Fable 2 Review
Stepping into Fable II I was certainly not sitting on the fence waiting to praise the game as a fanboy, so that thought should instantly be thrown aside. Upon starting my adventure I expected a mediocre adventure, which whilst enjoyable and worthwhile, would be quickly forgettable and left to collect dust after the first completion. I was wrong.
As you load your first game, selecting the sex of your hero, you are presented with a simplistic tutorial that guides your hand through the games complexities as a child. The simplistic design and childish appearance of your hero at the start of the game can be an instant put off; combat is simple and dull, quests are predictable and boring, storyline is basic – but before you even finish judging the games introduction, it begins. The storyline quickly develops and you find yourself aged, in an expansive world with far more depth than you were ever lead to believe. You may be lead to believe that the promises were not kept (as found by many in Fable), but when Fable II truly begins the game consumes you.
The main problem with the first game was that good and evil was so clear-cut, left or right, fight or flee. Now the character development has greatly improved and quests rarely hint at which direction will result in what outcome. It is all in the hands of the player. Whilst I had initially frowned on Lionheads decision to disallow loading previous saves to avoid mistakes, I now see how much this aids the game. Characters can develop in their alignment, popularity, attractiveness and statistics. All of which featuring a multitude of different values, from your weight making you appear uglier, to the level of corruption the people of Albion see in you.
Of course there is not only yourself to look after this time around, as Dog (as I cleverly named him) is your faithful companion throughout the game. Always following at your side he will show you locations of treasure (be it underground requiring digging, or in a crate) and defend you when you come under attack. He can even play a vital part of unlocking certain game areas, such as a Demon Door requiring your dog to perform certain emotes.
On the topic of emotes, along with yourself and your faithful sidekick there is also a worldwide population filling the lands of Albion, of which each and everyone has an opinion of you. Be it that they think you are scary and fear your presence, wanting to sleep with you because you are beautiful, or even showering you with gifts with love and affection. It is hard times trying to convince the entire world to like you, or in the role of evil – hate you, but it is enjoyable none the less trying.
So with the complexities of the characters that populate the world, what depth does the world have? Well you can basically live your characters life (or write his fable to be more precise) as you wish. If you want to buy every building available, renting out homes and selling stock to the population – go for it. If you simply plan to marry 7 different women and sleep with a different one each day of the week – then you probably have issues, but whatever floats your boat! Personally I did a little of everything. I followed the main storyline’s path to watch the fantastic close, completed endless side quests, owned a handful of buildings and market stalls, married two women with one child, worked as a blacksmith, defeated countless enemies and… I could continue this list for quite some time. The point I am trying to put across here is that I have managed to accomplish several games worth of depth, and my fable isn’t over just yet!
With all the positives come a few issues, which may amount to more to some and less to others. The main issue that most will instantly pick up with the game (and a small army over at the official forums) is the poor co-op functionality. It is a great shame to say this, as the basis of the game seems to prepare for what could be an unbelievable co-op experience. Throughout the game you can enable to see other players (friends or everyone) in the form of small bright globes. You will literally see hundreds of these whilst you play. Each player can communicate via voice chat which works great, and can perform basic functions such as trading effortlessly. It is rather remarkable that Lionhead managed to develop such a complex system of what can best be described as a world-sized lobby.
Unfortunately, it is when you actually attempt to play together that the functionality falters. Another player can join your world, or you to theirs, but by doing so the joining player will leave behind their world and hero, substituted themselves for a one of six premade characters with predefined weapons and very limited interaction in the world. This basically means that you are a pet for the main player, unable to customize your character or even interact with most features of the game. Considering that typically a game of this nature and style would limit itself exclusively to being single-player, I can’t help but be thankful for what is on offer; but on the other hand knowing the endless possibilities the game could offer if full co-op was included. It is such a large shame that the developer (and gamers!) missed out on the opportunity.
Other than the disappointing level of co-op provided, the only other gripe with the game would be game breaking bugs, or even small ones that detract from the immersive world. From personal experience I have had very little encounters with bugs – so this has not been an issue for me. I have however learnt that many players are finding game breaking bugs, which result in needing to restart the game. Because of this, it would be wise to consult the official forums and be aware of such bugs, before stepping blindly into one by no fault of your own. These issues are something I expect the developers are already trying to iron out via a patch.
Other than these two gripes the game is a beautiful package and a fantastic experience that I could not recommend more to everyone. The environments and style oozes from the screen, the depth and interactivity is endless, and the voice work and musical score is brilliant. Hats off to the development team for creating what could easily be one of the best game sequels I have had the joy to play.
To define ‘fable’ you would be describing a short and simple story that teaches a lesson. To define Fable II, you are looking at more of an enveloping adventure, which takes hold and won’t let go, taking you on an emotional rollercoaster of enjoyment. There are many buzz words that can be used to describe my feelings for the game, most of which following the trend of ‘amazing’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘superb’; but instead of that just trust my advice and see for yourself. As for me, I have some chickens to kick, see you in the game world.