Joined: 14 Oct 2002 Posts: 4121 Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:54 am Post subject: X360 catchup - fable2
I'm a bit late to the party on X360, but I've been playing some awesome games as I attempt to catch up.
Fable2 - wow, this is the must-have game on the system. I've never seen a game so well put together. It looks gorgeous. I don't mean it has better shaders or longer draw distance or higher poly count than game X, I mean it feels like it was made with love and it has quite a unique look and feel - an identity. I got the same feel from a lot of WoW i.e. really great artists were hired and then given the time to just make everything look \\"right\\". Remember the LOTR's film, the beginning where Frodo sets forth out of the shire, there is a think atmosphere to the place, everything is so pretty. This has the same vibe. I was almost put off initially, usually I prefer a more \"grown up\" evil realistic look, but F2s charms are irresistable.
One very impressive aspect of F2 is that both my wife and my daughter loved playing it, I think that speaks volumes for the game's appeal. So I've completed the game, downloaded all extra content and even kept playing a while until I'd created 3 different families, bought and upgraded all available propery and been crowned king!
The addition of the dog as your companion is genius. In Black&White the pet creature was just a pain in the ***, I think because it tried to do too much and often failed - it was just too unpredictable. In F2 the dog's functionality has been constrained and it's all the better for it. It never gets in the way, is a constant companion, aids in fights (but isn't critical to the outcome) and alerts you to hidden treasure, enemies and points of interest. Perfect. I had a genuine emotional attachment to the pooch!
Everything in the game is designed to be super easy to learn and use, the game does not want to punish it wants to reward. Being part of the hardcore gamer crowd that did put me off initially as a lot of the content is fairly shallow (i.e. magic and combat, etc) but there is just so much to do, so much to see, so much to collect and achieve that you are soon hooked.
The sword and the gun/crossbow are handled very well. Initially you just face an enemy and press the button. That's it. Very very easy for non-hardcore players to get into. Initially I was shocked at how shallow the system was, it gave button mashing a new meaning. However, as you level up you begin to unlock lots of little flourishes and enhancements that make combat really pleasurable. For example, you can time a sequence of sword attacks so they build into an impressive combo, take headshots with the gun and time reloads so you can kill a host of enemies in double time or use your sword just right to pull of a finishing move that beheads your foe.
At the end of the game it is possible to keep playing. Most games have unimportant side quests and achievements. F2 goes a bit further though, you can buy property, shops and market stalls, raise or lower prices, change rents, redecorate houses for better or worse. Your actions have consequences, people worship you or curse you and the poor flock onto the streets or the rich parade around. You can get married and setup families in different towns and raise children. Keeping that family together takes work, visit regularly, give money and gifts, entertain the kids. Just wonderful.
Inevitable down sides in no particular order:
Your character does start out young and ages, he gets scarred and he alters along the lines of good or evil, thin or fat, weak or strong. These aren't just plain stats that are changing, the character actually looks different. All very clever, but the downside is a lot of that character artwork has been pre-built so there isn't much room for customisation of the face.
The game wants you to get big, muscular, strong and sword fight your way through. Most games that offer multiple combat methods end up favouring one and F2 is no different. You can use magic and ranged weapons, but you cannot really decide to just follow one path i.e. a pure magic user. It just doesn't really work, because you just get mobbed. In fact you cannot really balance your combat abilities either, you just end up always relying on the sword.
Magic felt like a real let down to me. There are different types of magic spell but to keep things simple they are triggered with one button. So to blast of lots of weak spells quickly you just tap the button, to power up a major blast you hold it down. However, because there is only one button you have to pre-select a stack of spells (from weak to strong). So even though you may know 8 types of magic, you can only select one to be you \\"maximum power attack\\" and one to be your \\"minimum power attack\\", etc. So you can't really pick and choose spells quickly to suit different combat situations. Magic cannot be relied on too much either, because enemies tend to mob you and there is no way to hold them back. So most combat starts with one maximum power long range magical attack and then you are quickly onto the sword as you get mobbed. If you want to play that way then it's fine, lots of fun, but it would have been nice to be able to get more out of the magic system. I think nobody could come up with a better way of using magic on an X360 controller without making things a lot more complicated. Personally I would have just had the option to stop time while you switched to another spell off a pop up radial menu, plus the addition of more holding/teleport spells to keep mobs away from you while using magic.
The extra download content was dissapointing. With a game this good I had to have it and am glad I played through it, but it was quite uninspired compared to the main game. There is a simple mechanic in the game where you attack a target repeatedly, alternating between sword/magic/gun. It's used lightly in the main game and is useful training aid. The extra content packs rely on it excessively and ramp up the diffculty making it both dull and annoying. I can understand what happened, the main team are all on other projects, the fans are clammering for more, a handful of junior staff are assigned the job of making some extra content as fast as possible. It was always going to be a little dissapointing, but I'm glad they did it.
The ever lasting end game really hints at something big, something with a mmorpg level of retention. It feels like they were one step away from something that you could have played forever in an almost AnimalCrossing style. I think they made a concious decision not to do that and it does get boring after a while (if you keep playing after completing the game). The bandits in the wild never try to invade the \\"safe\\" areas and your forrays into bandit country never really make any difference. Such a shame, because they were close to a living breathing world that could have lasted a very long time. If they preiodically raised the level cap, added higher level items, timed events and created an enemy that was more dynamic then the game could have been a permanent favourite. Imagine AnimalCrossing with swords and orcs
I'm sure everyone has played it by now, but if you haven't then you should, but stick with it past the super easy early levels.
Joined: 25 Oct 2003 Posts: 1068 Location: Sydney, Land of Censorship
Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 9:31 am Post subject:
Worth noting: it's being released in episodes over Xbox Live - and the first episode is free (thought it may just be the "super easy early levels"). It is a bit of a hefty download though, at about 2 gigabytes.
Also worth noting: I don't know if it's out anywhere else yet, but in stores here I've seen the "Game of the Year" edition of the game, which comes with the game and all the available DLC.
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