A Fable-ous Time

Fable 2

The original Fable game was pretty neat. It was a by-the-book fantasy story about a boy growing into a hero, but it played well and was plenty charming. At the time, it seemed like the Fable series could be Microsoft’s answer to Zelda and its sequel continues to deliver on that potential.

Hundreds of years have passed since the first game, and most of the inhabitants in Albion no longer believe in Heroes or “Will,” this games’ version of magic. Once again you take control of a character from childhood to youth to adulthood and even old age. You are on a quest to avenge your sister’s murder and save the world from an evil man called Lord Lucien.

Like the last game, the story itself isn’t too special, but it gets the job done. More importantly, the writing for all the little social interactions in the game is great, and the voice acting is absolutely top notch. Characters aren’t very animated when they talk to you, but it’s not nearly as distracting as it should be; that’s how good the VAs are here. You often have to choose between being evil or good, and this game presents it more as being selfish or selfless. A nice twist, because sometimes it will actually be a sacrifice to do the good act, which is pretty uncommon in gaming. And whether you give a damn about the story or not, you sure as hell will care about your dog.

The dog is the big new feature in Fable II. It can sniff out treasure, help you find your way, even fight enemies. But you have to take care of it. It’s not that big a deal, feed him to heal his wounds, praise him to calm him down. The dog never gets in your way, helps a lot, and is easy to love. You’ll never be more ruthless than when you attack someone who hurt you dog.

The famed one-button combat is all real-time, and surprisingly fun. X swings your melee weapon, Y does ranged combat. As you develop those skills, you can learn more advanced techniques, like how to block, counter, and manually aim your shots. The B button is for magic, and the execution of that is pretty interesting. In combat, you have 5 tiers of spells, with the lowest tier being an instant cast and the top spell requiring a considerable charge. You can have a lot of fun coming up with a good combat strategy, for example mine was: slow down time, raise an army of dead, cast a powerful lightning spell, then finish off the survivors with my sword and gun.

Like the last game, you are free to go wherever and do whatever you want almost all the time. You can buy and rent out property, get a job, do quests for people in town, go on a date, get married, raise a family, the list just goes on and on. Plus there are plenty of hidden treasure to be found around the world. So even though the main quest isn’t that long, there’s still plenty of hours of entertainment here.

Sadly, this game still lacks the polish I would expect for something that’s been in development for this long. There are several bugs that could ruin someone’s game, and many moments just feel off. That said, if you enjoyed games like Zelda, Oblivion, or maybe even GTAIV and want a delightful British experience, this is your game.

Sleep Inducing Psychedelia

Dungen – 4

So I guess were going to count Colin’s unofficial top ten from earlier this week, as well official. So today I give you my review of one the various albums I’ve picked up this “Rocktober” season.

Known in the past for their heavy excursions into the psychedelic, we have Swedish Indie rockers Dungen, pronounced “DOONG-UN” releasing their fifth album, curiously named “4”. Where musical aficionado/brain child Gustav Ejstes usually does all the recording himself, he’s finally let his backing band take to the studio as he’s limited himself to vocals, piano and strings. Dungen is always game for testing out new musical waters but I’m sad to say this time that they’ve gone soft and a little too soft for my liking.

My initial reaction to 4 was of confusion and disappointment. First realizing that there is very little if any hard rock songs present and second is the significant lack of vocals. A majority of the tunes here are no more than laid back jazz progressions on the piano muddled in a sea of reverb. There’s actually a few songs I rather like, they’re just kind of buried within a wall of muddled and unrealized experiments.

Listening to a few tracks on their own,some songs are fairly pleasant but as a whole it’s sleep inducing and highly forgettable. It’s weird that the album is significantly shorter than Dungen’s previous works but as well the most tiring. Hearing experienced musicians jam is fun for a little while, but I could get that anywhere. I used to think that Gustav Esjstes was some kind of songwriting wunderkind but I’m starting to think he’s getting somewhat burned out. Come to think of it his songs have been kind of waning since 2004’s Ta Det Lugnt which was easily his best work.

I still have plenty of hope that Gustav and the gang will keep mixing it up and come back to something I can enjoy, so this isn’t too discouraging. I just hope that they can realize that they’re much more impressive as a psychedelic hard rock band then a psychedelic jazz/prog rock band.

Favorite Tracks: “Satt Att Se”, “Det Tar Tid”, “Finns Det Nagon Mojlighet”

Double Your Pleasure

Here is a double whammy of two interesting stories I heard about on the radio today. Thus I thought I’d share them to you in this two for one smorgasbord of media.

Let Me Show You The Real China
Hey remember how people used to always joke about how long it was taking Guns N’ Roses to release Chinese Democracy? Well now those days are over as GN’R announced today that their long overdue sixth album will be available on November 23rd. Along with the announcement was the release of a new single from the album titled what else but “Chinese Democracy”. I checked it out on Youtube and wasn’t particularly impressed, but then again I’ve never really been much of a fan. I post this more as an interesting piece of news within the music world. If their album is good then good for them and their fans, if it isn’t then that’d be pretty funny seeing 15 something years all for a so-so album or maybe worse who knows.. It’s not my type of music so I don’t know how fans have felt about some of the current songs floating around. Hmm, I remember reading earlier this year that Dr. Pepper, would give everyone in America a free can of pop if GN’R released Chinese Democracy this year, I really hope that offer still stands.

