Oct 22, 2008

Fable II: Early Impressions

Man, what a whirlwind this morning at work. Need a sanity check - Ditlog take me away!

I got started with Fable II last night. Well OK, I played for like 6 hours… I’m really enjoying it. Not lightning-struck like I’d been with Morrowind or WoW or anything, but definitely enjoying it.

The moral choices set before your character, and their impact on the world around you, seem very well-implemented so far. The world, the characters, and all the events within it seem cohesive, interconnected and believable.

The mechanism for interacting with the average citizen, however, is not. Your character doesn’t talk, and can only communicate with fellow citizens through a short list of emote functions. This leaves the player feeling like a Cro-Magnon, unable to articulate his thoughts to his neighbors other than via mimed threats, idiotic dancing or whistling, or clumsily-juvenile romantic or lewd gesticulations.

Maybe times have changed, but when I was single it took more than whistling a few tunes, striking a pose, and performing a ridiculous Russian dance to convince my intended paramour to come home with me, or even sillier, accept my hand in marriage. (Or maybe I’m just that bad a dancer?) Not so in Albion.

The combat system is button-mashy and light, but becomes a bit deeper as your character gains in experience. I’m enjoying it so far, even though none of the enemies – in any quantity – pose you any tangible threat.

I’m a huge sucker for games that provide a palpable sense of exploration though, and Fable II delivers in spades. Albion is a visceral and wondrous fairly tale land, albeit with a bit of a dark side. One can sprint myopically from one quest to the next, but straying from Fable’s ingenious “glowing bread crumb trail” to check out what’s down the next fork in the path, under a bridge, or behind a copse of trees is almost always rewarding and satisfying.

Oh, one last comment. A few of the press reviews have commented on the frame rate. At this point, I've not encountered any hiccups that were noticeable. So far, the engine is handling Albion's sprawling vistas remarkably well. Now The Force Unleashed on the other hand? Those were some frame rate issues!

More as my game progresses…

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