First impressions: Fable 2

I finally dusted off the Xbox 360 Saturday night with the idea of trying something different. Well, familiar and different at the same time.

Back in 2005, I picked up Fable: The Lost Chapters for the Xbox after poring over several reviews. I promptly had one of those epic sessions that you can have with a game that totally captivates you, playing about 12 hours over two days, learning the ropes, questing and exploring. At the time, I was even more of a novice with RPGs than I am now, and it was the perfect game for me at the time: easy to play, interesting, graphically beautiful, and chock-full of a variety of English accents. I beat the game twice; the first time I was “good,” and the second time I was “evil” for about half of the game, and then decided to try out the trick of paying a boatload of gold at the Temple of Light, which would restore your reputation to turn even the most evil person good. It worked. I started a couple of additional saves, but by 2007 I was starting to get into WoW, and Fable was becoming old hat.

I was excited during the years of anticipation that so many of us experienced before the release of Fable 2, and I did pick it up on its release date in October 2008, but I never played it. I was playing WoW, and that game has taken priority over every other game for me for a while now. Every time I’ve gotten the itch to play a different game, WoW has grabbed me by the hand and turned my face back to hers. And so Fable 2 has remained un-played in its case… until Saturday night.

In the mood for something different, I fired up the 360 after dinner and took the plunge. A few things became apparent very quickly:

  1. Many aspects of the game have been improved over the first one.
  2. Some have not, and one thing that particularly vexes me is the removal of the first game’s mini map from the display. I find it borderline frustrating to have to pause the game and go into the menu to see which direction I’m heading along the road and in town.
  3. My console-controller navigation and character control skills are pretty awful. Using a mouse and keyboard for WoW has spoiled me, which is, now that I think about it, one point in favor of picking up Dragon Age: Origins for Mac over the 360 version (I still have not decided yet with that game…). It’s a good thing the game is easy, because I might not otherwise be able to enjoy it with my controller-challenged hands.
  4. I’ve missed the music. The variations on Danny Elfman’s theme from the first game are perfect for the Fable 2 experience.
  5. I had read that it was much more difficult to acquire gold than in the first game, at least without some capable gambling skills/luck. It’s not. I’ve made plenty of gold so far by picking up some jobs, and I haven’t even bought a piece of property yet (they earn you income every five minutes if you rent them out, even when you’re not playing!).

There is more that I could comment on, but this isn’t a review. I am barely a couple of hours in, and I play slowly anyway – I know that some people can finish the game in five to ten hours, but I’m not that type of player. I may write some more on this game later.

I did borrow a used copy of Dragon Age for 360 yesterday, and intend on trying it out this weekend just for kicks. Hopefully it will help me make up my mind to buy it for one format or the other. I’ll share my thoughts on that once I give it a shot.

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