Friday, October 31, 2008

Fallout 3 Completed: High Brow Review to Follow (Maybe)

Oh that's right. Fallout 3 has been slain and started again. I'm considering taking a slightly different approach to the review this time around which may take more time and energy than the Fable review (which makes it somewhat unlikely that I'll actually do this). I may attempt a sort of critical analysis of the Fallout 3 experience instead of only sharing my judgments regarding game mechanics and plot flow. The only reason I'd do this is if I thought there was something in the game itself which warranted analysis of this sort and I do believe that Fallout has it. Something that requires closer scrutiny to truly appreciate and be able to share with others.

I may instead write a Dead Space review and put this off a little longer while I think about what kind of angle I want to take while attacking this beast of a game. Only time will tell.

The Procrastinated Upon Fable 2 Review!

Should I put in spoilers? Ahh who cares... I'll keep em out for now.

So, again, Fable 2. If you don't feel like reading a full review then here is my summary. It's Fable 1 with a terrible magic system and guns. That's pretty much it.

Oh! and a dog.

The combat feels all the same with, perhaps, a greater emphasis on ranged weapons than Fable 1. As far as magic goes... meh... I want to get my gripe out of the way quickly so I can focus on the more positive aspects of the game so I shall now address the issue of the magic system.

I very much approve of eliminating mana/magic points/whatever from games but the "stand-there-and-charge-up-your-spell-and-then-take-3-seconds-more-to-cast-it" system felt out of place in the fast paced combat of Fable 2, especially in the presence of enemies that took advantage of the much improved ranged fighting system. I tried to compensate for this by focusing primarily on the time control magic (bias from Fable 1) but that feels a bit like being painted into a corner in order to cast other level 4 or 5 spells. However, having level 5 shock charged up and ready to go as mobs of undead surround you provides a feeling of indescribable satisfaction. The problem with this, again, is that during fights with tougher enemies you simply do not have time to charge your spells to such a level that they will significantly affect the outcome of the fight. Using time control to slow things down is all well and good but the extra time this frees up is often better spent rattling off headshots or chain attacks/flourishes than charging up another spell. Perhaps my opinion of this will change if I perform another playthrough with a more magic oriented character, but I don't hold out much hope.


The inclusion of rifles, pistols and crossbows (I honestly cannot recall if crossbows were in Fable 1, although I believe they were... in which case throw in repeating crossbows instead) was very much welcome although sometimes I missed some good old fashioned bow and arrow action. Many of the great times I had playing Fable 2 consisted of using a pistol to decapitate hordes of bandits as they charged at me in a rage most impotent and watching the last bandit come to the realization that he was well and truly fucked. The progression of the Skill branch fit perfectly into a steadily increasing curve of enjoyment. Gaining the ability to lock on to targets for improved damage, then the ability to zoom in on those targets, and finally the ability to aim at specific limbs made perfect sense in terms of progression and kept the ranged combat from getting boring too quickly. Combined with the wider range of weapons available for ranged combat you will keep coming back for more and more of those tasty yellow orbs.


Melee combat I didn't experiment with to such a great degree because upon picking up the controls for the first time it felt immediately like Fable 1. I'm not sure I agree with the decision to make flourishes (heavy attacks) an upper level skill and then also mapping it to the X button (which also handles regular attacks AND blocking) as I did experience some problems with that during game play... It's too much for one little button to do and caused issues with me thinking I was charging up a flourish and really was only blocking and other times when I wanted to do a regular attack and ended up starting to block and then starting to attack only to interrupt myself with more attempts at blocking. While frustrating, these issues were rare enough to not seriously impede my enjoyment of the game, but there was another issue with knocking enemies down that did grate on my nerves a bit. From time to time your hero decides that instead of hacking an enemy into tiny little bits it would be a fantastic idea to instead kick him in the shin or shoulder him into the nearest wall, causing him to slouch to the ground where, especially in the middle of a fight, he is practically invincible. This is due to the fact that the coup de grace maneuver requires a disgusting level of precision to pull off in the middle of a group of enemies and even when it's a 1 on 1 fight it can prove a tricky procedure. Often times your hero will futilely slash the air directly above your prostrate foe as if daring him to stand up and take more punishment. When fighting in narrow passages it is not unheard of to knock down every enemy you are fighting with these annoyingly common shoves and have it break up the rhythm of an otherwise good fight.


The questing system in Fable 2 saw a lot of work and as a result was much improved over that of Fable 1. There was actually stuff to do besides the main quest! Such a relief. It was fun becoming a master blacksmith and earning a good chunk of change at the same time. Buying up taverns and other assorted shops around the many towns gave purpose to your piles of gold and provided an opportunity to show your true alignment by either raising or lowering the prices in those shops. You can even invest in real estate as well as flip houses, as ridiculous as that sounds. Buy cheap houses in the slummier towns and fill them with luxury furniture and then sell the whole thing for a profit... or raise the rent to squeeze all the gold you can from the tenants. Indeed, the economy of Fable 2 is a fascinating beast, affected by the quests you perform in the vicinity of the town as well as factors I assume to be out of your control, it provides a worthy distraction from grinding out quests killing hobbes and balverines yet rewards you for doing those quests at the same time. I'm not sure what the deal was with the clothing but I felt like I should have had more choices for outfits... The vast majority of what I saw consisted of bandit/highwayman gear which got somewhat boring after a while... although after finding an assassin's coat my character looked like an awesome pirate (complete with single shot pistol and cutlass) so I can't complain too much.

