After the rubbish news of Wednesday night with my 360 dying AND my Fable 2 Collector’s Edition getting cancelled, things came together nicely Thursday and Friday. First up Leowyatt kindly phoned up Gamestation whose manager was certain that we had to send the 360 back to MS, regardless of it being under a year old and their responsibility. He then called Head Office who confirmed what we thought, that yes the store should exchange the console for a new one. So me and my Mum went down to the store, explained this to the manager and returned with a shiny new one! Idiot manager though and it has put me off making any large purchases from Gamestation, certainly from the Swansea branch. Very grateful to Leowyatt for sorting it!
Then on Friday, Nokkonwud told me that his local gamestore had copies of Fable 2 CE, and basically I couldn’t resist! So him and Psymonkee who was down that way to pick Nokkon up for a LAN, drove to the store, Psy waited in the car while Nokkon got me the game and sent it off recorded meaning it arrived Saturday morning. Perfect! So cheers Nokkon for telling me about it and going back, and Psymonkee for waiting in the car 😀
I’ve just sold my regular copy of Fable 2 as well as a few games so all nice and sorted on the financial side of things. So onto my thoughts on Fable 2 then!
Best to point this out first, this won’t be an unbiased look at Fable 2. It could probably punch me in the stomach and I’d still think of a redeeming feature about it, despite the pain. I like it, I really like it. Unlike Mass Effect from last year, it hasn’t disappointed me hugely nor have I had the urge to rush through it in the hope it improved. Now I’m not saying Fable 2 is perfect, far from it in fact. The amount of bugs that are emerging is incredible and yes, it isn’t the ultimate game. It’s still fairly linear and probably not the huge leap in game design that Peter Molyneux hoped for. However, I’m still very happy with it.
The game starts out very slow (don’t all RPGs?), but the start still shows off the impressive graphics. Sure they don’t look photo realistic (and the character models are a bit lacking), but the cinematography is great if you ask me. Makes the opening city, Bowerstone, seem huge when actually it isn’t really. There are a few simple quests set up to give you a taste of the moral quandries you’ll be facing in the future once you’ve reached adulthood. Some nice comedic moments abound such as an arrest warrant stating: ‘assault with a weapon we can’t believe could possibly be deadly but unfortunately was’. The sort of thing that makes you smile at the thought put into the writing. The narrator of the game is voiced by Zoe Wannamaker which is nice casting, I’ve also noticed a cameo by James Corden (of Gavin and Stacey fame) and I’m sure I recognise other voices from somewhere too.
After childhood has passed, the game opens up much more. It doesn’t open up to the levels of Oblivion but to the sort of level I’m most happy with. This might sound strange but I don’t strictly want an entirely open ended and non linear game, I like the interactive fiction part of games, having a story unfold around me. Lots of sidequests are great but only if they’re enjoyable to play, not just for the sake of it but for fun. In the case of Oblivion, too many side quests felt like work and so I could stretch the game out further. I know others adored it but I didn’t. Anyway, enough of Oblivion. I like games that guide me through a set plot but also with some flexibility. Fable 2, so far, is doing this just fine. It gives me a certain amount of freedom, with often funny consequences (try walking into a city naked, yet another nice touch), but not so much that it detracts from a good narrative structure. In Fable 2 you can do various jobs, buy property and rent it out (and earn money while not actually playing), get married etc. All a bit Sims like, and it is in places, certainly when it comes to keeping your husband or wife happy, but it’s nice to have the option. The jobs, such as bartending, blacksmithing and woodcutting, are all a little samey (basic press the button at the right time games) but they’re still strangely addictive. I spent a good 45mins earlier reaching Level 5 of Woodcutting just so I could earn enough money to buy the local pub. At that point, I didn’t want to carry on with the main quest, I was happy to earn some money to buy property, then maybe do a sidequest or two.
Fable 2, as I said earlier, is far from perfect. A friend of mine has already encountered a game ruining bug associated with the game’s co-op facility (which I haven’t tried yet). As well as this, various other glitches have occured for people, ranging from minor things such as the breadcrumb trail (which guides you to quests) vanishing to game breaking problems such as main story quests being bugged if you walk away from the NPC while it’s midconversation. Hopefully all problems that will be sorted in a forthcoming patch. A lot of the irritation I think stems from the fact there are no multiple save files, just the one for each character. A design feature to ensure that the player’s actions are permanent, and the player can’t just revert to a previous save if they didn’t like the consequences. Of course that makes things difficult if something glitches as there’s no way of reloading previous progress.
However, despite the bugs (and I’m lucky to have hardly experienced any so far), the only downside I can find in the game for me is it’s just not very challenging yet. I say not very, I’ve not died yet! It’s obviously not been designed with difficulty in mind, unless it suddenly ramps it up soon, but I don’t mind as I’m enjoying it so much. Sometimes it’s nice to not be challenged and to simply enjoy the experience.
Anyway, told you I’m biased 😉