When the first Fable was released on the original Xbox, it won over many fans with its interesting good/evil mechanic. Critics received it well and large numbers were sold. But what annoyed many who followed the game before its release, was the fact that Peter Molyneux promised so many features that did not make it. It was hard to criticise him much because he expressed himself so enthusiastic. But only half the ideas he revealed that had a chance of making it into the game, made it.
Now, four years later, the Xbox 360 is enjoying a great wealth of good RPGs, both Western and Japanese. Molyneux still believes his Fable series has the chance to be the best role player out there.
Fable 2 certainly has enough innovations to support this lofty claim thus far. The first one is the dog. Whereas most Role Playing Games rely on radars and journals to point you in the right direction, Fable 2 decides to ditch this. Instead they simply give you a dog. According to Molyneux, the dog will have the best AI ever seen in a videogame. Demonstrations thus far have shown it to be intelligent, if not award winningly so. AI aside, the dog will bark to alert you of enemies, sniff out hidden treasure and side quests, and trot merrily along towards your goal in an area.
It all sounds well and good, but I’m still unsure whether or not this will end up being a frustrating gimmick, leaving players wishing for a good old fashioned journal screen. However, what has been shown so far -has- been promising. What also seems interesting about this trusty canine figure is that he will change his looks according to the player’s actions. Be good and so will your dog. Be bad, and you’ll have a yapping rottweiler as company. This seems a nice elaboration of Fable’s behaviour mechanic, and will make for an interesting man and his best friend duo that differs for every player.
In combat lies the second innovation. Apparently it is ‘simple yet deep’. Your controls are X for melee attack, Y for ranged attacks and B for magic. These are all context sensitive, so going through an area full of enemies via a different route might lead to seeing many different animations each time. However, could this simply be making the classic error of mistaking ‘accessible’ for ‘shallow’? It seems not, as players will be able to upgrade their powers as they see fit, to build whatever character class you want. You could unlock more combos, better weapons or more powerful spells, and a wealth of other abilities.