Product Type: Microsoft Xbox 360 games
Newest Review: ... England full of magic, swordfights, sexual innuendos and chicken chasing. Fable 2 is a very easily accessible RPG, set 500 yea... more
II times less hype, II times more fun.
Fable II (Xbox 360)
Member Name: Stunt 101
Fable II (Xbox 360)
Advantages: Huge world, funny jokes, having a pet dog, excellent presentation.
Disadvantages: Some minor quirks, weak co-op.
Fable II takes place about 500 years after the original Fable. It's a huge jump in time, and thankfully it has little ties to the first game. There are some references, though you don't need to have played the first game to understand what is going on here. You follow Little Sparrow, who with his/her bigger sister, wish for a better life. They find this so called 'wishing machine' which costs five coins. After you make that money, the children buy the machine and make a wish. They think it hasn't come true, but when they are called to the very castle they wished to live in, they think their dreams have come true. However, it's the most opposite, as the owner of the castle suddenly kills your sister and shoots you out of a window. Somehow you survived, and the game fast forwards a good few years to when Sparrow is grown up and the adventure begins to stop the evil mastermind who shot you out of a window and killed your sister. The story isn't quite as non-linear, as while a choice at the end affects how the game world looks, the game's story doesn't really stray off the path.
The game's controls are excellent. The analog sticks are for movement and controlling the camera, while the face buttons are mapped to using melee/ranged attacks, interacting with objects/sprinting/rolling and using magic. The bumpers are used to use the first-person view and the expression wheel. The triggers are used to absorb experience and select spells as well as lock onto a target. The D-Pad is used as context sensitive shortcuts, as when you lock onto an enemy you can save time of going into the expression wheel by pressing an arrow on the D-Pad. The controls are responsive and simple, though there are some issues when locking onto pedestrians. Sometimes you won't be able to lock onto the person you're trying to target, and switching between targets requires awkward movement and slight turning of the analog sticks.
Fable II is an action RPG, with a bit more focus on the action part of things. At the beginning of the game, you are a child as you strive to earn five gold coins however the player chooses. This is the first example of where the game offers you choices. You can earn your coins honourably by returning police notes to the guard and other good deeds like that, or you can be bad by doing bad deeds like giving the police notes to a band of crooks. Whatever you choose will affect how a part of the world will look when you grow up. If you were good, it will be a bright place with colour yet if you were evil the world will be darker and more, well, evil. There are many choices like this, which in the end morph your character into what he/she is. It doesn't affect the story unfortunately. Still, the many choices you get in Fable II are noticeable.
How you act shows amazing responses. In the world of Albion, people talk and people also talk to you. If you impress people and do good deeds, people will run up to you and ask for autographs, cheer for you and want to marry you. Both genders will want to marry you, and it doesn't matter which gender you are. Being good also earns you gifts from people, discounts from store merchants and many other perks. Yet when you're evil, it can have an opposite effect as people run from you, spit in your face and refuse to give you gifts or marry you. Then again, some people are evil too and will love how evil you are, which can be creepy. Of course if a store merchant won't serve you, you can always turn the safety off and kill them.
These elements revolve around the good/bad and pure/corrupt meters. When you perform good deeds and stay pure, for example stop a crime being performed, have sex using a condom and even eat vegetables then you're purity and good meters will go up but perform bad deeds like killing civilians, having unprotected sex and sleeping for several days then the meters will go down. This is shown not only with the pedestrians of Albion but also with your character as they start to change their looks for example being evil means horns will grow on your head. This obviously makes you less attractive, which ties in with the game too. Wear bad clothes, show your scars and generally wear evil clothes and people will comment on that-the game's world is that interactive.
You can also charm/offend people with a selection of expressions, which are like taunts. Basically, your expressions are categorised into different groups, including rude, social and fun. Some impressions are good for people, like funny farts and arm flexes but some offend people like the chicken taunt and dirty farts. When performing an expression, you can usually hold the expression to make it better, though timing is required to nail it. Charm a lady enough, and you can marry them and have kids, which I have rarely seen in a game. It's a very imaginative and interactive world, and it's also big. Double the size of the first games map, there's a warping system you can use once you've explored an area, making travel easier. A great system is the bread crumbs guideline, as a gold trail constantly leads you to your objective which is very helpful.
Of course, you need money to buy a ring and a house for your family if you choose to have one. There are a few ways you can earn money in the world in Albion. You can do it the typical way and make a living by performing jobs. You can become a woodcutter, a blacksmith and a bartender. Each of these standard jobs requires a quick time mini-game, which is kind of annoying and boring. There are some better and more interactive jobs like assassination jobs, clearing out an attic of beetles and more. These jobs earn you income, and once you earn enough money you can buy properties like stalls and stores which earn you money while you're not playing. This is where Fable II becomes a bit too easy, as you earn constant money for buying properties. Meaning you can buy potions, equipment and other needed items to keep you from dying in the game. It's not like it breaks the game though, just makes it a bit easier.
You also have man's best friend accompanying you on your epic adventure. Your dog is perhaps Fable II's most emotional part of gameplay. This is because you constantly have company with you, constantly watching what you do. This can make it harder for you to perform acts of evil, especially if you're like me as I have had dogs in my life since I was born. Your dog can help you throughout the game, spotting treasure and dig spots for you to use a shovel to find treasure. You can increase their awareness of stuff like this with books you find in the world. You can also teach them tricks like peeing on someone or fetch. You grow so attached to your dog that when they go off to find treasure and leave you, you feel a part of you is missing.
