December 28, 2008

Review: Fable 2

While Doegab continues his delightful winter vacation, I am left to man the helm. Continuing on with the Holiday reviews, (I guess the only thing that makes this a "holiday" review at this point is when I'm posting it because Fable 2 came out way back in October.) I've decided to review Fable 2. I've been putting this one off for a while because, well, it pains me to say the things I'm about to say. Fable 2 is a strange game indeed. I hate it when games don't live up to the hype and I also hate when they're full of empty promises. Unlike the first game, Fable 2 takes the route of the former. Yes, Peter Molyneux made good on his promises this time around. Everything he promised actually made it into the game, just not as you'd expect. Maybe it's a good thing the first Fable was so much of a disappointment because, looking back, it ended up being the far superior game. Don't get me wrong, Fable 2 is a decent role playing experience but the role playing experience it was supposed to become.

What we have with Fable 2 is essentially a dumbed-down version of the original Fable with a few bells and whistles that make it seem better but ultimately add nothing. So, it's Fable with a new coat of paint... only less fun. I commend Molneux for trying to implement some truly unique mechanics into his game, but it seems the execution is way off. One button combat seems nice on paper but I actually find it kind of boring. It's supposed to make the action flow faster, and it does, but it also seems too simple. Except, that is, if you're trying to doge. Whoever had that idea to design the controls so you hold X to block but then have to tap A+direction to strafe is a complete moron. But basically what it comes down to is mashing buttons. No strategy needed at all. Simply mash buttons until everything is dead. Mash button to use sword, mash button to use magic, mash button to use gun- and feel free to mash away all you want because your ammo and magic is unlimited.

Oh, your also invincible. Ever since games began to evolve into something more complex then blob of colored blocks killing blob of different colored blocks, gamers have always realized that having your character die and then simply restart isn't very realistic. In the real world, if you die, your gone forever. Then again, that wouldn't make for very fun gameplay, would it? But the other extreme isn't much better. Having your character get knocked out for all of thirty seconds and having you loose a random amount of experience that you can easily gain back in another thirty seconds isn't realistic either. Nor fun. This makes the game way to easy. Mash buttons, health depletes, get up, mash buttons, health depletes, get up, and on and on and on ad infinitum. Playing through Fable 2 reminded me of a game of Gauntlet, except less fun. Which reminds me, the multiplayer sounds good as well but doesn't quite measure up in the end. I like the idea of playing mindless mash fest with a friend, but the camera is kind of wonkey when you do and the game doesn't let you even use your own freaking character. Nope, you have to use Mr. Default man in a variety of flavors with a variety of default weapons. In fairness, you can give Mr. Default all of your skills but then again if your going to do that, why not go ahead and let me play as my obese pirate why don't you?

To keep the game's simple theme intact, the developers seem to have opted for the same communicate-with-gestures interaction. It actually seems to fit better now that the game is simpler as a whole. The weapons and magic I can't say the same for, however. I don't know about you, but I liked having a lot of nice spells and weapons to choose from. Now we get about 6 spells and 6 swords that are upgradable. For example you can get a katana in steel or iron, or an ax in steel or iron. You can upgrade your magic to shoot more lightning bolts. That's fine and dandy, but that didn't mean you had to take out everything else. Why can't we upgrade 20 different swords and 20 different spells?

For all the bashing I do of the game, it does have a few things going for it. It's more expansive for one. Not as expansive as I would have liked, but it's far less linear then the first game. That's something, right? There's no map (come to think of it, the world is kind of small by today's RPG standards), but the breadcrumb trail is nifty. It doesn't always work as it should, but it's not annoying like I thought it would be and always eventually leads you on your way. Your dog isn't bad either. He can actually help you in combat and he seeks out dig spots and treasure for you (more the treasure hunting than the combating, though) though you can never get rid of him. His barking does get annoying upon occasion. There are also some cool throwbacks to the original game for fans to uncover, including the entire plot which is basically the same thing all over again.

So what do I think of Fable 2 overall? I've never been so disappointed with a big budget game. If you played the first game, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you haven't but are a fan of the genre, it's a decent RPG if you can put up with all of the mindless gold-collecting minigames. Either way, though, unless you're absolutely dying to try it, I say save your money. There are tons of better RPGs on the market for much less money. Save your money for something better and if you get an itch for some Fable goodness, just play the first one again or pick up a copy of The Lost Chapters if you haven't already.

Visuals: 8- Art style is pretty good, graphics don't look a whole lot different from the last game.
Controls: 6- It's hard to score this. Simple, yes, but in the process they're more complex.
Gameplay: 5- So very broken.
Sound: 8- One of the game's stronger suits, though I'm not a big fan of the score... still.
Replay Value: 7- Again, it's hard to score this. There's a bunch to do, but once you finish the main quest, there's really no reason to keep playing.

Overall: 7/10- I GENEROUSLY give this game a seven. It tries hard, though it fails often, but I respect the fact that it tries when most games today might not. It's not bad- just average.

The most overrated game of the year.

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