Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fable 2

Fable 2
Fable 2 is a wonderful game. Absolutely riddled with minor glitches & bugs*, but still everything I was expecting, and it is brilliant.

I will say at this point that I was a fan of the first Fable (possibly because I never listened to the hype before it came out, and then pushed through the fairly boring first chapter at the hero school). Fable 2 is a classic sequel - it includes everything from the original, and expands and improves on it in every way.

One of the main things that I love so much about the game is how focussed it is on leading the player by carrot instead of stick. It's literally impossible to die in - the worst that happens is you get "knocked out", respawn back on the spot, lose some experience, and any experience still lying around is lost too - so the consequences of getting in above your head are pretty much non-existant. Another great touch is that after spending experience to improve your character you have to option to sell the upgrades back, and reclaim some of the points. This gets around one thing I always hate with RPGs - that they expect you to pick skills and attributes for your character at the start of the game, when you don't know what might be useful. To take Fallout 3 as a recent example, "Heavy Weapons" sounds like it could be a good skill, but before playing the game for some time you have no idea how prolific the ammunition you need to make use of it actually is.

But back to Fable 2 - it's very charming, with interesting and funny characters throughout and a massive amount of great lines for the villagers and enemies. Hearing foes lament their comrade's death because he owed them a pint, or walking past a house at night an overhearing a child's nightmare really help to draw you in to the world and make you smile. The cutscene dialogue is also good, though often let down horribly by what I can only assume is a limitation of their scripting system that has resulted in some terrible pacing that leaves huge gaps between sentences.

The only bit that annoyed me was the obligatory arena quest, and that wasn't hard, it was more of a "oh fuck's sake, why does every fantasy game need some osrt of arena where you battle increasingly difficult waves of monsters for the entertainment of the general population?" frustration.

Finally, the online implementation of seeing "orbs" that show where your friends (or any number of other players, if you want) are in game is cooler than I thought it would be. Someone gave me a huge warhammer, which was nice, and to "pass it on" I gave a friend a very good sword that I had no need for. You could probably break the game's balancing very easily in this way, but it really doesn't seem to care since it gives you enough other ways that you could break it yourself if you wanted to (the economy and sales seem almost deliberately designed for this). As I said before, I've never seen an RPG be this free and easy with its boundaries, and carrot not stick before.

The worst thing about Fable 2 by far has been that I have Fallout 3 to play, and it feels so stuck in its RPG ways, and so dour, and brown, and humourless, that I've been put off playing much of it at all.

* I know there are a lot of people out there who had much more than minor bugs, and with the game's limited save files I can see that being deeply annoying. But I never experienced anything outside of the minor visual category in over 30 hours of play. I guess Fable loves me too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Complete 360

My replacement Xbox turned up a week ago. Thankfully this time I've been sent an entirely new one, rather than a refurbished one. It's much quieter than any of the Xboxes I've owned or borrowed from work, and hopefully that's a good sign.

So, after two weeks of being Xbox deprived (so deprived in fact, that I even resorted to playing Haze on the PS3) I have finally been able to dive into Fable 2, which is amazing (but more on that later).

I just need to get the time to crack on with Fallout 3 now. And Gears of War 2. And Saints Row 2. And Little Big Planet. And FarCry 2. And Midnight Club. And finish off Lego Batman.