September '08 OXM Cover

I got my September Official Xbox Magazine a couple of weeks ago, but I just finished reading most of it this week. There’s a lot of sequels featured in this month’s magazine – previews for Fable 2, Rock Band 2, and Street Fighter IV. Unreal Tournamant III is reviewed and there’s some features indirectly related to Bioshock 2 and Mass Effect 2.

The cover story and the biggest game of the season so far is Fable 2. Page 44 starts a six page colourful and exciting preview of the game that’s hoping to fulfull the promises of the original, and much more. The screenshots display amazing visuals and the environment that I loved in the original Fable. The most exciting feature revealed here is the multiplayer aspect.

From what I understand, there are certain points in the land that have orbs. These orbs contain images of other players (friends and strangers) which you can select and invite that person into your world, where they can help you fight baddies, solve puzzles, gain the adoration of your (supposedly) loyal fans, or in the case of evil friends, murder your wife or the whole town. Experience and spoils are shared in a way that you can set, and the co-oping player gets to bring his treasure home with him. You are responsible for all your friend’s actions, but fortunately you have control over what the game allows him to do (so you can protect your beautiful wife from harm, of course).

One of the exciting aspects of this feature is that you can see how different another’s world is, and affect it. Apparently there are parts of the story (even early on) where different decisions can make drastic changes on the game world, and a town in a friend’s game may be a slum where the same town in your home world is a prosperous city. Also, as I noted above, the townsfolk react to you (and your friend) based on your reputation and other factors. Some reactions described in the article included disgust and gawking at disfigured players, lustful desire for beautiful ones, and large crowds gathering for the most famous. Of course, if you’re friend visits you and he’s more famous, you’re suddenly forgotten.

The game play and story of the long-awaited sequel seem to me like they’re going to feel a lot like the original – which is a good thing. There are some changes – for one, you don’t get money from quests, but you can take up other trades and hobbies to make money (perhaps even stealing, or bandit work?). You’ll be recognized for your career accomplishments as much as your heroism. It sounds exciting and should drop on October 21.

Rock Band 2 will have some new features that improve on the different modes of game play, but nothing too drastic – all the old instruments will work with the sequel. There will be new, better instruments, which look nice, but I think I’ll stick to my current ones and save some cash (Aside from buying a wireless guitar). All Rock Band (and RB2) DLC will be compatible with either game, which is a bonus, and the Rock Band 2 tracklist is the best part of the game, with a whack load of new songs planned. And of course, September release date is awesome.

The “We Love Xbox” section this month features Rock game peripherals – and damn. The $300 third-party Rock Band drumset looks wicked, and can be used as an electric drumset. It won’t happen for me, but Guitar Hero World Tour’s drums look (functionally) sweet, and the guitar as a frickin’ touch-sensitive panel for slides. Of course, Konami’s got Rock Revolution in the works, and while the drums look ugly the seem like they’d be fun to play.

There was an article in this month’s issue that was a good read for an aspiring developer. Beyond The Sea describes the formation of 2K Martin, which will be developing Bioshock 2. Anyone who’s into game development should read the article.

There was also a short excerpt for a Mass Effect novel from Drew Karpyshyn, Mass Effect’s lead writer. I haven’t got a chance to read it yet, but the little bit I did read was well written (like Karpyshyn’s other books I’ve read).

The magazine was good to read, and there’s a lot I didn’t talk about. Hell, I haven’t even gotten to read it all, I’ve been so damn busy this summer. I think the next magazine post will be a bit shorter (I get excited about sweet things like Fable, sorry). Next up, if I can make myself do it, will be September’s Nintendo Power, which has some great previews of it’s own (another Sonic promiser!). Please, feel free to leave a comment about what you think.

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