GGF#23: Games for guys and girls

[Gamer Girl Friday]

I have only one sentence for my intro today: DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT X08 THIS WEEKEND STARTING TODAY!!!


Table of Contents

  1. Fable II — Best console RPG ever!
  2. Little Big Planet is a lot of laughs
  3. Monopoly for the Xbox 360
  4. Dead Space will freak you out
  5. Portal: Still Alive? Yes, thanks very much
  6. Results of last week’s contest
  7. Win a copy of FIFA09 for the Xbox 360!


Fable II — Best console RPG ever!

You would think everyone must already be thoroughly sick of reading about Fable II because info has been so freely available for the past couple of months. Yet, I get requests even now for a review! So, here’s one (keeping in mind I only played for two hours).

If you’re lazy and don’t want to read on, I’ll give you the verdict right now: Buy the game, then take leave from work for at least a week.

You could spend a zillion hours in this game. And then a zillion more. If you’re crazy. Like the Goonfather.

Decisions at every turn

Within the first half-hour of the game, you’d already be forced to make several decisions that you know will change the course of history. You just don’t know how, yet.

Example #1: You’re asked to kill beetles that are terrorizing some sappy bloke’s warehouse, in return for one gold piece. Just as you’re about to kill ’em, this shady person comes along and tries to bribe you into leaving the beetles alone and smashing up the wares in the house, instead. The bribe is also worth a gold piece. What a dilemma, eh? Do you want to go trigger happy on innocent cutesy beetles, or do you want to play smash up the house, instead?

Example #2: A lovelorn stranger asks if you would deliver a letter to his bonny love, whom he is forbidden to see (by her shrewish mother). When you enter the house, you’re given the choice to either be a tattertale and hand the letter to the mother, or sneak upstairs and give it to the daughter.

Example #3: You come across a chicken. You can kick it or let it be. (I think if you keep kicking chickens in your town, you’ll earn some crazy Chicken Nazi title and become feared by all manner of fowl.)

There are more scenarios that will cause more permanent consequences to the world, but I’ll let you find out about those yourself!

The best part is that not all situations have clear black or white answers and you just don’t know whether you’re doing a good thing or bad thing by choosing either side.

Free to explore and do stuff

There is one main mission in the game (which I won’t say what because the fun is in finding out). While pursuing the main mission, you’re fulfilling sub missions. Outside of that, there are also random quests you could pick up. Or you could ignore all quests and spend an eternity working (to earn gold), womanizing and, literally, whatever!

You can always jump back into the main story to further the plot by following the glowing trail.

In fact, the game takes great pains to encourage you to deviate from the trail. Awfully nice of it. Otherwise, you could be missing out on all the wonderful hours of random fun!

For example, you could find treasure chests and random cool stuff when you take scenic detours!

Because there’s so much flexibility in Fable II, you could just focus on bits that you like and ignore stuff that you don’t, and still enjoy the game. It’s like there’s something for every kind of gamer!

An emotional journey

Fable creator Peter Molyneux promised that the Fable II story will mess with your emotions (although not in those exact words). It’s no empty promise. With the clever use of animation and dialogue to enhance an engaging storyline, you could get really immersed in the world and feel an attachment to the characters. The joy and sadness that you feel could be real if you let it.

I encourage you to listen to all the dialogue instead of skipping it or walking away (you can do that) because they really make the gameplay more fulfilling. You could also ignore my advice and just bullet train your way on the glowing trail and probably finish the game in 12 hours but why would you want to do that?

Flexible combat system

The Fable II combat system allows you to create a very unique Hero in terms of abilities, which are broken down into Strength (melee), Skill (range) and Will (magic). You could choose to be master of one or Jack of all. (You get more points in each ability by just using it more.)

The three main abilities are further broken down into different ability types which you could pump points into to train up. Here’s a video of the stuff you can train in Fable II.

Check out the one where you can Force Push like a Jedi! OMG!

I love the way experience points are dropped by mobs as little balls of light. When you press the right trigger, the balls will be swept up in a whoosh and sucked into your Hero. I could never get tired of seeing that. (Reminds me Ryu Hayabusa in Ninja Gaiden II sucking up enemy essences.)

Abundance of humour

The writers have tossed a lot of humour and wit into Fable II. Just makes you laugh!

At one point in the game, you enter a town as a hero and a bard will tell you he’s writing a song about you, but only has one line so far. Therefore, he will follow you around to get inspiration for the rest of his song.

And so he does! While at times irritating, he’s also very funny as he pads along with you, engrossed in his monologues and occasionally belting out a cringe-worthy line.

Objects can be funny, too. Check out these hilarious warrants for arrest:

And this funny loading screen tip:

Addicted to making swords

In Fable II, you earn gold in a multitude of ways, including doing quests, working, investing and being a pain in the neck (robbing, stealing, plundering and pillaging).

