The alteration of apparent time period from medieval to colonial has allowed a greater incorporation of technology and weaponry in this game. The evolution of the weapons available to the character seems to be faithful to the period in which the game is set, which allows a greater immersion in the environment since running around with an AK-47 can sort of spoil the feeling of being in the Victorian age.
A large number of the changes between this game and the previous one involve increasing the player’s emotional involvement in the game. This is particularly true of the dog which accompanies the player wherever he or she travels. While this companion has the praiseworthy laws programmed into it of “unconditionally love the player, self-preservation and do not irritate the player,” the inability to refuse to have the pet at all is annoying in itself. I personally think the choice of whether to have a pet should have been left to the player.
In addition, utilizing a dog as the mini-map doesn’t make sense for those people who utilize their mini-map as a long range planning tool; however, for many people, having a companion to interact with can make the game more interesting. The rules will also go a long way toward mitigating the possible irritation factor. The long term interactions with NPC’s also increase the emotional attachment that you have to the game. These have been heightened to such a degree that many people may truly feel that they have a family with all the good and bad emotions that tends to bring.
If the interaction of the NPC’s with the character is done correctly, then the number of people who chose the “path of corruption” is likely to fall as most people may find it a lot harder to slaughter NPC characters that they have become attached to. With the choices made during the game having such an impact on character development, the emotional attachments can help to accelerate your character development when you start down the path of good or evil. Defending the people you care for in the game may help to increase the rate at which you achieve “good points,” while slaughtering them can accelerate the rate at which you gain “evil points.”
The combat system has been shown off in in-game footage, with Peter Molyneux demonstrating it for a select group of gaming journalists. The combat system in the previous system was successful and received a lot of the praise that was heaped on the original game. The system has now been changed in a way that makes it easier to fight without needing to be a specialist in first person fighting. This may annoy purists, but for those of us who find aiming with a 360 controller very difficult, this could remove the annoyance factor that may normally force someone like me away from the game.
The use of Co-operative play broadens the potential for the game far beyond the first game, allowing the interactions to blur the line between reality and the in-game experience. The ability to play co-op on a single console is hugely exciting for those people who prefer to play co-op with people who are physically near them, rather than just someone on the other end of Xbox Live. However, it is likely to a spur on a large amount of arguments about whose Albion you play in and who gets to be leader and who gets to be henchman.
The added ability to transfer your gold and experience to different versions of Albion is also extremely praiseworthy, as it allows the different players to decide where and when they want to play co-op without the arduous process of creating and playing a brand new character. It seems to be a worthy adversary for some of the MMO’s, without the instanced towns, but with better graphics.
The positive side is that with the game being released on Xbox 360, there is no installation process, and you don’t have to run around trying to sort out your pc’s graphics and processing power to handle the game’s beautiful graphics. The negative side is that you don’t get to choose what you play the game on. Allowing us the option would have been wonderful, but unfortunately I doubt that one reviewer’s opinion is likely to change Peter Molyneux’s & Lionhead’s entire release strategy.
However, even given all the bitching I just did about the game, I am still looking forward to this release, although I hope that it doesn’t suffer from the same case of over-hype that Halo 3 came down with last year, although pardon me for thinking that may be unlikely.