Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fable III Review


Initially I wasn't considering purchasing Fable III. After being disappointed by no PC version for Fable II and the long delay for a PC version of the original Fable, I figured that Peter Molyneux had well and truly abandoned the PC market (and for all intents and purposes, Lionhead Studios has). However, after being convinced by a friend to give it a shot (thanks Luke!) I decided to purchase it - it was less than $50 anyway for a well established RPG series, so why not?

Sound (4/5)
Voice acting is performed extremely well in the game and you’ve got a long list of famous British actors including John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg and Zoe Wanamaker (to name just a few) lending their talents.



Music (4/5)
Interestingly, the original Fable theme scored by Danny Elfman was given the boot and doesn’t really feature at all in this latest iteration. Maybe it’s to reflect the fact that the world of Albion has moved on into the drab and dreary Industrial era. While the soundtrack isn’t as great as previous Fable games, the music is of a high quality and complements the gameplay well.


Graphics (3/5)
Graphics are kind of blurry and there is excessive use of bloom. There are also some framerate issues at times, which is strange as the engine (or at least the visual style) is very similar to the original Fable. There is a lot of detail however and it’s obvious a lot of effort went into the maps plus there are many items you can interact with.



Plot (4/5)
Fable III is once again set in the world of Albion but during a time where magic is mostly forgotten and the world is going through an Industrial Revolution. You play a prince or princess who is a descendant of the heroes you played in previous games. Once again a terrible evil is going to beset Albion and the task of protecting the kingdom rests in your hands.

Yes the plot is clich├ęd, but credit must be given for creating a world with a rich background history (which granted isn’t too hard since it borrows a lot from the first two games). The game also has some classic British humour in its dialogue which is another plus – a band of mercenary thugs debating existentialism is not out of place in the world of Fable. However, the humour and frivolity is sometimes a weird mix as it’s juxtaposed with serious and dark events occurring in the game, especially towards the end. Performing the Chicken Dance for one of your royal subjects after a recent death of a best friend, seems a bit strange.

I’m also not too big a fan of the ending. Without going into the details, let me say this: It’s good that the game allows you to make some difficult choices but it seems that the consequences of your actions still don’t really matter.


Gameplay (3/5)
For those who’ve played Fable before, you’ll know what this is about. Fable III is an action RPG or RPG-lite. Most of the combat is going to rely on your reflexes and use of a limited number of skills and weapons rather than picking the right spells to memorise for the day as you would in a D&D RPG. The game has several side quests besides the main plot quests but the game is open-ended and you’re pretty much free to do what you want. You can even own property and businesses, play the lute to make some money, or gamble it all away on chicken races. So there’s quite a bit to do here and I managed to clock about 26 hours of gameplay (although I did maybe 90% of the quests).

There are a few drawbacks to this latest iteration of Fable however. Firstly, an old one that crops up time and time again is the fact you’re playing a console port, and it shows. For example, anytime you want to interact with items you have to hold the E key for 5 seconds or so in order to interact with anything. Minor annoyance but considering you’re going to do a LOT of interacting in the game, it seems unnecessary. Also saving the game isn’t a simple matter of opening up a menu screen and hitting “Save”, you actually have to move your character to a Save Game Room (you heard me right - it’s an actual room in the game). This is another way time is wasted for what should be a quick and easy task.

Like the original Fable, you’ll be spending a lot of time rolling around and dodging attacks, which isn’t so bad in small doses but during one particular battle, it felt like I was literally doing 10-15 minutes of dodging which is a bit extreme.

Fable III has a new levelling system which actually gets rid of levels altogether. Instead you unlock abilities and skills on the Road to Rule by spending Guild Seals that are rewarded by completing quests/tasks and killing monsters. While this aspect was touted as controversial, in practice it’s not much different to old RPG levelling systems where you gain experience points to spend on skills and attributes.



Replayability (3/5)
Not really much has changed in the replayability department. You can hunt for achievements (one in particular I like is called “Henry VIII” which is to marry 6 wives as king and kill two of them), play as the opposite sex and make a few different choices that change the storyline but it’s pretty standard RPG fare nowadays. Just like previous Fable games, you cannot choose your appearance either (besides clothes and haircuts of course)


Polish (4/5)
The game is pretty well polished, but this is to be expected for a game that has already been released for awhile on console. One thing that does bug me is the fact you need to login to Games for Windows Live (GFWL) – why do you need to login for a single-player RPG? Argh! So not only are you playing through an online client like Steam, you also have to have GFWL online client running too! Awesome! (NOT). This means you have to wait a couple of extra minutes to login so you can play a single player game – not very choice!

Score - 7/10

More Fable with all its pros and cons.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How turn off in-game voice in Dungeon Siege III

Do you happen to use other VOIP programs like Teamspeak or Ventrilo when playing games? If you play Dungeon Siege III you may find it annoying that by default volume activated VOIP is on by default and searching the options menu will reveal you can't actually turn it off!

Fortunately, there is a way to do it, even though it might not seem to be the case at first glance. When a friend joins your multiplayer game, right-click on the green circle next to their name and select Mute Player.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Running Steam in Windows compatibility mode is not recommended. Please remove any Windows compatibility settings for all users under file properties for Steam.exe and restart Steam. Press 'Cancel' to permanently ignore this warning and continue.

Just happened to try and start Steam and got the error message above. If you happen to get it you're probably running Windows Vista or 7. Apparently Microsoft has a Compatibility Assist program that enters Steam as a registry key so the solution is to remove those keys:

1. Hit start->run->regedit
2. Go to key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers
3. Look for an entry with your path to steam.exe
4. Delete that entry
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\AppCompatFlags\Layers

Thanks to all the other guys that discovered this solution before me, but thought I'd spread the word :).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Where to buy Rage and Skyrim in Australia

It's still a couple of months before these games come out, but Steam is offering interesting offers for Rage and Skyrim where, once again, you are able to unlock some TF2 items if you happen to pre-order with them - and these offers are valid for a limited time. Consequently, it seemed like a good time to see which games store offered the best deal when it came to purchasing Rage or Skyrim. Oh and the reason they're both on sale at the same time? They're both published by Bethesda Softworks :).


Rage

When pre-ordering Rage, you seem to automatically get the Anarchy Edition which gives you two special weapons, a different buggy and special armour.

  • EB = $88 (You also get a Rage Wingstick, which looks like some sort of frisbee, a print and Gang Badges)
  • GAME = $78 (all GAME shipping is free within Australia)
  • JB = $79 (bonus comics)
  • Steam = $90USD (Wingstick for TF2)

It's actually a hard choice for Rage since they all have quite different offerings from each store and they're around the same price.

If you're concerned purely about price I say go for GAME (which is what I'll be doing).

If you like comics and are interested in the background story of Rage, you should pre-order from JB.

If you like a random assortment of goodies, you should pre-order from EB.

If you don't like physical copies of games and you're a TF2 nut, you should go for the Steam version.


Skyrim
  • EB = $88 (bonus physical map included)
  • GAME = $88
  • JB = $99 (bonus physical map included)
  • Steam = $90USD (bonus TF2 hat)

Once again, the prices are actually quite similar for each option. This time though, GAME is equal cheapest with EB, but EB actually comes with a pre-order goodie being the bonus physical map - which JB also offers but at a dearer price.

While the TF2 hat is tempting I think I'd much rather have a physical map. Physical maps being included in boxes reminds me of the days of playing Ultima 6 which included a map of Britannia in the box!