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by Ethos

Call Me Lameish – Fable 3 Review

Monday, November 1st, 2010

“An objective and impersonal comparison of Deathspank and Fable 3.”

Certain parties, who shall remain nameless for the sake of tact, would have you believe that to know one action RPG is to know them all. I would hope that a careful cross-examination of my previous review with this one would reveal to even the dimmest of viewers the reasons why this simply is not so. For any unfortunate souls whom these plain facts escape, here is a much abbreviated list:

1. John Cleese

2. Art Style

3. A Story

4. DnD Jokes

5. John Cleese

The list goes on and on of course, with Mr. Cleese’s name appearing at regular intervals.

Here are my impressions of Fable 3. Enjoy.

Sunday Soapbox: Dear PlayStation Phone, You Make No Sense

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Well, in classic Riddlethos form once again, we’ve written/done/played absolutely nothing that coincides with the theme week. I even said I was going to bite the bullet and play some Fable this week, but I didn’t! You can always count on us to never follow through on anything, ever. We’re consistent like that.

But, while I may not have anything to say about Fable, I’m here to bring you the Sunday Soapbox in spite of this. Today, boys and girls, we’re going to be discussing the recently-leaked PlayStation Phone, and how it will fit into the portable gaming market, as well as the overcrowded Smartphone market of today. As you can gather by the title of this article, my view on it is just a tad cynical.

The PlayStation Phone is a smartphone made by Sony’s struggling Sony Ericsson branch. It’s design is similar to the PSPGo, with a sliding top screen revealing a set of PlayStation-branded buttons and a D-pad. Instead of an analog nub there’s a touch-sensitive track pad. It’s rumored to be about as powerful as the PSP, and while it still hasn’t been officially confirmed, it’s practically a given –  original proprietors of the leak, Endgadget, swear by it – and they’ve got quite the track record when it comes to stuff like this. Among other things, they were the first to leak information on the iPad and the Nexus One .

The leak comes at a time when there’s actually quite a bit of buzz taking place in the portable gaming sector. For one, the Nintendo 3DS has been getting quite a bit of attention lately, with its glasses-less 3D technology and impressive lineup of titles set for launch. Given the hype surrounding it, and given that it actually looks like a solid, interesting device, I’m willing to bet that the 3DS will only fuel the fire behind Nintendo’s lifelong dominance of the handheld arena. (Excluding the iPhone, that is.)

That’s not all, though. Apparently Sony is hard at work on a true successor to the PSP, and some lucky people were able to hear about it at a private meeting during the Tokyo Game Show. Known across the internets as the “PSP2,” the device is said to be quite a bit more powerful than the original PSP and the PlayStation Phone; word on the street is that it will pack 1 GB of RAM. To illustrate, that’s twice the amount of RAM in an Xbox 360 console. Further word on the street is that the device will feature an HD display, a touch screen, and dual analog sticks. Oh, and there’s no UMD drive – which, in this case, I am all for.  In all, it sounds like an impressive device – a device poised to compete not only with Nintendo, but with Apple. Y’know, kinda like what the PSPGo was supposed to do.

So, to summarize: we have Nintendo, set to release an exciting new handheld gaming system featuring technology that we’ve never seen utilized in such a way. We have Sony, working hard on a powerful, UMD-less gaming system that could make the impact that the PSPGo didn’t – and then some.

We have Apple. Apple’s iPhone and iPads have more units in the hands of the public than any handheld system. What’s amazing to me is that even the iPad has taken off in such a way – which is a lesson to be learned that size, apparently doesn’t matter if you market your shit correctly. (Sony, perhaps, has picked up on this – the PSP2’s screen is said to be at least an inch larger than that of the original PSP.)

So. In the midst of all this, what possible piece can a PlayStation Phone cut for itself? A bit of a stumper, isn’t it? The handheld gaming space is well-populated right now, and if people need anything, it isn’t necessarily more options.

