As someone who didnít play much of the first Fable on the original Xbox I wasnít particularly looking forward to Fable 2. I didnít really follow the development of Fable 2 much (besides reading or listening to interviews with the gameís creator Peter Molyneux, which are always entertaining). However, after the delay of LittleBigPlanet, I had $60 burning up my pocket and no game to spend it on. I decided to give Fable 2 a try after reading some positive preliminary reviews and Iím glad I did.
So I fire up the game with few expectations, a rare experience for me. The only things I knew were that teh game was set in a fantasy world, that the lead character had a dog companion, and that part of the core game play is based on the playerís actions influencing the game world. The first thing I notice is the beautiful art style and that my character is a child. The gameís world feels like a mix of The Legend of Zelda and a Tim Burton movie. Itís charming and colorful, but at the same time a little bit creepy. At the start of the game the player chooses to be a male or female and then is off to live the life of a homeless child. I choose a boy then Iím out on the streets living the hard knock life with my older sister.
At the start of of the game a traveling salesman comes to town and among his wares is an alleged magical music box. Suddenly a random gypsy woman in a robe tells me and my sister that we must buy the music box which costs five gold. So I get my first quest, earn five gold. Gold is earned by doing odd jobs around the town. This is also the first time the player is given some choices.
The choices are clear cut early on. For example one of my quests was to collect 5 arrest warrants that the sheriff had lost. After I collect all of them and am on the way to deliver them to the sheriff, a criminal stops me and offers me gold to give them to him instead. He only offered the same amount of gold as the sheriff, but he would save me the walk, so I turn them over. Little did I know I was dooming the town to gangster rule.
After I finished getting the gold, the story develops a little more with some spoilerish events and then the plot jumps ahead ten or so years. Iím now a man and itís just me and my dog off to be a hero (or villain). There are some more tutorial types quests to get me used to the combat then Iím off to the town. When I arrive I discover that turning the warrants over to the criminal got the sheriff fired (since losing them didnít) and the criminals took over part of the town. It was like a scene out of Back to the Future 2 when Marty returns to the present only to discover an alternate reality where the world is a crime ridden cesspool. It was my first taste of my actions effecting the world around me.
Early on I also got my first taste of the combat. The combat uses one button for different types of attacks. One button performs a melee attack, another performs a long range attack with a gun or crossbow, and a third uses magic. Itís simplistic, but a lot of fun and well executed. I believe that after you gain more skills it will become more dynamic, but even early on it was enjoyable. One particular aspect I liked was the absence of a traditional ďmagic meterĒ. The player does not have magic points that are expended when they use magic. You can use all the magic you want and the only thing holding you back is the time it takes to cast a spell.
After combat my character absorbed some experience orbs ala Devil May Cry, which could then be used to upgrade one of the three combat types; Magic, Melee, and Range. I was only able to scratch the surface and unlock a blocking move and a lightning spell, but I was enticed by the lengthy list of potential upgrades.
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Another way that Fable 2 ditches the traditional formula is the lack of dying. After your enemies drain you of energy you are just knocked out for a second. You resurrect with a scar and some lost experience and thatís it. It reminded me of the death system in Bioshock. It reduces the challenge but keeps the player immersed in the world.
As I explore the world, my dog starts barking and running around. I follow and he leads me to treasure. It appears my dog has a nose for gold. The dog will sniff out treasure chests and spots where i can dig to find goodies. This treasure sniffing ability can also be upgraded by finding training books. I can also interact with my dog by giving him praise or scolding him. These interactions are the same as how I interact with citizens.
This is the weakest part of the game so far. The player isnít able to talk. Instead I interact with NPCís by doing non-verbal actions such as dancing or farting. These interactions are split into different categories like ďsocialĒ or ďflirtĒ. The whole system feels like a poor imitation of The Sims.
Overall, Fable 2 has been a blast to play. I've become quite evil. I've wiped out entire villages. I've murdered many police men (and only got community service!). I've offered my wife up to be a human sacrifice. I've taken assassination missions. What scares me is that I never made the conscious choice to take the evil path. It just kind of happened.
the combat has developed well and is still a blast to play. In fact its my favorite part of the game. Its simple yet i still feel like I haven't mastered it. There is some depth.
Anyway, I recommend this game so far.
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