Fun but Flawed
Like many others who have switched on Lionheads newest entry into the Fable series i am somewhat baffled. The graphics have greatly improved, as has the voice acting but the whole "hudless" display with no clear option menu causes more problems than it solves.
You start the game off to some wonderfull FMV featuring a rather unfortunate Chicken before we are finally introduced to our playable and now fully voiced character. The game teaches you the basics in how to hold someones hand and pull them with you and how to sword fight and after some heart wrenching scenes teaches you how to use magic. Soon after you are deposited out in Albion and you suddenly realise that something horrible has happend, sepecifically with the menu system. In this game whenever you press start you are whisked away to the Sanctuary, think of it as a kind of graphical display that replaces your options menu, trouble is, its not always clear where everything is. When you finally do get your head around exactly how this has been set up it does become a lot easier to navigate but there are a lot of stupid time wasting events. Things like pulling up a map used to be just a case of pressing one button, now you have to load up the sanctuary, run to the map table, open the map, find the town you are looking for and zoom into the town. Whilst i understand why this has been done, it just feels like they have made the situation worse instead of better.
Another feature that will likely cause a few raised eyebrows is how you now interact with a character, in Fable 2 you would choose the type of greeting then from a radial menu choose what you want to do. Now, the computer gives you whatever it thinks you should be doing, so instead of shaking the hand of a palace guard i am now forced to dance suggestively with him which is more than a little weird when my ingame wife is standing not two feet from me.
Youd be forgiven from my complaints for thinking i dislike the game but far from it, i enjoyed the story, becoming King and the random and sometimes funny side quests contained in the game. The fighting is well implimented and the weapons do evolve into some wonderfull shapes but i feel that perhaps this part of the game was oversold as there seem to be only a specific amount of transformations.
The graphics seem to be greatly improved over the original and now the females you encounter no longer look like they have been thumped in the face with an ugly stick. The NPCs are full of character and theres rarely an instance where you will see a reused sprite, the voice acting is also very well done especially with Jasper (voiced by John Cleese) and Reaver (Stephen Fry) being paticular highlights. Much of the music is re-used from the second game which is no bad thing since that was very well composed.
I have to say though that this game feels more like a prototype for what will come next, much of the fun to be found in this game is buried beneath cumbersome controls and half baked ideas but if you are willing to over look this and look only at the story there is a fun adventure waiting to be discovered. It wont be everyones idea of a good time but becoming king, running a working livng economy and keeping your people happy is what keeps this game fresh and hopefully will feature more significantly (with an improved control system) in a future title.