With Badass Shooter Month gone I can safely say you're all tired of reading about shooters.
And so what games have I been playing to pass the time? Halo: Reach and Painkiller of course! Yeah.... about those shooters. Whatever.
I personally felt like mixing things up a bit to see if there was anything at all that actually interested me outside of the shooter genre. Afterall, I am a well-rounded gamer by most accounts. But I'm not feeling the need to spend any money. With that iPhone 4S and three birthday gifts just recently purchased I'm feeling like setting my money aside for the things that matter: gasoline.
So, with the mentality of "free is all I'm willing to dabble in" I went ahead and downloaded demos of Catherine, Fable III and Space Channel 5 Part 2. I ended up playing Fable III and Catherine inbetween my Halo: Reach challenges.
So by now most people know I like the Fable games. I rated the original Fable at 8.0 and I reviewed Fable II and rated it at a 9.5. Fable was a fun RPG that was just a bit too brief and Fable II delivered a charming and witty world with some fantastic gameplay that you could approach any way you chose to. The swell thing about Fable II, one of my favorite 360 games, is thatyou could play however you wanted to in terms of combat. As of late I have grown very attached to RPG characters that use guns and magic. Hence my Vanquisher in Torchlight and my first character in Fable II.
So the fact that I chose to use the guns meant that I gained experience that was meant solely for leveling up my expertise as a marksman. That little detail is gone from Fable III. In fact, it doesn't even seem like you actually level up. Now this is the demo so I don't know if combat actually evolves or not, but it didn't feel as solid as Fable II. I would just attack with the sword, the enemies didn't really block or flourish. I attacked with the gun and they still marched towards. Same deal with the magic.
I can't tell what I think of the interactions either. In Fable II there was that wheel where you acted like a moron and people either loved you or hated you. In Fable III I see the option to shake hands, belch or to give money and each is tied to a face button. But they are so limited. Before you really got to mess around and while it wasn't realistic, it still provided a bit more variety.
The visuals were still really charming and I genuinely cared about the little chicken in the intro video. On the technical side this is easily MS's weakest exclusive. Gears of War, Halo and Forza all stomp on it. But the art is really nice! I dug the gradual change when going across a mountain top from being covered in snow to being a greener woodland. Granted, a game like The Elder Scrolls does this so much better, but Fable has a sort of cartoonish charm to it that other RPGs don't really have... except for Torchlight. That one's got its charms too.
All in all, I'm not sure what I think of Fable III. What I ultimately feel is that it lacks the charm of the previous two games. Things felt a little too streamlined and despite Fable III's industrial theme, it never really felt like I was playing a new game. I think it's time for Fable to leave Albion behind and venture out into new lands, just as each new Elder Scrolls games does. I don't know if I'll pick up Fable III later on or not. It didn't quite strike a chord with me. Maybe when it's around $10.
The second demo I jumped into was Catherine. Now this one was awesome! While Fable III had me scratching my head, Catherine had me excited and ready to go. Sure, it was only two levels that were available but man were they awesome!
The story just looks so interesting and I can tell it's going to get absolutely intense! The animated scenes are beautiful. The characters are all really cool. The little sheep men are awesome. Katherine and Catherine are both hot (I prefer Katherine), and the nightmare monster is really badass.
I didn't think a straight-up puzzler like Catherine would be so awesome. Yeah, it looked interesting, but man, now I'm really intrigued. I don't know when I'll pick up Catherine, but I now know I'm definitely going to purchase it at some point.
I had 400 MS Points left over. Outland goes for 800, but I was surprised to see it at 400 on Xbox.com. I couldn't find any information on it being on sale, but I still took advantage of those 400 points and purchased the game.
And unlike Braid and Super Meat Boy, Outland is actually pretty fun. It smartly borrows the light/dark gameplay from some shmup games, and some enemy attacks even look like bullet patterns, and combines it with some speedy platforming and fast-paced action. The starting moments are kind of slow as you can't switch between your light/dark powers yet, but the moment the first "memory" or "time-travel" or whatever takes place where you play a level 30,000 years in the past, it gets good.
The graphics are basic, but easy on the eyes. Just about everything is in a silhouette, but the backgrounds are still beautiful. The game is pretty cool and for the first time in a long time I'm actually excited to play an Arcade title that earned praise. You know, because Super Meat Boy and Braid suck.