Tagged "Fable: The Journey"

Nov 15
By Matt Gander In Features 1 Comment

Thinking of buying a Kinect to keep the kids quiet this Christmas? You’ve picked a good time to make a purchase – you should be able to find one for under £80 new, and significantly less second hand, with games starting at literally pocket money prices.

You should feel sorry for our downstairs neighbour – we’ve played most of the games that the Kinect has to offer. We’re now passing our knowledge onto you, so you don’t have to rearrange your furniture and end up playing a game that feels like it has been forged in the bowels of hell.

Presenting our Kinect buyer’s guide.

The good…

Kinect Sports Double Pack
If you own a Kinect and not at least one of the Kinect Sports games then you’re missing out on one (well, two) of the Kinect’s finest. Season One has the better presentation of the two, but Season Two is the better package overall. Season Two does have a ‘money grabbing’ feel to it though, with lots of prompts to purchase extra challenge packs. Basketball is an additional download too. Thankfully a double pack exists so you can get the best of both.

Child of Eden
While this psychedelic shooter can be played with a joypad – a fact that Microsoft and Ubisoft kept rather quiet before launch – it feels a lot more intuitive playing with motion controls, waving your arm around to lock on targets and then pushing it forward to shoot. Fans of Sega’s Rez will feel right at home.

Dance Central 1-3
Take your pick, here. All three of the Dance Central games are thoroughly excellent. The original, which launched alongside the device, can be picked up for less than £10, while Dance Central 2 shouldn’t set you back much more. Ubisoft’s Just Dance series is worth a mention too – Dance Central is more substantial, but the Just Dance games are a little flashier.

Kinect Disneyland Adventures
Frontier Developments are one of the few studios to fully grasp the inner-workings of the Kinect. Their launch game Kinectimals was one of the better titles. In fact, we’d say it was one of the best virtual pet games ever made. They took what they learned there to make Kinect Disneyland Adventures one of the highest rated Kinect games.

Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster
This wasn’t originally conceived as a Sesame Street game – the idea for it came first, and then the license was added at a later date. Double Fine wanted this to be a game that parents can play along with their children. Or you could just kill two birds with one stone and use it to keep two children quiet at once. It’s rather lovingly made.

The pretty good…

Fable: The Journey
The Fable games are renowned for their moral choices and freedom but not this one – it’s an on-rails journey across a land that’s being smothered by evil. Voice acting, character development and visuals impress, but the fact that you spend most of the game behind the reigns of a horse instead of carrying out quests makes it an adventure that’s likely to be soon forgotten.

Kinect Star Wars
It’s easy to tell that Kinect Star Wars had a rough development. A handful of studios worked on it, each throwing their ideas into the proverbial pot. The third-person adventure mode is a bit lame but the pod racing and dancing mini-games are nicely done. The rancor city-smashing mini-game should please younger gamers too. The dancing mini-game does take massive liberties with the license though, which upset a few Star Wars die-hards.

Kung Fu High Impact
Not the easiest of games to find – it was released only in the US and some parts of Europe – but it’s worth tracking down as it’s laugh-out-loud funny and surprisingly challenging. A lot of the later levels take a fair few attempts to complete, requiring you to use power-ups sparingly. Seeing yourself on your TV screen, leaping through the air and firing magic arrows is rather neat.

Rabbids: Alive & Kicking
Another one that’s amusing to play. It’s as mad as a box of frogs, with a lot of mini-games inspired by arcade classics. One plays like Breakout, only instead of a bat and ball you control a fireman on a fireman’s pole and the ball is a flaming marshmallow. Another mini-game meanwhile plays like Lemmings, the idea being to use your limbs to guide the Rabbids to safety. The achievements too are a lot of fun to get, requiring you to play games different to how they’re supposed to be played.

Puss in Boots
A movie tie-in? Yes. This is one of the better movie tie-ins of recent times. A motion controlled platformer with combat sequences and stealthy bits, all of which are entertaining as the controls work perfectly. Production values are high too – it looks the part and Antonio Banderas himself supplies the vocal talent. The only downfall is the length – it can be beaten in around three hours.

Best of XBLA…

Fruit Ninja Kinect
Up there with Kinect Sports, Fruit Ninja Kinect is one of the Kinect’s finest. Controls are intuitive – simply swipe your hand to slice fruits and build up combos. Each game is randomised with different power-ups appearing, which makes it incredibly addictive. The two-player mode is good fun also. As well as a download it’s also bundled free with The Gunstringer – an above average platformer that can now be found for around £10.

