Fable II, Lionhead’s ambitious follow-up to it’s popular Xbox title is coming with a retributive bang. While, many of us have waited four eager years to discover destiny and witness it’s effect on Albion, others may have been looking to discover Albion for the very first time. Now the question is: will you choose to be hero or foe? The choice is yours. Whether or not this is a great game is out of your hands.
Fable II begins a mere 500 years after its predecessor. In Fable II, you play as a new character – you are given to choice to be male or female, who begins life as a urchin on the streets that may become the savior of Albion. Much like the first Fable, the plot is pretty basic and you aren’t going to see anything that hasn’t been done before. It is the same basic storyline as the first one, minus the optimistic peoples. The Age of Saviors has passed. No one believes in heroes and saviors anymore. It is a disillusioned world but the charm and atmosphere of the entire game will prove the most rewarding when you wield your reputation for good, or to the dismay and sad confirmation of the people – for evil.
The way you play the game is largely up to you, and the way your character comes out is all about what you do. There’s an obvious shift in focus in terms of reputation systems and how RPGs function. For example, in games like Mass Effect or Knights of the Old Republic, every choice is clear cut. Hurt someone, get negative rep. Help them, + rep. Fable II manages to ease the flow of reputation systems by allowing every single action to be noted by human eyes. Any action you take will be greeted with a stats count above any and every person like the first Fable became gratuitously known to do.
When you’re not too busy exploring the world or trying to get busy with women, you’re out honing your blade with bandits. Fable II’s combat system is brilliant. X button for melee attack, Y handles ranged attacks, and B is for magic. Simple? Try combining all 3 and you can see the combat works perfectly for Fable II. Three face buttons each represent a different discipline: melée, ranged, magic. Earn XP and gain points per disciple by using them. Sword combat is lively and constantly keeping up the momentum and energetic feel. Connect with a friend on LIVE and fight with each other, or fight with the villagers. Have fun. Combat is streamlined for ease of use. While combat is fun and easy it comes with a price, it’s far too easy to defeat an enemy. Lionhead decided that the hero can never die. While that’s not a big deal, you should get slightly challenged to become a hero after all. With only handful of battles did I feel truly challenged in Fable II, if you lose a fight you pretty much only lose out on some experience and earn a few scars. Defeat just doesn’t feel punishing enough.
As if Molyneux couldn’t say it enough: the dog is so cool! A hero’s best friend, and in this tale your dog is no exception. Loyal to the end is truly a understatement. You are his master and this dog will never leave your side, even if you’re one of those masters that needs to be turned into PETA. Give your dog treats or simply ignore him its up to you. Either way, your dog is truly your best and most useful ally. He will warn you of forthcoming danger, he will be a reliable pathfinder, sniffing out rare and hidden items, and slash and tear into your enemies. Your dog is not your only form of navigation. There is a Breadcrumb trail to lead the way to each quest. The trail at first glance may be a little weird, but it actually comes in handy when your exploration senses start tingling. Fable II’s world is drastically larger than the original with much more to discover. While many games have tried and failed in implementing a believable and functional “companion” Fable II’s dog is a success. This canine is never a nuisance, and always helpful. Though you never control the dog, it acts independently and sensible. Although, it’s not perfect you may see him walk through a closed door or object, all in all this is one companion I would like other company’s to take notes from.
For those who take the time to explore, you will discover Albion is a world full of fun and intriguing characters. Fans of the last game will notice Lionhead opted this time around to make the world more grim and menacing. There is also a lot! To do in Albion when you are off on your exploring. Everything is for sale, home or business. Remember, everything you buy stimulate the economy as well so spend or steal wisely. Each action you make has some kind of effect on the world be that your renown or the fluctuation of priced goods.
Online co-op is a major disappointment in Fable II, finding itself into the realms of near deception. Lionhead constantly stated, or at least claimed to have online co-op in this game where a friend can join you in your world, you can trade items, you can do this, you can blah blah that. The problem? It is partly true but a majority of this is facetious. In live demos we would see the hero with another character, fully loaded up and with a unique appearance. Instead, there is a sad reality. The online elements allow gamers to interact with each other, whether that be talking, and viewing their stats. The rub is the other player just looks like a fresh urchin. No appearance, nothing. That’s not the best of this sham. Try and trade items to take back with you, and you will be left disjointed with an empty bag as the wind blows you by. It is quite a shame Lionhead decided to do something so unlike their previous qualms of quality in their previous titles such as Black & White 2, and The Movies but it seems we can all be surprised from time to time, good or in this case – extremely sick.
Fable II excels in the graphics and the 18th century Middle-Age music departments and this will come as no surprise to anyone who is fortunate enough to have played the original which at the time set the bar quite high in both. Animation is also fluid and gives life to each character in Albion. Children run around, play games. The clear winner in the animation department thought is your canine companion. The dog is magnificently animated and moves very life like, a lot of effort was put into it’s creation.
We have waited a long time to return to Albion. Lionhead has crafted a great game which, like its predecessor, only makes me want more from it. Fable II has a great simple rewarding combat system, excellent atmosphere, a smart experience system, and lots to do if you choose to minus some very obvious and annoying gameplay in a small number of elements. In addition, the online and offline co-op, if you can call it that, leaves something extremely to be desired. At least Fable II never takes itself too seriously in the world of Albion and manages to have a great storyline and goofy charm perfectly. What else is there to say? Fable II is a must buy for any RPG lover.