If there is one game designer on the planet who should be tarred and feathered for the gaming masses I believe that Peter Moloneux is most deserving.
Years ago I bought in to Moloneux's hype of Black and White only to be totally dissapointed in the end. Like a scorned lover I was hesistant to listen to Moloneux when Black and White 2 was released but over time I hung on his every word and promise. When that game failed to meet it's high expectations, I officially proclaimed Moloneux the best hype man in gaming.
Moloneux would make a great used car sales man. Talk up the product, get the customer to commit and then laugh all the way to the bank while the unlucky sap is broken down on I-95.
So this brings me to Fable, a game that I played well after it's initial release. Home on spring break from college I was sick and needed something to occupy my couch-ridden time while the family was working. I picked up Fable and was drawn in to the game to the point where by the end of break I had milked every morsel out of it.
There were issues and some desires were left unfullfilled but in the end I loved it. That's why Fable 2 is such a drastic dissapointment to me.
I've come to adopt a policy that a sequel should be judged soley on it's improvements and additions from the last installment.
In that case, Fable 2 is the most dissapointing game of the year to me.
I saw it coming though, I must admit, but I still got suckered in and bought the game on day one.
During E3 when Moloneux was spending more time talking about relationships and character e-motes rather than oh say combat, I had a sinking feeling that the core gameplay would be ignored in favor of cheap thrills.
It was. Fable 2 is nothing more than a button mashing dungeon crawl with a morality based mini-game packaged in. Want to see a game that uses morality in an effective manner? Play KOTOR or even Fallout 3 if you don't want to break out the old Xbox.
Moloneux would go on and on about how your decisions would affect the world around you but in the end, townspeople couldn't care less if your Adolf Hitler or Ghandi. They will still talk to you, fall in love with you, and sell to you. If I'm going to go to the trouble to make my character as evil as possible, shouldn't I be rewarded with some satisfaction? Why not see townspeople run indoors when I walk in to town? Or maybe only shady types would dare speak to me.
Another issue is how much time Moloneux spends on worthless gameplay features. For example getting a job. Really? I thought my job was questing. That apperantly pays nothing now but pouring beer is a better career. Yahtzee said it best, remember when you played the Sims and you went to work and played the mini-game where you filed papers? No, because that is boring.
Speaking of worthless features, what about marriage. You get nothing for it, just a nagging wife who wants an allowance. Great. Glad you put that in the game. Maybe you should have spent that time fixing the dog's AI so he stops finding treasure when I'm in the middle of a battle.
Fable 2 isn't completely hopeless though and despite my whining above there is something that someone will enjoy out of the game. Only if you've been burned by Moloneux in the past, you're likely to feel the burn again in Fable 2.
If you go in expecting dissapointment you might find the game more enjoyable, but sadly Moloneux can never shut his mouth and we all expect the greatest game ever.