As a PSP owner, have you ever fondled your PSP gently in your hands and breathed, “if you could only make phone calls.”

No? Yes? If you said “yes,” then you’re probably a gamer, and a fairly devoted one at that. (Otherwise you wouldn’t be on this site.) But while Sony may be able to sell this thing to a select demographic of gamers, they’re gonna have to do more than that if they want the PlayStation Phone to make a serious impact in the portable marketplace.

And here’s part two of why the PlayStation Phone makes no sense: not only will Sony be releasing this thing into an overpopulated handheld gaming market, they’ll be dumping the PlayStation Phone smack dab into an even more overpopulated Smartphone market.

Hell, I don’t even own a SmartPhone, and I’ve spent the last six months or so going back and forth on what to (eventually) buy. People (myself included) were just starting to wrap their head around this whole Android vs. iPhone thing, and then BAM, Windows Phones. (Fuck you, Windows Phones. But god damn, do you look beautiful.)

Word has it that the PlayStation Phone will run the Gingerbread OS (that being Android 3.0) by Google. This, of course, makes one wonder how Sony can effectively brand the device as “PlayStation” if it’s, y’know… running on different software. If I don’t see the Xcross Media Bar when I boot the device up, it won’t feel like a PlayStation device to me. Or anyone, I’d presume. It’s said that the phone will feature a specialized Sony marketplace that will allow you to purchase games and other products from the PlayStation Store. That sort of brand licensing doesn’t seem like something Sony would be privy to doing. But, if the phone is indeed running the Android OS, I don’t see how else they could approach it.

Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention: Sony Ericsson isn’t exactly the most respected or, uh, profitable branch Sony has right now. They’ve lost most of the share they had in the smartphone market, and one has to wonder why Sony would even want to put their PlayStation brand name on a Sony Ericsson phone.

So. I ask again: what market is this identity-confused phone meant for?

Soon after the leak, Sony’s VP of Marketing was quoted  in an interview with CNN as saying that gamers were unsatisfied with the current software offerings in Apple’s iPhone/iPad library. “These are largely time-killers. Gamers aren’t satisfied with that.”

Okay! So… you want to offer more hardcore on-the-go experiences? Because, y’know, I’d really like to pull out my smartphone and complete a few quests in Dragon Age during my 15 at work. Point being, I don’t think there’s many hardcore gamers in the world screaming out for hardcore experiences on their smartphones.

Care to guess why?

Because hardcore gamers play hardcore games on consoles. And handheld gaming systems. That’s why.

Am I making sense? I feel like I’m making perfect sense here. As a hardcore gamer, my smartphone needs and my hardcore gaming needs are two entirely different things. If Sony makes a phone that can play God of War, I’m not going to give a rat’s ass, because I’d much rather play God of War on my PS3. Or hell, my PSP even.

Maybe I’m judging to harshly, too quickly, or both. Sony still hasn’t “officially” revealed anything. But this much is clear: whatever the PlayStation phone ends up being, whatever tech it packs, and whatever demographic Sony is aiming for, they’ve got a hell of an uphill battle from here.


Friday, October 29th, 2010

How did I miss this opportunity? Go back in time a few weeks, pretend Riddlethos had some minor changes, and let this classic picture be more relevant to the most recent CNN cashgrab.

Modern Family – “Halloween” Review

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Before saying anything else, I should mention that I’m generally apathetic about Halloween and I’ve been a little underwhelmed by Modern Family this year overall. Last year I would say with confidence that Modern Family was the best show currently on television, but I’m more inclined to give that narcissistic honour to Community which has made leaps and bounds from last year. More to the point, however, despite the focus on the holiday, “Halloween” thankfully follows in the footsteps of the premiere and previous episode to make me remember why I love the show.

