Candice and I are cat-sitting for Lisa’s kitty, Winkle, which means that Winkle is curled up beside me and I’m (typing, and) watching Candice play Fable 2 on the 50+ inch 1080P TV (I have to admit Fable 2 looks really good on the big, high-def screen). Here are a few early thoughts on the title:
- Graphics: I played Fable 1 for about 20 minutes to remind myself of that game, and then popped in Fable 2. I was hugely impressed by the differences. In fact, when the game started I didn’t do anything because I thought I was in a cutscene. There’s some pop-in and you’ll see areas re-light. There’s fog of war and motion blur. There are frame rate dips. But those are somewhat standard and to say any more than that is to nitpick unfairly. This game is gorgeous.
- Exploration: The world feels big. In Fable 1, there’s a mini-map when you enter an area. It shows you the exits and roughly what the area looks like. I think that made areas feel smaller and your travel through them more efficient; in Fable 2, they moved the mini-map to the start menu (hiding it) and enlarged the areas. It feels like you can just wander anywhere.
- Combat: I’m a fan of lots of early combat. I feel like it helps me understand the game mechanics better. Fable 2 doesn’t have much combat early on. I took on a quest to kill 100 Hollow Men and that felt like my first real combat fun.
- Interface 1: I know the project lead, Peter Molyneux, hates elements on the interface. He says it distracts from immersion and reminds you that you’re playing a game. That’s odd because Fable 2 gives you a glowing trail that tells you where to go. Personally, I love it. But it can feel a bit like cheating.
- Interface 2: I’m very frugal with my gear. So when I see that an item heals me 26 points, I don’t want to use it unless I am 26 or more points away from full. Unfortunately, your health bar is just a red squiggle. You never know if the item you’re using is overkill for healing. I find that mildly annoying.
- Interface 3: The d-pad is bound to different things. It might let you heal your dog or do a heroic pose or eat some food. It bothered me in Fable 1 that you couldn’t pick what was there. It also bothered me that I might accidentally do something I didn’t intend to because the context suddenly changed (kind of like hitting Y to get more information about a targeted person, but then they walked away and now Y makes you pull out a weapon and scare everyone). Nothing has changed in Fable 2.
- Story: I feel like they hit a good balance between maintaining tension and allowing a more relaxed pace. You feel pulled along by the story but at the same time you can relax and wander off to the side and get into the world. Obviously, I’ll comment on the actual story when I’ve gotten further into the game.
- Side-Plots: Speaking of wandering off to the side, there’s a lot of fun stuff to do. I spent an hour or two working as a blacksmith, making swords for money. You can also take part in non-story related quests. You can dig around for treasures. You can buy shops or rent out homes. You can play cards and other pub games. The list goes on. I only wish it impacted your character – kind of like how it worked in GTA: San Andreas where working out was a fun mini-game but it also improved your character.
- The Dog: I really like the dog. I wasn’t sure if it would work but so far it completely does. I feel an attachment to it, both because of its body language and its usefulness; I love how he finds places for you to dig and helps you in fights by attacking downed foes. He can even complement your expressions. And I thought it was cute to see Candice get mad at a baddie after he kicked her dog. 🙂
- Multi-player: I haven’t played around with multi-player yet, though Candice is playing now to get her character set up. Then we can play together. We’ll see how that is.
This post is longer than the usual so I’ll stop there.