|Developer: Lionhead Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1, 2 player online co-op
Just when you thought you had enough of sandbox games, another one pops up. Thankfully this is one with depth that actively rewards exploration and experimentation. Set centuries after the events of the original Fable, Fable 2 places you in the shoes of a young lad (or lass) whose destiny is to become a hero and save the world of Albion. As in the previous game, the manner in which your character goes about this is up to you. If you wish to play a goody-two-shoes character that is friendly and generous, or a vicious, selfish soul, the choice is yours.
Where a lot of the enjoyment lies in this game is the depth of detail. Plot-wise there aren't many surprises. Despite the main game story being comparatively short if played straight through, doing so would do the game a disservice. Albion is a beautiful place to wander around in, and there are many side adventures to go on and things to find. There is rarely a moment where you don't know where to go next, as a glowing golden trail appears on the screen showing you the quickest route to the next plot point or whichever side adventure you are currently working towards. This is especially helpful as the in-game map is terrible. Available only on the pause screen, the map gives a very low resolution blocky view of your current location. It also provides no way of setting specific non mission-based waypoints where there may be points of interest you wish to see. It seems odd that a game with such high production values scrimped on something so useful, but maybe Lionhead made it that useless for a purpose.
Shortcuts pop up on the D-pad occasionally to save bringing up the wheel control, but this can be very flighty. The expression icons appear much smaller so it's often difficult to figure out what the action is before it's no longer an option, or the option changes to something entirely different. Want to shout at a villager? Tough, you've just scolded your constant canine companion as the option changed. Generally speaking selecting up is a positive expression and down is negative, but it's not always so obvious especially during cut scenes that feel a bit like the quick time events seen in other games.
One really jarring aspect of the game is the lack of attachment I felt towards the central character. This is an inherent flaw of having a generic character that can be as pure or corrupt as the player chooses and can only emote through the mime of expression, but it feels as though the character is purely a vehicle to explore the world. Even then, there are comparatively few events that truly change the world of Albion. Have you got into trouble killing some villagers? Not to worry; make some fart noises, amuse some local children, and everyone is happy again!
Combat is simple and makes use of three main buttons; one to attack with a melee weapon, one to fire a gun, and one to perform some magic that may either be directed at an assailant or perform the effect over an area. In reality, despite being able to get more experience points by performing well-timed attacks, it doesn't take long to figure out just as much can be achieved through button mashing.
Here's an analogy that I hope will explain better than the spiel above:-
This is what Fable 2 feels like. As a player you are shown lots of fun things, but ultimately it feels hard to engage. You're being shown Molyneux's toys. They are cool, but they are not yours.
- Large pretty world to explore
- Fun, simplified combat
- The awful in-game map
- It’s hard to empathise with a main character that acts idiotically and inappropriately despite your best efforts
- It’s hard to empathise with NPCs who are impressed by a main character that acts like an idiot