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 Fable II Professional review- Game Directors

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Posts : 52
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Join date : 2010-11-17
Age : 23

PostSubject: Fable II Professional review- Game Directors   Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:28 pm

A decade of hyperbole and a big pile of promises later, and Lionhead has finally, thankfully, released its best game to date, Fable II, even if in Peter Molyneux tradition it doesn't quite deliver on every promise.

Off the bat, Fable II's let down by an overly-hand-holding opening section which, after the fanfare surrounding the removal of nearly any sort of HUD, the scrapping of all cut-scenes and the usual Lionhead promise of letting you shape the world as you see fit, is a slightly disappointing way to start off your epic quest.

Your experience as a child is fairly linear with tutorials dealt out at machine gun pace, and you're constricted to the point where the game even tells you to go to bed. It's a shame because once you put your lad years behind you Fable II really is a wonderfully crafted, absorbing adventure, and Lionhead mostly avoids the mistakes it made with the original.

The sequel takes place a few hundred years after the events of Fable and Albion's moved into more of a Renaissance era than the original's medieval period. The time of magic and heroes has been long forgotten in Fable II's world, and naturally it's up to you as a lad (or lass) treading the path of a hero to bring back the old legends and save the world.

As always, choice is at the center of Fable II's adventure, whether it be good or evil, fat or thin, kick or kiss (you get the idea).

Although the surprising part is that Fable II manages to present this slightly over-played theme of moral choice in a refreshingly un-clichéd manor in the main quest, with almost none of the 'kill/don't kill?' sequences from the first game, but stuff much more compelling.

Video of Bowerstone:

This time around Lionhead seems to understand the strengths of Fable's formula, and more often than not your adventure revolves around building your reputation (or "renown") around Albion rather than subjecting you to obvious 'save prisoner or set him on fire?' moral choices.

You can build up your reputation with the inhabitants of Albion by performing quests, defeating notorious bandit bosses or showing off your trophies with the townsfolk (via a social command). Once your hero career gets rolling you can even pay a sculptor to erect statues of you around town.

The process of wooing the townsfolk of Albion is made really enjoyable thanks to a massive selection of social commands, ranging from dances to farts to giving someone the finger. The way the world reacts to your actions is really compelling and you'll find yourself role-playing for your own amusement, with stats liberally ticking from villager's heads in reaction.

But for the few clearly signposted decisions that are in the game, Fable II has in many ways finally succeeded in creating some of those Jack Bauer-style "emotional choices" every game from the current generation has promised - and failed - to deliver.

You won't find yourself crying onto your control pad or shouting hallelujah that your mate Harry the bandit survived, but you will spend a good few minutes pondering various decisions during your quest - which on its own adds massive brownie points to the whole RPG experience.

They have genuine consequences too - and not just in the plot. You'll sometimes be put in a position to choose between doing something evil, or keeping your morality at the sacrifice of some of your hard-earned XP. That, believe us, has you contemplating your options. Unless, of course, you actually want to be evil.

The dialogue is funnier and snappier than ever, and once again it's a real joy to discover that Lionhead rarely wonders into cliché territory with its in-game speech - and when it does it mocks the trends.

Yet, despite the abundance of great voice acting from various British talent (we killed Billy from Eastenders), the lip-syncing and facial animation (outside of the excellent social commands) by Molyneux's own admission is a bit ropey. But this is mostly forgivable thanks to the lack of cut-scenes - you never really see anything up close.

When we were sent off to meet the powerful heroine Hannah (or 'Hammer') instead of the slim, big-breasted femme-fatal we were expecting we were introduced to a tardy red-headed lass with a West-country accent, and she was more interested in keeping the order of her pacifist monk cult than eating pies or some other stereotype, which shows that Lionhead at least has grown as a narrative studio. We still farted on her, though.

You don't even notice your canine companion (when he's actually working how he should) there at all. Chasing your pooch companion to a treasure chest he's just barked to your attention feels totally natural, and teaching him tricks - including the ability to take a leak on command - adds a whole new layer on the social side. Again, he's not the tear-inducing virtual love object it was hyped to be, but another notable and significant layer on the pie.

The combat system is one of Fable II's highlights. The decision to dedicate melee attacks entirely to the X button, thanks to clever combination and timed attacks, makes for a simple but satisfying experience.

For the first few hours you're stuck with basic button-mashing attacks until you amass enough XP to upgrade, which probably isn't the best idea for introducing people to what's actually one of our favourite adventure game combat mechanics in a while.

Eventually, after investing XP into your sword swiping, you'll unlock satisfying flurries (executed by holding X and pressing the direction you want to lunge), useful counter-moves (performed by pressing X as an opponent attacks) and devastating combos (pulled off by chaining together X button presses at just the right time).

Ranged combat meanwhile properly keeps the FPS player happy; you can nail enemies with your cross bow from a third-person, GTA-style lock-on view, or zoom in with an over-the-shoulder aiming reticule for more precise shots. Through upgrades you can improve your accuracy, speed or even aim for specific parts of a target's body using the right stick.

Add all that together and you've truthfully got a combat system that's easy to use, but tricky to master. Our Nans could quite easily mash at the pad, but they're not pulling off the sword-swipe combos we've got going on with our timed button presses.

Once again, Fable II is all about choice. If you don't want to bother with Albion's troubles you can ignore the main quest and - like we did - setup shop as a humble blacksmith, build enough cash to buy a big house and then rent it out to the poor for a stream of profit every five minutes - even when you're not playing.

Fable II offers an even more unique side quest experience at the end of the game when you can finally afford to buy the big castle at the top of the hill, marry a barmaid, have kids and create your very own Bowerstone credit crisis.

This undeniably huge layer of the Fable experience promises to become even more important with the introduction of a day-one co-op patch, which as we're sure you can guess we haven't been able to try out in our version of the game.

It's all come together nicely then. Fable II is definitely for a certain breed of gamer; it's the Ying to Fallout 3 and Oblivion's Yang. If you're the sort of gamer content with making your own fun, breaking into people's houses and doing a chicken impression at the end of the bed, then this is the adventure game for you.

Fable II fixes the wrongs of the original Fable - mainly in the structure and storyline areas where at times it proved to be a bit of a mess - and fleshes out the bits that worked, like the absurd but charming social commands and simple but satisfying experience system.

After a sluggish opening the game grows into an incredibly fleshed out, absorbing adventure world where wasting your time blowing kisses at bar maids, teaching your dog to play dead and building your career as a woodcutter doesn't feel like wasted time at all.

It's still not the revolutionary piece of software Mr. M lauded it to be, but Fable II finally sees Lionhead's original concept realised, and all round it's clearly the developer's best game to date. Well done Peter, you finally did it.

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