Fable III and Splatterhouse, Vanquished

A ménage à trois of titles have graced Games Asylum’s Xbox 360 this month: Vanquish, Fable III and Splatterhouse. Variety is the spice of life and all that.

There isn’t much I can say about Vanquish that hasn’t been said before. It looks incredible – like how you’d expect a next-next-gen game to look – and it has clearly had a lot of attention put into it. It is rather linear and on the short side, but still worth a play as it offers a different pace and flavour to the majority of third person shooters out there. Nice touches are plentiful including the ability to light up a cigarette and flick it in the air to cause a distraction. It’s doesn’t take itself too seriously either – there’s a comedy moment in which the lead character catches the enemy robots having some ‘down time’ by having a boogie.

Fable III is a curious one. The more I think about it, the more obvious it becomes that this is Mircosoft’s answer to Zelda – a game that’s advertised as an RPG but in reality it’s just a very assessable adventure game in RPG clothing. This one is the most casual yet – during combat you don’t even have to worry about pointing the gun in the right direction. The riddles that the demon doors give you are a lot easier than before and the menus have been simplified – instead of a 2D inventory for your clothing you now have a walk-in wardrobe, for instance.

Whereas the first part of game is merely ‘good’, it’s the last half of the game that really excels as you’re forced to make decisions that’ll determine the outcome of your adventure. These aren’t easy decisions to make either – you need to make an army to save Albion for when the bad guys come knocking, but to do this you have to put taxes up, which will prompt people to call you nasty names as you walk around town. Of course, the upside is that more people will be saved during the apocalypse. It’s a game that forces you to take the rough with the smooth, unlike the first two where it was just a case of being simply good or evil.

And then we have Splatterhouse. First impressions were something like this: “Wow, I can’t play a game this shamelessly tacky.” But then something strange happened – I laughed. Not at the fact you can pull enemies’ arms off and beat them to death with their own limbs, but rather the fact that the one-liners are genuinely amusing.

The star of the game is not hapless hero Rick – who has been bestowed extra power to save his girlfriend – but the demonic mask providing the brawn. “I bid you good day, sir,” he yells in a posh English accent as you rip an enemy’s head clean off their shoulders. “Did you hear that fella? Jenny is in trouble!” he quips in a Lassie/Scooby Doo/Skippy-like fashion when in fact the situation at hand is horrifically grim.

The game itself? You can tell it had a troubled development – it’s good but never consistently so. 2D scrolling sections that mimic the arcade original offer a nice change of tack, featuring remixed music from the 16-bit iterations. Speaking of which, all three of the arcade originals can be unlocked through play. If you managed to get enjoyment out of Ninja Gaiden II despite the abundance of glitches, you’ll find solace here.

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