So I just "beat" the game and much like my experience with Grand Theft Auto IV, I find myself far less than overwhelmed. I'm evolving as a gamer...or devolving. Let's just say that my tastes are definitely changing. A couple things that Molyneux touted as critically important to the game are the following.
The player feels love.
Did I feel love for the dog that was foisted on me from the very beginning? Yep. I did. If I had a friend that hung out with me and pointed out where I could find free shit every thirty minutes; the friend would never need anything except a kind word from time to time...yeah. I'd love the guy too. There is absolutely no negatives to keeping the dog around. They made it easy to "love" if someone actually wants to go that far. As for the dog eating a bullet at the end; not exactly a huge surprise there. At the end of the game I was at a point where I simply didn't care. Which isn't to say I'm a heartless prick. When my horse died in Shadow of the Colossus...I was gutted. Infact; I walked away from the television for a bit. They didn't need to add anything artificial to the game in order to make me care about my "pet". Fable II...pretty much like everything the developers do for this game is ham-fisted and over-compensates far too much.
Everything has consequences in this game. They want you to believe that what you do in the game matters not only in the short-term for your character but for the entire kingdom of Albion. How do I explain this...
Okay...so you've met a person that is ignorant. They're not a complete moron, nor are they anywhere close to being above average intelligence. This person takes it upon themselves to read some books, watch some documentaries about "subject X" and in doing so; they now think that they are capable of formulating an intelligent opinion about "subject X". By "educating" themselves they have managed to make themselves twice as ignorant as someone who knows absolutely nothing at all.
This is what Fable II does regarding "consequences". By trying to make actions "matter" in the world, they have managed to make them not matter at all. I can force push my son off a cliff in front of my wife and after a few pick up lines, giving her a mood ring and a prompt to go back to my place for some sex. Everything's good. I can have four wives. I can head shot a citizen infront of a sheriff and paying a fine of 250 gold (which means nothing because gold is the very least thing you need to worry about in this game) or community service which consists of stabbing bad guys...everything's good. Absolutely NOTHING matters in the game. If something "permanent-like" happens...well...it doesn't matter. There's the main storyline which is passable and then there is the other 80% of the game which gives you the illusion of choice and consequences but it's just that...an illusion.
They can't make a game with consequences. If they did, morons would end up fucking themselves over and not be able to beat the game and they'd whine. Or they make it harder for themselves regarding the completion of the game and they'd whine...so yeah. It can't be done so stop trying. The last time Lion's Head made a game with consequences was Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper II. Those two games had consequences. Your actions not only affected the short-term game but the long term as well. Dead Space has consequences and it is nowhere close to being an open world game. If I fail to stock ammo properly. If I fail to shoot well. If I go into a room on Impossible Level and fail to have a sound strategy. There's some pretty fuckin' severe and gory consequences. Those are consequences that I can easily and readily appreciate.
Combat is simple and dynamic.
They nailed it on this one but I remember all of the movies and webisodes and constant stream of bullshit that came from Peter Molyneux regarding this whole Erol Flynn/swashbuckling type of combat where you're jumping over tables and swinging from chandeliers. I've played with two different characters and been in a number of fights and I haven't seen anything remotely Erol Flynn-ish about any of the fights I've been in.
Has anyone else seen combat beyond knocking a guy against the wall and then impaling him with your sword?
So I think I'm off open world games and I KNOW I'm done with Fable II. I loved the first Fable and I can't understand why I dislike the newest iteration with such fervor. I thought Crackdown counted as an "open world" game and I love, love, LOVED that game and I still play it from time to time.
I wish Molyneux would stop trying so hard. Fable II can be very pretty and it has hit on something interesting with it's combat but not only does it stumble under the weight of it's ambitions but a number of times it outright collapses. I hate to keep touting this game but a number of developers would do well to play Dead Space and learn what it's like to experience a very tightly developed game. Give me a story. Take all your consequence-bullshit and leave it for reality.
Playing Fable II and being soured on the open world thing really has me feeling anxious about getting into Fallout 3. Hopefully Bethesda did an excellent job.
Oh yeah...and the co-op in Fable II sucks. Another excellent example of the developer having an idea. Touting it and then doing an utterly half-assed job of putting it in the game. Everything and I mean everything about the co-op aspect of the game is terrible.