Genre: Role Playing Developer: Lionhead Studios Publisher: Microsoft Classification: TBC Release Date: 31st Dec 2008 Platforms:XBOX360
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The Good bits
There's no faulting the ambition - live a virtual life
Solid engine and no complaints about play time
A stack of achievements you will play on and on to get
The Bad stuff
The formula still isn't perfect - too many non-story distractions
A little too directional - live your virtual life...but hew to the story arc?
If there's one thing Sir Peter Molyneux is never short of, it's ambition. The boss of Lionhead Studios makes headlines in games press every time he opens his mouth virtually, because he's known for making extravagant, quotable statements. Charitable folk attribute this more to his enthusiasm for gaming as an entertainment platform, while less kind punters may be inclined to think he's a master of hype.
Whatever your view, there's not much argument that Molyneux's premise and promise with the original Fable: live a “real”, virtual life in a fantasy setting. - fell through. Bugs and linearity gave us a good game, not a great one.
Fable 2 gets closer. Bugs and linearity give us a great, but not stellar game. But you know what? There will be no shortage of people who pour countless hours into it regardless, because it's a bawdy, ballsy attempt to push what videogames do for us.
Think of our games menu as the rapidly going out of date video store. Hi Dead Space, lurking in the Horror section. Nearby in Sci-Fi is Gears of War and its sequel in the new release rack. Over in Action, Metal Gear Solid 4 is sitting pretty. Drama? Grand Theft Auto we reckon.
Sure there's semantics you can argue, but really for the life of me where the hell do you put Fable 2? It's equal part fantasy, action, drama and thriller. And if Fable 2 has a downfall, possibly it's brought about by this trait – the tendency for Peter Moyneux to bite off more than current hardware and code libraries can chew.
The foundation – the visual engine – doesn't struggle overly. It renders the world smoothly and well. That's not the issue when we say hardware, although a lot goes on. Your body shape changes in this game in accordance with what you're up to. Quaff too many of those potions in battle and you start getting pudgy. Too many defeats in battle leave you with a scarred visage. And of course your garb is your business as well.
The real problems start when you consider the challenges of trying to create a fluid world that reacts to you … over time. If I'm a gambler in a bar it's highly likely I will not repeat the same handful of phrases urging punters to play over and over again when I'm in the immediate vicinity. If someone is married to me is it really necessary for them to keep reminding me how great I am with the same stock phrases? (well...actually...). And when it's lights out time – how many time do I need to be told?
Recognition of you, the character in the world feels more contrived than we'd like, and the devices used to make you feel part of the world and add definition to who you are often seem clunky. If I perform valorous or nefarious deeds and the commoners have a new name they wish to address me by, why have the game tell me I can now be called by it? It takes me out of the game experience – just have them start addressing me as it. Keep my finger away from the START button.
Further, stat upgrades and combat specialisations – understood that this is an area gamers like to have power over, but juggling values in different areas pours cold water over immersion. How about a dynamic system that focuses on the type of combat you've done to date and refines your talents in line with what your preferences are? And while we're on the topic, gamers have a strong completionist streak in them – give them a mini game and tell them repeating it will enhance their character and they will...constantly. So if you're this kind of gamer, I hope you enjoy chopping wood, posing for pictures, serving ale, blacksmithing et al – because there will be ample time – and incentive to do just that. Yes, it's your choice whether you do them or not – but if it gives you an edge, why not, right?
In the likes of other games, the above is not a problem. You stomp through the story arc, usually littering corpses behind you. Fable 2 tries to put you into a dynamic world. You're expected to feel as if the world is continuing without you, but instead despite the bustling towns you begin to get that Truman Show vibe – that meaningful activity is suspended waiting for your arrival. Because Fable 2 sets the bar so high, it makes your expectations for continuity and flow that much higher as well. You're taken up towards the summit, only to be reminded too often that oh hold on, you're holding a controller playing a game.
The bugs you may have heard about – the odd AI or pathing issue – truly are secondary in importance to the multiple deliberate design decisions that have been made in Fable 2. Linearity – something that Lionhead must have struggled with balancing – is quite unavoidable. There's even a stream of breadcrumbs showing you the optimal path through the game. It can be turned off, but why? There's not enough meaningful action outside of the arc to justify doing so. In this respect, the likes of Grand Theft Auto 4 do a far superior job of giving you that feeling of freedom. In Fable 2's defence, you are the player, not controlling a player, if you catch my drift. That's a tricky feat for a game to manage. Fable 2 comes closer than other games, but it still a good disc full of voice acting samples and terrain away from getting it perfect.
At the end of the day there will be gamers who buy Fable 2 expecting a masterpiece of coding finesse, with every bug squished and a seamless play experience. The nature of the game makes that hard. The reaal challenge is if you can handle the design elements that pull you out of the game world and into the mechanics of gaming. There's plenty of people who can meet that challenge – if you're one of them, you'll love this.
I like Fable 2 because it is a pretty free kind of game, you can go where you like etc. But there are tons of bugs and stuff. My guy ran out of potions so i ate a lot of food, and now i am a fat bastard. The problem is that i cant get the weight off, even though i have eated 200 celery that brings the weight down.
There are only clothes and not armour, and htat really annoys me. The coolest armour in Fable 1 was the knight armour with spikes etc.
I played it for like 100 hours so that tells you its a great game =P
Fable 2 has a lot to offer when it comes to the open world design, the treasure, the hidden dig spots and the marketplace bargains. I could not begin to tell you what adventure awaits for your character as you have the ability to not only choose your path but to totally reverse you characters deeds done throughout the journey. The new feature of being able to manage an entire town after buying out their stores is a good option with the added ability to gain cash while not even playing the game. We could of moaned about the fact they took the effort out of gaining money but that wouldn’t be able to cover the simplistic combat system and ridiculously easy enemy no matter how skilled your warrior. This game was certainly designed for an older audience and for any gamer from new to old in the genre, but with this game I myself am happy that it is worth playing through at least once.
So in all this game is solid, some minor bugs and a co-op that doesn’t fit in with the game can be overlooked if playing a solo game. Earning cash early on is a bonus and allows you to access more content in the game by actually gaining items from the markets. If you’re looking for a fast paced game I’d stick with HAWX or Mercenaries 2 World in Flames but this game is a time waster if you’re looking for something to do during a hot coffee waiting for a TV show or Movie to come on.
Bonus content given from Xbox live even extends this game further than the lengthy journey you will travel in the shoes of sparrow and his/her comrades, I would suggest getting a larger coffee cup though.