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Old 27 Oct 2008, 14:34   #1 (permalink)
Nightmare
Ethereal
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 11,122
Default Silks Fable 2 review.

Well....

It's been hyped up, talked about, rumours spread, and many people around the world have been rubbing their mits to get stuck into Molyneux's lastest game. The previous game was gripping, addictive as heroin, dramatic, entertaining for all ages, easy to get into and down right eccentric from the get go. Many a time I would sit down and complete the game from beggining to end in a single sitting. Very few games have managed to do this for me: Kotor, Civilization, Mass Effect and the elder scrolls series are the only other games that can claim that special place in my heart that I will remember fondly when I look back fondly at my youth when I'm a father and my children are playing the latest console. And as a good number of you know I too have been eagerly awaiting this sequel for a good long time.

A very long time.

Ever since Ive beaten the Orignal Fable I've been trying to scrounge any rumours and videos I possibly could get my hands on. Much news from jobs to the combat system don't come as a suprise to me, some rumours never flowered into what I, and many others, expected and some portions just seem to be a shadow of the former game.

I've had the game for under 48 hours now and given the Main quest line and a small handful of side quests a thorough thumping. Now the child-like eagerness of getting the game in my hands has died down I think it's time to use a clear head and get some of my thoughts down onto paper (well, computer screen) about this game, it's triumphs, it's pitfalls and the nostalgia and emotion that it puts you through.

I hope you enjoy - I will keep the spoilers to a minimum, but some are expected for certain areas.

[hr]
When Peter Molyneux developed the original Fable for the original Xbox he aimed to create a game that the player could escape to. Much like the name suggests he was wanting to give you the chance to create your own story and your own adventures where you were the hero and everyone cheerd or feard your very name. The words sand box are thrown around alot these days when concerning RPGs, but fable truly was one. Your hero became an extension of yourself as you set off doing your thing the world reacted to your actions - from the very fate of the world, to the reaction of the local Pub landlord. The world breathed. It literaly did: traders roamed around the wilderness to give stores their goods, people went from working to the pub and then finally to their beds with their own families. The characters personalities in the game kept me captivated, each one felt like a friend

This is the ground that Fable 2 has to build upon. The basics of it all is the moral compas that every player has - it's staggeringly simple but will have you thinking. Good actions award you good points, hurtful actions give you evil points. Pretty simple, no?? Done many, many times. But how about it starts to effect your appearence aswell, max out your evil and you will look like a ghoul that just been dug up from his crypt, gain an abundence of good points and you will have the aura of a saint. But it doesn't stop there - P.M through in Corruption and purity into the mix. Now if you have Max corruption and Max Evilness your petty little ghoul will become a fully fledged daemon with an aura of blood and a head of horns! Get max the other way around (Good + Purity) and you become an angel complete with a Halo. Theres many combinations between the 4 alignments that I'm wanting to re-play the game just to see them all, I can only imagine what a corrupt do-gooder looks like...

Anyways - this hi-lights the main importance of Fable 2: how you develop your character. The look of your character determins the reaction of the villagers, whether or not your are something to be worshipped and have their children look up to (seriously - I heard 2 kids arguing over who gets to play me in their game!) or if you are something that causes a blind panic whenever you fancy a pint at the local. Both extremes, and the grey areas between, have their points, it's nice to be able able to get served first by that cowering barmaid,for example, but constanly being shot by the town guard whilst you're shopping for a new coat just because you put a rifle round through your (now...) ex-wifes head (just don't ask) isn't so fun. Likewise, getting a discout at the shops because you saved their arses on more than one occasion is certainly fun, and the clear skin is certainly pretty, but that is only showing the world you haven't enjoyed the more decadent sides of life such as sex with drunken strangers named hannah that give you a funny coloured rash and eating meat.

And the part that really amazes me? None of the rewards for how you look are materialistic. Not many at least. It's such a joy to see how your character is growing in the world, it's like watching a child grow up (for me at least - I have no experience of my own spawn to compare) they go through all the tamtrums and puberty pains, learn to stand on their own two feet and figure out how to kill trolls... well maybe not the last part. But you get my point; it's so satisfying to see things in motion. (Now whilst we are on the subject of Character creation it is worth adressing a minor gripe some people have - the clothing doesn't give you armour. So what?? That just means you can wear what you want whithout reprisals)

Say... All that talk about your character feeling like like a child going through growing pains reminds me of something - one of the major delights of this game is seeing your very own family develop from Marriage to seeing your children fly the nest. And the moral compass returns to influence your children depending on how good of a parent you are, neglect your family and you'll end up with some wimpy little lay about that is about as worthless as the air you breath. But pay attention to your family and you'll recieve gifts from your wife(s) and bonuses to your stats whilst sleeping in your home. Don't worry, you're not going to be raising baby bloodletters or Little sisters (shudders) but you may return home to find your kid has gotten a matching tattoo and uses that toy sword you bought him a little too enthusiasticly. At this point your wife will most probably complain if you havn't been concentrating on giving her attention, but it just feels like so much like a virtual family as you are ever going to get. Of course they eventually grow up and become terrors much like yourself, although iv'e had to slap my son for stealing my kills a little too many times. I haven't experienced a family thats on the good side of things so it's going to be really interesting to say the least!

