Game: Fable 2
Release Date: 24th October 2008
Platform: Xbox 360

Fable 2 is all about choice, or so Peter Molyneux has been telling us for the last year or so. While everything that he promised may not altogether be apparent here, Fable 2 is a wonderfully appealing game that will most likely suck you into the beautiful world of Albion. Amongst some notable faults such as a short, uninspiring story and a stale interaction system, Fable 2 succeeds at where it doesn’t try to hard, and that is being a great fantasy game.

Presentation

Fable 2 is set 500 years after the original. You start the game as a small boy or girl in the slums of Bowerstone, and are soon spun into the whirlwind of adventure as you progress to adulthood. The story is based on revenge against the evil Lord Lucien, who tries to kill you as a child. While the story is definitely a forgettable one that you wont be thinking about for long after you leave your console, it’s definitely a fun and charming game that offers some hilarious sequences. If you play through the game point-to-point then it can be completed in around 8-10 hours, but if you want to get the most out of Fable 2 then you can get about 25-30 hours to see everything on offer.

The world of Albion is an absolutely beautiful place, which has been wonderfully crafted with immense amounts of detail. There are so many varied environments here, which boast so many different styles, that it’s difficult to flaw the games setting. From the stunningly idyllic Oakfield to the dark, murky swamps of Wraithmarsh, you really get a sense that you are travelling throughout an entire world.

The visuals in Fable 2 are a slightly mixed bag. From a technical perspective, the game isn’t that breathtaking in the amount of detail in each texture, or from a photorealistic perspective, but when the sun sets over the hills of Rookridge, or when you stand on the highest point over Bower Lake, you really get the sense that this is a stunning looking game, with such a prominent and bold art style that really sets it apart from other fantasy titles.

The audio work in Fable 2 is fantastic. The original score is wonderful, while the voice work is laugh-out-loud funny. Standing around in the middle of Bowerstone listening to the various townsfolk having conversations can be so hilarious that you’ll simply just want to wait around to see what they have to say about the fact that you’re male character is wearing women’s clothes. Characters such as Reaver are the standout, and Stephen Fry does a fantastic job voicing him. This game is definitely British in its humour, and it may not appeal to all audiences, but I definitely found that it made me feel a warm sense of fondness for it.





The multiplayer offering of Fable 2 is a massive letdown. You literally won’t want to play this. When you join another player’s world, you can’t bring your character into the world, only a preset character from a short list of defaults. The only aspects of your character you bring into the world are your stats. As well as this, you are restricted to one camera view that is joined to you both, so you can only go so far away from each other before reaching an invisible wall. This is such a disappointment considering the multiplayer had such potential to allow the game to be so in depth.

As I mentioned earlier, the story is a forgettable one. The characters themselves (apart from Reaver) are also pretty forgettable also. That said, there is one companion that you are unable to forget, that is your dog. Your dog accompanies you from very early on in the game, and he is your follower as you travel around the world of Albion. He will do various things, such as hunt out treasure, spot enemies, or help defend you from numerous foes. He will fight for you in battle, and even if you leave him for dead and disappear off without him, he will find you later on in the game. This unconditional love is never seen in videogames, and while it comes off slightly stale at times, the inclusion of the Dog is an original feature that should be commended for its originality.

Another intuitive feature in Fable 2 is the breadcrumb trail. While, in essence, a glorified objective compass, the breadcrumb trail is a gold trail that you can either enable or disable at your leisure to point you to the next story mission. While exploration in Fable 2 is greatly rewarded, the breadcrumb trail ensures you’re never lost or wondering where to go next.

Gameplay

As with its predecessor, Fable 2 has three main combat aspects; melee, ranged and magic. In Fable 2, these have been mapped to three single buttons each. X button is for melee, Y button is for ranged, and B button is for magic. This is a really simple system, that works really well, and while it means you’ll probably spend half your time button mashing the controller to beat your enemies, it enables you to easily flow from one mode of combat to the next. That’s the best thing about Fable 2, while in games like Oblivion, where you mainly specialize in one aspect of combat, in Fable 2, you can master all aspects of combat, enabling you to get different experiences and a deeper play through. I really enjoyed the lack of focus that the combat system allows for, you want to be a master of everything.

It wouldn’t be fun combat if you didn’t have great weapons and magic to unleash on your opponents. That said, a small few of the weapons are pretty uninspiring, but some of the legendary weapons are outright brutal, and the spells are both pretty, and devastating when you level them up to the max.

As you kill your enemies, you earn experience points depending on how you kill them. For example, if I were to attack an enemy with my sword, and then finish him off with a lightning spell, I would gain extra experience because I used a melee/magic combo to defeat him. The experience orbs you gain from enemies are directly influenced by how you kill your enemies, so if you need to level up a spell, simply use only magic to kill your enemies and you will gain the points you need quicker than you would using melee/magic combos. It’s a really flexible and fun system.

As with the previous Fable, you can choose to live a life of righteousness or to become a merciless tyrant who terrifies everyone. Its really fun to see how people react to you depending on how you treat them, whether you have horns sprouting from your head because you have killed so many innocent people, or whether you have a glowing blue halo above your head because of the amount of money you have donated to the church. It’s also really great to have various different weapons and clothing styles when you play as different characters. For my first character I played on the good side, and had a white suit with a pristine silver rifle with the obvious halo above my head, compared to my evil character who I clad in dark brown overalls with a witches hat and gnarly looking axe.
It is such a shame that the multiplayer component doesn’t allow you to show off your single player characters, but creating them yourself is really satisfying.

As well as seeing the interaction that your morality has on the people around you, engaging in emotions with various NPC’s can also affect the way they view your character. If you begin to stand around town flipping off everybody then they begin to see you in a negative light, as well as farting in children’s faces, which definitely arouses some hilarious reactions. You can also choose to flirt with anyone of your choice in an attempt to make him or her your spouse to start a family with. This is a really cool feature, however it feels slightly stale and broken. You’re basically just manipulating the in game system as you trial and error your emotions on the various denizens of Albion. Its sadly another feature in Fable 2 that is great in principle, but not executed to the degree where it would be a remarkable element of the game.

Verdict

Fable 2 is a hilariously funny adventure that will keep you entertained for the duration. While it doesn’t live up to the hype behind it, and it doesn’t succeed to raise the bar for western RPG’s, it offers some great lighthearted humour that is not often seen in games. The game is able to laugh at itself, and it’s a breath of fresh air. Coupled with the wonderful art direction and fun, accessible combat system, it’s definitely a game worth playing, even just for a rental if you’re not that sure whether to buy it or not.

8/10

Presentation: 8

A forgettable story and cast of characters but a wonderfully detailed world that you’ll simply want to roam around in.

Gameplay: 9

Simple combat and great adventure mechanics make it a pleasure to play, however stale emotion mechanics mean the game can seem slightly robotic.

Visuals: 9

Wonderful art design and beautiful environments are to die for, while the engine is a little under the bar.

Audio: 9

A wonderful score supports great voice acting and a hilarious script.

Lasting Appeal: 8

Sadly the story is pretty brief, but if you want to see what Fable 2 has to offer you’d be much better off sticking around to explore all of Albion’s little nooks and crannies.



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