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In Peter Molyneux’s last installment of Fable, he made a lot of promises that, in the end, left some gamers disappointed. This isn’t the say that the first Fable wasn’t a great game, it certainly was, but there was a high bar that just wasn’t crossed. For Fable 2, the promises made were still many and great, and thankfully, many of them were fulfilled to their fullest extent. I’m happy to say that Fable 2 is better, longer, and more enjoyable than Lost Chapters or Fable 1.

Fable 2 takes place roughly 500 years after that last game. All the previous Heroes have died out, except for you of course. In this game, there is no my-tiny-rural-village-was-burned-down-so-I-need-to-fight type of intro like the last game. Instead, it opens with you, as a child in a city called Bowerstone. You’re poor and hungry, but there is hope in a tiny music box. It’s pretty obvious where it goes from there. One of the things that made Fable famous was the ability to truly choose your own path. In Fable 2, this idea has been stepped up to the next level. Your choices have lasting and dramatic effects on the world as a whole. For example, if you choose to help the guards in Bowerstone, the city will remain prosperous. However, if you choose to help the criminals, the city will be in shambles when you come back. The weight that is added to each choice you make truly makes it feel like that you’re making a difference in the world.

The game manages to really engage the player, making you feel lasting connections with the things you interact with. You feel a connection to your wife or husband, you feel a connection to your children, and most importantly, you feel a connection to your dog. The dog is probably one of the best additions to the game, if not the best. He is with you throughout the entire game, right up till the final and most dramatic choice in the game. I felt such a connection with him that I often got worried when I didn’t seem him near me, and I got incredibly angry when someone kicked him. It may seem silly, but it’s amazing how a character who never speaks (just barks when he finds treasure) can become so attached to you. Sometimes his programming would be a little wonky. For example, sometimes he would say he found something but not move to show me where it was. However, these problems were scarce.

The dialogue and writing in the game are absolutely hilarious at times. The quotes in the loading screens always offer some sort of interesting tid bit about Albion, and the descriptions of many of the items in the game are laugh-out-loud funny sometimes too. The new golden trail of light is helpful in that it leads you to your objective, preventing the player from getting lost and frustrated. However, sometimes it would disappear and lead me in the opposite direction. It’s not perfect, but it works. The leveling system has also been overhauled. No longer do you need to travel all the way back to the Hero’s Guild to upgrade your abilities (strength, skill, will). Now, you can do it on the fly, whenever you want to. This is a great addition because it stopped the frustration that usually came from me having to travel backwards to go forwards. There are also jobs now that offer a way to make money other than stealing and killing like the first game. Most of these are the same minigame and can get boring, but they are somehow engaging at the same time. I found myself playing for hours and making tons of gold in the process.

Battle is largely the same, save for the addition of new weapons. Instead of bows like the first Fable, there are now rifles and pistols and the occasional crossbow. These are separated into sub categories much like the swords are (Rusty, Iron, Steel, Master). It is necessary to note that the spell system has been overhauled. Now spells are put into a list, with level ones at the bottom then going up. As you cast your spell, you hold down the button to charge it up. This adds an extra layer of strategy as you go through because you can switch between spells as you charge depending on the order.

There are a lot of things that are great about Fable 2, and I mean that, but that isn’t to say that there aren’t any flaws. The most notable one is the lack of a world map. The only thing you get is a tiny map of the region you are in. I wish that they would have put in a dedicated screen for the map, and a world map never hurts. Similarly, it pained me to have to sit through a long loading screen every time I entered a new section of the world. It would have been okay if it was a few here and there between cities and the main overworld, but here it was even in the cities. Especially with games like GTA4 that have no loading screens, the presence of them here in such a large game is disappointing. There were times when the game would glitch on me too. It was more than once that I saw some clipping issues with the characters, including mine. I even fell through the floor once! There is even one mission that I can never complete because it starts over whenever I try to complete my objective. The menu system was sometimes a bit slow, but usually sped up as the game warmed up a bit.

