There is a statue of me in Fairfax gardens. A statue of me with no pants on.
I’ve been playing Fable 2 since Tuesday, and generally I like it. It’s a pretty enjoyable game, but it also, once again, falls short of the revolutionary game that was suggested/promised.
It is a very fun game, let me start off with that. Even with its drawbacks it is a fun game. But still, while it does a lot of neat stuff, when all of that stuff is thrown into a pot it seems less like an organic, living world, and more like a series of systems that each handle one thing, and are pretty obvious about it.
Take interacting with other citizens of Albion, for instance. All you’re really doing is manipulating a series of sliders, Sims-style, by spamming a bunch of super cartoony expressions. You don’t feel like you’re playing a character, so much as just playing a system to get the outcome you want.
Same goes with the whole “choice” and “do you want to be good or evil” motif the game touts. It takes practically nothing at all to swing your sliders one way or another. Within a few hours of the game, my guy was already an evil paragon, with the horns and all. I was pretty disappointed, all it took was a few murders and a bit of thievery. It was pretty disappointing, and I don’t doubt that I could swing him back to full good just as easily.
Same goes for physical appearance. I thought it was neat that your character could get fat if you didn’t eat healthy. However when you eat three pies and suddenly your character is fat in the blink of an eye, it sort of ruins any immersion and presents itself as just another very simple game mechanic.
They said Fable 2 would be very open, very non-linear, but instead all we got was more options of linear-paths. You can only jump over/off about half of the fences/ledges in the game, and there are still a ton of invisible walls preventing you from truly taking the paths you want to take. They still use trees and rocks to direct you where they want you to go. Don’t expect Oblivion-esque openness here.
Co-op also leaves a bit to be desired, unfortunately. You can’t bring your character’s appearance or weapons into someone else’s game, you come in as a generic henchman. I can understand this, at least, because you want the Hero to remain the hero in his own world, and not be upstaged. Okay, fine. But why on earth, when connecting over XBL, are you limited to same-screen co-op, with no power over the camera? This does not make much sense to me, and it ends up hampering what would otherwise be an extremely enjoyable co-op experience.
There’s more than enough great stuff about Fable 2 to create a very enjoyable game, and I fully intend to keep playing it right up until October 28th. However I also just wish they’d stop leading us to believe that Fable was going to be more than it actually is.