Fable: Anniversary Review

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There have been a lot of HD remastered games out recently, and even more set to be released in the not so distant future. I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to playing all of them, but there are definitely a handful that I’m looking forward to picking up. Fable: Anniversary just so happens to be the first on my list.

And with that being said, I really need to let out some frustration.

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AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I. feel. so. much. better.

And sorry if that hurt your ears (eyes?). I just had to let out some steam, and seriously, if you play this game, you will need to, too. So, before I give a more detailed analysis, I want to make this very clear:

DO NOT BUY THIS GAME!!!

Or at least not yet.

Why? Because it freezes. And it freezes a lot. That means having to get up, unplug your console, plug it back in, and restart your game from the last point you saved. That is a hassle, and it completely kills this game.

Now, in the future, there may be some patches that will fix this, but at the time I am writing this, I’ve already downloaded two, and the problem is still there. I don’t care how much nostalgia you have for this game. WAIT!

Glaring problems that make this game nearly unplayable aside, it’s really not too bad.

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One of the remastered enemies from the later portion of the game

If you’ve never played the game before, it’s set in a medieval world filled with an assortment of magical and mythical creatures and unnaturally powerful people called heroes (not to be confused with superheroes). You play as an especially gifted hero who discovers that he is the only one who can save the world from the evil Jack of Blades, who is bent on conquering it.

If that doesn’t sound like a very original or inspiring story, it’s because it isn’t. But it really doesn’t need to be. This game’s claim to fame is that players can progress though the story however they like. What does that mean? Quite a bit actually, not least of which is total freedom, or at least as much freedom as an old game can give you.

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You can dress and wear your hair however you like. You can eat so much you become fat, drink so much you become drunk, and you even get other characters in the game drunk, too. You can buy a house, make people fall in love with you, marry people, including people of the same sex, have sex, flirt, give people the bird, smile, fart, and a ton of other things. You even age as the game progresses.

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The evil version of the main character from the original version of the game

And you can choose to be really evil, really saintly, or somewhere in between. You can either help people, or hurt them. You can save cities and towns, or run through and kill all the inhabitants and buy their vacant property. The more good things you do, the more attractive and saintly your character looks. The more evil things you do, the uglier and more fiendish you become. You even get giant devil horns and glowing red eyes! I personally prefer to be good, but you certainly don’t have to be if you don’t want to.

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The good version of the character from the original version of the game

It was a bold concept when the game first came out in 2004, and it even sounds great today, but due to the limited hardware of the original Xbox, it certainly feels a little underwhelming when you actually play it. The problem is, you have the ability to do all of these things, but the AI of the non playable characters is so basic, all they can really do in response to your actions is cheer, run away screaming, and comment on how good or bad you look. The saddest thing is, the sequels never really improved on this weakness.

So what’s different about the anniversary edition? Quite a bit, actually, but the changes aren’t all welcome.

The first thing worth mentioning is the completely overhauled graphics. I remember when this game was first released, it had some of the best graphics I had seen up until that point. As you’d expect, compared to games now, it looks kind of meh. So when the developers decided to re-release the game for its 10 year anniversary, they re-skinned the whole thing, using new textures and a new lighting system.

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See the difference?

The new graphics aren’t spectacular, though. To be fair, this is an old game, but putting pretty textures on polygonal characters is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. It’s certainly better than it was, but I’d say if this is the reason the game has poor frame rates and freezes at times, then I would have been perfectly happy with just an upscaled version of the old graphics.

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There are also some odd, uglificated (my new word: to be made ugly) things in the new version of the game that used to look a bit more, um… normal. I’m sure you can thank laziness on the developers’ part with the new textures for that. The saddest thing is, the worst offender for this is the main character. His face is just hideous! Thank goodness you can change his hairstyle and facial hair so that it covers more of his face. But even then, some of the styles that used to look good are just terrifying now. I’ve resigned to making my character look like Gandalf – hair everywhere. It’s the only way I can get by without having to look at his ugly mug.

