I bought Fable II from Amazon using "release-date delivery" and it came as promised.
I just recently played the original Fable for PC and I'm having a lot of fun with it, so I was excited to play Fable II. I also was caught up in the hype Peter generated about the game and I'm glad to see I wasn't disappointed.
Fable II is really made up of everything summed together. I love the art, I love my dog, I love the characters, and I love the voice acting. It's fantastic. There's a lot to say so I'll just focus on some key parts of the game that warrant my opinion.
I love my dog. His name is Pluto and he helps me find awesome treasure and helps me kill bad guys. Gotta love it. The dog is computer AI controlled and while that may sound sketchy as far as reliability, you can be sure Lionhead did a good job making sure your dog does what you expect it to. It won't get in your way (if it does, you can't damage it), it runs ahead of you, it sniffs around for treasure or digging spots, and it loves you. You don't have to worry about it following you, getting stuck, or getting lost while you run through an area.
The Golden Trail
I have mixed feelings about the Golden Trail. If you don't know what it is, whenever you have a quest, a golden trail of dust will appear showing you exactly where to go. This is helpful but you also will end up missing some cool side quests and treasure.
You can disable it, however. The problem I found is that while it was great being able to explore at will, the map is not friendly to you if you turn off the trail. It seemed like an afterthought. I would at least like to see where to go on the map if I turn off the trail since it's not labeled.
Combat in Fable 2 is quite simple on the surface. There are three buttons you use, X for melee, Y for ranged, and B for magic. The great thing is that there is no Will power/Magicka, instead you charge your magic attack to do more damage. Also, if you press the analog stick in a certain direction you perform a ranged magic attack otherwise you perform an Area spell.
For melee, there are only four weapon types: Rusty, Iron, Steel, and Master. The nice thing is that there are a lot of "augmentations" you can put on your weapons.
Ultimately, the combat in Fable II isn't super difficult but it's satisfying. People will fly around if you kill them with your sword, you can push people off cliffs, and you can use special "Flourish" attacks to finish off opponents (along with the classic sword impale).
That said, combat is significantly better than the PC version. You don't have to target people, your character will automatically target people but you can look around to target someone else. No button pressing to lock on. You press the attack buttons to do an attack and it feels fluid and easy, it doesn't feel clunky like Fable 1.
Spells are a little different, especially if you want to switch spells from a multitude of reserve spells. You have to press the D-pad to select other spells and this can detract from the fight especially if you can't remember what the icons mean.
The Changing World
Everything you do in Fable 2 affects the game world. There are certain transition times when the game takes into account what you did, for example coming back to Albion 10 years later. All the quests you did before you left have now affected the game world. Did you donate to the Temple of Light? Well now it's a massive complex. Did you help out the poor farmer? Well now he has a huge estate for you to purchase.
It's really, really cool. Not only do the towns change layout, the outside regions have morphed as well.
Fable 2 is fantastic. It has a beautiful art style and I thought the graphics were really nice all things considered. The sunlight filtering through the trees or town is very pretty.
Fable 2 also has its own feel, it doesn't feel like a rehash of another game… it definitely feels like Fable, looks like Fable and sounds like Fable. Excellent voice acting and hilarious writing, Lionhead didn't sweat the details.
That's another thing: in order to really appreciate Fable, you've got to explore and do everything. If you focus on the main quest, a lot of the game will pass you buy. Sometimes it's good to go off the beaten path. Marry, have kids, become a 5-star Blacksmith, teach your dog tricks, all of that stuff.
If you're worried about time, don't. I've played for about 12 hours now and I have been able to complete all the quests before the first time you leave Albion, and most of them afterward. However, I still haven't completed the main quest and every time you do another part, it adds more quests for you to do. Besides, you don't want it too long, do you? Then you won't want to start a new game and be evil.
I highly recommend this game.
Far Cry 2
I have to be honest, when I heard Ubisoft was doing an open-world shooter, I was very skeptical. However, when I sat down and played the game for about 2 hours, I realized how much fun I was having.
There's also a lot to this game, so I will again go over some key areas.
In Far Cry 2, the map is your indispensable companion. So, it was very fitting that Ubisoft made the map part of the game. You don't pause the game to view your map, instead it acts like an item which you take out while you walk or even drive. Yes, that's right, you can drive with your map out and you'll do this often. Just as in real life, you really can't view the map and drive easily at the same time. You're either driving or looking at your map and pretending to drive.
The game world is pretty big in FC2 and I've only gotten to a snippet of it. The map has locations of key things like health, ammo, guard posts, safe houses, towns, and other key points of interest. In that sense, Far Cry 2 resembles Oblivion where you discover things as you find them except that the locations are already marked. For example, the map will say there's a Guard Post ahead of you but you only find out what the guard post offers (health, explosives, ammo, etc) once you clear it out and poke around. Guard posts also offer a break in between driving to make you get out and shoot stuff. Alternatively, you could try and drive past and initiate a chase which can be fun.
Ubisoft did an amazing job with the immersion in this game. Everything you do is from your perspective and your view is not static. When you go into a house, you see yourself turning the handle, when you get into a jeep, you see yourself hopping in. Even when you switch to the jeep's machine gun and jump off, you do it. It makes you feel like you're really there. Even the weapon jamming and vehicle breakdowns are part of the experience.
Your malaria is another thing. Your vision gets blurry and pulsates when you need your pills. Usually this is remedied by just hitting H to take your pills. I haven't progressed far enough to see this as a problem (i.e. running out of pills?).
Buddies in the game are great as well. One of your buddies will come rescue you and help you if you "die." You have to visit them to make them "rescue-ready" again.
I wouldn't call FC2 an RPG in the same sense Fallout 3 is. However, you do find diamonds which is your form of payment, and you can buy upgrades to your weapons, items, and vehicles. You can buy ammo bandoliers to carry extra ammo, you can by accuracy upgrades for your weapons, and you can build a collection of weapons.
In FC2, you can always pick up weapons from enemies. However, they are usually bad and old so they jam often. Instead, you can visit your safe house or an armory to exchange your weapons for new ones. Once you purchase a weapon at the Arms Dealer, you get unlimited quantities of that gun in your armory. Arms Dealers and Armories are always in the same location and there are many spread about. You can do missions for the Arms Dealers to gain more weapons.
In the case of the map, I already talked about how you "unlock" guard posts after finding out what they off. You also unlock Safe Houses by killing the enemies guarding them. In this aspect, FC2 has some elements of an RPG.
It should also be noted that enemies respawn. I've yet to find this annoying since I really do enjoy sniping guard posts from afar, or just driving in the middle of them and using my flamethrower or machine gun.
Fast travel is available if you use the bus stations (there are 5 in the game). They let you travel to the 4 corners of the map and the central city.
I haven't played a FPS in awhile that has kept me interested for multiple hours on end. While some may complain about repetitive enemy fights I find them enjoyable and I like to drive around in my jeep or go-cart. I actually really love the graphics, they make Africa come alive.
As with Fable 2, I highly recommend this game.