Monday, September 22, 2008

Steambot Chronicles is awesome!

I plan to post a full review of the game once I'm done with it, but I just had to say that I'm now about 15 hours into the game and loving it. The handling of the trotmobiles can take some getting used to and there's some pretty tough battles from time to time but for the most part it's a very relaxing sandbox adventure with lots of things to do and see. Imagine GTA with all the controversial content taken out, done in a Japanese anime style. Music is a big part of the game and you can join a band and play about half a dozen different instruments, each with their own unique rhythm action minigame. You can also dig for fossils, enter arena battles, transport goods from city to city, act as a taxi for people, become a pool hustler and more. For me the best part of the game has to be the moral decisions you make, in a similar way to a Bioware RPG. Will you be the hero, always helping out everyone, or will you look after number 1, join with one of the criminal factions and just generally become an evil bastard? It's up to you. At the moment I'm playing the nice guy, but I plan to replay the game as a villain afterwards.

A sequel is in the works for the PS3 and as you can see from the following trailer, it looks really good! I hope it gets a PAL release this time.

Speaking of Bioware RPG's and games with Chronicles in the title, their Sonic game is finally upon us and it got a pretty good review in the UK's Official Nintendo magazine. You should always take their reviews with a pinch of salt though as they tend to over rate things fairly often, so I will wait before I've played it to decide for myself.

I'm aware that things are going a little slowly with the 100 games of the last generation feature and at this rate it will take years to finish it, so I'm going to accelerate things soon and post a new entry every day for five consecutive days. Then I will probably take a short breather, post a review of another game and then do another five. Also, the festive season is creeping up on us so it will soon be time for me to do another Christmas Gaming Gift Guide!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Vault: Fable (Xbox)

Format: Xbox

Genre: Action RPG
Expect to pay: £5 - £10

Peter Molyneux has made quite a name for himself in the game industry. He is extremely passionate and enthusiastic about the games that he makes and sometimes in press interviews that enthusiasm can cause him to get a bit carried away and promise things that eventually turn out to be just too ambitious. He is on record saying that Fable would be "the greatest RPG ever made" way back when it was still in development. Many gamers got swept up in this hype and as a result came away feeling rather disappointed when the game was finally released. However, it is still most definitely an excellent game and one that should be played.

The game takes place in the world of Albion and the first few hours of the game take place during the childhood years of your character. You are charged by your father to go out and earn some money to buy your little sister a birthday present, and you can do this either by performing good deeds and helping out the villagers, or by more nefarious means. As the game progresses the appearance of your character will be affected by your decisions, if you're a goody goody you will have a heroic look, if you are a complete bastard to everyone you meet you will take on a more sinister aspect. After your task is complete the village is attacked and razed to the ground, but you are rescued and taken away to the Heroes Guild, where you are given training in the various means of combat - melee, archery and magic.

After this is complete it is time to venture out into the wide world and either carry on with the storyline and complete the game in a fairly short amount of time, or thoroughly explore the world, taking on every side quest, buying property, getting married, fighting in the arena and much more. Combat is fun and fast paced, with you being able to quickly move between melee, archery and magic attacks at the press of a button. Again, the amount you use each technique effects the development of your character.

The graphics in Fable still stand up fairly well today - they are quite cartoony in style with lots of bloom effects in the lighting. The music is also well composed, but some of the voices sound a bit ridiculous, you can definitely tell the game was developed in England with some of the strange accents the NPC's come out with.

Fable can be picked up nice an cheaply today either on the original disc which is 100% compatible with the Xbox 360, or you can download the Xbox Originals version for 1200 Microsoft Points. There was also an expanded version of the game released, Fable: The Lost Chapters, which goes for slightly more money and is the version I recommend getting. It is slightly closer to the original vision that Molyneux had in mind for the game.

Fable 2 is just around the corner and promises to be bigger and better in every way, but for a small price you can check out the original and enjoy an RPG which while quite some way from being the best ever made is still a damn fine game.

Is it just me or does this guy look like a bit of a creep?

Next time: another Gamecube classic!

Friday, September 05, 2008

The UK Pinball Show 2008

Last weekend I had the fortune of being able to attend the 2008 UK Pinball Show, along with my brother Kevyn and nephew Nathan. We headed out of Bognor towards Wicksteed Park in Kettering at approximately 6.45am and the traffic was very good, so we arrived just before 10:00am. I had to pay £17 which covered both Saturday and Sunday, but Kev got in for free because he brought a table along with him (Jurassic Park) which he set up as soon as we arrived.

The weather was quite warm on the Saturday which meant combined with the almost 200 pinball tables giving off energy and roughly the same amount of people in attendance, things got rather warm towards the middle of the day. As for the tables, there was a sizable collection of classic machines, from the old electromechanical machines from Gottlieb, through later 80's tables, the 90's (which is where I think Pinball really started coming alive) and there was also a sizable amount of right up to the minute Stern tables available. Pinball Heaven had brought along display models of the brand new Indiana Jones and Batman Dark Knight tables for people to play, and they proved incredibly popular. To get a game of on the Dark Knight it wasn't unheard of to have to queue for half an hour or more. The Indiana Jones table didn't really impress me much - sure it looked nice and the speech samples were brilliantly clear, but the game seemed very shallow and consisted mainly of four modes (on for each of the films) and a few sets of drop targets. The Dark Knight seemed to have much more to offer, but I only got to play it twice so I only got a very rough impression of it.

Elsewhere on the show floor loads of great games could be found, including (but not limited to): Monster Bash, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Scared Stiff, Lord of the Rings, The Sopranos, Fish Tales, Theater of Magic and Medieval Madness. Unfortunately on Saturday, two of my favourite tables, Spiderman from Stern and High Speed 2: The Getaway were off limits due to being in the tournament area. Luckily on day two they were made available for everyone to play, and there were also fewer people around so we got to play quite a lot of Spiderman. It really is a fantastic game and were it not so expensive my brother would probably add it to his collection immediately. As it is we'll have to wait a while and hope we spot a bargain one day (like he did with Lord of the Rings).

High Speed 2 is definitely my own personal favourite pinball table at the moment, and were I to replace my Hurricane table with anything this would be it. I also really enjoyed The Sopranos, mainly because it was set to five balls and you could earn unlimited extra balls, which made for nice long games.

We had great fun at the show but there's no doubt it's rather exhausting (you'll be on your feet for 6-7 hours a day and the noise of all the machine can be a bit overbearing at times). Check out the YouTube video below for a tour around the show floor (provided by nmisys). I actually appear in the video at about the 3:45 minute mark, playing Medieval Madness with my nephew. My brothers Jurassic Park table is also in the video.