>Impressions: Rock Band 3, Fable 3

>OK, so.  I had more or less written off the rest of 2010 in terms of “games to get excited about.”  And now, suddenly, I’m up to my ears in quality stuff.

Rock Band 3 is easily the best iteration of the franchise, and I say this even though I’ve only played one 14-song setlist with my wife, and without even owning the keyboard or trying out any of the “pro mode” stuff.  I’m talking strictly nuts-and-bolts here; the game feels “smart.”  Being able to save a setlist is a fantastic idea, especially if you want to set something up ahead of time; having the game actually pause between songs is also something much appreciated, to give everyone a second to catch their breath, stretch their fingers, take a quick bathroom break.  The stat-tracking is really interesting; it’s keeping tabs on all sorts of cool stuff, which definitely scratches that “let me play one more tune so I can get the next achievement” itch.  I’ve only seen a tiny fraction of what the game has to offer – I plan on messing with it A LOT over the weekend.  And I still need to get familiar with the on-disc setlist; I’ve already merged my RB1, RB2 and DLC libraries, so I need to see what’s actually new.

I can’t quite tell if Fable 3 is the best iteration in its franchise; I’m maybe 30-40 minutes into it, and it basically feels like Fable 2 (which is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, as I very much enjoyed my time with F2).  It does have some strange design choices, though, and I can already tell that some of them are going to get annoying. 

For example:  one of the bullet points of this franchise is that you can interact with anyone, and there’s lots of ways to do that; so that’s nice.  Except here, if you want to interact with someone, you have to stand close enough to them that a button prompt appears; if you press the button, then the game momentarily stops, and then restarts with a new contextual button prompt; if you then press that button (shake hand, belch, etc.), then you’re kicked back out into the first button prompt, and then you have to press another button to get back to the actual game.  This is strange and needlessly cumbersome. 

Also – the X button is both your melee attack and your block, which can be tricky, and the block really ought to have been mapped to one of the triggers, which are not used at all

It’s not really fair of me to criticize it just yet; again, I’m not even an hour into it, and there’s so much more left to do.  But every game’s first impression goes a long way toward coloring your eventual verdict.

>so much candy

>Here, let me blow the dust off of this blog and see if it’s still working.

/kicks tires


Has it really been a month since the last update?  That’s just wrong.  I’m trying to recall where the time went, exactly, or if there was some pressing reason why I’ve not been over here.  Truth is, it’s felt a little slow, games-wise.  I’ve played several games to completion, and acquired an iPod Touch, and yet there hasn’t really been anything that’s made me say, “That does it, I’m blogging today.”  I’m writing today because, well, why not.

If my GoogleDoc is to be believed, here’s what I’ve played since the last post, wherein I was obsessed with Civilization V.

  • DeathSpank 2: Thong of Virtue.  In spite of the first game’s faults (repetitive, mindless item fetching), I loved the hell out of it, and was eagerly looking forward to more.  Sadly, this sequel suffers from a lot of I’ve been seeing this year, where it’s basically more of the same, but it’s no longer fresh or exciting.  I finished it, but whereas I played the first game to 100% completion, I’ve still got a ton of side quests to do, and I don’t care enough to do them.
  • Dead Rising 2.  I was hoping that the game had changed enough so that I could try to get through it; alas, I died about 20 minutes in and knew that I didn’t have it in me.  I understand why someone might get really into this franchise; the game is designed in a very specific, deliberate way that seems completely insane unless you submit to it, and I know that I don’t have the patience to bother.
  • Enslaved.  This came out of nowhere to become one of my favorite titles of the year.  I had a vicious headcold when this came out, and ended up spending my day of sick leave huddled up on my couch, plowing through it more or less in one go.  Definitely reminded me of Uncharted 2, which is a great thing.  Probably the best and most convincing facial animation I’ve ever seen – the relationship between the 2 lead characters is totally believable and real and palpable.  
  • Castlevania: LoS.  Fuck this game.  I’m not necessarily a Castlevania fanboy; I like the games, when they’re good, but that’s more or less it.  That being said, there’s nothing about this game (at least as far as I got) that has ANYTHING to do with the Castlevania franchise as I understand it.  It is a God of War clone through and through, with frustrating controls and combat.  It’s true that it has a gorgeous graphics engine, but it’s 2010 – if I can’t have complete control over the camera, I get angry.  Especially since the camera is, generally speaking, miles away from the action, making it difficult to see my dude; also, it’s incredibly annoying when my dude gets hit by enemies that are off-screen, “under” the camera.  I stopped midway through the “Lycan” area, and I’ll tell you why:  there’s this one section where you have to tame this giant rat beast, which enables you to ride it and jump over huge gaps.  I tamed the rat, jumped it over the gaps, and then got to this weird ledge area and couldn’t seem to find anywhere to go, so I killed the rat.  ONLY THEN did the game tell me that I needed the rat to climb up the suddenly-blinking vine.  Which meant that I had to go back to the rat-taming arena, which was suddenly easy to do since all the gaps were jumpable by my puny human legs.  This means that the game specifically intended me to have to do this fucking thing twice.  Fuck this game.
  • Costume Quest.  I just finished this over the weekend, actually.  It pains me to say this, but Double Fine has not yet made a truly great game.  They make incredible worlds, with great characters speaking hilarious dialogue, and they tell great stories, but the game part is the part that can feel like the last thing they thought of.  CQ gets past this by at least being relatively short, which makes the repetitive RPG-lite combat not terribly annoying.  And the rest of the game is relentlessly charming and adorable and laugh-out-loud funny.  I especially loved the Arrested Development reference in the 3rd act.
  • Super Meat Boy.  It is doubtful that I will ever finish this game, as it is beastly difficult.  But it’s also fiendishly addictive.

As mentioned above, I also bought one of the new models of iPod Touch.  I’ve been coveting the iPhone for years now, but as a Verizon customer I’ve had to bite the bullet and find other ways of having touchscreen smartphone goodness.  I’ve enjoyed my Droid, but it’s getting old and slow and the battery drains alarmingly quickly, even if I don’t use it; but I need my apps!  So I got one of the 8gb models and I’ve already gone nuts; I’ve got 32 games, plus a ton of camera apps.  Angry Birds and Cut the Rope are fun, sure, but the two games that have sucked the majority of my time are Sword & Poker 2 and Helsing’s Fire.  S&P2 is kinda like Puzzle Quest in that it’s an RPG fought over puzzles, but instead of being a Bejeweled clone it’s got a poker theme.  And Helsing’s Fire… I don’t know how to describe it, except that it uses the touch screen in an ingenious way, and it’s awesome.

I feel like I ought to start prepping for my year-end recap, although there are some notable titles left on my to-play list.  I accidentally ordered the PS3 version of Fallout: New Vegas, and so I sent it back; I’d like to play it eventually, but I can wait until it gets patched.  (And, frankly, I played a little Fallout 3 a few weeks ago just to check it out again, and that game feels positively ancient.)  Fable 3 arrives tomorrow.  I’m feeling aggressively ambivalent about Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, although I felt the same about AC2 and that game ended up being incredible.  I need to play Kirby.  I am curious about Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2, and I am unusually jazzed about the 360 version of NBA Jam.  And I’d like to hope for the best for Epic Mickey

And then I suppose I can get on with the recap.

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