When the original Fable was released, not many people knew what Lionhead Studios was. But that quickly changed. With some great combat mechanics using melee weapons and magic and a system that changed the character’s appearance based on his actions. Everything about the game was compelling and visceral. More than four years later, the team at Lionhead has returned with another epic that seeks to follow in the footsteps of its legendary predecessor.
|Publisher(s)||Microsft Game Studios|
|Release||October 21, 2008|
|MATURE - Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.|
Fable II, like the original, starts off with a young hero and his sister. In the quick hour, the player spends as a child, the basic premise of the plot is established, the hero receives his all-important dog, and the player learns the ins and outs of gameplay. Fable II’s combat is simple and smooth: X controls melee attacks, Y controls the all-new feature of gunplay, and B controls magical attacks.
Thankfully, the mana meter from Fable is notably absent, meaning that the player has access to unlimited magical attacks. The D-pad has some basic actions that switch depending on the situation, which come in handy in certain situations, but at times proves annoying.
After the ‘tutorial’ of childhood, players are thrust into the open world of Fable II, with a basic sword, pistol, and magical attack.
The world is nowhere near as large as that of games like Fallout 3 or A Link Between Worlds and, not to mention, Monster Hunter game and Shadow of the Colossus. Instead, the player finds places by walking down paths, as opposed to just wandering aimlessly throughout the wilderness. A fast travel menu allows quick access to all the places that have been discovered, which is helpful in quests that have you running around and backtracking a lot. It’s a rich world with plenty to see and do.
Players with a fortune can buy up just about everything in the land of Albion, take part in the Crucible, a multi-leveled kill-fest, participate in a shooting contest, and much more.
Aside from the player, the other lead character in the game is the dog. The dog is indispensable in the player’s quest. Not only will the dog alert the player when the treasure is nearby, it will attack knocked-down enemies in combat and it helps impress NPCs when players do an expression.
However, having a dog in-game is as much a two-way street as it is in real life. Players will need to play with their pet often in order to keep it happy and heal it if it’s injured in combat. Fortunately, the dog cannot die, which ensures that it will remain by the player’s side throughout the course of the game.
Character development is even better than it was in Fable, and for good reason. Characters can be upgraded with all sorts of weapons, and weapons can be upgraded with augments that give them special powers. Players’ skills can be upgraded at the cost of skill points, which return from the original Fable. The final level spells, level 5, are truly devastating to behold, and nothing beats watching an arrow decapitate a bandit during an ambush in the woods.
The good/evil system returns, along with a pure/corrupt system that allows your character to remain neutral or fall to either end of either spectrum. It’s a nice touch, but it really has no impact on gameplay, except that villagers will often run from a purely evil character, which makes talking to people rather difficult at times.
Characters can now marry any NPC of the opposite gender and some of the same gender as well. Children are an option as well, and it’s a nice touch to be greeted by wife and child upon entering the home village. Demon Doors return as well, and they pose the player a bevy of challenges to complete in order to enter and claim the treasures that lie behind the portal. Miscellaneous quests provide side missions to do while in limbo between story missions, and there is a load of collectibles to find, most notably Silver Keys and Gargoyles, both of which unlock great treasures.
Unfortunately, compared to all the options outside of the main storyline, the main quest itself is actually very skimpy compared to what the original Fable offered. The storyline can be completed in around 9 hours, less if it’s rushed. The characters are largely forgettable and flat unlike characters such as Jack of Blades from the first game. It’s a disappointment, but the plotline, while short, is more compelling than most games and some parts present a challenge.
Fortunately, no matter what, the main storyline is always atmospheric and varied, with fabulous lighting, a large selection of different environments and a handful of important choices to make. The immersion of the player in the land of Albion is unlike anything was seen in a long time, and it’s never a chore to play.
Fable II is also the first game in the series to offer online cooperative play. Unfortunately, the game is dragged down by the fact that players have to share the same camera, and thus can’t venture far from each other and pursue their own ends. The game was, regrettable, built for ‘couch co-op’. Fortunately, items and funds can be traded through Friend Orbs throughout the world, floating bubbles that with a click start a trading session with an online friend. It’s a nice touch that helps make up for the lack of separate cameras.
Overall, Fable II is a great game that takes what worked in the prequel and elaborates on it, if ever so slightly. It doesn’t try to break all sorts of new ground but offers enough updates and a new story to easily justify the purchase. It’s a massive world just waiting to be cracked open and explored o the fullest extent, and players who do just that will most certainly get their money’s worth.