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A very good angle of your character as a kid. Believe me, he is usually much uglier than this

Another thing worth mentioning is the altered gameplay and menus. Players are now given the option to play with the Fable II and Fable III control schemes if they wish. The inventory and start menus have been completely overhauled, as well.

And it really is nice that the developers gave the option for different controls, but the menu change was wholly unnecessary, and turned out to come with a pretty big learning curve. That’s not to say it’s really difficult to use, it’s just not easy to find everything. The old menu definitely could have used some tweaking, but they went in the complete wrong direction when they tried to fix it.

Also new to the game are Xbox Live achievements. There are a total of 1000 achievement points available. I’ve never really cared to earn them, but they’re there for anyone who wants them to boost their score.

Xbox Smartglass integration was also added to this game, meaning that players can now use their iPad or tablet to access maps and take screenshots while playing. I haven’t used this feature, so I can’t comment on how well it works, but I can say with a good amount of certainty that, unless you just really want to use a second screen while you play, you don’t need it.

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Look familiar?

And of course, there is new DLC available (any way to get more of our money, right?). It isn’t much, though. All there is are few new skins and weapons, most of which will cost around $5. There is also a free Minecraft-ish hat that you can download, which is honestly the only DLC worth getting. 

All in all, I’d say Fable: Anniversary is an okay game. The graphics have been improved, but just about everything else is the same. If you haven’t played this game before, I’d recommend picking up the original Xbox version, Fable: The Lost Chapters, as it will still run on the Xbox 360. But if you really want the updated graphics experience and you simply just cannot wait a few months for a patch to fix the freezing issue, you won’t be too sorely disappointed. It is a good game. In fact it was one of my favorites on the original Xbox. Just be ready to throw a few tantrums (see the beginning of the review for a good example).

Considering the lag/freezing issue, I give this game a 4 out of 10.

If the lag/freezing issue ever gets fixed, it’s a 7.5 out of 10.

Godzilla Finally Shows His Face (Well, Sort Of)

“Oh, No! They Say He’s Got To Go! Go Go Godzilla!!! (yeah yeah yeah)”

Rock Band, Blue Oyster Cult made those lyrics famous with their aptly named song, “Godzilla,” and after watching the latest trailer for the new Godzilla movie, I can’t get the song out of my head. It’s torture! But at the same time, I LOVE IT!!!

If you want to know why, watch the trailer below. If it doesn’t blow your mind, or at least get you pumped to see this movie, then you and I officially don’t know each other anymore. Actually, I probably don’t know you anyway…

Jokes aside, I just want to warn you that you won’t, in fact, be hearing anything from Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” in this trailer, just in case you were really wanting to hear it. Sorry.

Cool stuff, right?

Seriously, forget The Amazing Spiderman 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Meleficent, The Hobbit Part 3, and Captain America 2. THIS is now officially my most anticipated movie of the year! May 16th can’t come soon enough.

And Bryan Cranston is in it! And if you don’t know who that is (and shame on you if you don’t), he’s the main guy from the Breaking Bad TV show (and if you don’t know what that is, you seriously have to be living under a rock or something).

Then again, maybe I just have bad taste in movies. What do you guys think? Comment below!

Oh, and just so you can enjoy the “Godzilla” song as much as I am:

I Fall, You Fall, We All Fall for Titanfall (Or Something Like That…)

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I’m not a big fan of first person shooters. There, I said it!

It’s heresy, I know. How could someone from my generation not be into super repetitive gameplay, short and unoriginal single player campaigns, and cowardly camping a-holes who do their darnedest to make online multiplayer as un-fun as possible? Maybe I’m being a little too harsh. Then again, I really don’t think I am. I’m truly in the minority, I guess.

So, when I heard about Titanfall, I just shrugged it off as another boring and unoriginal first person shooter. And when I heard it wasn’t going to even have a single player campaign, I literally laughed out loud. I couldn’t help but think it was just a cheap cash-in on the genre.

