Fable 2: And So My Analysis Begins

Posted on November 4, 2008

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I’ve played for over 70,000 seconds, as the game’s time keeper records. I can’t wait any further to jot down my impressions. So even though I haven’t completed the game, I ask you, who doesn’t enjoy premature blogging?

You won’t find many groans from me on this one. I fell in love with Fable when it made its debut back on XBox. I read in a Game Informer preview that Fable 2 buffed out the blemishes in the sequel, and GI couldn’t be more accurate. The combat system is a little bit old, a little bit new (and twice the fun). Nonplayer interaction is a little jerky at times, but improved still with some very smart, entertaining expressions; and adding guns and a dog were VERY nice treats. The level of depth to Fable 2 is perpetually shocking. I knew what to expect, being that I loved the first Fable, but even still this game and the improvements from its progenitor make it a trophy amongst my shelf of games.

Changes:

I probably haven’t played enough of the game to see all the differences Lionhead made for the sequel, but so far the major differences are the Renown system, Combat system, a Canine, and several changes made possible by XBox Live and the Web.

Renown is now grown through missions and trophies. No more boasting before a quest…so if you want to do a mission without your knickers, you won’t see anything extra for it this time. The combat system allows a much smoother interplay between melee, ranged, and will abilities. Casting a quick spell or firing off a few arrows in between hacking is as natural as a morning whiz. The cutscenes when finishing off a baddie is a nice touch too and makes for some decent cinematics mid-game. The dog is awesome! What a great way for someone to care about their hero. People love pets and get attached. It’s role is simple and fun, and the AI behind it is very tolerable. For a new installation in the game, I’m surprised man’s best friend doesn’t make me wanna roll up a magazine and bonk it on its virtual nose. (Don’t worry, I love animals.) Lastly, the advent of the Internet and it’s wonderfully interwoven role in this game. Lionhead outdid itself here. It created a web site where you logon your PC (or Mac, for your Appleheads) and play hero puppeteer for a prize in the game. What a brilliant way for Lionhead to mix mediums (and get clicks on Xbox.com). This, I assure you, will change the way we game. We already run to our favorite tip web sites for the maps and cheats, so it seems only natural that the studios get some attention out of it. Then, of course, there’s co-op. Show me one person who doesn’t like co-op, I dare you! I will admit my co-op is a buggy at times and there’s glitching. ANNOYING! But, I found that if you chat with your co-hero on a private chat that pretty much solves the glitching. Spreads out the bandwidth to separate channels.

Story: The story is classic. Lionhead did a great job of creating a separte story from the initial installment, but maintaining the same construct of story, which keeps fans in step. You hate the villain. He killed your sister, your protector, right before your eyes. He killed you. Or so he thought. Great launching point. And even though you rarely see him (thus far in my story), his presence is felt in the world (and by the Napoleon-syndromed tower he’s vying to erect). Alright, maybe I shouldn’t psycho-analyze 3D characters, but he shot Rose for Pete’s sake.

Levels: The levels are admittedly hit or miss. And by this I mean the main story. I’ve completed a few, as I have two of the four lost heroes. The mission in the Spire is by FAR one of the best singular missions I’ve played this year and on XBox 360. It hits you on many levels. Torture. Obedience. Manipulation. Imprisonment. From the original Fable I carried over the fear of aging, as I held on to my hero’s youth tooth and claw. So to see what happens in the Spire was gut-wrenching. The hero rescue before that was alright. A standard mission: quirky objective and defend your ally. The secondary quests are fun and simple

Nonplayer:

Unlike the original game, the bad guys in this one are a full shade darker. Maybe it’s just me, but Fable I’s villains seemed like Disneyland rejects, not evil spawn. Especially the Hobbes. The goons are goonier, the goblins, less Donald Duck-like.

Villagers are pretty solid. Not much done here. Interacting with them is a sight better with the expression wheel (rather than pre-selecting expressions), but I will say that it seems like Albion got uglier. Boo! I guess Albion is exempt from natural selection. But we shouldn’t care about pretty wives in our VIDEO GAME, should we? Embarassing dork moment, I know. Lastly, man’s best friend is awesome. I wish there were more dogs for him to wrestle around with. That’s a whole ‘nother level of interaction. Villagers’ pets!

It pains me that Fable 2 has been out for two weeks and already gamers are reporting from their second turn around the game. I’ve taken my time (and worked a job and gone outside once or twice to breathe other air than what’s between me and my TV). So, this post is probably of little use to those who have pulled the cord on the rest of life and did the played your pupils red and drove anybody in your vicinity absolutely nuts. But I must report, and report I shall. More to come as I dig deeper into the core of our Hero’s plight.

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Posted in: Op-Ed