occupied. Fable II although it clearly restricts player movement, however, very generous in terms of possibilities.
Work and Gold
It is also essential to mention the fact that the soft, despite some bugs, crashes and lots of clipping, truly brings to life a magnificent universe. Albion is rich, alive, and incredibly poetic and moreover retains the humour and craziness of his predecessor. The beauty of the virtuosity of environments screams constantly Lionhead artists.
The developers clearly wanted to immerse ourselves in another world and ensure that are deeply involved there. This also requires some small finds that variously appreciated. In Fable II, you cannot directly check cards. We can certainly get a glimpse of the area in which it is located by going to the menu, but details are few.
No, to guide you, you’ll need to rely on a supposed light trail guiding you to your next objective. Deactivated, this guideline does not interfere nor truly serves the game, despite some attempts to make a fundamental element of gameplay. Thus, when certain sequences in strong emotions, matron simply disappear in an attempt to confuse you.
This system nevertheless has the merit of making the game more accessible in the sense that we never really lose. That said, in the absence of map worthy of the name, sometimes we turn round to find an inn or a specific shop means that nothing outside its sign. To you therefore to stroll and retain somehow the arrangement of different stalls, stalls where we sometimes offer you work or discounted items.
All About the Orbs
The other major element for the player involved in the adventure lies in the continued presence of a dog. Far from making up the numbers, the little critter can be very helpful as long as you take the time to educate properly. To do this, we will try to find many books dedicated to training more or less stashed around the world.
Associated with specific expressions, as punishment, the congratulations, the game or the reward, we can make our dog a perfect companion, able to fight as to report the presence of treasures. The dog, it is also possible to ignore superbly, not a handicap and never bothers you.
Certainly, it happens that it might get locked in some corners, but always manages to find you. Lionhead has also refined its attitudes to the extreme and often the dog will growl when the enemy is near or spinning tails between their legs when things go wrong. You will have to reassure him by offering him a biscuit or attempting a nice mimicry.
In short, we find ourselves there with a playmate which one is serious, reflecting the Lionhead of success in this area. Where the studio may have made things worse, it is at the interface of inventory, which is accessed by pressing start. Besides a small loading time, it will again sail slowly in the dropdowns and impractical objects by type.
Fortunately, the relative simplicity of the game and the permanent use of contextual actions will limit a little coming and going through the menus.
Combat and Progress
The combat system proves also improved. Fable II yet, from a seductive principle. Basically, body-to-body of the attacks are carried out with the single button X, but it is usable at different levels. By crushing it like a marmoset, one can quite get away, but sharp pace, we launch new attacks.
Maintaining the pressure, it still reaches another level of strikes and if pushed to play on a fairly tight schedule, these are the movements against emerging attacks. Besides melee weapons, this system also applies to magic (Y) or throwing weapons (B) such as bows or guns. And it goes without saying that all combinations are allowed.
Mini cut-scenes highlight the most virile exchanges or kills. Anyway, this approach Multilevel not an aesthetic interest because the use of further attacks obviously goes along with damage and therefore a higher score. Thus, if one can overcome his enemies by hitting without looking further, the use of more advanced techniques will bring more experience.
Companions and Help
Focus on weapons and you earn points in this particular area, so you eventually get new shooter capabilities. The trouble is that sticking to basic attacks is usually enough to get rid of anyone. Fable II, in its desire to appear as the title unifier, able to attract a wide audience, reveals a disconcerting ease. The fights are certainly dynamic but they offer no challenge worthy of the name.
Both say right away, our character has not experienced the pangs of death during the test. However, note that if the hero’s health points drop to zero, he collapses to the ground and emerge carrying the stigma of failure: scars that may be able to make it repulsive and do not promote your relationships with the population, or wife. And you will lose some experience.
On another note, we obviously noted that all the quests in the game, as innocuous as they are, require you more or less directly to choose between good and evil. However, the system has a little deepened in the sense that the value of your actions is associated with the old alignment criterion one hand (right or wrong), but also of purity (purity or corruption) on the other.
So some quests which nevertheless seem fundamentally Manichean finally reveal a little more convoluted. Your refusal to assist a person in danger will not necessarily be interpreted as a bad act, but by cons affect your purity. Your actions, in addition to changing your appearance and the way the people of Albion perceive you, change the very face of the realm.
Help an old man to ride his business in a small village, and 10 years later, the village in question has taken the appearance of a small town in full economic boom. The title invites the player to try several times the adventure and multiply approaches.
Quest Line and Essentials
And why not try to join another player in his own party? Fable II actually allows you to find a friend in the world he has fashioned itself or on the contrary, to invite him in your own fable. A clever way to discover the many differences induced by divergent choices. It is also possible to play two on the same console.
