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CES 2011: The Video Games of the Microsoft Booth - Fable 3 and Age of Empires Online

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Posted January 11, 2011 - By Kevin Kelly




  • Videos
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  • Videos
    (4)
  • Screenshots
  • Cheats and Walkthroughs

  • Videos
    (5)
  • Screenshots
  • Cheats and Walkthroughs



  • Videos
    (5)
  • Screenshots
  • Cheats and Walkthroughs

CES 2011: The Video Games of the Microsoft Booth - Fable 3 and Age of Empires Online

Located almost directly opposite the Sony booth at CES 2011, and separated by a distance of more than a football field, Microsoft's booth at the show was primarily focused on tech and software innovation, with only a tiny sliver devoted to gaming. Some front-facing aquarium bubbles provided access to people playing Kinect, and there was quite a long line to demo games that are already on store shelves. Beyond that, pickings were extremely slim. There was one Xbox 360 showing off their newly announced Full House Poker coming to Xbox Live Arcade and Windows 7 phones, and that was about it as far as its console hero was concerned. 

Microsoft did host an XBLA event that we attended, more on that shortly, but the only other games it was showing at the booth were Fable 3 and Age of Empires Online, both for the PC. Fable 3 has been available for the Xbox 360 for some time, but the PC counterpart is "still in development", and no one from Lionhead was on-hand at the booth, and Microsoft had no idea about a release date other than it's "coming soon." I played the game for about a half-hour, although was chastised for checking out the in-game menus to see what resolutions it could pump out. "Please don't do that," a spokesperson asked me, "It took us forever to get that running in full-screen mode." They must have missed the "Run in full-screen mode" checkbox right there in the options.

But how did it play? Read on and find out.

CES 2011: The Video Games of the Microsoft Booth - Fable 3 and Age of Empires Online

Exactly like Fable 3 on the Xbox 360. Thank you! Goodnight. Okay, not really. But the game looks to be exactly the same on the PC, with smoother and faster graphics. Contextual commands like "Press L to whistle" pop up as you get close to something that can be activated with an action, but otherwise you're be driving your hero through the world with the mouse and W,A,S,D keys. You can swap weapons with the scroll wheel on your mouse, or by the number keys, which of course is a lot faster than using a controller.

Combat is still a clickfest (left button, left button, left button) with the exact same mechanics as the console version. The build we were playing had the graphics pumped to maximum, and yes, the game does indeed look better on the PC. Not that it plays or performs any different, so we're really not sure why that version is taking so long to complete. Hopefully its presence at CES means it will be out sometime soon, and we're still waiting on word from Microsoft.

CES 2011: The Video Games of the Microsoft Booth - Fable 3 and Age of Empires Online

Age of Empires Online, which we checked out briefly at gamescom last year, looks like it is coming along nicely, and was available for play on two enormous monitors. While the title might be bringing a bit too much cartoony action to the beloved RTS series, the game has a lot of spit and polish already applied, and it looks like it is ready for release. These were debug builds according to Microsoft, but the gameplay, graphics, and sound all looked top-notch, and we're ready to put this game to the real test of a review. It's not going to dethrone Civilization 5, but it looks to bring a new set of fun, easy to understand graphics to the table.

The rest of Microsoft's space was dominated by Windows 7, tablets, phones, and Zunes, and no more love for video games. We did get out hands-on with Bejeweled Blitz, Beyond Good & Evil HD, Hard Corps: Uprising, Full House Poker, and most importantly ... Torchlight, on the Xbox at a separate event, so read about that soon right here.

CES 2011: The Video Games of the Microsoft Booth - Fable 3 and Age of Empires Online
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