As the third quarter approaches its close this month, Microsoft and the Xbox 360 Team have been wheeling out their biggest and most impressive titles for the holiday season. What is going to follow in these next few months will be some of the graphically impressive creations along with titles that have been anticipated since E3 of last year; you may not have been impressed with the 720’s lineup thus far, but even I have to give pause to consideration of these games.
I’m going to get right down to it: rarely do fantasy titles sate me, but ever since E3 of this year, I have been chomping at the bit to play Of Orcs & Men by studios Spider and Cyanide Studios. Just by watching some of the most recent trailers, it is easy to see why the games of this time of year and anxious to flex their visual muscles, considering OO&M features beautiful vistas that easily rival even Skyrim’s vast landscapes. And what better way to explore these landscapes than as a tandem party of two orcs? The gameplay shown in videos is simply stunning. With one orc being a massive, burly warrior and the other being a slippery, gaunt rogue, combat promises to be challenging, but very fast-paced and unique for its genre. The ability to choose your own method of combat-engagement is an old paradigm that many studios have sadly ditched in favor of linear-corridor-shoot-’em-ups, and experiences in gaming have become even dull at times, but OO&M is mixing it up in the absolute best of ways in this experience. With combat videos featuring a mix of stealthy abilities, such as backstabbing and invisibility, for the rogue and front-line attacks, like sweeping area-blows and brutal finishers, for the more barbaric orc, combat takes on a more thought-provoking, strategic stance: a refreshing attribute by all means, and I cannot wait to get my hands on this monster!
If Skyrim’s DLC has been any indicator, fantasy games seem to enjoy the Xbox’s Kinect feature, and Lionhead Studios’ Fable: The Journey is hopping on the bandwagon, for better no doubt. Though it initially received backlash at E3 in 2011 due to its demo being ‘on rails’ and a general abomination (even now I feel criticism coming), I till maintain that The Journey is rife with potential, just by watching the gameplay trailer from E3, one can see that unlike most Kinect titles: the controls run smoothly and require far less activity- a step up in terms of an immersive experience, especially
considering that most motions made by the player are done to cast unique spells that are luckily easy to conjure, as opposed to consisting of more complex hand motions that the Kinect can misinterpret. Much criticism has been made against the exclusive use of motion controls, and that is certainly within reason. Early outings on the Kinect did not fair well, largely in part due to the newness of the technology, but The Journey certainly seems to have refined the use of the Kinect and cut away most of its unappetizing features. That being said, the combat flows well with controls, and rather than having the player end up using a single, all-purpose fighting spell, levels and enemies are designed and placed in such a way that the players is able to decide how to engage their enemy, very similar to the aforementioned Of Orcs & Humans (could we possibly be seeing a return of strategic combat, then?). While it may not be popular among fans who prefer a more traditional fantasy game, there is something to be said about improvements made to the Kinect itself.
Many of the great games that were announced what seems like an eternity ago are at last coming out of the woodwork, and with Of Orcs & Men, Fable: The Journey, and many other console titles going on sale in the next few months, Xbox owners have loads to look forward to. With inevitable sales and price-drops on the way, hopefully these titles will gain a bit more popularity before they hit shelves, though either way the Q4 lineup is looking solid insofar.
Article from Gamersyndrome.com