Happy Action Theatre
Another one from Seasame Street: Once Upon a Monster developers Double Fine, Happy Action Theatre stands proud on Metacritic with an 80% average. “My daughter played Happy Action Theater for about three hours when we first downloaded it. We had to drag her away. She shows it off to her friends, who are equally enchanted by it. She now asks to play it after school rather than watch TV,” said Eurogamer in their 9/10 review.

Haunt achieves more than Rise of Nightmares did. We’re using Sega’s disappointing first person adventure game as a comparison there as both share the same perspective and are based around spooking the player. Haunt though has a much more comic vibe – paintings with eyes that move, like something out of Scooby Doo. Double Fine’s Tim Schafer also had a helping hand in this one.

Diabolical Pitch
It’s odd that this one didn’t receive much press attention – it’s by Grasshopper Manufacture, of Killer7 and No More Heroes fame. The hero, a superstar baseball player, finds himself in an afterlife amusement park full of zombies and must use his batting skills to slay waves of the undead. If they get too close they can be given a swift kick to push them away. It’s a pleasingly daft game and one of the few mature Kinect titles.

This castle smashing sim did get a little bit more attention than most XBLA Kinect games, due to being demonstrated during Microsoft’s E3 conference. It’s a 3D Angry Birds of sorts. “While the storyline may be a bit hokey and the voice-acting a bit childish, the fun that can be had with the gameplay and smooth easy motion controls just can’t be denied. It’s the best kind of fun: simple to play, but hard to master. It’s a casual motion controlled game that actually works well, and offers up real satisfaction when that control pays off it high scores and massive destruction,” said Destructioid in their 9/10 review.

And don’t forget…

Kinect Fun Labs
There hasn’t been much going on in the world of Kinect Fun Labs recently, suggesting that Microsoft have given up on their free to download hub full of Kinect gadgets and gizmos. Things like Kinect Bobble Head – which puts your head on a bobble doll – aren’t worth bothering with apart from the easy achievements they contain, but Junk Fu, Battle Stuff and Mars Rover Landing each provide a good hour or so of free entertainment each.

Kinect Playfit
Another free download, but not a game as such. It measures the amount of calories you’ve burnt off playing Kinect games and then tracks your fitness level on a leaderboard. Only certain games are supported though, most of which are first-party, but we’ve managed to get a few achievements out of it despite not owning many of the supported games. Expect more to be added in the future.

What’s next for Kinect?

There’s a notable lack of big-name Kinect games on the horizon, but you’ll at least be able to shout at guards in Splinter Cell: Blacklist and call Cartman a “fat ass” in South Park: Stick of Truth. Now there’s a thing.

Oct 23
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Chances are there was a lot of head scratching at Lionhead when Microsoft requested they give the Fable franchise its own Kinect spin-off. Just how do you transfer an open world RPG full of moral choices, to a device that has proven itself to be useful only for very simple games such as dancing sims and fitness packages? We bet Lionhead were still asking themselves that question the day Fable: The Journey shipped to retailers.

It’s often said that the unlikeliest of heroes are always the best. This rings true where Fable: The Journey’s hero is concerned – at the start of the game Gabrielle is seen swinging a branch around, pretending to attack make-believe enemies. Gabrielle’s world soon gets turned upside down after being spilt up from his convoy of caravans, forcing him to travel alone. After saving the life of a female with psychic abilities, their paths become entwined and not long after Gabrielle is bestowed with a pair of magical gauntlets that must be used to stop evil spreading over Albion.

At the start of the adventure Gabrielle is even afraid of the spider-like enemies that dwell in Albion’s copious amount of caves, but as the story progresses he becomes more courageous. There’s a strong bond between Gabrielle and his horse Seren too. A young horse Seren is not, which makes the journey that little bit more perilous as Gabrielle has to constantly find words of encouragement to keep her going. As well as the psychic Teresa, two other passengers later join the ride across Albion which helps keep your interest levels up. There’s a travelling fortune teller who you bump into no less than three times too. Due to being absolutely useless at his profession, his appearances help to provide comic relief.

There’s a huge focus on Seren. When you’re not riding her through Ablion’s picturesque forests and along cliff tops, you’re spending downtime feeding, washing and healing her wounds. This is the first stumbling point – you’re often instructed to stop the cart and tend to your horse, which prevents the story (or action, if you prefer) flowing in the manner that it should. Although a lot of the animal husbandry tasks are optional, you do feel inclined to give Seren your attention as valuable XP – used to upgrade skills – is earned by doing so.

At least controlling Seren is a comfortable experience – this is one of the few Kinect games that can be played sitting down. Just gentle movements are required to steer, and a crack of the virtual reigns to go faster. To make the travelling sections a bit more engaging there are XP orbs to collect which can only be gained if you pass over them at certain speeds.

