reviewed on X360
Challenger to Fallout 3
There came a point for me during my time with Fable 2 where a thought occurred to me; there is nothing like a good role playing game. I can’t remember when it was, whether it was during my midnight castle raid, my escape from a cursed tomb, or maybe during my fourth or fifth marriage, but I certainly realised it. I challenge somebody to play Fable 2 and not experience similar feelings, especially as it is one of the best RPGs I have ever played. If you approach it with the appropriate sense of adventure in your mind, you’ll find a rare treat that is. Although hardly a hidden gem, I fear that the game is going to be overlooked by the crowds of gamers clamouring for Fallout 3. Well, shock and horror, in Fable 2 there is a fantastic RPG alternative to Bethesda’s epic, and one that, dare I say it, might even be better.
Okay, initial gushing aside, I’ll now tell you about the game’s opening. What a load of... for want of a better word, badness. The opening feels like a Harry Potter game done badly, as you experience your character’s childhood as he tries to scrounge together five gold coins so he and his sister can find a magical music box. The quality of the plot is hardly Tolkien-esque, so you’ll have to bear with the game as it struggles to relate it’s decent story of magic and revenge to you through tiresome and occasionally overly long cut-scenes. However, after the opening chapter, which the game should NOT be judged on, you will find yourself being reluctantly drawn into the game’s story, and genuinely feeling for at least a few of the characters. And there’s probably one of your friends in particular that you’ll form an attachment with...
Strong binds for good and evil
Yes, you probably guessed it; it’s your dog. Peter Molyneux certainly raised a few eyebrows when he showed off Fable 2’s radar-come-treasure finder, not improving matters when he told the world that your canine friend would boast some of the best artificial intelligence ever seen in a videogame. However, his risk definitely paid off, as the dog is a great companion that you will grow to love over the course of your adventure. Whether he’s mauling floored enemies, alerting you to buried treasure, or simply fetching the ball you cruelly lobbed miles away, he’s always animated with an almost eerie realism and bounce, and you will definitely form a bond with your pup.
Unless, of course, you yourself decide to become evil, as your dog will reflect your ‘devil horns and red eyes’ look if you slaughter too many innocents. The choice mechanic that was promised in the original Fable and developed upon and toyed with in Bioware’s Mass Effect has been refined upon once again here, carrying a real sense of weight this time as you actually see the world you’re exploring become shaped by your actions. Whether it’s an investment in some godforsaken town that will come back to help you later in the game, or stealing too much from a village and ruining its economy, you always feel as if you’re making an impact, rather than Mass Effect’s rather more instant results to your choices. Three different endings also help to give the illusion of a story fully shaped by your actions, even if that goal still hasn’t quite been realised.
Some criticised the previous game for steering you too strongly onto the path of good, and not offering enough incentive for you to show your bad side. Those complaints have been neatly dealt with here, with the main quest accommodating either angels or devils, and the player receives well-balanced bonuses for being either. For instance, be nice enough and shopkeepers will like you so much they’ll give you a discount, but be evil and they’ll be so scared of you that you’ll yield the same savings on your purchase.
No Pros and Cons at this time