The Old World Is Gone...
The original Fable, was a game that seemed to polarize, gamers like no other. Many found it to be to short, or “shallow”.(But that is from, someone, who changes their reviews for mass approval, or in a petty attempt to get back at me.-MM-) Others were disappointed by it’s failure, to deliver all that Lionhead, and Peter Molyneux, had promised. And yet others, like myself, enjoyed it for what it was.
With critical acclaim, and good sales on the Xbox and PC. A sequel was all but inevitable. As I approached the sequel, it was with some trepidation. And I was a little skeptical, as I always am with sequels. Would it outdo it predecessor, or be a worse game? Perhaps just a lame cash-in attempt?
Fable II is set some 500 years, after the end of the first game. The hero’s guild no longer exists. And the world of Albion has seen, many changes, namely technology. Like gunpowder. People have forgotten the old world. But a new threat arises. And an ancient bloodline, will again produce a hero. And the fate of Albion will again be on your shoulders.
Fable II, starts off with you living with your big sister, Rose, in the slums of Bowerstone. This time around you can play as either a male or a female hero. The tutorial shows you how to play. Using, Fable II’s much talked about one button combat. You also find your canine friend, whom will stick with you the rest of the game, more on these later.
One fateful day, you are taken to see Lord Lucian. After an encounter with the villain of the story, you must flee, Bowerstone. The game resumes some years later. And you are a young man or woman, living with Gypsies. Once you leave, the enclave, with your faithful dog, the rest is up to you.
Will you be a noble hero, A despicable villain, or a rouge? This time good and evil is not the only test of your character. There is also purity and corruption. So if you want be truly good, you have to make the right moral choice, and not become corrupted, because as we all know, power corrupts. And it is not always easy to choose. Most quests are not black and white. In one quest you are asked to help attain vengeance from beyond the grave, and the good and pure choice, is not always clear cut, I liked this much better than the choice system in most games. This time you are not the only hero. And much of the game revolves around finding, the others chosen, by fate.
Purity is a little different. To stay pure, you should avoid eating meat, when renting out a building to your tenants be fair, and kind, and when you have sex, use a condom. No knocking up whores, at the tavern. So it is not as fun as being corrupt. But the new morality system, makes playing the game twice well worth it, more so than the original game.
The way, you interact with the inhabitants in Fable II, is via expressions. Which can be hot keyed to you trigger buttons. You can dance, scare, tell jokes, and give gifts among others.
See, a woman you fancy? Give her a gift, each NPC has there own tastes, in gifts and expressions. And even appearance, or your hero. Take your special someone on a date. And have sex.(I had a hard time getting some of the women, to sleep with me, without a wedding ring, just like in real life…-MM-) Or you can just pay for sex, or find easy women of questionable virtue. You can also be gay, or bisexual. And you can marry and have children. And your children, will take after you, in behavior, which is pretty cool. If you mistreat your spouse, they will leave you, and take the kids. You can also have bastard children. And your spouse can die, my first wife, died, and left me a widower. To keep your family happy, you must visit them often, and have a nice house, and give them a generous allowance.
In Fable II, you make money, by doing jobs. Like wood cutting, blacksmithing, and bar tending. These take the form of mini-games, that are easy and fun to play. You can also take bounties. In which you kill a certain amount and or type, of enemies, and get paid. Did I mention that these quests are endless? I’m pretty sure I did. Yes, definitely.
You can also find gold. And finally, you can invest in property, and rent it out. Homes, and shops, the more you invest the more money you will make. If you are a good landlord, the cities will flourish. If you are a miser, the area’s will become, rundown, and crime will increase. It’s like a self contained simulation. You can also gamble, and make money. It is quite possible, to own all of the buildings in Albion, by end game.
None of the interactions with the inhabitants of Albion, are as interesting as those with your dog. You find your furry friend when you are a child. And he will stick with you always. You can interact with your dog in many ways. You can play fetch with him. Give him treats, and teach him tricks. These are linked to your expressions. If you fart, your dog, will, cover up his nose with his paw, and whine. Wave goodbye, and your dog do so as well.