There are also places marked along the roadside where you can stop and explore. Actually, explore isn’t the correct word to use there – this is an entirely on-rails experience. Whereas previous Fable games have provided a journey from which you carve your own destiny, here you feel more like a passenger. Moral choices, for which the series is renowned, are sadly absent.

Fable: The Journey shines the brightest during its action sequences. Using the pull spell to drag enemies into lava and to pull the limbs off hollowmen is good fun, as is blocking attacks to send projectiles back from where they came. Boss battles have quite an epic feel to them too, requiring you to cast the right spell during the few seconds the enemy’s weak points are shown. The handful of puzzles present are also well implemented. They aren’t taxing but they do provide a change of pace.

As well as casting spells with motion controls you can also yell into the Kinect’s microphone to conjure up a fireball or magic spear. The voice controls are perfect – never once did we have a problem. Sadly we can’t say the same for the motion controls. Projectiles didn’t always hit the target and once we put our hands up in the air to stop the horse and cart in order to get out and explore, only for the horse to keep on going. Rather than using the ability to redirect projectiles with the after-touch move to gain a style bonus, we found ourselves mostly using it just to correct wayward shots.

In an ideal world Lionhead would have been put to work on Fable 4, or even a new franchise, instead of creating this. The six or so hours that it lasts aren’t an unpleasurable experience, but it’s clear that it simply exists because Microsoft wanted a Fable game for Kinect, believing that such a thing would help to shift a few more devices. Lionhead have done their best with the task at hand – it looks great, the voice acting is decent and the presentation excellent – but it’s not a franchise that’s best suited to motion controls and suffers because of it. We just wish Microsoft could have seen that from the start.

Oct 15
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

When the late Michael Jackson sung “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white,” he may as well have been talking about Pokemon Black and White 2.

Pokemon Black 2 entered the UK chart at #3 while Pokemon White 2 arrived at #5, but even if their sales were combined they wouldn’t have beaten fellow newcomer Dishonored which makes its appearance at #2. That’s superb going for a new IP.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown has also done well, landing at #7.

FIFA 13 is still at #1, unsurprisingly. Resident Evil 6 drops from #2 to #4, while Just Dance 4 falls from #5 to #6.

Blackbean’s WRC 3: World Rally Championship skids in at #27, beating Fable: The Journey which gets off to a very rough start at #37. No wonder it’s already down to £24.99 at Zavvi.

It has still done better than fantasy RPG Of Orcs and Men though, which is nowhere to be seen. Considering GAME are asking a whopping £44.99 for it this doesn’t surprise us in the slightest.

Oct 10
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Christ on a moped – this week is rammed with new releases, of which at least six are of tip-top quality. Won’t somebody think of our bank balances?

Firstly – new IP! Launching a new game series is a tricky task that requires a lot of shrewd marketing and heavy advertising. Thankfully due to the success of Skyrim, Bethesda have enough money in their coffers to give Dishonored the promotion it needs.

What is it? A cross between Hitman, Deux Ex and Bioshock with a steampunk visual style. Reviews appeared online on Monday and the words ‘game of the year’ were bandied about. Scores include a 9.5 from CVG, 9.2 from IGN, 9 from EDGE and a 9 from Destructoid. A few reviewers have noted that it can be finished quite quickly if you run through the game, but obviously doing so means you aren’t going to get the full experience. Also of note is that Eurogamer were disappointed that you couldn’t return to earlier missions with newly acquired skills once the game was finished. Don’t let this put you off though, as it’s hardly a major flaw.

A few of the online retailers are offering it for around £32. At the time of typing Tesco has it for this price via a discount voucher while Green Man Gaming will let you have it for £31.99 with free second class postage.

Then we’ve got tactical shooter XCOM: Enemy Unknown. “Buy XCOM, it’s a belter. I know it’s Big Game season, but this is so good I’ve chalked up 43 hours in four days and want more in the near future,” said Eurogamer. This isn’t how Rich Stanton’s 9/10 review ends. It’s how it starts. Videogamer also gave it a 9/10, praising the atmosphere and soundtrack. “It would almost certainly have been easier to toss out a direct remake with shinier graphics; the kind of thing to keep the purists sweet. Instead, it’s opted for something slicker, more accessible – a little more mainstream, even – and done so without ever pandering to the lowest common denominator,” they said.

Nintendo fans shouldn’t feel left out – there’s Pokemon Black/White 2, the first ever direct Pokemon sequel. Unless Nintendo has a surprise up their sleeve this is their last hurrah for the DS – there’s very little of note out for the handheld this winter. Reviews have been very good, including 9/10 from Eurogamer and 8/10 from gamesTM. “Yes, it’s still super effective,” ends their review.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is also out on all three current Nintendo formats this week, as well as on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Some kids’ games are actually pretty good, but this isn’t one of them.