And whats a family without a dog? Well, the game gives you a dog right from the start, your own lovable 4 legged companion. Let me just say from the outset that this dog really does make you feel for it. It's bouncy, happy, and loves you unconditionally, although it's abilities are no where near what P.M claimed they would be (I swear that guy is developing a different game that what we get) as it is little more than a metal detector with legs as it sniffs out dig spots (very useful) and treasure (again - I'd miss a fair few chests without) but aside from that this little (ish) dog feels more alive than any character from oblivion. Unfortunately, since it can't talk, it doesn't have the life-ness of the Mass Effect characters but he would most certainly fit in without feeling tacked on. I lost an hour of play time just simply playing fetch with him in a field (ever seen an 8 foot daemon play fetch?) and playing dead with him. Good times. And whats more he makes the ending of the game a very hard choice. A very hard choice. I found myself actually caring whether or not he was alowed in the Pub when it was raining and seeing him play with my new born brought a lump to my throat.

Anyways - onto more important things! Namely how combat works. Combat works via one button per style of fighting - X for your attack abilities, Y for ranged combat and B for magic. Pretty simple huh?? Sounds like hack and slash?? Well yeah it does - but when you realise that one of those buttons is used to do everything then things get a little more complicated then smacking away at the same button. If we take Melee combat, for example, you can tap the X button to attack, yet if you just flail away you'll find that the enemy just blocks your attacks but if you hit it with a good rythm you'll find yourself fighting like a fencer - and believe me, I know this sounds weird, but different rythms means different styles of fighting. All from tapping one button. Whats more Hold X with a direction from the Left stick and you'll perform a "flourish" (powered up attack) or Hold X without any other input and you'll block. Yes the control scheme is very simple but it's easy to pick up and has a good few little tricks up it's sleave to reward you for actually concentrating on how you attack. Whats more, you'll be thankful for the ease of the basics when you're surrounded by a good few enemies - anything more complicated would have seen you ganked up.

The ranged options are currently my favourite and when you begin to pull off the more extreme shots, such as shooting weapons from hands, really does make you feel like a legendary gun slinger. Again, it follows the simple-yet-effective method thats presented by the Melee option. A simple tap of Y will see your character firing from the hip, squeezing off a shot at the enemy. Combined with a pistol, and quick reactions, this means that you can get off a shot to force a seperate enemy from the one you are concerned about until you are ready to deal with it. Holding Down Y brings the shot up to eye level, enter a resident evil over-the shoulder camera (think COD in the 16th century) and gives you a more powerful and acurate shot and allows for the faster firing weapons to fire full pelt. A second level of this allows your character to concentrate (and zoom) to pull of powerful shots, allowing you to one-shot a balverine. However, the little gem of Ranged weaponry comes from the last level of the ability tree - the final perk. This little gem, in combination with the L trigger whilst aiming, allows you to target specific parts of the body, or just shoot the body for a more powerful shot. Ive lost count of how many times ive shot a sword out of someones hands just before they hit me, my number of head shots (decapitations) has shot through the roof since I got hold of this. And like many things in Fable it is oh so simple in theory, yet takes a while to figure out just how to pull it off with any panache.

Magic im not too familiar with - but I know the basics at least. Press B to launch the basic attack of the spell which is always an area effect spell and push the directional stick in the direction of the enemy to create a projectile attack. For example you could use force push's area attack to force a mob of enemies away from to buy you some breathing space, or use the projectile form to knock someone over the edge of a cliff. Pretty simple, and it gives you the oppotunity to play around without having to switch between spells all of the time. Theres no Mana bar that is present in most RPGs (thank Avo!) but to get more powerful effect out of your spells you have to hold down B to concentrate your magic so it isn't like you can cast your most powerful spells all of the time without any ill effects. Unfortunately I haven't tried to play around with magic as of yet - Iv'e too busy headshotting my way through bandits. But I think I'll give it a whirl for my 4th character.