Mine looked cooler

The excitement of blacksmithing

All in all I consider Fable 2 to be a great game. Should you get it? Fuck if I know. You want a number/letter grade? Well fuck you. I hate math and grades. Play it your damn self. Or be like my roommate and wake up ridiculously early to play it before I'm awake playing Fallout 3. That way you can get your fix and see if it's worthy of your dollars. I wont say you must own Fable 2 the way I say you must own Oblivion (at least in those early days of the 360 which saw so few worthy releases) but keep in mind that it does come with my recommendation.

I would also like to point out that it is indeed Friday and I do not have my headphones. What the fuck. Although they'll probably be here by the time I wake up and my initial prediction was that it would take until Saturday for this situation to resolve... I will still be pissed

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Great Headphone Debacle of 2008

It could have been so easy...


The original email. I had sent them one previous to this because the shipping hit a snag in New York and I was wondering if they could do anything about it. This issue took care of itself... or did it!?!?!?
Hi again,
I ordered a pair of Sennheiser HD-280s from you guys and just a few short minutes ago I received a package that I *thought* would contain them. The joy I felt was almost tangible in the air. Upon opening that package I discovered, much to my dismay, TEN pairs of Sennheiser CX300s staring back at me. I cannot even begin to imagine how this happened. It doesn't match up with the charge to my account or the packing slip you sent to my email address (there was no packing slip in the box). I still want my HD-280s and I don't want to have to wait another week for them.

Response from

I cannot even imagine how this happened.We will send them out with a return envelope.Our apology's for this inconvenience.
An envelope? What am I supposed to do with an envelope? They sent me ten fucking pair of headphones. That's this many:


If there is an envelope that could solve this problem then I have not yet met it.

I should be getting my headphones in 3-5 days. In their infinite graciousness they decided to not charge me for this new pair of headphones... not even for the shipping!!! They're a saintly bunch. This issue had better be resolved before Friday.

Fable 2: The Questening

This post will concern the recent release of the moderately anticipated Fable 2. A review will follow tomorrow.

I say "moderately anticipated" because I have no clue as to whether or not anybody actually cared about the release of this game. I vaguely remember commercials... but I can't be sure.

What I do know: the local Gamestop had a "midnight release party" which is apparently some type of joke they play on nerds to make them feel like they're being social. They can run back to their parents' home afterward and when asked where they were so late at night they can respond proudly "At a party mother!"

I attended this party knowing full well that I would be standing in a line for literally minutes surrounded by persons of questionable hygiene. Keeping the risks in mind I honed my resolve into a fine blade capable of slicing through all but the funkiest of funks and wielding my receipt of +4 fortitude I entered, obtained my copy of Fable 2 and exited in roughly 9 minutes. I didn't make eye contact with anyone.

Upon returning home I promptly did not play the game. I either had company over or the TV was taken... One way or the other I wasn't compelled to destroy the competition for Fable 2's attention in order to seek its gamey goodness.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soccer: infinite pain, no gain

Last night was the final game of the session... That's right. No more pain for 8 weeks. My knee may actually get a chance to heal properly (or at least as properly as me not going to the doctor will allow it to heal) so yay for that. More good news, we won our final game by a large margin, despite brandon's awful terrible play. My amazing goal streak extended to two entire games! This is entirely due to the fact that I'm amazing at soccer. So effing amazing. And you all missed it.

The reason we won't be playing again for 8 weeks is that the next session is apparently full, girls are whiney, and everyone else is stingy. Ahh well... I'm over it. It's the only way we can go 8 weeks without losing a game in an embarassing fashion.

Here's the advice I got from my philosophy adviser, paraphrased of course:

"don't fail so hard"

I think I will take that advice but it may be too late...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This is Your Life

First things first... I'm posting from an iPod so any complaints about spelling will be met with a slow death. Second, if you don't like whatever it is that I decide to write about on any particular day then please, PLEASE tell me about it. I'm sure you're a terrible person and I will derive much pleasure from metaphorically eviscerating you. As was previously hinted at the theme of this blog will be somewhere between "I hate everyone and everything" and "whatever." a more cohesive theme may develop over time but it's far more likely that this blog will fall into a state of disrepair.

While I can't tell you the overall theme right now, I can tell you what you can expect to see rather frequently. This list of topics includes video games, politics, tv, movies, philosophy (mostly how it sucks and I'm bad at it), and a good deal of complaining.

The hour is late and my food has arrived so i'll leave you with this final thought... Each and every one of you knows someone that should die in a fire. If you don't then it's you.