Now for something obscure – Of Orcs And Men from the developers behind this year’s Game of Thrones tie-in. It’s also an RPG promising 15-20 hours of gameplay. There are no reviews yet but if you’re curious it’s £34.99 on consoles and £19.99 on PC at Amazon.

There’s also two for Kinect – Fable – The Journey and Harry Potter For Kinect. Yes, that’s what it’s called. We’ve played a bit of both. Fable – The Journey impressed us with its production values and decent control system. It’s one of the few Kinect games that can be played sitting down too. Harry Potter For Kinect looks passable enough but the mini-games aren’t exactly cutting edge. Two of the games we played weren’t massively different from that one in launch-title Kinect Adventures where you have to duck and jump over incoming objects. £28.99 from Simply Games is the best price currently for Fable – The Journey. We get the impression this isn’t going to sell as well as it deserves to.

There’s a duo of new PS Vita titles as well – a belated conversion of MUD FIM Motorcross World Championship and WRC: FIA World Rally Championship 3. The latter is also out on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The WRC series was a big seller when under Sony’s watch but since being passed over the Blackbean they haven’t managed to match the series’ former glory.

The world of downloads is equally exciting this week. Retro City Rampage is finally with us. At least on PlayStation 3, PS Vita and PC. The Xbox 360 version isn’t due out just yet. The launch trailer is worth a watch. How many videogame references can you spot?

The Xbox 360 does get its first free-to-play game this Friday though. MMO Happy Wars will be supported by in-game transactions. It’s from a Japanese developer who had a helping hand in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, believe it or not.

Joe Danger 2: The Movie finally makes a belated appearance on PSN for £9.99. It features a mode not found in the Xbox 360 version, containing 25 super tough levels, plus YouTube support has been improved. We’ve never spent much time talking about the Joe Danger games on Games Asylum despite them being pretty good. So, sorry about that.

Next week: Dance Central 3 (360), James Bond: 007 Legends (PS3, 360, PC), Skylanders Giants (PS3, 360, Wii, 3DS) and Doom 3: BFG Edition (360, PS3, PC).

Sep 25
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Most Kinect games tend to look and feel on the budget side as, well, they are budget games. Not this one though – rather than use the same engine as Fable III it has been built from the ground up for Kinect. Voice-acting impresses and it’s clear that a great deal of polish has been applied. Even the tutorial video at the start is well made, featuring Hobbes causing mischief in somebody’s living room.

View from a first person perspective, Fable: The Journey tells the tale of unlikely hero Gabriel whose adventure begins after gaining a pair of magical gauntlets. The right gauntlet throws projectiles while the left is used to grab and pull objects. It can also be used to pull the limbs off Hollow Men. Their heads detach from their shoulders with a most satisfying ‘popping’ sound.

The interactive tutorial lets you get to grips with the controls by smashing up some stone statues and a short section entailing strafing left and right out harm’s way. It’s not long until a few extra powers are gained and it’s at this point it comes evident that the controls have had a lot of thought put into them.

Shaking your hand will turn a regular bolt projectile into a fireball, but you can also yell “fireball” into the Kinect mic to transform it in an instant. The same goes for the magic shards that can later be thrown, which otherwise require you to perform a spear-throwing gesture.

Menus too can be navigated either with gestures or voice activation. The motion controls work brilliantly, although we do get the feeling that the incredibly generous auto-aiming that goes on behind the scenes has something to do with that. Incidentally, this is one of the few Kinect games that can be fully played while sitting down. The only bad thing we encountered is that it’s quite hard to tell when countering attacks if you’ve been successful or not.

Regular bolts can be directed while in the air with an after-touch. It’s tricky to do this perfectly every time but that’s not a bad thing – they’re part of gaining an extra style bonus. XP is used to unlock new skills from a menu that’s available at any time.

Visually it looks how you’d expect a 360 game to look this late in the console’s life – full of detail and flare. The Hollow Men have never looked more… hollowed.

The demo ends with a boss battle against a large troll who can summon spiders and other creatures. His attacks have to be dodged by leaning left and right, until eventually he’s weakened enough to bring a large blade crushing down on his stony head.

The menu lists an arcade mode and a gallery to view any collectables you’ve found. There are tie-in features with Fable Heroes too, such as unlockable characters and the chance to boost your gold supply.

We enjoyed what we played – it’s far less frustrating than Sega’s Rise of Nightmares and more involving than The Gunstringer. The best core game yet? We’re confident that it will be.

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