The environments of the world are as varied as its inhabitants - you have open grazelands, dark forests, swamps, beautiful forests, lively cities, corrupted towns and many lakes and rivers to go swimming in. Now, the game world isn't quite as free roaming as P.M said - each location is in it's seperate zone. Yet each of these seperate zones has plenty to explore and do. They are no walls to block you this time - just point in adirection and go!! Just a quick note, theres is no jumping. Instead every piece of terrain is context sensitive so you can jump over fences and walls that get in your way and actually dive into water (as apposed to just jumping like in Oblivion). Anyways - it is most definately worthy upgrade to the linear paths of Fable 1. Im still exploring new areas and finding new secerets all the time and that can't be a bad thing, Oblivions terrain was fairly unimaginative, good quality and certainly realistic, but Fable 2 manages to strike the good in between stage of being interesting to look around, not being so detailed that you can't walk off the track and yet retaining a certain depth of realism that makes the world believeable. I won't spoil it for you - but theres plenty of things to collect in the game that these areas will become very familiar to you as you go about your business - something that Oblivion almost hit, but never really managed.

No game is without it's gripes, especially RPGs it seems. Mass effect had it's reptitive dungeon areas, Two worlds behaved as though it belongs on the old Xbox, to the untrained eye Final Fantasty feels like the games before it and Oblivions questline was most definately lacking, doubly so when compared to it's predesessor Morrowind. Fable 2 follows the last example. The story of Fable 1 was something that could be written from an epic, one man having his life ruined by a catastrophe and who goes on a quest for little more than vengence, yet gets caught up in the destruction of the World. It's a little more in-deth and twisty than what Ive given but the story and the characters presented are some of my favourites in video games to date. Fable 2 seems to have forgotten all of this. The plotline itself is your basic "collect these 3 things" with only the slightest twists in the plot. It really is a shame. The story started out very strong and I was thinking that you would bide your time, piecing together the facts of your power before venturing out. But no, instead an "advisor" (naming no names just in case you played Fable 1) comes out of the blue to tell you that you are a super powerful hero. Hell, you don't even know why the villain is doing what he's doing till the very end!! Not even the slightest hint of a clue. Great way to keep the game in suspense. Now, im a great believer in that the journey is more important than the end or the start. But the journey you go through, if you just concentrate on the main questline that is, is so shallow that it feels like it was added on when P.M realised he better create one in a bloody big hurry. Surely they could have taken an extra month to be able to give us a little substance and unpredictability to the plot? Or even made it longer for pitties sake. For the price of Fable 2 I could have bought all 4 Guildwars campaigns and would still be trying to complete it all by next year! Now, the plotline doesn't totally ruin things for you. Just take your time and go and do side quests, raise a family (or 3) and come back to the plot line when your ready.

Theres a few things that need to be smoothed out in a later patch such as being able to use the quick select menu like before, a few glitches here and there and making the menu activate quickly. But aside from that there isn't much else to bitch about... Oh... yeah!! Multiplayer. Yeah. It's been something that many of us have been waiting for - fable co-op mode. Lionhead seemed to have screwed with any ideas we had for it royaly. Do you expect one camera for multiplayer mode over xbox live?? Didn't think so. You're stuck with it - following the main player around like a little lost lamb with none of the previously thought ideas about being able to explore their world seperately to your own. You are tied to the main player with a piece of invisible bungee cord. If this was on the single console I wouldn't have mind - it wouldn't have been something to look forward to as much as I did but it would have been a nice thing. But, and heres my massive gripe with multiplayer mode, you don't even get to bring your own character to your friends world!! You have to create a new character each and every time and act as his or her lacky. Great. Unless Lionhead releases an upgrade to it all Multiplayer mode is thoroughly useless. I've heard some players say that it isn't so bad, but when Im paying 40 a year for Xbox Live and the length that this game was in development, and in combination to the hyper-activity that P.M presented the idea with I most definately want much more from this feature.

[hr]

So. Lets answer the big questions.

Is this game worth it? Most definately yes. The control scheme is nice and easy to pick up yet still requires learning to pull of the more difficult combos/shots, the world lives and breathes in a way that nothing else does. The dog will have you stunned (I really am serious about this hound!) and the way that your character changes will make it feel like an old friend. If you have an Xbox 360 this is as essential as Mass effect and Gears of war, it is a great experience from the moment you turn the console on, just the plot line and the hideous Multiplayer lets you down. But is it worth buying a 360 just to get this game? Probably not. Unless you are a fan of the previous fable, and unless P.M rights the wrongs, this game shouldn't make you want to rush out and buy the 360 - that title definately belongs to Mass effect. However, despite it's flaws (and name me a game without flaws!) it is most definately worthy of the title of RPG of the year - I think only Fallout 3 will be able to contend for the space.

Hope you enjoyed reading - Walkthrough in progress.
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