The work system is pretty innovative. The first job you get is blacksmithing and you start off by pounding on swords for 4 gold each. You could make swords as long as you want, or as long as your eyeballs haven’t popped out their sockets from intense concentration.

Press a button when the ball rolls into the green patch, which is growing smaller by the nanasecond, to get a successful hit.

Pounding on that stupid metal is actually addictive because you can score multiplier bonuses.

Nailing a hit four times without a miss yields a perfect sword. Each perfect sword adds 1 to your multiplier. The higher your multiplier, the more gold each subsequent sword will earn you. As long as you don’t miss, your swords are worth more with each one made.

If you’re on a roll and raking in the multipliers, you never want to stop making swords.

Of course, you don’t have to work a day of your life if you don’t want to. You could just as easily earn money by being a crook! ;)

Graphics and animation

I’m confused about the graphics. I don’t know whether I like it or not. The cutscene animations are beautiful, for sure.

And I suppose the gameplay graphics aren’t really bad. The drawings are creative and the colours rich. I just don’t like the somewhat blocky avatars. They look a little funny and feel sluggish when walking or running.

But don’t judge the graphics from my crappy screenshots here, which I snapped right off my TV. :P

Your loyal companion

I love my dog! There’s a lovely story about your meeting, but I won’t spoil it for you.

Your dog has one main objective in life and that is to get you to explore the world and stop being a bore, fixated on following the glowing golden trail.

It will bark when it finds a treasure chest in some isolated corner of the zone and try to tempt you off the trail. “Woof!” it will say, “I found us some treeeeaaasuuuuure!” Then you’ll have no choice but to get off your trail because nobody can resist an unopened treasure chest.

Sometimes, it will also find something buried in the ground that you’ll have to dig up.

There was one time my dog found me a treasure chest and then blocked my way so I couldn’t get to it.

As you can see, it’s in a narrow space and there are crates and barrels blocking the sides. I couldn’t walk in to access the chest.

I tried everything to get the dog to shoo but it refused to budge. Finally, I tried smashing up the barrels and that worked!

These little surprises value-add the game significantly, I think.

Two-player co-op

When your Xbox LIVE friends are in the same zone as you are, you will see them as glowing orbs. You have the choice to ignore them totally or connect with them.

I received a connection request from one of my friends at one point and this screen popped out:

I accepted the request and my friend ported into my world. That was quite fun, killing stuff together, but it was not fun that I couldn’t find my headset (because my room is too messy) so we couldn’t communicate via voice chat.

Tip: Keep your headset charged and handy at all times.

Final word

Well, what do you know, I never meant to say so much about the game, but it’s such a HUGE game that you could talk too much about it and then still realise that you haven’t even covered half of it… even though you’ve only played it for two hours.

I haven’t even talked about the socialising aspect of the game, which is the Goonfather’s favourite past-time. He’s literally spent hours chatting up women and trying to make them all love him to the max. I don’t know what he does with them after that. To be honest, I don’t care to know.

Assuming that you actually have time to play it, Fable II is a must-have! Well, what the heck, even if you don’t have time to play it, make time!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Little Big Planet is a lot of laughs

This is a super cute game I’m sure many girls (and guys, too) will like! It’s a platformer which you can (and should) co-op with your friends (up to four players) to get through stages. You can sabo each other, too, which is really funny, but that will just delay your progress.

But Little Big Planet doesn’t really have an end to strive for. The fun of the game is in interacting with the elements, playing around with your avatar, decorating your stage with stickers and, later, creating levels which you can share with the PS3 community.

Here’s a video of my friends playing the game.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Monopoly for the Xbox 360


Monopoly gave me 16 Xbox LIVE achievements, which translates to 330 whopping Gamerscore points within an hour!

Okay, apart from that, Monopoly was a good companion to me during my childhood years. Once, when we were young and bored with life, my cousin and I devised a version called Quadruple Monopoly.

We combined four different sets of Monopoly (yes, we actually owned four different versions of the board game) and played all four boards concurrently by jumping from board to board via Chance cards. After half a day, we were still nowhere near completing the game.

It was fun, though.

Anyhoo, the Xbox 360 Monopoly is a hoot. I love the animations. The little tokens will hop in a cute manner when travelling across the board and the little Monopoly man will run along with them while making encouraging comments.

Watch the video!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dead Space will freak you out

I wasn’t going to mention this game because I didn’t get a copy, but Naive Guy sent me this e-mail yesterday:

Hey Girl,

Just giving you a heads up on this game. Its out for both Xbox 360 and PS3 and it’s a very good game. It’s a Sci-Fi horror survivor kind of game. The enviornment of the game is great and the first 10 minutes of teh game will give you a heart attack.