So even if your friend has no character, he may nevertheless join the game by playing a sidekick. And rest assured, hostile creatures of the game will then have the kindness to attack the more powerful of the two heroes. In short, this is probably one aspect that will find favour with many players. Fable II presents itself as a worthy successor to its predecessor.
Beautiful, rich, intelligent, longer (count fifteen hours to finish the adventure by browsing some), the title shows both more accessible and more bewitching than the first episode. An adventure that is told and runs quietly, perhaps a little too similar to the previous, but which nevertheless is one of the greatest achievements of Peter Molyneux and his team.
5. Shadow Complex
After the outputs surprising Trial Splosion Man or HD, Microsoft has closed its Summer of Arcade transaction with a particular anticipated title. Shadow Complex we had indeed been presented at E3 as a real return to the roots of the action game genre. We must admit that the result finally exceeds all expectations.
We remember that in the 2009 edition of E3 small guys Epic Games were the ones responsible for presenting us Shadow Complex, which was especially developed by one of their representatives, the studio leader. It was nothing new since he already has the excellent Undertow, a fighting game released two years ago on Xbox Live Arcade.
The team now returns to the front of the stage with another title dedicated to the Microsoft download platform. Just as Undertow, Shadow Complex offers 2D gameplay, but takes advantage of the Unreal Engine 3 to display the decorations in very neat 3D. By cons, unlike its predecessor, the newcomer completely abandons the multiplayer aspect to focus on a single player.
Effects and Lighting
The introduction of Shadow Complex gives quickly the tone: the game opts for a 2D gameplay very old but it is set to benefit from action scenes. The game will immediately start with a “boom” putting you in the shoes of an elite soldier who witnessed the assassination of the Vice President of the United States. A start on top speed, which at first glance seems far from the concerns of Jason Fleming, the hero of Shadow Complex. At that moment it starts in fact just a small hiking with his girlfriend.
The walk will unfortunately cut short because the two walkers come across a mysterious military complex. The girl is passing quickly taken prisoner and Jason feels compelled to feet and hands to release it.
It is armed with its simple flashlight that part in the assault of this organization which continues visibly dark projects. Indeed, you’ll understand that these paramilitaries are no strangers to the attack that has shaken America, they also plan to attack other larger cities, which should lead to a real civil war …
It will take a little time to adapt to the regulars FPS or TPS will make the somewhat peculiar grip of Shadow Complex. While the decorations displayed some good depth of field, Jason moves only in one plane. To be exact, you control the direction his steps with the left stick and you aim with the other one.
It folds quickly to this gym especially since Jason targets more or less automatically enemies and a laser underscores his line of sight. However, things are a little more difficult when it comes to reaching an enemy found in the back field.
It is then more than ever rely on the famous covered semi-automatic which is unfortunately sometimes capricious shows. This flaw should not forget that the whole game is really handy and above all it offers an incredible diversity of situations.
This is not so much for its gameplay itself Shadow Complex that has often been compared to a good old Metroid, but rather for its level design. Indeed, same as Samus, our hero is progressing in a limitless way, and he must obtain skills or weapons to go with the entire network. Your flashlight then proves particularly effective: when you steer to the elements that you are blocking the road, they take a colored tint depending on the type of amunition capable of destroying them.
The complex as you visit is particularly choppy but you can count on a well-arranged map to guide you and help you find the many hidden improvements or alternative passages. It will take you about six hours to finish the campaign without your hurry, you can also go after the adventure in less than two hours provided to maximize all these shortcuts.
Similarly, you sometimes have the possibility to force the passage by charging head first on your enemies or rather bypass via air ducts. To you then choose between pure force or infiltration. Such difficult choices will still become very rare throughout your progression: indeed if Jason is helpless at the beginning of the adventure, it will gradually change into a real superman thanks to armor properties.
Finally if the campaign Shadow Complex you already reserve a few hours of well-paced action, the title also offers a twenty independent missions that you can consider as a workout. The level of these challenges can be quite high and you will have a lot of work if you hope to win the gold medals in all the events. This is where minor additions come into play making Shadow Complex one of the best games on Xbox.
4. Gears of War 3
Sharpen your bayonet and fill up your chainsaw, you slices of Locusts and Lambents porridge for dinner tonight! Gears back in service and they need you to try one last time to save humanity. You have a sense of déjà vu and you are afraid that you serve a soup with warm taste? Think again, this third installment may well surprise you and it surpasses even its elders on a number of points.
Is it still necessary to present the series of Gears of War? The license has become a classic of the GST and even inspired many other productions, so much so that one wonders now if it did not give birth to a particular sub-genre. The first episode was released almost a year after the launch of the Xbox 360 and it has quickly become the reference title that showed that the console was really in the belly.
On landing there two years, the second album again pushed the boundaries and we proved that we could deliver a more intense adventure and more impressive. This suite also showed darker than its predecessor and a new threat was in addition to attacks Locust: the terrible Lambents, a kind of yellowish exploding mutants.