In local sports, the Seattle Mariners named former vice president/special assistant to the general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers Jack Zduriencik (pronounced Zur-EN-sik) as the latest Mariners General Manager. At 57 years old Jack has had experience as a scout and front office worker with the Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates and Dodgers. He is often credited for helping turn around the once terrible Brewers organization into a respectable ball club. Jack is held in high regard in baseball circles and last year became the first non-general manager to be named Major League Baseball’s executive of the year by Baseball America. All this news is quite refreshing for M’s fans and I can’t wait to see What the Z-Man can do for our poor ball club.

n00bs of the Old Republic

The announcement we all saw coming finally came today, and it even has the name we were guessing. That’s right, Bioware, the guys behind Knights of the Old Republic, are working on a Star Wars MMO set 300 years after KotOR2, called Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Set during a period of tenuous peace between the Republic and the Sith, players will be free to choose either side. There’s a heavy emphasis on story based on class, and you can be either a hero or villain regardless of faction. You’ll probably be able to play as more than just human Jedi, but we haven’t seen much yet. Still, Bioware is one of the best RPG developers, the KotOR franchise will make for a great MMO, and while details are scarce, with no release date window or anything, I’m very excited to play this some day in the future.

Since it’s hard to post about video games without bringing up Rock Band, I’ll do that too. Rock Band 2 came with a code to download 20 songs for free. Those songs have been announced, and it’s pretty disapointing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve heard of any of these bands. I guess that’s why it’s free.

  • The 88 – “Sons and Daughters”
  • Authority Zero – “No Regrets”
  • Between the Buried and Me – “Prequel To The Sequel”
  • The Cab – “Bounce”
  • The Chevelles – “Get It On”
  • The Cocktail Slippers – “Give It To Me”
  • Dealership – “Database Corrupted”
  • Endeverafter – “I Wanna Be Your Man”
  • The Ghost Hounds – “Ashes To Fire”
  • Hollywood Undead – “Young”
  • Kutless – “The Feeling”
  • The Len Price 3 – “If I Ain’t Got You”
  • Lesley Roy – “I’m Gone, I’m Going”
  • Opiate for the Masses – “Burn You Down”
  • Semi-Precious Weapons – “Magnetic Baby”
  • Shaimus – “Like a Fool”
  • Thenewno2″ – Crazy Tuesday”
  • Tickle Me Pink – “The Time Is Wrong”
  • Underoath – “Desperate Times, Desperate Measures”
  • X Japan – “I.V.”

Ah well.  These are downloadable November 4.  The code is on the back of the game manual.

C.A.T: Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One

The Kinks – Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970)
Among my favorite albums ever, Lola is the best album by the Kinks and one of the classic rock albums of the 1970s.  “Lola” is probably the band’s most well-known song, but that is just a hint of the greatness contained in these 14 tracks.

The Kinks stadle both folk and hard rock with the songs here, with softer tunes like “Get Back in the Line” and rockers like “Powerman.”  There is a story of sorts here, an investigation of many of the aspects of the music industry.  “This Time Tomorrow” is about life on the road, “Top of the Pops” is about business taking over the creative process.  You get the impression that the band got burned by the industry, but I’m too lazy to research them right now.
So “Lola.”  This is an awesome song, everyone loves it.  If they don’t, they love the Weird Al parody.  Despite lyrics in the song putting it pretty clearly, a lot of people still question whether Lola is a transvestite.  She is.  Deal with it.
Of course, “Lola” isn’t the only great song on here, there a plenty.  Anyone who saw The Darjeeling Limited will be familiar with “This Time Tomorrow”, “Strangers”, and “Powerman.”  There’s also a pretty good chance you’ve heard “Apeman.”  All these songs are awesome.  This is a classic and there’s not a dud to be found.
I love this album.  I know John does to.  If you haven’t yet checked this out, I really implore you to do so.  Oh, and even though it’s called “Part One,” I have no idea what could be considered part two.

Favorite Tracks: “The Contenders,” “This Time Tomorrow,” “Lola”

Unofficial T3: The Gospel According to St. Matthew

Well it’s that time of year again that we celebrate the birth of one of our own, Mr. Reverend Matthew Steven “Nancy/The Wiz” Carstens.  Today marks his 20th birthday and by his own definition makes him a “Grown Ass Man”.  So now let’s look at what some of his closet friends and colleagues have to say about the man.

“He’s dirty, short and I don’t like him, but he’s got a good heart.” –Paul Otteni

“He’s a born leader always making the calls to put stuff together like wiffleball games and he never gives up hope. When I grow up I want to be just like him.” -John Otteni

“I’ve always liked the fact that he pretty much doesn’t take anything seriously.  He seems to be able to laugh at any situation, even a funeral.” -Me

“Don’t worry about him he’s just kind of retarded” – Max Brockman

“matt carstens is the truth.” –Oliver McIntosh (Facebook comment)

“Matt’s a great guy. He’s funny, is a solid musician, and loves to get his wiffleball on. You can’t ask much more of a guy.” -Peter Williams

“He turned out to be a pretty great friend considering I only became friends with him for his Star Wars figures.” -Sean Lemme

“This picture captures every part of his personality perfectly.” –> -A.J. Swan (Drunken Myspace Comment)

“ur a fuckin faget 

do u want to die….”-Don’t Hate Apprecitate (myspace comment)

“Matt is a sincere friend, that I can always count on to back me up 100%. Dick’s Drive Inn is a very important place to me and Matt is the only one I can always count on to always want to go. He also always excepts my crazy ideas whether golfing or going to some foreign place-I can always count on at least 1 “Let’s to it.” He joins me on journeys all about the world and the best part is he doesn’t just come with me, he brings company, humor, and a good spirit.” – Kevin Lemme