You should check it out or even let teh Goonfather play with it a bit. Even better, play it at night with teh audio turned up loud and you will understand why this game is so freakily frightening.

Well, it’s not that I don’t want to play this game. I’ve wanted it since I knew about it like half a year ago. But I don’t have the freaking time to play so many games. *sob*

So, to make myself happy, I’ll just post a screenshot and read Naive Guy’s review.

Dead Space is a very highly rated game, so I think everyone should try it out and scare yourself nuts!

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Portal: Still Alive? Yes, thanks very much

Wow, I must be so lucky! I received a review submission from a reader who named himself “a loyal fan and supporter of GGF”.

Everyone go “awwwwwwwww” now. Isn’t that sweet? I read his review and I think it’s pretty good. It makes me want to play the game!! So, let’s see what he has to say!

Portal: Still Alive
An Xbox LIVE Arcade Game

Review by a loyal fan and supporter of GGF

I read rave reviews of Portal back in 2007 when it came packaged with The Orange Box, but never actually played it. (Sigh, what to do, my home PC is only for surfing and office work, so the graphics card can’t even support Half-Life 2).

I know The Orange Box was released on the Xbox 360 as well, but, hey, I can’t buy every game I want, right? I only count money, I don’t print it. So, I was most interested to discover that Portal has just been released for download on Xbox LIVE Marketplace as an Arcade title.

So, it was with great anticipation that I downloaded the trial version onto my Xbox 360 (tentatively named Archimedes, as inspired by Sheylara’s Aristotle).

Upon loading the game, the first thing I noticed was the familiar FPS feel of Half-Life. Another HL mod like Counterstrike, I initially thought. But Portal is no shooter, although you DO eventually acquire a Portal Gun which lets you create portals anywhere in your environment.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. A little background first.

The premise of Portal is deceptively plain. For reasons unknown, you’re a test subject for a company named Aperture Science. (Sure, that works for me.)

Well, who’s THAT chick? was my second thought.

Upon further investigation, that other person in the room was actually ME. Don’t ask, just play the game and you’ll know what I mean.

Your task is to solve puzzles, which basically involves using portals to find ways out of the room. Success will lead you to another room with another puzzle. Its not unreasonable to think this will lead to your eventual release.

Here’s where the Portal Gun comes in. After a couple of tutorial rooms where portals are opened for you by the AI at specific intervals, you’re presented with your own means of creating portals, that is, the gun.

There are two types of portals you can create, Blue and Orange. You can create these portals ANYWHERE. I mean walls, ceilings and floors. There are also objects you can pick up to help you out.

I haven’t gone deep enough into the game to understand the difference between the two portals but, from what I’ve seen, it’s in your best interest to grasp the concepts presented as soon as possible. If not, you’d just be this shmuck creating portals and going through them for absolutely no reason other than to pass time.

If you enjoy puzzle games like Braid, I think you will no doubt find an enjoyable challenge in Portal. I know I can’t wait to get further into it.

One thing to note, though. This is a single player experience (like Braid). Help is few and far between. You are occasionally guided by this AI voice but subtitles would be appreciated. It’s kinda tough listening to the AI when your wife and kids are clamoring for attention in the same room.

Portal: Still Alive differs from the PC release in that there are new bonus puzzles. And don’t forget those sweet, sweet achievements! But if you already have The Orange Box, I don’t think you should shell out the cash just for these extras. Unless, of course, you’re a Gamerscore junkie.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Results of last week’s contest

Morte and SpiritAngelo won exclusive invites to the exclusive launch ceremony of X08, happening this afternoon!! Congratulations, guys, and thank you for your interest in X08. I WILL SEE YOU THERE SOON! :)

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Win a copy of FIFA09 for the Xbox 360!

Sports games fans rejoice! I am giving away a copy of FIFA09 for the Xbox 360 this week!

Become a first-team coach with the power to tune and balance 140 attacking and 40 defending options!

Enjoy more responsive first-time shooting, passing and one-touches, plus more controlled dribbling!

Receive weekly player form updates based on real-world data through the Adidas Live Season service!

Play as your favourite superstar or create a player of your own and master a single position during a four-year campaign!

Okay, I kind of cheated because I copied those lines off the box. Haha.

And now…


To be eligible, you must be on my friends list on Xbox LIVE (on either of my two Gamertags).

To win, you must do two things:

  1. Send me an Xbox LIVE message quoting the password “DENTAL FLOSS” and also mention what name you’re using to post comments here.
  2. Post a message here explaining what you would do if you were stuck on a deserted island with only a soccer ball and a packet of dental floss.

Funniest and most creative response will win (providing you fulfill the other requirements)!

In case of similar ideas, the earlier post will take precedence.

Deadline is Oct 30, 2008, 1800 hours.

[Back to Table of Contents]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


[Gamer Girl Friday]