The only way found by the Gears to limit this double invasion was through the sacrifice of the city of Jacinto though it was the last bastion of humanity. The survivors then had only to go to sea to seek refuge on islands …
This third episode we transpose two years after the disaster Jacinto. The TOS is more or less dissolved de facto since the death of President Prescott. The islands on which the Gears were sheltering in turn been victims of the Lambent Invasion. So our heroes forced back on their boats to try to be a small place on the continent.
The scenario starts with the surprise return of Prescott, and the latter did not arrive empty handed because it brings a record proving that the father of Marcus is alive and well. Obviously, this is also the time chosen by the Lambents to launch a major attack on the ship …
These monsters hatch direct weapon in hand on huge rods that emerge from the ground. It was therefore entitled to start on top speed which we speaks volumes about the rhythm of this new album. The elders of the squad Delta meet present appointment: they will naturally go in search of the father of Marcus and again try to save the world in the process.
The pitch seems agreed and makes you smile? You would be wrong to mock it, in the second episode we already delivered a scenario that holds water and that third opus drives the point home by offering us its share of revelations. The campaign has just enough shade on the adventures of some members of the team to make room for a few more chapters DLC …
This campaign is perhaps a little less spectacular than the previous pane, but it is certainly more intense. It was still entitled to a rich episode, an apotheosis form that perfectly closing the plot began with the first in the series. Warning, this third installment does not clearly call on, but that does not mean the end of the license.
There is clearly still what concocts a prequel immersing ourselves in such Pendulum Wars or during the events of Emergence Day … But do not put the cart before the horse and take for now the time to enjoy the countryside of the Gears of War 3. The latter proves also a longer than previous hair and you occupy ten hours to lug around you in particularly varied environments.
In terms of pure and simple gameplay are found naturally in the series fundamentals. No surprise, it’s still nag and you must always be careful to stay under cover when the bullets burst forth on all sides. We are entitled to a pretty logically upmanship: executions are more gore and new enemies are often more robust.
If wild Tickers will simply fuck you pissed swallowing ammunition lying around on the battlefield, you’ll have a bit more difficulty in overcoming a Kantus battleship … The Lambent camp also reserves a few surprises like hideous creatures with tentacles equipped with spitting flames. However the much you blow the beast, this strange appendage continues to try to burn your ass.
A funny little mecha is also being introduced, the famous Silverback his sulfateuse and grenade launchers give you the opportunity to clean up quickly in the Locust ranks. Common facilities were treated to a small fairly significant facelift.
Each weapon has a zip and now reload gauge of its own, giving it the way a particular personality. The assault rifle Kaomax also undergone some changes: it has a smaller charger but he won a little stopping power and accuracy, and it is mostly now possible to enter the iron sight to adjust the shots . Put simply, the weapon finally finds an interest.
This third album is full of small improvements that make your life easier. The multiplayer still offers such a progression by levels but can now also earn the precious experience points during the campaign. Just now also actuate a key to see not only the position of teammates, but also to get a glimpse of the direction of the next objective.
Moreover, we find that multiplayer feature to see the location of weapons and allies through walls. But adding that should really please the fans is undoubtedly the Arcade mode. It is simply to make the campaign in co-op or solo and count points based on your performance. The more you kill enemies, the higher your points multiplier increases and it descends rapidly when you are on land.
It is also possible to add options to spice funny parties or for your convenience using “mutators.” These are modes that you can choose to activate or not once you’ve unlocked them: they will for example ensure that your enemies heal, the body-to-body instantly kills the blood is replaced by pretty flowers …
Bonus or malus experience are related to these mutators when they change the difficulty. In the end, we end up with a really fun Arcade mode which provides a nice replayability to the campaign by allowing more strenuous to pull the floss on the Net.
We find the opportunity for parties with up to ten players around a dozen very friendly maps. Again, these environments seem really alive and dynamic: you may, for example, receive scores of the panel on the corner of the figure or being caught in a storm in the middle part of the sands. Most of the modes are classics (War Zone, Execution, and King of the Hill Winger) but the Match Mode to death in team suffered a facelift. Each team now has 15 tickets respawn once elapsed this stock, it is sudden death and your fallen teammates can no longer return to the front.
This system helps to avoid long waits to early deaths and make them more dynamic parts. The Fugitive modes and Leader were brought together to give birth to a really exciting Capture the Leader. This is nothing short of a Capture The Flag with one player instead of the flag. The latter is carried as an ordinary sack of potatoes when brought ashore.
It does not lead off when so captive and must be content to struggle at times, hoping that his team comes for the release. It also benefits multiplayer dedicated servers to provide better access to the greatest number? Do not throw away this Gears of War 3 still promises to be a real killers online. As you can see, it was enough for us to seduce and convince us that this third installment is largely up to his elders.