Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fable 2: part one

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but now that I’ve finally finished the game, I’m ready to give the special review I promised on what may very well be, the most highly lauded RPG of the year. For anyone who hasn’t played the game already and doesn’t want any spoilers of any kind, I suggest you skip the first section of this review entitled: "The Beginning".

The Beginning: I wandered through the street with my sister, the town was a strange eerie place covered with cobbled stoned streets and lined with buildings that seemed odd and crooked. Sarah and I saw something up ahead as we walked down the road. A crowd had gathered and she was curious enough so that she insisted we go and see what was happening. A traveling salesman had come to town, and he had with him an assorted number of items he claimed where magic. One of which was a box he said would grant the owner one wish. Naturally, Sarah scoffed at the idea. A magic wish granting box…? Who would ever believe in such a thing? And I agreed with her, even though I knew better. A mysterious woman in a hood seemed to materialize out of nowhere. She appeared blind and spoke in an ancient, wizened old tone. She suggested that we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the possibility of the box being magic and belief in itself…is sometimes all one needs. 5 gold pieces…the price was steep, perhaps too steep for a pair of poor street urchins, but eventually we were able to gather the pieces of gold, making a new friend –a dog- along the way and purchasing the item we hoped would free us from the poverty we had known all our lives. Sarah made her wish…the little silver box opened and a bright light shot into the sky. Once the light was gone, we found our situation hadn’t changed; we were exactly who and where we had always been: a couple of orphans on the streets of Albion. Disappointed, we made our way to the back of an alley, to a shelter we had created for ourselves and went to sleep. We woke up moments later to the sound of barking. Footsteps approached and a guard from the castle carrying a torch walked up to us. Somehow, Lord Lucien, the lord of the castle wanted to see us. We left the dog behind and followed the guards…moments later we were brought to the castle and brought before Lord Lucien in his study.
He asked a lot of questions about who we were. And then- curiously enough- he asked about the box, commenting that he was surprised we were able to open it at all, and then said something rather vague about believing either my sister or me where some sort of heroes. To discover if there was any truth behind his theory, he asked both of us to stand on a weird looking platform by a large window. I was a little suspicious of his motives, but since Sarah didn’t say anything, I followed her to the platform and took a place by her side. Energy emanated from the platform and held us both in place. Lord Lucien rummaged through a stack of books on an old looking desk and confirmed his suspicions…one of us, was the fourth Hero and he couldn’t allow that person to live. He took his pistol, pointed at Sarah and pulled the trigger. The bullet ripped through her small body and she slumped to the floor. I watched my sister die, powerless even to express my shock and heartbreak, powerless to protect her from this mad man. Lord Lucien now turned his attention on me… “I’m sorry…” he seemed to say with regret, as he shot me through the chest. The force of the bullet sent me flying through the air and crashing through the window behind me. I could feel myself falling into darkness and then…nothing.
I awoke sometime later, with a piece of cloth bandaged around my head and the feel of soft fur under my hand. I found myself in the confines of a small room, with the dog by my side and the mysterious hooded woman hovering over my bed. With revenge in my heart, I swore that one day I would avenge my sister’s murder. One day…Lord Lucien would pay.

Review: Like its predecessor Fable 2 begins with you as an orphaned child on the streets of Albion named Sparrow, and then flashes forward some years later with you playing as the more grown up “Sparrow”, as he begins his journey to get revenge for his sister’s murder and save the world from the evil and nefarious Lord Lucien. The game is brilliant, with a host of missions and delightful mini-games that actually have a real purpose other than mild entertainment. Bar tend, chop wood, become a blacksmith or take on a bounty to make money for your coffers and increase your fame. The greater your fame the cheaper thing’s will become, the more money you have, the more property you own and the higher the standard of the equipment you can purchase. Fable 2 has all the basics for an RPG and the game pretty much follows the trends and story of a Hero on a quest to save the world from some evil villain, but there are some rather interesting exceptions in the case of Fable 2 when compared to other RPG's. As I began the game, I found myself strangely trapped in a rather infuriating cycle of work-related jobs, which included smithing, bartending and chopping wood. My fixation on these mini-games even led to a friend of mine- who happened to walk in at the time I was on a job chopping wood- asking if the game I was playing was called “Woodcutter…” A remark made as he watched me chop a log of wood in half for the umpteenth time. Ironically, unlike many games of its kind, I found that Fable 2’s mini-games have a way of drawing you away from the actual story and plot of the game without taking much away from the actual appeal of the game in its entirety and once you finally make enough money and buy enough property, you find that all that hard work actually begins to pay off as you incur a certain amount of money from shops and any houses you rent out every 5 minutes and this, even while you’re not playing the game. Yes, even if you decide to play something else, like Halo 3 for instance, your properties in the game actually continue to bring in gold. Now, while I understand that living in a country like Nigeria (with our fluctuating power supply) may not allow those of us in this country to fully benefit from such a dynamic, the mere thought of it makes you realize how cool it would be if a stable power supply wasn’t a problem. Perhaps, the only real pitfall of the game, may come from those (and there seem to quite a number of them) who dislike the art design of the character’s and NPC’s in the game. I have heard people complain about the hands of the people being too large or the feet being too wide, or even the fact that bodies are strangely disproportionate. And while I really liked the rather odd looking art design (concept), there are still quite a number of people who obviously don’t and as a result have shied away from the game because of this rather trivial pitfall. All I can say about this rather meager oversight, is merely that the game more than makes up for it’s sometimes childlike or western cartoonish-styled graphics with the share entertainment of its content. From the game’s intriguing storyline and its application of the dynamic weapon and magic attack combinations-which you use against constantly respawning enemies- to the more subtle use of various expressions to seduce, scare or amuse the game world’s citizens, Fable 2 presents the player with a host of plots, subplots and pitfalls that will keep your eyes glued to the screen and your hands firmly fixed on the pad, all the way through to its ultimate and enigmatic end.

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