Nevertheless, the hype for the game was otherworldly, so when the beta was opened for all Xbox One owners (and yes, I was one of the poor saps who bought the system on launch day thinking that there would actually be a good number of games to play on it right out of the gate), I thought I might as well give the game a shot. Turns out, I was blown away.

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The first thing I noticed was the graphics. Now, I’ll admit, I am a bit of a graphics nut. It’s not anywhere close to the determining factor in how much I like a game, but I definitely appreciate it when it’s there. Titanfall is beautiful. The colors are vibrant, the lighting is realistic, and the textures are crisp. This is truly a next-gen game. I haven’t seen any screenshots of the Xbox 360 version, but I can imagine it will look pretty good on that system, too.

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The next thing that stood out, and probably the most important thing for any shooter, is the controls. They are as smooth as silk. The default controls are mostly the same as Call of Duty (aka: the most overhyped franchise ever – sorry CoD fans), and other elements like wall running and double jumping are as easy and intuitive as they could probably ever be.

And seriously, the new gameplay mechanics are really what make this game shine. Wall running in a first person shooter is sheer brilliance. And don’t even get me started on the mechs, or Titans, as they’re called. They completely change how the genre is played. There’s no more just blindly sprinting around corners and through the streets on a multiplayer map. The Titans can kill you in an instant. Players can kill them too, but if they take one on alone, they have to be either extremely good, or extremely lucky. And once you get your Titan, other players better run for cover.

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And how do you get your Titan, you ask? After a match begins, a two minute timer counts down. Once it reaches zero, you will have the option of calling your Titan down, hence the name Titanfall. You can call your Titan sooner, however, by racking up kills.

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What’s more, concept art for the game was recently released, showcasing – get ready for it – giant monsters! Now, at this point, it’s not known if the monsters will interact with combatants on the map, but here’s to hoping they will. Seriously, as awesome as this game is, having giant monsters interrupt a firefight would be just amazing. Then again, they might just be a part of the background, or not even in the game at all, but honestly, why tease us with them if they aren’t part of the gameplay?

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Now, so far I’ve told you everything about the game except how it’s actually played. Matches are played with two teams of six, and there are three game modes in the beta: Attrition, Hardpoint, and Last Titan Standing.

Attrition is a point match. Teams have 10 minutes to earn 250 Attrition points, or XP. If no team has 250 XP by the end of the match, the team with the highest number wins. There is also an epilogue after a match, where the losing team has the opportunity to evacuate the map via an extraction point to earn some extra XP before the match truly ends. The catch here is that respawns are turned off during this epilogue portion of the match, so it is much more difficult to get that bonus.

Hardpoint Domination is a bit like capture the flag, or more appropriately, capture the bases. There are three neutral spots on the map that the two teams must fight over. When a team controls a spot, or Hardpoint, they begin accruing XP. The more hardpoints that are controlled by a single team, the faster XP is built up. Whichever team reaches 400 XP first wins. There is a 15 minute time limit, however, and if that time is reached before a team has 400 points, whichever team has the most points wins. Like Attrition, there is an epilogue to the match where the losing team has to try to escape. The rules are also the same.

Last Titan Standing is the final game mode in the beta. In it, players are placed in their Titans at the beginning of the match, and they must work together with their team to destroy the other team’s Titans. The catch? There are no respawns, so once a player dies, it’s up to the teammates to pick up the slack. Like the title of the mode suggests, once a team is completely wiped out, it is game over.

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To sum it all up, I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this way about a shooter since Halo 2 on the original Xbox, and that is a very very good thing! My only wish is that they would have put in a campaign mode for single player or co-op. With this much potential for sci-fi mayhem, it’s really hard to believe that there’s not one.

So, what do you guys think? Will Titanfall be the shooter we’ve all been waiting for, or is it just another addition to an overdone genre? Comment below!

