As our hero approaches the cave, with the mutt cowering nervously at his feat, he unsheathes his sword and steps inside. As has been boasted in the past, every move in a battle is handled by just the A button. It's a bit difficult to grasp exactly how well this works from a spectator seat next to Microsoft's most muscle-clad PR, but one thing that helps explain it are the context-sensitive moves, of which their seem to be many.
Stepping further into the rocky cavern, the baddies inevitably turn up; little fat gremlins called 'hobs' who even though in concept are the most generic drones ever, carry tons of character in Fable 2's Monty Python art design.
Molyneux starts busting out the sword flurries, spin-attacks and all manner of wide area attacks, sending the little fatties flying. It looks like targeting works in exactly the same way as the first game; with enemies highlighted in red, leaving timed button presses to run the actual process of fighting.
To demonstrate our earlier point on context-sensitive moves though, Molyneux takes the fight into a very narrow corridor, where his sword swipes suddenly become far shorter and 'stabby'.
Then he starts springing off the walls to execute stab moves and picking up objects to throw. It all looks very advanced for a system that uses a single button, but hopefully it'll work when we come to playing Fable 2 for ourselves.
And, with another apology, that's all we're allowed to see today (and expectedly that still didn't stop Molyneux attempting to show us more).
The impression we got from watching the game in action, and speaking to members of the development team in multiple positions, was that, first and foremost, fans of the first game are going to be very, very pleased.
The core elements that made Fable loved by fans; personality, choice and painless RPG systems, have all received significant attention - and of course the scope and scale of everything in the game world has shot up to current-gen proportions.
But on a secondary level, we couldn't help but notice the consistent hallmarks of a game trying to reach a bigger audience. The minimal HUD, menu-light adventuring, mum-friendly 'breadcrumb trail' and the drop-in, drop-out co-op all scream "casual gamer" (or about as casual as action RPG players get) and the phrase was definitely on the tongues of developers during our tour.
Mr. Molyneux fields our question: "RPGs are one of the most complex game types there are. I think we should take that challenge of having casual people, who have never played games before, mixed with core people - why shouldn't we have a game like this where both those types of people can play together?
"I think if you look back at really, really successful games, a lot of those games are where the core players really are satisfied. GTA IV - you know core gamers are satisfied. Other people just love playing around in that world, and I'd love Fable to be one of those games as well."
Whether he gets those extra players or not, from a core gamer's perspective Fable 2 looks fantastic, and we don't think Peter will need to be apologising to Fable fans come Christmas.
May 13, 2008