XBLA Review: Fable II Pub Games

You’ve just lucked out

The Fable II Pub Games include three exciting casino-style games set in the world of Lionhead’s award-winning Fable® series. The games include Fortune’s Tower (a pyramid card game in which each row can make or break your fortunes), Keystone (a game of dice and chance with numerous betting options), and Spinnerbox (where luck is everything). When you get the retail version of Fable II, you can transfer gold and unique items that you’ve won in these pub games to your characters in the world of Albion.

  • Gold transfer to Fable II: Earn gold playing the Pub Games weeks before the Fable II release, and then transfer the gold into the world of Albion for a head start.
  • In-game unlockables: The Pub Games allow you to unlock game variants based on the amount your play regardless of wins or losses.
  • Bust out options: You have several options when you bust out. Participate in free tournaments paying off gold for time mirroring FII jobs, or utilize the credit system based on meta game’s star rating.
  • Tournaments: Win 15 unique Fable II items in the Pub Games via tournaments. You can even unlock new Fable II concept art, a first taste of Fable II for the hardcore.

    With all the hype surrounding Fable II, the Pub Games gives players a chance to earn a fortune before the game comes out and while that’s a good thing, the games themselves are rather lacklustre and disappointing to play. As you start playing, you are instantly put into debt until you win enough to pay it off. Apparently debt will lead to something bad in Fable II, so it’s best that you stay debt-free.

    The first game “Fortune’s Tower” is a card game which can be over in a few hands, depending on what cards are dealt. The object is to deal at a significant point, before you go bust or make it all the way to the bottom and claim the jackpot. The game ends when two numbers from different lines match, but it can be stopped if you have a knight card who will repair the damage or the Gate Card that will replace the card, but that stops you from winning the jackpot. The Gate Card won’t always save you though, it sometimes replaces the card with the same one or there may be more than one number match, both of which end the game.

    There are other things to take into consideration with Fortune’s Tower, you can get multipliers if a layer all matches the same number and the amount you win depends on how much you bet. There is the small matter of the exploitation cheat that most seem to be doing in the game, but I’m sure it will be patched and all who have used it may be in some trouble. Overall, it’s not a terrible game but as with real-life gambling, it depends on luck rather than skill.

    Keystone is a dice-game in which you place chips on different areas of the board and roll the dice. Getting a Jackpot in Keystone seems to be the hardest achievement that the game has, as it all depends on the first roll, if it doesn’t happen then you have to play another game till it does. Keystone is probably the worst of the 3 games because the dice seem very unfair, usually rolling in-between 8-14 (for me anyway) so getting those higher placed bets are unlikely.

    Spinnerbox is nothing more than a slot machine, match symbols and win money. That’s all there is to it. The game rewards you in each game for playing so much money, eventually earning you star-ratings to unlock further games where stakes are higher and allow you to enter tournaments to win 15 unique Fable II items that will net you an achievement.

    There really isn’t much else to say about Pub Games, except it would have been nice to have more than 3 betting games for 800 Microsoft Points, but if you pre-ordered Fable II then you got it for free. It just seems a bit steep for its offerings, sure it gives you an advantage for when Fable II rolls around in October, but the price seems unjustified.

    The Verdict

    The Fable II Pub Games are very disappointing in their lack of presentation and the odds are always stacked against you, unless you use the Fortune Tower exploit. Either way, 800 Microsoft Points is just too much for what is here. Treat yourself to Bionic Commando Rearmed instead.