Fable II Pub Games came as a surprise release during the ‘Summer of Arcade’, but will it live up to the high standard set by other releases during the month?
On loading of the game, you are asked to choose a placehold character where player’s money will be stored until the money can be converted into experience points for Fable 2, at a rate of one gold per XP for the linked character. As well as allowing the conversion of experience points, the game will also allow unique items unlocked in the Arcade game to be used within the full retail game.
Fable II Pub Games consists of three games that will also be playable within Fable 2, which is due for release in October. Each game consists of 15 game modes, each allowing higher bets and higher winnings, but also higher losses. These modes are; Fortune Tower, Keystone and Spinnerbox. Fortune Tower is a simple, yet mildly addictive game. At the beginning of each game, players place a bet (which is a multiple of 15) and cards are drawn, forming a row. The cards contain numbers 1 – 7 (and higher in some games). Once the row of cards is drawn, players can choose whether to accept the points or to risk getting more points in the next round. If players choose to risk, more cards are drawn and placed on the next row with an additional card. Players have more chance of a higher score, but also have more chance of a “misfortune” happening.
“Misfortunes” happen when two cards of the same figure are diagonally connected. There are two ways of preventing a misfortune. Firstly, if a ‘hero’ card is drawn, the whole row becomes immune from misfortunes though aren’t worth any gold. Alternatively, a ‘gate’ card is automatically played on one of the misfortunes. The ‘gate’ card is the first card drawn and is the top card of the pyramid type structure. Once the ‘gate’ card is used, players do not get another card until the next game.
Next up is Keystone, a roulette type game in which players place chips on a board they think the number the three dice will land on when rolled. The number corresponds to a stone placed in an arch shape around the board, a colour and a shape. If players have placed chips on the correct number, colour or shape, they win gold. The round ends when the arch collapses (either the number 3 or 18 stone is taken away or both 10 and 11 have been removed). The winner at the end of the game is the player with the most gold.
Finally, the last game is Spinnerbox, which is 100% luck based. At the start of each round, players place a bet, and spin the Spinners of the triangular box. The amount of spinners depends on the game mode. Each spinner contains pictures and the aim is to match three or more of these pictures up. The money won depends on the picture of the spinners and any multipliers. Multipliers are earned by the spinner landing on the crown picture; this gives a player a “bonus” round in which they can multiply their winnings.
Out of the three games, there are only two you are likely to play which are Fortune Tower and Keystone, as there are decisions to be made. Spinnerbox could have been a great game if there was more to do than to keep pressing A. Luckily the controls are a little more complex in the other games and instructions are clearly stated at the foot of the screen therefore being simple to learn.
Each game has five tournaments to participate in – with each tournament becoming progressively harder and with a higher entry fee. The major let down is the AI, as your opponents will either play terribly bad or get lucky on one go, doubling their score and give you no chance of winning. Winning in each tournament unlocks a unique game item, so it’s worth having a shot at them. These include: potions, weapons, tattoos, hair styles and even a trick to teach your dog. Unfortunately, the really good prize (of a mysterious ring) is unlocked by completing the five star rating tournament.
Star ratings are earned simply by playing the game a lot. It doesn’t matter whether you’re winning or losing, as long as you bet a lot, your star rating increases. Other than unlocking tournaments, star ratings also unlock you two achievements. The first is for getting to a 3 star rating and the second is for getting to the 5 star rating. The rest of the achievements require you to get lucky in certain games and win the tournaments. There’s also an achievement worth 0 GamerScore for playing a pub game with your Fable II Hero ready for the full game. Players can also unlock concept art for the full game, which looks great, though a lot of it has already appeared on the Internet.
Graphically, Fable II Pub Games isn’t too bad for an Arcade title, though there isn’t a lot to comment on. The game’s menu presentation is well done and has a very “Fable” look to it. The music throughout the game is very village pub-like, with the accompanying violins and the piano. Not the most entertaining music, but hey, it’s Fable.
Unfortunately, Fable II Pub Games lacks many features, the most noticeable is the multiplayer. Despite the ability to play against the computer in tournaments there isn’t even offline multiplayer. There’s also the lack of any audio in the game’s tutorials and once players have unlocked all fifteen unique items, there isn’t any replayability.
Personally, I don’t think Fable II Pub Games is worth the 800 Microsoft Points, unless you’re a serious Fable 2 player looking for an experience boost. Though chances are, you already had Fable 2 on order and received this title for free. The games don’t provide enough entertainment and will bore many players after an hour or two due to the games being luck-based. There’s also a chance you’ll end up in debt before the game’s even released!