Fable 2 First Impressions

Last night I finally got a chance to get in some quality time with Fable 2. Before I get into that, I have to say XBox 360 #3 performed flawlessly (*knock on wood*) and is a lot quieter than the first two I’ve had. I didn’t hate using the 360 last night, and its been quite a while since I could make that claim.

So let’s get the bad out of the way first. Fable 2 could use a final run through the polishing cycle. It feels a bit rough in some pretty subtle ways. You can often get ‘stuck’ for a moment on a small change in height of the terrain, for instance (there’s no Jump so normally you just step up automatically). It can feel “fiddly” targeting a specific individual in order to interact with them.

I’d heard there was treasure underwater at times, and I’d envisioned swimming down, breath bar dwindling, exploring the bottom of a lake. Instead, you swim on the surface until you see a DIVE icon floating over the surface of the water, at which point you hit A and your character vanished below the surface then reappears with treasure. It works but feels like a missed opportunity.

These are certainly not game breakers, though. On the positive side, the game looks very nice and I’m really enjoying the voice acting. There’s a ton of stuff going on all around you and towns really do feel “alive” in many ways. Combat is still simple at my low “level” but that doesn’t prevent it from feeling fun and satisfying. The story hasn’t really gotten underway, but feels like it has potential.

A lot of fuss was made about your dog in the previews, and it was warranted. You know how most games indicate enemies near by via “combat music” starting to play? In Fable 2, you know there’s danger near because your dog starts growling and barking. This sounds trivial but it makes a huge difference to me. Feels very immersive. And your pup does all the nit-picky exploration for you, too. No need to look into every little crack and crevice; if there’s treasure in there your dog will point it out to you.

The only major downside for me is the glowing quest trail thingie. At all times, there’s a glowing trail showing exactly where you need to go. This isn’t a bad feature, but I’m a bad player. I feel like I’m being nagged by it, so rather than wander around and explore I find myself constantly chasing the trail. You can make it dimmer, or even turn it completely off. I’m going to try playing that way next time, and see how much of a chore turning it on and off is. In an ideal world, there’d bit a quick button press to toggle it.

Again, this isn’t a generalized complaint about the game; its more a psychological glitch in my internal systems. Nothing in the game prevents you from totally ignoring the glowy trail and doing whatever you want. But I just find its constantly tugging at me, urging me to stop messing about and get on with things.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I know is in the game (from reading about other’s experiences) and I can’t wait to dig deeper in. I don’t own a home or have a wife yet. I don’t own any businesses. I still only know one spell. I did take on a job as a blacksmith for a while; this exists in-game as a mini-game of timed button presses that felt curiously satisfying. I was even excited to get a promotion. 🙂

So far, so good. I’m not loving it as much as some people who are totally over-the-moon about the game; at least not yet. But it’s definitely an awful lot of fun so far. Let’s hope it holds up!