Nick's Gaming Blog

Initial Impressions of Fable 2

I feel like far too often, I find myself compelled to come up with something new and genuine for this blog (though, I’m sure any reader would assure me that I have done nothing of the sort…though thankfully I have so few readers (whether or not this is a problem, I haven’t decided) that nobody has called me out on such) that I probably need to be allowing myself to have some impersonal entries, you know, just on what I’ve been playing, my impressions of such, etc…

With this in mind, I have recently begun playing Fable 2, which originally I had no intention of doing. It debuted around the time of Dead Space and Far Cry 2 back in October of 2008, and I had no intention of allowing a sci-fi horror fest or a technical masterpiece of open-ended Africa to go unnoticed. That’s not to say I didn’t have any “beef” with the Fable series. I certainly did. It’s one thing to buy a highly hyped game at launch, and find it disappointing. It’s a completely different affair to wait a couple years, have several friends shouting its praises, buy the player’s choice deluxamundo edition, and still not wholly enjoy the experience. Such was my impression of Fable: The Lost Chapters.

It was hard to get excited about this game…even despite the fact that I had “MORE CHOICES”…whatever that meant

I know what you’re thinking. “Nick, first, this is supposed to be about the second entry in the Fable series. True, but as with any film series or book series, past entries always have to be taken into consideration. Quite simply, I found the first entry to have an entirely superficial good/evil dichotomy as well as the character creation mode. You couldn’t be some fisticuffs brawling/sniper hybrid or an axe-toting archmage. If you didn’t follow one of the “strength, skill, or will” paths to its uttermost end, selecting all of its respective skills and upgrades, (SPOILERS) the endgame fight with Jack of Blades was a miserable hair-pulling extravaganza. On top of this, everyone’s character tended to look the same by the end of the game: sporting the same set of class-relevant high-level armor. Everyone looked the same, acted either like Gabriel or Satan’s right-hand imp, and had the same skill-set abilities.

These are basically your only options in Fable. Disturbingly enough, most people didn’t have a problem being limited to either a canonized saint, or a supreme dick.
Granted, and allow this to be my minor digression for the article, Knights of the Old Republic, which I would marry if the State of California eventually gives me such an opportunity, is guilty of many of these crimes. The “light/dark” polarity is more influential on one’s gameplay, but the fact that one’s allegiance can be flipped at the tail end of the title trivializes one’s efforts up to that point. However, like Fable, throwing skill points around with reckless abandon and equipping anything but the uniformly best armor is not advised.

The only thing that convinced me to take a look at the title was it’s “50% off” tag at Circuit City. Thirty dollars tends to be my “I can afford to be wrong” limit. And, well, I was wrong about the Fable franchise. For those who were afraid that Fable 2 is “more of the same” and certainly didn’t enjoy what was handed out the first time, I have good news. The newest installment features much more intuitive controls, a larger world, and, above all, I’d argue that the “good/evil” mechanic has been improved.

For those that aren’t aware, probably one of the most intuitive mechanics that Fable 2 implements is the addition of man’s best friend. Adding a dog instead of, say, a “partner” or ally character might seem out of place with the advancements that have been made in “ally a.i.” but it works. It’s easy to become fed up with the ally that keeps getting in the way of your shots, or continues to repeat the same five phrases about just how awesome/awful a hero you are, or decides that his contribution in combat will be to binge drink your health potions. I’ve frequently been tempted to commit a little “friendly fire” of my own from time to time, though apparently Sega never thought to make it possible to drown Big the Cat in Sonic Adventure as I have attempted such so very, very many times.

Someone was sleeping behind the wheel in the design department when Big the Cat was created, another differently colored hedgehog would have done nicely, instead we got this social deviant.

Killing your own dog though? NOT okay, even the thought of such makes one a stage 5 deviant. It’s hard to get mad at a dog, too. Combat with a dog generally means that he won’t be getting in the way of your “headshots,” and all he demands for his services are a game of catch and a treat, instead of say, half the loot. Dogs don’t require that you buy them expensive equipment, and then decide to leave your party. Your canine companion also can assist in the unearthing of money and other items buried in the ground. He also has developed the ability to sniff out treasure chests. I won’t get into how improbable such a concept is, but let it be known that I don’t mind.

And yes, here is a picture of your dog. That I can explain. As for the member of the Lollipop Guild getting all up in my grill…that I can’t explain.

Fable 2 has also introduced a control configuration that is similar to that of Assassin’s Creed. Specifically, each button correlates to a certain sort of action, which can consequently be modified to control that sort of attack. For example, pressing “Y” will shoot whatever your selected ranged weapon is. Holding down “Y” will (with the technique purchased) zoom in for an over the shoulder targeting view. In the same vein, “X” handles all of your close combat issues. It’s intuitive, and will result in less rummaging around to locate the game manual.

The visuals are, love them or hate them, remarkably similar to the last entry: cartoony with bobblehead-esque proportioned bodies. Yes, your sneaker is still roughly twice the size of your torso in this title, but much of this is excused by the change in time periods. Taking place in the Enlightenment era, Albion is now focused on corsets and tri-corner hats. You can dress like a Zorro-esque highwayman, or “suit-up” in some traditional “noble” fare, if you find the situation demands such. I’ve never felt more girly, and yet proud of myself, than when I spent a half hour buying and dyeing my clothing in downtown Bowerstone. But hey, it does matter, in Fable 2 the clothes do make the man…err…or lass. Indeed, most articles of clothing can boost such factors as “attractiveness” or “posh” or “aggressive” which in turn alter how everyone else views you. Gone are the days of simply purchasing the strongest armor. In Fable 2 nobody has any!

I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played so far, I’ve gotten married, avoided having any children, have made quite a name for myself as a blacksmith in Bowerstone, go by the nickname “Gunslinger,” and recently defeated a bunch of reanimated corpses in the capitol city’s cemetary. You can, quite literally do anything in this game. I’ll add more later once I’ve gotten further.


    Nick White wrote
    at 2:48am on December 26th, 2008

    Fable 2, pshh…more like….*trying to think of something that rhymes with Fable that would be condescending*….Schmable 2. Tell David that if he played it for six hours straight, he’s only got a few hours left, that game’s freakin’ short. Which is why I didn’t buy it.

    As my dad always says… keep your words sweet because one day you may have to eat them.

    :) See you soon!

  • A very well written article. I really like your style. Keep up the good work ;)

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