You can also teach them to fight, even if they don't do much. There is of course combat in Fable II, which is real-time like a hack-n-slash game. You can fight with either close ranged weapons, i.e. swords, long ranged weapons i.e. guns and crossbows, and magic attacks. The melee attacks can be used in combos of X, X and X, though as you upgrade you unlock chain attacks which require more precision. Ranged attacks are basically guns, as you stand back and mash the Y button until the enemies are dust. As you upgrade, you can unlock a precision aim and the ability to target specific areas of the body. Crossbows probably aren't as good as guns like rifles and pistols, but both are useful when needed. The magic is where things get awesome. You can unlock spells you send crashing waves of fire, stun people with electric bolts, freeze time Max Payne style and many more spells.
As you kill enemies, you earn different coloured orbs which can be used to upgrade your character. Blue orbs upgrade strength, which lets you block, use flourishes, chain attacks and counter attacks, as well as increase your health and damage with weapons. Yellow orbs increase your accuracy with guns as well as your speed, and also lets you precision aim with your gun. Will is represented with red orbs which lets you upgrade magic attacks to make them much more powerful. For example, I unlocked level four Inferno which, when used, killed about five enemies with one attack. You can also use green orbs when combined with the other coloured orbs to buy powers as coloured orbs by themselves will do little. Unfortunately, with all these powers, combat isn't too difficult. There's little punishment for dying as all that happens is that you lose some XP and you gain scars which makes your person uglier. However, combat is so fun because it offers a lot of freedom. You can use all your weapons/powers to demolish enemies, and its great fun.
There is also co-op via Xbox Live and Split-screen. It's nice for a game to have split-screen co-op for once, so off the bat there is a positive. Unfortunately, as co-op was meant to be one of the biggest features, it's kind of a disappointment. Locally, it's not too bad as co-op with a friend is usually a jump in, jump out thing meaning creating a character isn't necessary. It's jump in, jump out meaning that it's easy to set up co-op, however things don't go much smoother from there. Even online, you can't show off your custom character-the other player must choose a preset character. You then split the gold and experience to however much you want to divide it. You can then play the entire game from there. The stats of the host will be given to the 'henchman' to make it fair. Unfortunately there are issues abound with the co-op. When the host buys items, the other player has to wait for them to finish at a screen. The two players are tied to one camera, even online. The issues keep coming. One neat thing is when you're not in co-op, you can see where friends playing this game are represented by their gamer picture. You can chat to each other in real-time and send them gifts. It's a brilliant feature that fares much better than the co-op itself. In the end, the co-op is just there.
Graphically, Fable II definitely impresses. The colour palette is perfect, with awfully bright colours, detailed environments and characters that scream fantasy world like Lord of the Rings with castles, dungeons, caves and rural countryside and brilliant animation. In particular, the dog moves in a scarily realistic way, following your every move and, if loved, loves you back. The spells look incredible, taking up the whole screen with no slowdown. The lighting is brilliant, casting excellent shadows on the environments and the game just looks lush. The best moments of Fable II are in the big, animated cut scenes which not only look incredible, but are really, really epic meaning that it sends chills down your spine.
Fable II boasts excellent sound. The game has a brilliant soundtrack, with it haunting players at the greatest moments. There are also some famous actors including Steven Fry and Zoe Wanamaker. They, and pretty much every member of the acting cast, is fantastic delivering funny quips, heart breaking moments and vengeful anger with the perfect amount of mood, subtlety and panache. The special effects are also pretty decent, with the chinking of swords, sounds of spells and even the ripping of farts being spot on. It's a definite treat for the ears.
-(The Replay Value)-
There is plenty of content in Fable II. While the game's main quest could be over in about 10 hours, there is so much so see and explore that you could spend hours upon hours just trying to find all the collectables in the world of Albion. The game has such a huge world that it will take a lot of time to truly see everything. Where Fable II really succeeds is in the game's excellent use of achievements. There are fifty achievements in total, ranging from simply playing through the game, to interacting with Albion's world, to doing things you'd never do usually like shooting innocent bunnies and kicking chickens. You could earn around 500 gamer score for completing the game, but the achievements are so fun that you won't stop there.
Make no mistake; Molyneux has delivered on his promises of the first game. Not only does the game throw a huge open world at you, but it also does it with more interactivity than most games on the market. It's especially the choices you make at the end of the game which ultimately shape Albion into the world it is in the end, and when that happens it's something special. So Fable II gives you choice, but it backs up those choices with a solid and open-ended combat system, varied quests, a loveable pet dog which has an effect on gameplay and hilarious humour. The graphics and sound are both outstanding, and the online co-op could keep you playing with friends forever. Its simple really-Fable II is a must own game this year.
-(The Extra Info)-
This was published by Microsoft and developed by Lionhead Studios.
This was released exclusively on Xbox 360 on October 24th, 2008.
This is rated 15+ for moderate violence and strong sex references.
This is available from Game.co.uk for £39.99
Summary: As Mass Effect was 2007's killer RPG, Fable II is 2008's must own RPG.