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Fable 2

Action RPG for Xbox 360

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Much improved over the original

  • Feb 3, 2009
  • by
I played the original Fable on the original XBOX, and while it was okay, it seriously under delivered on all of its "ground breaking" RPG claims. The game mechanics of the first Fable were fine, but tended towards the obnoxious side. The "Guild Master" was constantly yipping at you through his telepathic talking ability, the combat was repetitive and unsatisfying, the world's surface looked plastic-like, and the depth of EVERYTHING was very shallow. Want to get married? OK, now what? Want villagers to like you? Flex for 'em. Want them to fear you? Murder something in front of them. Want them to like you again? Do some more flexing, AND THEY WILL COMPLETELY FORGET ABOUT THE WHOLE "MURDER" BUSINESS! The original Fable had lofty goals, and tried to get a little bit of all of them into the game, with the end result being a rather unsatisfactory experience, overall -- especially at full price.

Fable II ... still doesn't really live up to the hype, and has managed to add a couple of new really irritating aspects to the game play, while repairing some of the old. I want to say up front, though, that I enjoy this game, and I am obsessively playing it.

Some of the things they fixed from the first game are: no "Guild Master" is constantly talking to you through the game anymore, or encouraging you to "try to get your combat meter even higher!" The depth of THIS Fable is much greater than the first. The combat is still repetitive, but at least they have managed to mix it up a little better this time around. You can get slightly more complicated (and elegant) with hand to hand. Ranged is actually an option now (it was completely unplayable in the first Fable, due to the forced 1st person perspective in a 3rd person game, and inability to move while shooting, and no aiming help), and magic is more or less like the first game, with some tweaks. The "expressions" are still a rather stupid method of "communication" in the game, frankly I would prefer dialog trees or Mass Effects' "wheel-o-emotion" way of digging through dialog trees. They have tried to emulate Mass Effect's "wheel-o-emotion" but it is still just a list of expressions you can use, to different effect.

A couple of new (good) things are: condoms for sex (which surprised me -- but, I guess if you are going to allow polygamy and "swinging" parties in the game, you have to do SOMETHING to placate the right wingers), which leads to the ability to have (or not have) children. You can now RUN when trying to get around (much better than having to walk everywhere). Relationships are now much more complex, and interesting (although your wife/husband will still have a very limited range of things to say to you). The world is now MUCH bigger, and there are a CONSTANT list of things to do (although after the 20th "save the slaves" quest, or the umpeenth "bounty hunter -- slay the bandits" job, you get a bit tired of those options).

You can now also take a job in most of the various towns in the game, and earn some cash outside of quests, monster slaying, or stealing. The jobs are useful EARLY in the game, to get much needed cash -- if you are playing as a good character anyway. They are simple timing mini-games, but they pass the nights well, when you are waiting for the shops to open back up. I ignored the jobs once my real estate holdings started netting me over 5-8K per payment period, because at that point your money is making money for you, and you really can't get much more than 5-10K working at a job in a 24 hour "day" in the game, whereas you get paid your real estate "rent" every 5 minutes, you do the math ;-) You can buy homes and businesses in the game, although I was a bit disappointed by both. For homes, you can do a little bit of redecorating (much better than what you could do in the original Fable) -- I was hoping for more options, like maybe painting it, completely re-ordering everything, having more than 5 "types" of furniture, home construction projects (having another kid, add a new bedroom!) -- that kind of stuff. Oh well.

For businesses, I was kind of hoping you could actually assume the role as the business owner, and interact with the town on that level for a while -- and only hire an employee to run it when you lost interest in doing that. But, all you can actually do is buy the building/stall. The employee for that business will continue operating it same as before -- you just now get a share of the profits (delivered along with your rent money), and a permanent 39% discount. Also note, I don't know if it is a bug in the game, or what, but buildings you buy can be bought out from under you (without you explicitly selling them). You get the money from the sale, but then you have to go back and buy the building back, if you didn't want to sell it.

