Monday, October 27, 2008

Fable 2 First Impressions

I know this is two days late, my excuse: my wife is very demanding! In Fable. And what a game it is. It is not without it's problems, I will come to those in a moment, but this is one of the most staggering games I have played in a long time.

OK let me just get this out of the way, like Fable before it, this is one of the best looking games to date. Technically it is stunning, with light diffracting through trees. beautiful particle effects and virtually no jagged edges or rubbish textures. However, it is the art direction that will continually take your breath away. Only through the cartoony style can this game achieve the beautiful sun sets that you will stare at, the pain in your concious when you kill an innocent person and the true love you feel for your dog. Every location has a unique feel that carries through regardless of the weather.

While I would love to go in to far more detail than this post will allow, it is not the graphics will which pluck the strings of your heart. You really feel emotion in this game. Not just anger, but love, pain and humour. While it is difficult to describe, this is a game which will truly suck you up in to it's universe.


One of the most memorable things I have done so far involves a choice – like all good games. I was playing a good character. I was told not to feed the starving prisoners, there was a lever to do so. Obviously, looking a the prisoners, they need feeding. Should you choose to ignore their plea's, apart from the fact it counts a s an act of evil, you will have to fight the feeling in your stomach, But if you pull the levers, the mind control device activates. This will cause you, not your character, you, to feel pain. Every time it is activated, you see your character grab is head, your controller vibrates then experience orbs come flying out. The orbs you have spent so much time collecting, poring effortlessly out of your head. 12000 XP Lost. How good are you really? It is one of the most difficult and excruciating experiences ever – it was amazing.

Better than that, the moments of hilarity. This is one of the funniest games I have played on. The lines some of the characters come out with, such as when a bandit shouts at you “he was retiring next week!” just after you have killed one of their number. Or when you miss some wood that you were chopping and your dog covers his eye's with his paw and shakes his head. Or the amusing quotes on the loading screens (“I am seeking revenge because bandits killed my mother and sister. Clich├ęd I know, but that's life”) The voice acting is superb and the tongue in check humour, self deprecating irony and good ol' British sarcasm are all out in force.


There is so much I can talk about with this game, but I will have to save that for a later post, lest this goes on for days. Instead, I will skip to the problems with the game.

Firstly, the world still is not open enough! In some ways it is even more frustrating than in Fable 1, sure there are more places to go, but the places where you can't go make even less sense. For example, you can vault over quite a lot of the scenery, so you find yourself running at fences to jump over them. Only to find that that is one of the fences you can't vault.

Loading screens and odd frame rates also plague this game. Loading screens are alleviated by amusing comments (did I mention that, this game is hilarious) but why is the menu, of all things, still so clunky. Given how much the game handles in combat, the framerate is great, so why, when I jump in water, is the splash so slow?

Another problem is spell casting. Changing spells is difficult during the heat of battle. To do so, you must hit RT (Right Trigger) which stops your character moving, then you must use the ultra-sensitive D- Pad to select your spell. Alternatively, you can pause the game to do this. This really messes up the combat for spell slingers such as myself. In Oblivion, changing spells was easy, hotkeys were easy to define. Even in Fable 1 it was better than this. Although, having said that, both of those games had better magic systems than Fable. You have 8 different spells, there is no customisation, no different tactics to use them. Surely they could have done like a half way ground between Fable with the cool spells, and Oblivion with make-your-own.

The penultimate issue is the co-op that they so waved about. There is one simple problem. When you go in to someone elses world, you cannot use your hero. You get your stats, your spells, but not your weapons or, crucially, your appearance. This basically defeats the point of Co-op, because it is basically a way to show off.

The final issue is the map. Why isn't their a mini-map, that is a long held tradition with RPGs. Yes, you can use this trail thing, but what if I don't want to go where it is pointing. I even had to draw my own map of Albion to work out how the provinces join up.

Overall though, this game, despite it's numerous flaws, is incredible. Expect more coverage soon.

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