As usual, the show follows three storylines from the three sub-families, and two of the plotlines are excellent. First is Claire’s obsession with Halloween countered by Phil’s growing paranoia of suddenly being left by his costume-crazy wife. Claire is at her best when she’s stressed, and she’s actually been a surprising highlight of this season by depicting more realistic fights with her two teenage daughters. This episode is no different as Claire’s stress level rises the more things don’t go according to plan, and her reactions to Haley’s slutty costumes and Alex’s reluctance are very amusing.

The sarcastic hardened ol' "Gargle"

Her usually ever-helpful husband ends up being a thorn in her side, however, as their neighbour is devastated by his wife leaving him and this is apparently a novel thought for Phil. Phil and Claire have always been such a secure couple that it was nice – and hilarious – to see Phil have legitimate concerns for the security of his marriage. Not only are his clingy antics and self-fed paranoid rants really funny, but the show does a good job of actually making you bite your nails just a little bit as you can relate to Phil being terrified of being alone and losing the family he loves so much.

Next was Jay and Most Improved Character, Gloria. I remember thinking that I would hate Gloria when I first started watching the series, but she slowly went from annoying to amusing to completely hilarious, and she’s been the best part of season 2. “Halloween” does not disappoint in the Gloria department as she’s at her ridiculous and defensive best when she discovers that she’s not quite as well understood as she thought under her thick accent and dramatic yelling.

The episode – like the season so far – under-uses Manny, but Jay’s attempts at diplomacy with his much-younger wife provides enough laughs for the storyline. I’m also appreciating that Jay and Gloria seem more like a loving couple this season with the honeymoon stage wearing off and the two being forced to make understanding compromises.

The final storyline was the most disappointing. Mitchell and Cameron are usually the most consistently hilarious, but I did not enjoy their plot at all. Mitchell thinks his new workplace encourages wearing costumes – which he adores – but it ends up that only losers dress up, and the boss really hates it to boot. While Mitchell sneaking around in a Spiderman costume is amusing, and I’m reminded of great moments from Arrested Development when he’s forced to wear his suit over the costume, the story seemed gimmicky with no real resolution.

More disappointing, however, is Cameron’s trauma over Halloween. I know that Cam’s a drama queen, but his reasons for abandoning Halloween seem contrived even for Cameron standards. Especially considering that this would be a holiday the writers could have ridiculous amounts of fun with for his flamboyant character.

Despite those disappointments, this is a promising episode with some fantastically hilarious and well-written poignant moments that the first season made the show known for. Coupled with last week’s strong offering, I’m hoping that those other three episodes were just growing pains as the writers need to find new conflicts for the lovable, funny, and believable characters.

SCORE: 7.5/10

Hey! Look! Listen! #65 – You’ve got such super-wicked style

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

So I’m expected to visit Albion this week? Madness. I’m deep within the mystical land of Ferelden, and I have no desire to leave. Seriously. That game is so good, and I’ve really been getting into it lately, so the thought of putting it aside in favor of Fable is just… tough. It’s a tough thing.

But the theme week demands it. And while I’m generally perfectly fine with ignoring theme weeks, this time I’m gonna bite the bullet. For the sake of you all.

Anyway. That’ll come later. For now, let’s take a look at some goings-on across the internet.

Speaking of Dragon Age: Check Out this Sexy New Trailer for Dragon Age II

And when I say sexy, I do mean sexy. This looks more like a trailer for a slickly packaged action game than an RPG; and while that’s perhaps slightly off-putting, you can’t deny the sexiness of it.

Plus, unlike all prior trailers, this one is composed of actual in-game footage. No gameplay, but in-game footage. It looks quite good, actually.

Man. I need to finish Dragon Age Origins.

Funny: Steve Jobs Was Pissed Over Bungie Sale Back in 2000

Man, it really was ten years ago that Microsoft made that fateful acquisition of Bungie. (The Halo guys, for you clueless ones.)

Something you might not know about Bungie, though, is that before the Microsoft buyout, they developed games primarily for (wait for it) the Apple Macintosh platform. Yep. A few of their titles were ported to Windows platforms, but they were more or less what you’d call Mac developers.

