Xbox 360 Review: Fable II

What makes a good game? One like Fable II, probably.

Not being a huge Xbox fan until late in its development, the original Fable had slipped by me without notice and I always regretted it…until I bought it on Xbox Originals and breezed through it in about a day or two, the problem was that it never felt like a finished product, like it had so much more to offer but never realising its potential…I’m glad to say that Fable II doesn’t make the same mistake.

The main story of Fable II starts out with your main character as a child and they collect 5 gold pieces to get a musical box that can grant one wish. Your sister wishes to visit Fairfax Castle and that night you are both escorted to it. Things go a little wrong from there as your sister is shot dead and you are also shot but fall out of the castle window, but you survive with an agenda of revenge against your sister’s killer. You come across a witch called Theresa who says that the world is in danger unless you gather the Heroes and put an end to the man’s evil plans.

The story itself is told very well and has a great cast of characters that are memorable. The problem is that it tends to end rather briefly. The game seems to be filled with more side-quests and interactive opportunities than a main quest. At the time of review, there is no online support but by the time of reading it there will be as it should now be patched. At its heart Fable II feel the same, has locations and characters that fans will recognise as Albion has moved on 500 years since the original.

Gameplay remains similar with quests for you to do and villagers reacting to you if you are good or just plain nasty, having played both sides of the same coin…I can say it’s much better to play as a evil guy than goodie-two shoes. There are a lot of benefits to being bad such as more money and being feared can give you discounts at shops, others will try and give you gifts but most will just run, screaming and pleading for you not to kill them.

Depending on what path you choose to take, the world will react to it, there will be consequences for being bad or good that cannot be undone. Like I said, there seems to be a much bigger focus on side-quests this time round and they are very well done. Most let you choose to be good or bad, for example one side quest sees you try and find a grandson who has wondered into a cave…his grandmother was worried about him and sent me to find him, when I find him it turns out he’s older than expected but he can die in an attack from the undead. Then you can choose to wear his hat and make his grandmother think you are him and she gives you money, you could try and keep him alive or break the news to her, but that’s a simple choice of what you might have to do.

Combat is much improved with just a simple tap of the X button to use a melee weapon or Y to fire your crossbow, rifle or pistol. As your skills improve, you can zoom in more with your weapons and even lock into specific limbs. There are a few magic spells such as inferno, raise dead, blades and so on that can be upgraded to Level 5 and a mixture of spells can be combined into a spell meter. So when you hold down B, it charges up each spell and then you let go when you need to. Even when attacked like this, your spell isn’t broken so you can just take damage and then unleash hell.

The real fun of Fable II comes in the form of interaction with villagers. You get a ton of options for you to express yourself such as dancing, flirting, belching, farting or you can play fetch with your loyal dog, who will hunt down treasure and dig spots. You can get married (more than once if you want to) you can start a family, participate in a threesome/foursome, get people to follow you and if you want, take them to be sacrificed.

You can buy property in the game, even shops and raise the rent/prices for both to earn some real regular cash. There’s also the pub games to consider, transferring your money from the XBLA game to Fable II is pretty straightforward and I don’t think that consequences for using the glitch existed as I didn’t hear anything about it in forums and the like. What I like about Fable II is that everything you do has some reaction. Becoming a bigamist will earn you the wrath of your wives and then you’ll be D.I.V.O.R.C.E.D. You can eat food and become fat, your character will grow horns if they are evil or become pure in complexion if they are good. Everything has a reaction.

Graphically, Fable II looks amazing. Sure it does have a few technical problems with frame rates and loading times and maybe a few glitches in places, but it’s nothing that hinders the experience that the Lionhead team have poured their souls into creating. It’s probably one of the most in-depth and fun games that I have ever played, although at this point I’m still waiting to play Fallout 3. It’ll be hard to tear the two apart with their offerings and I pity anyone who attempts to. Voice-acting can be a bad thing in videogames, luckily this isn’t the case with Fable II. There are plenty of great voices and accents that stand out from the usual American-sounding games of today. It’s a nice change and one that’s very welcome to this particular British reviewer.

The Verdict

If I spent another 1000 words or so, I still couldn’t begin to scratch the surface of everything that Fable II has to offer. It improves upon the original in every way, while not feeling too drastic in change. It meets all expectations with flying colours and its going to take something incredible to topple it, this is the game that every Xbox 360 owner must buy, so go out and get it now!