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In Peter Molyneux’s last installment of Fable, he made a lot of promises that, in the end, left some gamers disappointed. This isn’t the say that the first Fable wasn’t a great game, it certainly was, but there was a high bar that just wasn’t crossed. For Fable 2, the promises made were still many and great, and thankfully, many of them were fulfilled to their fullest extent. I’m happy to say that Fable 2 is better, longer, and more enjoyable than Lost Chapters or Fable 1.

Fable 2 takes place roughly 500 years after that last game. All the previous Heroes have died out, except for you of course. In this game, there is no my-tiny-rural-village-was-burned-down-so-I-need-to-fight type of intro like the last game. Instead, it opens with you, as a child in a city called Bowerstone. You’re poor and hungry, but there is hope in a tiny music box. It’s pretty obvious where it goes from there. One of the things that made Fable famous was the ability to truly choose your own path. In Fable 2, this idea has been stepped up to the next level. Your choices have lasting and dramatic effects on the world as a whole. For example, if you choose to help the guards in Bowerstone, the city will remain prosperous. However, if you choose to help the criminals, the city will be in shambles when you come back. The weight that is added to each choice you make truly makes it feel like that you’re making a difference in the world.

The game manages to really engage the player, making you feel lasting connections with the things you interact with. You feel a connection to your wife or husband, you feel a connection to your children, and most importantly, you feel a connection to your dog. The dog is probably one of the best additions to the game, if not the best. He is with you throughout the entire game, right up till the final and most dramatic choice in the game. I felt such a connection with him that I often got worried when I didn’t seem him near me, and I got incredibly angry when someone kicked him. It may seem silly, but it’s amazing how a character who never speaks (just barks when he finds treasure) can become so attached to you. Sometimes his programming would be a little wonky. For example, sometimes he would say he found something but not move to show me where it was. However, these problems were scarce.

The dialogue and writing in the game are absolutely hilarious at times. The quotes in the loading screens always offer some sort of interesting tid bit about Albion, and the descriptions of many of the items in the game are laugh-out-loud funny sometimes too. The new golden trail of light is helpful in that it leads you to your objective, preventing the player from getting lost and frustrated. However, sometimes it would disappear and lead me in the opposite direction. It’s not perfect, but it works. The leveling system has also been overhauled. No longer do you need to travel all the way back to the Hero’s Guild to upgrade your abilities (strength, skill, will). Now, you can do it on the fly, whenever you want to. This is a great addition because it stopped the frustration that usually came from me having to travel backwards to go forwards. There are also jobs now that offer a way to make money other than stealing and killing like the first game. Most of these are the same minigame and can get boring, but they are somehow engaging at the same time. I found myself playing for hours and making tons of gold in the process.

Battle is largely the same, save for the addition of new weapons. Instead of bows like the first Fable, there are now rifles and pistols and the occasional crossbow. These are separated into sub categories much like the swords are (Rusty, Iron, Steel, Master). It is necessary to note that the spell system has been overhauled. Now spells are put into a list, with level ones at the bottom then going up. As you cast your spell, you hold down the button to charge it up. This adds an extra layer of strategy as you go through because you can switch between spells as you charge depending on the order.

There are a lot of things that are great about Fable 2, and I mean that, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t any flaws. The most notable one is the lack of a world map. The only thing you get is a tiny map of the region you are in. I wish that they would have put in a dedicated screen for the map, and a world map never hurts. Similarly, it pained me to have to sit through a long loading screen every time I entered a new section of the world. It would have been okay if it was a few here and there between cities and the main overworld, but here it was even in the cities. Especially with games like GTA4 that have no loading screens, the presence of them here in such a large game is disappointing. There were times when the game would glitch on me too. It was more than once that I saw some clipping issues with the characters, including mine. I even fell through the floor once! There is even one mission that I can never complete because it starts over whenever I try to complete my objective. The menu system was sometimes a bit slow, but usually sped up as the game warmed up a bit.

With stunning cinematics, entertaining writing, and an extremely engaging story, Fable 2 proves to be an incredibly satisfying game. Throw in the fact that there are countless amounts of side quests to do, and you have one hell of a re-playable game. This is one that I will definitely be booting up for months to come. The lack of a world map, some clipping issues, and some programming problems add noticeable scars to the game. It’s obvious that it would have benifitted from a month or two more polish. Though, this game is entertaining through and through and deserves a spot in any gamer’s collection.

9/10

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Simon Pegg has always been one of my favorite actors. If you’ve ever seen Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, you would know why. Run Fatboy Run is roughly in the same vein as those movies in the sense that they have the same feel to them. Overall, the movie offers a bunch of laughs and a great time with friends. Hell, I would even say you could watch it by yourself, but that’s awfully sad don’t you think? I digress.

