August 9, 2010, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Previews | Tags: ,

“More than half the people that played Fable II understood and used less than half the features in the game. As soon as you see that you think, ‘Oh my God, what a talentless bastard I really am’.”

If one quote informs the entire development of Fable III, then it is surely this one, from the game’s Creative Director Peter Molyneux. Both inspired and horrified by the statistical revelations of Microsoft’s research department, with Fable III Molyneux has taken the opportunity to streamline, redesign or completely abandon vast swathes of its predecessor’s features, while attempting to retain much of the series’ charm.

In doing so, the world of Albion prepares to fling open its portcullis this October without a health-bar, a menu system or the experience point orbs that have been a Fable mainstay for the past seven years. In a climate where every conceivable genre is falling over itself to add RPG elements, Fable moves bravely in the opposite direction.

You could never accuse Molyneux of lacking the courage of his convictions.

Yet really it should come as no surprise. Molyneux has been banging the drum for increased accessibility in games for years now. In doing so he has slowly shifted the focus of his quintessentially British series away from role-playing adventure towards a purer form of action-adventure.

(Read more at Play.TMn)



At E3 2008, Square Enix’s Yoichi Wada shocked the gaming world. Taking to the stage at Microsoft’s press conference, he announced that the latest in a series long associated with PlayStation would no longer be exclusive to Sony. Final Fantasy XIII was hitting Xbox 360.

It was a huge surprise, perhaps E3 2008’s only true megaton, an increasingly rare phenomena for an event beset by pre-show leaks. Comments threads and forums around the world exploded with rage.

The news was heralded as yet another example of the US giant’s spending power and increased market share. PlayStation were no longer the dominant force. One by one, the strong relationships Sony had developed with publishers over more than a decade were being eroded by the prospect of increased revenues that only Microsoft could offer.

But as well as nibbling away at Sony’s exclusives, Microsoft had also proved more than adept at securing their own. Indeed, their efforts dwarfed that of their rivals. By the close of 2008 a massive 205 titles were available exclusively on the Xbox 360. In comparison, Sony’s PlayStation 3 had merely 60.

Microsoft had quality on their side too. The Halo, Fable and Gears of War series were among the industry’s very hottest properties, and they were all on Xbox 360. Add titles like Crackdown and Mass Effect, timed-exclusivity on Bioshock and the GTA IV episodes, and Microsoft’s position looked strong. Unassailable, even.

Yet the intervening years has seen a shift in power. Franchise mistreatment, disappointing sequels and over-familiarity have tarnished the impact of Microsoft’s line-up. Now, in 2010, it’s Sony that have the upper hand.

(Read more at GamingUnion)

August 9, 2010, 6:43 pm
Filed under: Features | Tags: , , ,

Last year I attended the Annual Videogame Lecture at BAFTA’s swanky central London HQ. The event saw Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux look back over his career in videogames in an effort to contectualise his vision of the medium’s future. Rather oddly, that vision involved Coronation Street.

For those of you unfamiliar with British television, Coronation Street is a soap-opera set in working-class northern England. Known to its fans as “Corrie,” the show follows the affairs, scandals and sordid daily lives of the street’s residents. My wife loves it, as does half the country. Week after week it sits at the top of the viewing figure charts. It has done for 40 years.

However, it’s also complete nonsense. Currently, the storyline concerns the aftermath of an underwear factory explosion, where an escaped convict held a woman (who used to be a man) hostage, following a failed attempt to push her husband (who didn’t used to be a woman) into the canal. See what I mean?

It is far, far removed from the everyday concern of videogames.

So when Molyneux presented the crowd with a selection of slides detailing his influences, the auditorium was surprised to see a still from Coronation Street projected onto the giant screen behind him. We all laughed.

But he wasn’t joking.

(Read more at GamingUnion)