Fable 2
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Genre: Action RPG
Format: DVD-ROM
Release: US Q4 2008
Official Website: Official Site

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Where's that dog when I need him?
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Your gun is no match for my sword!
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Faces only a mother could love
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It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
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Neal Chandran
First Look Preview
Neal Chandran

Fable was an Xbox RPG that was hyped up to completely revolutionize the gaming experience. Unfortunately, the final product left some players and critics disappointed when it did not contain many of the highly touted features and essentially did not live up to the hype. Despite the mixed response to Fable, Peter Molyneux and Lionhead studios are hard at work with Fable 2 for the Xbox 360, which has been in development since 2006. With a new generation of hardware, perhaps Fable 2's advanced features and grand ideas can be realized and be the game that Fable was intended to be.

Fable 2 brings gamers back to the world of Albion, 500 years after the first Fable game. You can select to be a male or female and the story of your life is highly dependent on the decisions you make and actions you perform. In video diary footage on the official Lionhead website, creators say that traveling in Albion is vastly improved from the first game. Movement is said to be smoother and while the first game did not let players venture everywhere, Fable 2 reportedly lets players venture everywhere and no location is off limits, allowing for a deeper world and more expansive environments. Because the game is set 500 years after the first Fable game, new technologies such as clockwork devices and flintlock pistols are now present in Albion, an evolution from the very rustic medieval setting.

Screenshots and early movie footage provide a view of this new Albion, and it looks quite good. The realtime polygonal graphics engine is a proprietary one developed in-house by Lionhead Studios and provides smooth animation along with detailed, colorful environments. The music heard in the trailer from the Fable 2 teaser site is a very good bombastic orchestral piece. Hopefully the rest of the music in the game will be as good.

Combat will be handled in real time and uses a streamlined and effective interface. One button will be used for melee attacks, one button will be used for distance attacks (such as with bows and guns), and a third button will be used for magic. Lionhead promises that the combat will be intuitive enough for the masses to pick up quickly in addition to having depth for veteran gamers. Early combat footage shown in the developer video diaries shows smooth animation, a wide variety of swordfighting moves, combination moves, and even some finishing moves when the player gets close behind the enemy and presses the melee button.

There are plenty of other features mentioned by Lionhead Studios and by IGN's hands-on preview of the game at the 2008 Game Developers' Conference. One feature is that your avatar will have a pet dog that is reportedly controlled by advanced AI and performs many tasks such as using heightened canine senses to detect threats and assisting in combat. How you treat your dog will not only determine how it evolves in terms of personality and loyalty but also in how other townspeople react to you. In addition, the game is said to allow players to have intimate relations with NPCs and can choose whether to have protected or unprotected relations. If the latter happens, somebody will get pregnant and if you are playing a female character, she will reportedly undergo the physical transformation that comes with pregnancy. Cooperative play is said to be in Fable 2 where a friend can plug in a controller and play alongside you as a henchman. This open-endedness and the ability to play the game in the manner you want are aspects that were promised in the first Fable game but either did not make it into the final product or were present in an abbreviated form. Hopefully the advancements in gaming technology, programming, and the evolved knowledge of the Lionhead Studios staff can allow Fable 2 to deliver on its grand promises.

Fable 2 is slated for a US release in the fourth quarter of 2008 so gamers will have to be patient and wait to find out whether this Fable installment delivers on its hefty promises.


© 2008 Microsoft Game Studios, Lionhead.
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