Fable 2: First Impressions

Fable 2, for the Microsoft XBOX 360, released in North America on October 21st and is one of the most anticipated games for the platform.  Fable 2 is the sequel to the extremely popular Fable from the original XBOX.

Fable 2 is a fantasy action console role playing game (Fantasy JRPG) with many aspects brought in from adventure gaming.  The graphics on the 360 are astounding.  Possibly the best of this style that I have yet seen on a console.  Quite impressive.

For my first impression, I manage to play Fable 2 for approximately two hours and made it through the “tutorial” section of the game.  The game does a great job of making the introduction to the game simple and fun and introduces new control concepts in an almost transparent manner so that the game begins immediately and goes straight into the story with the player able to begin taking part right away.

In Fable 2 you choose to play either Sparrow or Rose, who are brother and sister.  Unlike many RPGs, you do not spend a lot of time customizing your character at the beginning of the game.  You simply choose to play the boy or the girl and from there your character is modified by the decisions that you make within the game.  I like this approach as it lends itself to better story telling and makes the growth of your character more natural.

Fable 2 is an action RPG but the action is handled in a very fun, smooth way that I think will appeal to a lot of players.  I really appreciate the ease of having your melee weapon readied under the X button, ranged weapon under the Y and a magic attack under B.  This method is very quick to learn, easy to use under pressure and not so complicated as to make the game not fun for those of us who tend to prefer our RPG’s without an action element while still providing a lot of fun for those who do.  I really like the blend.

Overall, my first two hours with Fable 2 were completely enjoyable.  It is not often that I am this thrilled with a video game the first time that I have played it.  I am very excited to spend some time just exploring the game world, Albion.  The Fable series is known for having a short main plot with extensive potential side quests, missions and projects.  I’m sure that in Fable 2 I will be looking for opportunities to spend as much time in the game world as possible.

One feature that I really appreciate is the integrated “cut scene” system.  I have not yet seen a game using this particular innovation and it is a great way of handling traditional cut scenes.  The way that it works is that the scenes themselves are built into the game world and rendered just like the regular game.  When you approach an area with a “cut scene” you get a little symbol telling you that a “cut scene” is available.  You can choose to watch the scene with the use of one of the left buttons.  As long as you hold the button the camera zooms in on the action in which you should be interested.  As soon as you no longer want to watch simply release the button and the action continues from your normal perspective.  It works beautifully.

In many ways, Fable 2 appears to play a lot like a more traditional adventure game with a strong, integrated plot.  Character development, from a skills and spells perspective, is much less central to the game than in a more traditional RPG.  From my initial perspective, the game seems a lot more focused on real, engaging gameplay than on game mechanics that bog down so many otherwise entertaining titles.  Fable 2 has enough story line and little enough interruption that my wife, Dominica, even enjoys just watching me play.

The voice acting is quite good as well.  Much of the beginning of the game has constant narration which really provides the feeling that you are playing a movie.  The mix of narration, voice acting and the integrated cut scenes really pulls you into the game.

My first impression is that this is an extremely interesting RPG title for the XBOX 360 and has justified the intense anticipation which it has garnered recently.  If you are looking for an innovative and enjoyable RPG on the console platform definitely check out Fable 2.  I hope to review it again when I have completed the game.

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