Movies From Our Childhood

Movies are such a big part of our lives. We watch them when we’re bored, when we go out on dates, and thanks to netflix and the internet, we even play them when we’re doing other things, just to keep our world from getting too quiet. As entrenched in our lives as movies really are, it’s hard to believe that they didn’t even exist barely a century ago!

Growing up as an only child, movies were especially important to me. When none of my friends were around and I had no one to play with, I could escape to other worlds through my television screen. Between the ages of 3 and 7, I had three favorites.

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First and foremost was the Lion King. I must have seen that movie at least 3 times while it was still in theaters, and 200 times more (only a slight exaggeration) when it came out on video. I would sing and dance to the songs when they played, and even keep singing them after the movie ended. Heck, I still know all the words!

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I also spent a lot of time watching Winnie the Pooh (the original). My dad would often take me to his law office when school was out and leave me in the conference room. I had plenty of things to keep me entertained, including puzzles, drawing pads, wooden building blocks, a Sega Genesis, and most importantly, my Winnie the Pooh movie. Nearly everyday, I would pop that in the VCR, turn on the little 15-inch tube television, grab a Sprite, and kick back in the office chair and enjoy. I loved that movie so much, I even named my first favorite stuffed animal Pooh Bear.

Recently, I noticed that the movie is now on Netflix, so if you have any young kids, play it for them. They will love you for it!

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The third movie was Jurassic Park. This movie TERRIFIED me, and I loved it for that! During the scene where (spoiler alert, for those who haven’t seen it) the T-Rex breaks out of his pen, I would run off, hide under my coffee table, and watch the ensuing mayhem from there. It was incredible to me. After finishing the movie, I would, much to the amusement of the adults around me, run around and roar like a dinosaur. Honestly, my parents probably should have never let me see it so young, but I’m glad they did. This movie shaped quite a bit of my childhood. After all, what little boy doesn’t like dinosaurs?

What about you guys? What movies do you remember from your childhood? Post below!

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your live action Disney movies (see previous post).

The Top-10 Greatest Live-Action Disney Movies of All Time

Valentine’s Day is only a week away, and what better way to celebrate it than to read a top-10 list about a movie studio that makes films for kids. Okay, maybe I’m just trying to find an excuse to tie the holiday to my post so I can get more views. What’s so wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, I say. Then again, maybe family oriented movies really are your thing on Valentine’s Day. Either way, this post is about Disney, or more specifically, what I think are the top-10 live-action Disney movies.

Now, to be honest, I really wanted to make this list on the top-10 animated Disney movies, because, you know, that’s what Disney does best. But, unfortunately, I have yet to see Frozen, and after hearing over and over again about how good it is, I feel like I can’t make it a very fair list without seeing it first. Fortunately, the movie is coming out in a few weeks on Blu-Ray, so I’ll pick it up then. In the meantime, though, you’ll have to make do with the top-10 live-action Disney movies. Heck, it might even give you a few ideas for what to watch with your date on Valentine’s Day, after all.

In order to be on this list, the movies must first feature real actors moving in front of a real camera. Second, be in some way related to Disney, whether it’s through production or distribution. And third, be the best movies ever that meet the above criteria.

So, without further ado, let’s get on to the list!

#10 – Holes

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Holes is a great book, it was written by a great children’s author, and it was a pretty good movie. In a nutshell, it is the story of a boy, played by a young Shia LaBeouf, who is framed for stealing a pair of valuable sneakers. He is then sent to a camp where he is forced to dig holes every day for an entire year as punishment. The story features cowboys, bandits, forbidden love, and curses, and at the end of it all, Shia’s character is proven innocent. His celebration is short lived, however, as he ends up getting caught in a war between giant transforming robots (I wish).

#9 – Cool Runnings

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The ‘90s was a time when Disney seemed to be a little obsessed with sports movies. Not to say that they were bad movies, though. In fact, many of them were great movies. Cool Runnings was definitely one of the better ones. The movie’s premise is the same as most sports movies. In this one, a ragtag group of unruly Jamaicans decide to compete in the Winter Olympics. As you would expect with a synopsis like that, the movie is hilarious. And, as it just so happens, the Winter Olympics in Sochi just started. Coincidence? I think yes. In any case, it’s a good excuse to give it a watch.