So, when Microsoft bought out Bungie in summer of 2000, you can imagine that a certain Steve Jobs wasn’t entirely thrilled. He was far from thrilled, in fact; he was downright pissed. So pissed that he called Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer and bitched. Or something.

This is according to former Xbox exec Ed Fries, who recently told this story to Develop. Apparently, after the phone call, Ballmer ordered Fries to make some, uh… reparations.

“So, during the day, I got an email from Steve Ballmer asking me to phone Steve Jobs and calm him down about the whole thing,” he said.

“Anyway, we did this deal with Apple where we’d port some PC games to the Macintosh and help Peter Tamte create this company to do it, and I had to go to a Mac developer conference and get on stage and talk about this whole new partnership. It was a pretty strange time.”

That does sound like a strange time. For several reasons. Like, for instance: why the hell would Microsoft go to such lengths to placate an angry Steve Jobs? What possible advantage could that bring to them? Was it supposed to cultivate good relations? Because as far as I can see, the two companies still hate eachother. I mean hell, Melinda Gates won’t even let her kids have an iPod, for fuck’s sake.

So why? Was there a threat involved? Am I reading way too much into this? Am I just trying to up my word count? Is anyone still reading? God, I hope not.

The PlayStation Phone is a Thing

A real thing. A thing that’s a thing that’s a thing.

That is to say that it’s real. Endgadget says so. And they have pictures to prove it. Here, take a gander at this one:

Nice. No analog nub, but still nice. I’m actually interested in this, but unsure how much of a nerd stigma would come along with owning a PlayStation phone. I mean, we all remember what happened to the N-Gage, right? Granted that has very little to do with anything, but still, we all remember, right? Obviously the PlayStation Phone will look hella slicker, but due to the presence of PlayStation buttons, it’ll have to be hella slick indeed to avoid looking awkward when you pull it out at parties.

It’s rumored that the PlayStation Phone will hit the market “soon” – possibly in time for the holidays, though Endgadget calls 2011 a more realistic release window at this point. Supposedly, it’ll come equipped with the Android 3.0 OS, and will feature a “custom Sony Marketplace which will allow you to purchase and download games designed for the new platform.”

Oh, Jeezus: Check Out These New Catherine Screens

I’m pretty excited about Catherine. I mean, how can you not be? A distinctively and pointedly adult-themed game brought to you by the people behind Persona 3 and 4? Yes, please. Please. Yes.

However. It must be said that the screenshot below is one of the more disturbing images I’ve seen in at least twelve hours.

Is that… a chainsaw coming out of its eye? Two chainsaws?

Hit up Andriasang for the full batch of screens. Catherine’s been given a release date for Japan – and that date is February 17. No word yet on a Western release, but I’m sure we’ll get one.

That’s all I’ve got in me tonight, gents and ladies. Signing off.


Welcome to Riddlethos Visits Albion Week!

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Cool art, though.

Well well well. Fable III (and Rock Band 3, and The Force Unleashed II) comes out today. My only experience with the Fable series was in Murfreesboro: City of Dreams. I was stuck there in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do as Riddles went to work, so I decided to give Fable II a fair shake.

I didn’t actually mind my experience with the game at first. But then it turned into a game about real estate and keeping your wife happy and thus felt a lot more like The Sims meets Sim City. Not that the latter is all that bad, it just felt weird. I gave up quickly.

Everything I’ve ever heard about Fable III makes me cringe. Simplifying it, not feeling comfortable calling it an RPG anymore, making a political campaign a major focus. None of that sounds appealing at all.

Alternatively, Lameish is a distinct fan of the series. But given his views on DeathSpank, I’m skeptical of his praise.

Riddles, however, has zero experience with the series. Whether or not he plans to change that has yet to be seen! The man hasn’t bought a game since Kirby, so who knows?

All I know is that Lameish will have to be at his convincing best to make me believe that Fable III is anything except Election: The Game.