With stunning cinematics, entertaining writing, and an extremely engaging story, Fable 2 proves to be an incredibly satisfying game. Throw in the fact that there are countless amounts of side quests to do, and you have one hell of a re-playable game. This is one that I will definitely be booting up for months to come. The lack of a world map, some clipping issues, and some programming problems add noticeable scars to the game. It’s obvious that it would have benifitted from a month or two more polish. Though, this game is entertaining through and through and deserves a spot in any gamer’s collection.

9/10

These past two years have really been good for gaming. There have been so many amazing games that have been released, such as Mass Effect or Call of Duty 4. This holiday season promises even more amazing games, and for a gamer like me, that means that my wallet is going to get a lot lighter. Below is a list of some games I’m really, really, really excited for.

Rock Band 2: What is there to say? It’s the sequel to one of the first games to do full band gameplay well. Not to mention that the setlist is guaranteed to be gigantic, with new songs coming out every week, and the ability to have all of the original Rock Band songs and all the ones you have downloaded. I think my head is going to asplode.

Spore: Will Wright is a real genius. If you haven’t heard about him, then maybe you’ve heard of a little game named the Sims? Yeah, that’s Will’s brain child. He’s not working on the new Sims 3, because he is putting all his energy into Spore. When I watched the demo video for this game, I nearly peed myself. Seriously, I thought I needed new pants. This game has been released recently, and has been met with lackluster reviews. Something about DRM. Is that really such a big deal? I don’t think so. I great game is a great game, DRM or no DRM. UPDATE: With the help of the sis, I did some more research on Spore’s DRM, and have concluded that it is a big deal. Hopefully EA will get their shit together. Then again, I can’t really say. I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy, but when I do, don’t expect me to update for a while except to say “ZOMG SPORE!1” The only thing I’m worried about is the planets that are going to be filled with penis-monsters once I start space exploration.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: I’ve recently just played the demo for this. I have to say, that it’s really fun to go and obliterate storm troopers with a nice force push. Even better is to throw a TIE Fighter at a group of those guys. I’ve read reviews, and they haven’t been the best either. I think I’ll have to rent this game before I dish out 60 big ones for it. Still, I maintain that impaling a storm trooper whilst throwing him through the air is one of the best things ever.

Fable 2: I absolutely loved playing Fable 1. There’s something about being able to choose your own path when playing a game that really makes it great. The hype around Fable 2 is enormous, and I hope that Peter Molyneux can fully deliver on all his promises. From the screen shots I’ve seen, the game looks really promising and if it’s anything like the first one, I’m sure I’ll love it.

Fallout 3: Any self respecting gamer has heard about the Fallout series. Fans have waited years for the next installment, and it’s finally here. This amazing shooter, RPG, strategy hybrid set in a post-apocalyptic world is sure to please even the most discriminate among us. Unfortunately, I don’t really know much about the game itself, but from the screenshots, it’s looking really good. I guess I have to wait until October 28th to find out.

Gears of War 2: This is another game that I’m sure I’ll love. When I first got this game, I obsessed over it for months trying to do every single thing. The multiplayer wasn’t the best in the world, but it was one of the first games that I’ve seen do online co-op really well. CliffyB is one of my favorite people in the video game business, and this game promises to be, in his words, “bigger, better, and more badass.”

Mirror’s Edge: This is from the makers of the Battlefield series. It’s a little weird to see them making something other than their standard flavor of shooter, but the screens for this game look really interesting. The thing that really got me excited about this game is that it’s pretty much a first person parkour game. I’m really excited to see how they accomplish making the moves realistic seeing as how all the animation is done by hand. The style that this game is done in is also really interesting. It looks really simplistic, mostly white but highlighted by paths of orange, and clean but is still really detailed. I can’t wait till this baby finally gets released and from what I’ve heard, that would be the 24th of November.

By the way, Apple has recently released the next generation of iPod.