The movie centers around Dennis Doyle, a security guard at a lingerie store. He is known by his ex-fiancee and his friends that he runs from everything that is hard in life. The movie even opens with him running from his wedding, leaving Libby (the ex, played by Thandie Newton) at the alter, and pregnant no less. Suffice it to say, he’s not on good terms with her. The movie skips ahead to Dennis’ current life, as the security guard that is. He then finds out that Libby has a new boyfriend. Do you see where this is going? The movie progresses rather predictably, so it doesn’t add anything to the new and revolutionary department. Despite this however, the movie is a heart warming story about overcoming ones challenges in life.

This being a comedy movie, the comedic timing was spot on. A lot of it was of  British style, but I still found it laugh out loud hilarious at times. If you enjoyed the humor in Simon Pegg’s other movies, you’ll enjoy the jokes in this one as well. The movie still managed to be serious when things needed to be and funny the rest of the time. In terms of cinematography, it too was very well done. The angles were well placed, and there weren’t too many cuts to confuse the viewer. It was pretty easy on the eyes. If you hated movies like Cloverfield because of it’s camera work, then you don’t have to worry about that with this movie.

The story is told, as I said before, in a very predictable fashion. Guy breaks up with girl. Girl moves on. Guy tries to win girl back from an asshole of a boyfriend. There wasn’t much depth in terms of thought provoking ideas, but I found that I didn’t miss it that much. The movie isn’t really based on the story, if that makes any sense. Rather, the story is only a backdrop on which the scenes play out over. Yeah, that didn’t really make that much sense. But I hope you get what I mean.

Overall, the movie was fun to watch, and made my laugh. It’s not the funniest or most well made or most compelling movie ever, but I enjoyed it despite that. This would be a great rental just to see if you like it. In some cases, or if you have the extra 20 burning in your pocket, the DVD wouldn’t be a bad investment.

I have to admit: after watching Burn After Reading, I really have no idea what happened. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a story, but a loose one at best. If you’re going to see this movie, don’t expect a deep, thought-provoking plot. At best, this movie is a quick laugh to be watched when you’re bored.

Burn After Reading focuses mainly on the lives of 4 or 5 main characters. All these characters get wrapped into the same mess of a situation. The driving force behind this whole movie is the discovery of confidential data at Hardbodies, the gym that Chad (played by Brad Pitt) and Lynda Litsky works at. Somehow Henry, played by George Clooney, gets wrapped up in there too. I’m not really sure how. Suffice it to say, this movie wasn’t that memorable save a few great lines.

Anyway, Lynda Litsky needs a series of cosmetic surgeries to “recreate” herself, which is her motivation for “playing ball” with the government. With the help of Chad, she tries to blackmail Osbourne Cox, the owner of aforementioned data, for money. To say the least, Osbourne is not amused.

The events that unfold because of this throughout the movie can be best described as a clusterfuck. I don’t really know what to say about them except that they seem completely random. Don’t get me wrong though, it is this shotgun formation style of execution that makes this movie funny. It’s the sheer ridiculousness of the events that will make you laugh. Speaking of execution, it could have been better. At points I was kind of confused with what was happening, but it wasn’t hard to get back on track.

Brad Pitt did a great job with his character, Chad. I think he pulled off the silly and mildly retarded gym trainer that he was supposed to be perfectly. There were a lot of times that I found myself laughing out loud when he was at center stage. Chad is one of the few characters that I truly enjoyed watching. In other words, he was one of the few characters with any real flavor. My only complaint is that he didn’t have a bigger role.

I hate to say this, but I didn’t like George Clooney in this movie. He is one of my favorite actors, but I didn’t like his character, Henry. I never really got an idea of why he was in this movie. In the end, I had to conclude that he was just to add to the craziness. His character wasn’t particularly funny, nor was he particularly dynamic. I’m drawing a blank here. Regarding Clooney’s performance, it was excellent as usual. I didn’t expect anything less of him. Nothing much to report there.

The rest of the cast were a bunch of actors I didn’t really recognize. I found the character Lynda Litsky really annoying at times. The only reason I really remember Osbourne is his constant use of the word “fuck” and his shot against Mormons in the beginning. The two government agents that summed up the events of the movie at different points were fun to watch and even elicited a few laughs from me every now and then.

All in all, this movie left me unsatisfied in the end. It did wrap up nicely, leaving no questions, but I felt like it was missing something. If you’re looking for a few laughs and a casual watch with some friends then this is the movie for you. Though, I doubt that this is worth the $10 to watch it. If anything, wait for the DVD release and rent it.