#8 – Alice in Wonderland

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Disney has been in a bit of a remake frenzy lately, and Alice in Wonderland, which grossed over $1 Billion worldwide, is probably the reason for that. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp took some twisted liberties with an already twisted tale, and people couldn’t get enough of it. That’s not to say that it is a spectacular movie. It’s not. But it is a lot of fun, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re seriously doing yourself a disservice.

#7 – National Treasure

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Oh, Nicholas Cage, whatever happened to you? When he made this movie, he was on top of the world, and now, well, let’s just say he’s not. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he was great in this. Seriously, how do you beat a movie that features a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence? Answer: you can’t!

#6 – Tron/Tron Legacy

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Number six is definitely a twofer (that’s an actual word, believe it or not). Both movies are about equal in my mind, overall, but I have to give kudos to the original because, for 1982, it was seriously innovative. CGI was a brand new thing at that time, and that movie used a ton of it. The sequel, made nearly 30 years later, didn’t have the same cool factor, but it was a fun watch, nonetheless. That, and Daft Punk wrote the musical score for the whole movie. If you don’t know what these movies are about, basically, they center around Kevin Flynn, who accidentally discovers a way to transport himself into a video game that he created. If you’re a fan of massive amounts of CGI and, in the second movie’s case, electronic music, then you’ll enjoy Tron.

#5 – Remember the Titans

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We’ve made it to the top five, woot, woot! This is where the movies start getting good. Remember the Titans was an excellent movie, and happened to be one of the last big sports movies Disney had a hand in. And, it was also their best. At its heart, it’s a movie about friendship, trust, and, of course, football! It’s definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it.

#4 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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A lot of people think that this isn’t a Disney movie. In a way, they’re right. They’re also wrong. Several big studios were involved in this one, and by the criteria noted above this list, it counts as a Disney movie. And good thing, too, because it’s actually a really good flick, and it would be a shame not to be able to list it. I seriously can’t imagine who thought combining a live action, noir style detective story with cartoons would be a good idea, but they were geniuses (especially the one who came up with Jessica Rabbit).

#3 – Mary Poppins

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This is by far the oldest movie on this list, being made in 1964, so it’s all the more amazing that it’s ranked so high. Mary Poppins is a classic in every sense of the word, and if you didn’t see this growing up, then you were seriously deprived as a child (just kidding). This film features some of the most memorable Disney songs ever made, a great plot, and of course, a magical nanny who travels around via an inconspicuous black umbrella. It’s definitely hard to top a combination like that.

#2 – The Avengers

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This is the first Marvel movie to carry the Disney stamp after the comic book company was purchased by the Mouse House in 2009. This is the highest grossing Disney movie of all time, and the third highest grossing film, in general. If you haven’t seen it (and with the above stats, I’d be seriously shocked if you haven’t), the movie is about a team of superheroes, including Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk, who have to save the world from an alien invasion. It’s a simple premise, but it was executed brilliantly! This is one of the few movies you can leave on repeat and not get bored with. It’s that good!

#1 – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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Does Pirates deserve to be number one? The short answer: duh! It’s my list. I can put it wherever I want. The long answer: see short answer.

Seriously, this movie “has got to be the best pirate (movie) I’ve ever heard of.” In fact, it’s one of my favorite movies ever. It’s quotable, it’s funny, it’s serious, it’s a love story, it’s an adventure story, it has pirates in it, it has undead pirates in it, it’s shot in one of the most beautiful locales in the world, it’s incredibly original, and above all, it spawned Jack Sparrow. Er, I mean, Captain Jack Sparrow. He most definitely ranks up there with the most memorable movie characters of all time, right alongside Darth Vader. The only thing that disappointed me about this movie was its sequels.

 
So, what did you think? Did I leave anything out? Should these be in a different order? Make your voice heard. Comment below!