Fable 2

Preview: "It's super, super... different"

Multiplayer. That's right, we've not gone crazy here. Fable 2 is going to feature dynamic multiplayer co-op.

A second player can jump into your quest at any time and - here's the best part - charge for their henchman services. In a world with no gold drops it's a worthwhile profession, especially when weighed up next to some of the other options: a blacksmith, bartender or woodsman for instance.

Co-operative play extends far beyond the life of a ruthless mercenary. Anything you earn in somebody else's world, be it items, experience, gold or renown points, can be brought back to your own world. It's the perfect way to move up the ladder - absolutely any hovel, house or castle can be bought for you and your family and then decorated to your own tastes.


Pilfer enough from other worlds and you'll be able to afford a nice house to give your children a decent upbringing. That is, if you choose to have kids, of course.

The latest Fable 2 demo and the subsequent revelations raised our expectations even higher than before, which is no easy task. Not even Peter Molyneux's elaborate promises, such as dreams of an AI that's a "billion times better" than Black & White's (this dream wasn't reserved for Fable 2 unfortunately), could overshadow an incredibly impressive GDC demo of a game that's finally coming together. It's an RPG brimming with potential, and it's an RPG that you'll be playing by the end of the year.

There's more good news for those of you wanting an early taster of Fable 2. Lionhead have been busy working on an XBLA title full of Fable 2 pub games, which will hit the Marketplace a couple of months before Fable 2 itself. Any gold accrued can then be ported over to Fable 2, so it's the perfect way to get a head start on the action. We're already looking forward to saving up all-important nuggets with a few friendly bouts of mythical dominoes or, even better, fantasy darts.

In the controls department the main game is much simpler than before. x is reserved for sword attacks, y for the gun and b for magic. Tapping any of these quickly will unleash a salvo of attacks, while holding the button will trigger a stronger, slower move. a is the action button and squeezing l will point the camera towards items of interest.

In co-op this camera acts just like LEGO Star Wars' system, twisting and turning to offer the best view for both players. Whether the online camera differs remains to be seen, but as it works so well and also prevents players from separating we'd be surprised if each player was given free roam.

And when the camera swooped underneath a doorframe and Molyneux talked about watching the world carry on outside from within the house, the scene was so tranquil that we forgot for a moment it was a game. Suddenly those grand ideas of his seem very, very real.

Promises, expectations and more promises. There's a lot riding on Fable 2, and anything less that an RPG revolution will be met with huge disappointment. But the latest demo didn't just hint at massive features, it actually showed them occurring in-game. It's got us sold - Fable 2's going to rewrite the book...