Arts 214

Published on November 7th, 2008 | by Greg


Three Sequels, Three Amazing Experiences…

The game industry always does this to us. Leaves us dry for months, with a mere trickle of decent titles to hold us over the summer and early fall… and then once midterms come around, and the holiday season begins, slam us with more gaming goodness than any single person can handle.

There is absolutely no chance that we will be playing video games over the next three months nearly as much as these titles deserve- with platform-sellers like LittleBigPlanet, Gears of War 2, Resistance 2, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: World Tour, Mirror’s Edge all coming out recently or soon.

And that’s not even mentioning the three games we did pick up and try our damnedest to get through in a reasonable pace so that we could be at least a little bit relevant. Fable 2, Farcry 2, and Fallout 3 are all amazing games- good enough that any flaws are really nitpicking. They aren’t for absolutely everyone out there, and each of them will suck up a ton of time that you better be willing to give up, but each offers something interesting, new, unique, and compelling.

We tried Fable II on the 360 and the other two on the PC, though we’ve seen the latter two games on other platforms and our comments are generally applicable to other platforms as well. Oh, and we might as well start with the one issue that we did have, oddly, with all three games: the music just wasn’t amazing- nothing as compelling as some other games in recent memory; nothing had us humming along afterwards.

If you like fantasy RPGs, you owe it to yourself to try Fable 2. The first one didn’t quite grab and pull in the same way, and had enough technical flaws and overlooked possibilities to annoy. The second game fixes pretty much everything, while adding so much stuff to do and see that it’s hard not to get drawn back in when you try and take a break. Early on, the game kicks you in the stomach out of nowhere, and you realize that it’s not going to be as simple as it might look. Characters react pretty realistically, to your appearance and your reputation, and though you can certainly game the system it nonetheless encourages a sense of becoming your character in a way few games do. The quest system could use a few tweaks- things pop up without really telling you, and some quests don’t offer enough ways to go about them- but really, this is fantasy of the highest order.

The other RPG on our plate was Fallout 3- a sequel to a long-ago series, brought back to life by the makers of Oblivion (the best RPG in recent history). The setting- long after Washington, DC has been reduced to rubble in nuclear war- might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But just as Fable is perfect for those with an itch for fantasy, it’s hard to do better than Fallout 3 if you feel a dark sci-fi mood come over you. With a great targeting system that makes combat better than you could ask for in an RPG, and such density of things to do and interact with that it can be overwhelming, you get to literally raise your character from a baby. You have a broader array of conventional RPG options here than in Fable, but less of a chance to really see your character play out as evil or good. Quests can be fun and the game can be amazingly beautiful, but if you don’t buy the story or like the setting then it can be less fun to watch or play Oblivion was.

Rounding off our play sessions was FarCry 2. Perhaps the weakest title of the three, that could just be because it really does try to break some new ground. Completely unrelated really to FarCry 1, it nonetheless continues its predecessors mastery of graphic technology. Featuring some jaw-dropping lighting and foliage, and pretty amazing audio, FarCry 2 can at its best be utterly immersive. The characters are a bit dull, and the missions get to feel like just more of the same (especially since travel is a bit of a pain), but it feels more real and authentic than most any FPS/open-world has tried to be. Get this: you even have malaria, and have to keep finding and popping pills, or pay the price. Similar, but much less buggy and simply more fun, than STALKER, FarCry 2 takes the player to Africa- and it’s hard to imagine any game doing it better for quite a while. FPS fans should give FarCry 2 a few hours of their time.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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