Gamewatch: Fable III, Rock Band 3, Star Wars The Force Unleashed II

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Fable III

The heavy hitters are starting to show this week, though it's a little sad they're all sequels. The good news is...actually I can't say, because I'm embargoed, but I've played and completed at least one of the following three highlighted games. And if you check back tomorrow...well, I can promise you'll know which one!

I loved Fable II, but I've been worried about Fable III (Xbox 360) since I saw it up and running at E3 in June. Its lead designer Peter Molyneux can't sit still (if there's such a thing as ADD for designers, he's got it) which means his games often go through radical metamorphoses--sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Wriggling out of the customary roleplaying straightjacket? Simplifying the way you interact with citizens? Trading game menus for an interactive trans-dimensional hub? Deposing a tyrannical king, then having to walk in his shoes by the game's midway point? Whatever the result, you have to hand it to Lionhead Studios for taking risks, and to Microsoft for supporting them. ETA: 10/26.

Do we need slightly improved versions of music games annually? I guess so. Rock Band 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS) sounds pretty much like Rock Band's 1 and 2 with a few new features, a bunch of new songs, and a brand new line of overpriced peripherals you'll absolutely need to buy if you want to take advantage of the game's new features. Okay, "pro" mode, which lets you finger actual chords on fretboards, has my attention. So does "real" keyboard support. But is asking rhythm game fans to dole out upwards of $200 a year either fair or realistic? ETA: 10/26.

It's no secret I didn't care much for Star Wars The Force Unleashed. "Unleashing" The Force was a mess half the time because of a sloppy aiming mechanic. The levels felt less Star Wars than Star Wars WWF, loaded with unlikely throngs of storm troopers and AT-STs, designed to make you feel like the army of one the guys with Force powers in the movies never were (and that, true fans may recall, was part of the point). The part where you had to drag a star destroyer out of the sky while fending off gamey waves of tie fighters? Yeah. The one upside: It was short. Star Wars The Force Unleashed II (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS) claims to address some of its predecessors shortcomings, including improved targeting and more singularly interesting enemies. Fingers crossed then. ETA: 10/26.

And the rest due this week, by platform.

PC: Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition, Grand Theft Auto IV Complete Edition, The Sims 3 Late Night Expansion Pack, LEGO: Universe

Xbox 360: Shaun White Skateboarding, Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition, Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 11, SBK X, Fighters Uncaged, Grand Theft Auto IV Complete, Hasbro Family Game Night 3, The Sims 3, Tony Hawk Shred, Blood Drive, WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, CSI: Fatal Conspiracy

PlayStation 3: Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Edition, Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 11, SBK X, WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, CSI: Fatal Conspiracy, Tony Hawk Shred Bundle, The Fight: Lights Out, Monopoly Streets, Tony Hawk Shred, Hasbro Family Game Night 3, The Sims 3, Blood Drive, Power Gig: Rises of the SixString

PlayStation Move: The Fight: Lights Out

Wii: Shaun White Skateboarding, Family Party: 90 Great Games Party Pack, Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 11, Mathews Bow Hunting, Hasbro Family Game Night 3, CSI: Fatal Conspiracy, Deca Sports 3, WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, Remington Super Slam Hunting North America, Dora the Explorer Big Birthday Adventure, Tony Hawk Shred, Monopoly Streets, Disney Channel All Star Party, Chevrolet Camaro

Nintendo DS: Art Academy, Petz Catz Playground, Dora the Explorer Cooking Club, Zhu Zhu Pets Kung Zhu, Imagine Fashion Stylist, The Sims 3, Petz Nursery 2, Crafting Mama, Imagine: Resort Owner, Mega Bloks Diegos Build and Rescue, Monopoly, Intellivision Lives!

PSP: WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011, Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger Vs. Darkdeath Evilman, Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds Tag Force 5

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