System: XBOX 360
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Genre: Action RPG
Number of Players: 1-2
Release Date US: October 21, 2008
Release Date Europe: October 24, 2008
Release Date Australia: October 23, 2008
MSRP: $59.99; $69.99 (Limited Edition)
ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood, Language, Sexual Content, Use of Alcohol, Violence
Fable II is set 500 years after the first game. It follows the story of a nameless Hero/Heroine who goes by the nickname/title of Sparrow (you can change your nickname to other premade titles later on). You start out life as a kid who lives with his sister on the streets of the poor district of Bowerstone (a town in Albion), fighting everyday to just get by. A big tragic event happens during childhood that forever changes Sparrow and sets him up to be Albion’s Savior, the fourth hero. You'll start searching for the Three Heroes: The Hero of Strength, The Hero of Will, and the Hero of Skill. Whether you want to do it search them with the path of good or evil is up to you, but bear in mind, some decisions will have heavy effect of the people and Albion itself. For example, some actions during your childhood will determine if a whole town will be a prosperous one with great economy or a lawless slum home to crime when you grow up to an adult.
The Story, while clichéd, works and has it charms. It is beautifully written and really comes to life. Story Quests are varied and offer good character development (specially the Hero’s). Sidequest are also varied and are probably more fun than the already great story quests.
As previously stated, in Fable II, like most RPGs, you are on a "main" quest to save the world. A blind, powerful sorcerer, who for some reason knows much about the ancient Hero's Guild, serves as your guide during your quest. You’ll be given choices on your actions that are either evil or good. Some are either Pure or Corrupt. These are measured on an ingame gauge of Evil vs Good and Pure vs Corrupt. Depending on your choices, the people of Albion will treat you accordingly (i.e. if you’re good they’ll worship you, if you’re pure they love you, if you’re evil they’ll fear you, if you're corrupt they'll hate you). In fact, your own look will change depending on your alignment. If you are pure and good for example, you will look attractive and eventually get an Angel’s Halo and if you're Evil and Corrupt you get a dark skin with red glowing cracks, green eyes and horns. But how is pure different from good (likewise how is corrupt different from evil) you ask? You see, actions that affect the people are good/evil (helping citizens, doing crime) while selfless/selfish actions are pure/corrupt (helping/destroying the town’s economy, gluttony). Other things that define your look and how people treat you are your diet (drink alcohol and eat meat and you’ll get fat), your face (including haircut, facial hair, and makeup), some skills (i.e. High Accuracy makes you taller) and your clothing. For example, a Noble’s suit with muttonchops will look attractive, while a bandit suit with an eyepatch will look scary.
Combat plays another important roll in Fable II. You use the X button to use your Melee weapon, Y for your Gun, B for your Will/Spells, and A to Sprint or Roll (once learned). Every hit on a enemy gives you Green Exp Orbs (which can be used for anything) and the corresponding specialized Exp Orbs (depending on which thing you hit with, you get Blue Orbs for Melee, Yellow Orbs for Guns, or Red for Will/Spells). You suck up the orbs with the Right Trigger. You can then spend these orbs to improve yourself and learn skills/spells.
The combat system is simple but well implemented, minus Target shooting. I found that sometimes I go out of Targeting by accident (you need to keep holding Y to stay on target mode). Other than that, it is very fluid. It is very cool how you can go from a Blade fight to a Gun fight to a Magicspell on the fly and vise-versa. The most versatile spell in the game has to be Raise Dead. It summons spirits who attack and distract enemies while you plunder them with your gun/spells from afar.
The Dog plays a key role during your adventure. He can find treasures for you by sniffing out digspots and treasure chests, he can sense incoming enemies (he growls with anger), and can even bite on downed enemies for the kill. You can improve his combat skills and treasure finding skills over time. But you being in battle, he can get hurt. You can heal him if you want. Even your Dog can change appearance depending on your alignment.
One thing they could have done better was the online multiplayer. When you want to join a friend's world to quest with him, you never join as your own character, just as a proxy one (you get to select out of 5 templates). Your skills will transfer, but it seems like a step back to not transfer your look and equipment, as that is what makes your character unique. At least, if your friend unlocks an achievement, you'll get it for free.
Another interesting aspect of Fable II is sexuality
. In the game, you can have intercourse with men and women, regardless of your gender, with more than one person at once if you want (no visual scenes though, just sounds). This in turns means there are homosexuals and bisexuals men and women in the game. You can crossdress if you like (in fact, an quest involves a Drag Queen NPC). You can buy condoms to prevent getting STDs and/or getting a child. I find this very interesting and important. Very few games are so open about sexuality, and in my opinion, it helps the game.
Lastly, I should mention, the main part of Fable II lies in everything you can do BUT the main story. All the side quest and things you can do is what makes the game shine. Fable II is one of the few RPG games that really deserves to be called a Role Playing Game. You really
role play in the literal meaning of the word. You can get married and start a family. You can work at a bar, as a blacksmith, as a law enforcer rescuing helpless citizens, and/or be a real estate magnate.
One word: Beautiful. The artwork (the game’s Limited Edition Strategy Guide has a 100+ page artbook) is faithfully recreated in the game. From the prostitutes, to the noblegents, everything looks great. The towns look lively. Places like Wraithmarsh have the Ghost Swamp vibe nailed.
Two things I really enjoyed are the spell animations and the design of the weapons. Raise Undead (a spell that summons Ghost to attack enemies) changes of you cast it after a few enemies are dead, as it will summon those dead’s spirit instead of the generic Ghost, a nice touch. On the weapon side, some on the later weapons have beautiful design, specially the Master and Legendary ones.
The music and voice acting really bring life to Albion. Every voice fits the character perfectly. From Hammer’s tough girl voice, to Garth’s Wiseman voice, it really makes you feel like a real story is happening. Even NPC’s feature good voices, albeit, a bit repetitive, but hey, voicing Hundreds of NPC who each reach to you in their own way with an individual touch would be imposible, so it is understandable. The Dog’s Growls feel natural, and well done also. One minor problem, the Hero is voiceless (minus grunts, laughs, etc.) something that in this day and age is something not overlooked.
: Fable II is a gem and a step above it's prequel. While some gameplay element need a bit of polish, all the other well crafted aspects lets you ignore those minor problems and truly enjoy one of the finest examples of a real Role Playing Game. I highly recomend it to any RPG fan and non RPG fans should still take a look at this marvel.
+ Great Combat system
+ Fun and involving sidequest, jobs, etc.
+ Well written story
+ One of the few games that is open about sexuality
+ Did I mention how fun it is? Oh I did.
- Short story
- Gun targeting can be a problem sometimes
- During narrative, there isn't a good cinematic camera to bump up the atmosphere (excluding the Left Trigger focus, but it is rare)
- Many reports claim it is full of bugs. I haven't experienced one myself, but I should mention it
- Presentation - 9/10
- Gameplay - 9/10
- Graphics - 9/10
- Sound - 9.5/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9.5/10
Final Judgement: 9/10