May 14, 2008
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If there is one game this year I am looking forward to, it’s Fable 2. There is just something about Peter Molyneux’s presence as a developer and visionary that you just have to admire and respect as a gamer. Where everything from combat to the dog have been covered in the past, yesterday’s presentation focused on story and the roleplaying aspect of the game. Warning, spoilers ahead. The opening cut scene to Fable 2 with the bird flying around through Bowerstone just had that amazing cinematic movie feel to it. It’s that feeling you get when you know you are about to play (or see in this instance) a special game. The opening fly through in the world of Fable 2 looks photo real. In typical Lionhead fashion, the opening game cut scene actually ends quite hilariously with the bird you came to admire five seconds before poops on your head. Visually I immediately noticed Bowerstone had received some hefty visual upgrades since last E3. Everything seemed more polished visually.
But alas, this presentation is to start around the story. In Fable 2 you open as a child who is powerless. Molyneux this time around really wants to give the player the feeling of going from a powerless child to hero in a as true as can be simulation of a real life. This time around story was a huge point for him because he openly classified the story in Fable 1 as “rubbish”. Without spoiling to much the story seems a bit like something you have seen before but where the dog comes in story wise really makes sense as to why he is now your life long companion. To enhance the story in Fable 2 the game will feature interactive cut scenes and morphing. While Molyneux openly admits interactive cut scenes aren’t anything new in a game, what makes Fable 2’s unique is that your reaction to those cutscenes changes the way the cutscene plays out. For example, if someone is being mean in a cutscene and you make a gesture to them the cutscene changes to react to you.
The entire Fable world will morph over the course of your game and it never should morph the same twice. Your choices early in life will reflect later on in the game. When you are young, there is a quest to retrieve 5 arrest warrants that seem to have been misplaced. When you find them you have the choice to either turn them in to the police or to give them to the bad guys. If you decide to turn them into the bad guys, you will come back later in life to find the town a thieves den. If you turn it in to the police, the town becomes a legitimate trading post free of villainy.
The next major point Molyneux emphasized was that he wanted to create a free roaming game that was accessible to everyone. He wants people to sit down and play Fable 2 with their wives or girlfriends. Also tying into this innovation is the fact that he feels mini maps are very last generation. To make the game more accessible to new players and to also make the game innovative he introduced the bread crum trail. Not only will you have a dog companion but if you are on a quest the breadcrum trail will lead you to where you need to go next. If you wish to explore though and go off the path, you will also be able to do so and the trail will go away. While Molyneux did confirm you will not be able to turn it off, he did assure us it will not get in the way of the game.
Role playing wise you truly are free to do whatever you want. You can approach any building or camp and buy it. In the demo, we were shown a gypsy camp and if you actually are able to acquire everything in the camp you are known as the gypsy master. Little details will also make Fable engrossing. Children in the gypsy camp were acting out your adventures from Fable. If you gain enough fame in Fable 2 you will see small children acting out your story. Speaking of money, for those fearing the Xbox live arcade games may make money almost a useless commodity prior to the game’s arrival will be happy to know according to Molyneux there is over 100,000,00 (that’s right One hundred million dollars) worth of property and items to acquire in Fable 2.
During the presentation I got fortunate and asked the right question regarding balance between mixing a game with a new player and an experienced one which led to Peter Molyneux handing me the controller to play alongside the demo for approximately 10 minutes. The combat was unchanged from last E3 in that X was sword, Y was range, and B was used for magic. The combat also evolves as you level in Fable 2. When you start your combat is simply mashing and not very organized, but as you gain experience the combat becomes more rythmic. The one disappointing feature that has hit the cutting room floor is scarring from death. Unfortunately, when you die your hero no longer gets a scar on their face because Lionhead found most people would just reload their game to avoid the scarring anyway. All in all, I am very excited for Fable 2 and it does look like it’s going to make it’s release later this year. Keep it tuned here for an interview with Peter Molyneux regarding the game.
Tags: Fable 2, Xbox 360