He can even help you fight. He will bite, and finish off enemies. He can also help you find hidden treasures, both chests and dig spots. If your friend gets hurt, you can heal him, or be a dick and ignore, his whines. And he will never leave your side.(Even if you are mean to him.-MM-) He will also change in appearance, depending on, your alignment.
Did, I mention, how silly this game is? From the chatter of the world’s inhabitants. To the gargoyles, that yell taunts. “Hey, hero! Kiss my stony arse!” Destroying all the smart ass gargoyles, is just one of many side quests.
There are many weapon choices for you in Fable II. There are various sword types, cutlasses, katanas, and long swords. There are also axes, cleavers, maces, and hammers. And that just covers, the melee, weapons. There are also many types of projectile weapons, crossbows, pistols, rifles, and blunderbusses. As well as a slew of legendary weapons.
Of course there is also will, powers at your disposal. This time you are the only one in all of Albion, that can use this ancient power. There is also no magic meter this time. And you can charge your spells, and stack them all with one button. So if you want to cast a level 5 slow-time spell, you have to charge it, by holding down the button. Stacking spells, allows, you to cast multiple spells, in quick succession.
One button combat. One of Fable II’s new features, much has been made of it. I can tell you that it works and it works well. And that it may take you a bit of a learning curve to get the hang of it. But I will, do you one better and attempt to describe it to you.
As I have just mentioned, there are three, types of weapons in Fable II. Melee, projectile, and will. And each one is mapped to a particular button. For example, ’X’ is the button, for melee weapons. So you attack with X, defend, and charge up you combo’s with it. Once you learn it, you will wonder how other games do without it. It is so simple and intuitive, and just good old fun. When, the battle ends, you will be rewarded EXP orbs. Based on how well, you fought.
Being a gunslinger, is particularly fun. Pull out your repeating rifle, and blow some highwaymen heads off! You get extra experience from headshots!
Leveling up, no longer requires you to go back to a set point, as in the original Fable. Now it is done via, the in-game menu. The game will even let you know what can be leveled up. So you can do so in just one button push.
I also want, to make special mention, of the character customization, in Fable II. Not only can you get different hair styles, and clothes, and tattoos. But you can also dye your items, or even your hair. This will ensure, that your hero, is completely original looking. Useful for those who plan to play online.
The areas, are much bigger, in Fable II. And they are varied, in design. From open plains, ancient temples, forests, and so on.
The adventure is also much longer, this time around. It took me about 30 hours. Where as, the original game, can be cleared in around 15 hours.
And if you feel, that you finished the game to fast. There are already two downloadable expansions. Via Xbox Live. Each with new quests, weapons, armor, etc. They will both add some 5-10 hours of gameplay, depending on percent completed.
Speaking of Xbox Live, you can also play Co-Op. This is online only, no split screen. In Co-Op, you invite, or get invited to another Hero’s version of Albion. Once there you can work together to complete quests, pick up chicks, whatever. It is great fun.
The graphics are excellent, in Fable II. It is easily one of the best looking games of Xbox 360. It is also one of those games, that looks great both in Standard Definition, and High Definition.
The music is great, as are the sound effects, and the voice overs. Some of the voice overs, are provided by famous British actors. Like Stephen Fry, for example.
Some of the morality modifiers are questionable. Why does having statues built of you, make you corrupt?
The game, can be glichy. Like it takes a minute, for the area to fully load up. There is also occasional, slow-down. Especially, when in a crowded town. This game, could have used more time, in these areas.
Earlier, on in the game, making money takes, time. However, in the latter stages of the game, you will have more money, than you know what to do with.
Some, may feel, that this game is too easy. As you can’t really die. If you fall, in combat, and have no revival medicines, you will take scars, but eventually, get back up.
The Bottom Line
In the end, Fable II, succeeds, in a lot of places, where the first game faltered. If you liked the original game, you will enjoy Fable II. If, however, you did not like the first game, you may want to give this one a try, as it is much improved.