Now, on to the obnoxious report. I again want to say that I like this game, these notes are mostly for the developers (who I am SURE have some poor PR person reading reviews online for feedback for Fable 3). For all of the obnoxious things the game fixed from the first Fable, it (sadly) added many new ones. First of all, the controls suck. The left analog stick, used for moving around, is WAY too sensitive (but to confuse things, there is also a delay in responding to your directional commands), and there is no way to turn the sensitivity down -- it is fine for combat, but way too sensitive for in-town maneuvers. Prepare to make many frustrated micro corrections to your path finding as you try to navigate your way through town, or (god help you) select something (like a merchant). Running makes this phenomenon worse. This is even more obnoxious when you are trying to select something, or someone in a crowd. Instead of using the shoulder buttons to change highlighted selections (as many XBOX 360 games now do), you have to run/walk up to the person or item, and cajole your character into facing them *EXACTLY*, to get them to highlight properly, even then, you have to "lock on" to your target, if they are a person (not a merchant though), to interact with them and them alone -- of course, if someone moves in between you and your target, EVEN IF YOU ARE LOCKED ON TO THEM, the game will STILL think you want to suddenly interact with the now closer person instead. Yeah, um Lionhead Studios ... welcome to the 21st century, we don't want game mechanics like this any more. They are last century, and last console, technology, and other developers have invented far better ways of doing it. For goodness sakes, Knights of the Old Republic, on the original XBOX had a better selection and interaction control scheme than you are using now for your second generation game for the second generation of the console! If you cannot come up with it on your own, then ape their way of doing it, please.

Probably the most INFURIATING game mechanic, which should get someone a spanking, is the "B button to quit ... and also cast offensive magic spells" mechanic. See, the "B" button quits you out of ALMOST everything (except when you are "locked on" to a person with the left trigger, to "unlock" from them, you have to left trigger again, or move far enough away from them), and you get into the habit of doing that. But, the problem is, IT ALSO CASTS OFFENSIVE MAGIC SPELLS! This means if you are jamming on it to get out of the menu system, and hit it one too many times, you are suddenly trying to kill your wife, and she doesn't like that! Nor do I like hearing her beg for her life with terror in her voice. I am sentimental that way. WHO GREEN LIGHTED *THAT* GAME MECHANIC?!

Speaking of menus, Lionhead has provided handy dandy short cuts to get to the "quests" menu, the "jobs" menu, the "sales" menu, and the "families" menu. These are all sub-menus of the "Quests & Jobs" main menu item. You would think, then, that hitting those short cuts would bring you right into those sub-menus, wouldn't you? And you would be wrong. Instead, all 4 short cuts bring you to the same freaking sub-menu list, where you then have to scroll down to the appropriate sub-menu item, and actually select it. To be fair to Lionhead, though, they DO highlight the sub-menu item for you, when you use the shortcut. An additional menu issue is using items. When you want to use a bunch of items at once (say the 10 XP potions you have accumulated), one would think you could just jam on the "use item" button in the menu system, and keep going until you are done. One would be wrong. INSTEAD, Lionhead dumps you back into the game and completely out of the menu system EVERY-SINGLE-TIME you use an item. Want to use 20 XP potions? Do you have 20 minutes? My final gripe about menus is the lack of information about CURRENT STOCK! If I am browsing a gift store, it would be helpful if the items I am browsing would show a current stock of my inventory when items are selected, so I don't accidentally stock up on too many things. Having to physically go into each item menu and check on things, is stupid. Also, not having a sort option for things like the books list, is almost criminal (you will know what I mean when you get a certain someone's 20+ page diary, which shows up in your inventory in a random order -- good luck reading it!). It would also be helpful to be able to keep items, but "hide" them from view, unless specifically asked for. You will accumulate notes and items in the game, which you will want to hang on to, but you don't need to see them in the full item list every time you are in there.

Maps are almost useless in this game, they are zoomed out way too far, and you cannot zoom in (and I am playing on a 46 inch wide screen HD screen using HDMI, so don't try to tell me it is my fault for having the wrong setup. There are no labels, and no way to self label, and the not even helpful "this way to such and such town" markings.

Finally, expressions are as ridiculous as they were in the original game. They would be mildly handy to help persuade people to like you, or dislike you, or whatnot, or for special effects. BUT TO MAKE THEM THE PRIMARY, AND ONLY METHOD OF COMMUNICATION IN THE GAME IS JUST STUPID! You will really grow to hate expressions (if you are playing "good") if you start showing trophies, or do your wooing of your romantic conquests in public, because inevitably the vast majority of the public will start to follow you around (something to be said for the "evil" option, and people fleeing from you!) completely in love with you. That wouldn't be so annoying if the NPCs couldn't BLOCK YOUR PATH! They will crowd behind you in doors and shops, making getting around VERY difficult, as you cannot just knock them back (unless you want to go dark side and ACTUALLY attack them). They will even follow you upstairs into your own home (WHY can't I CLOSE my front door when I am home?!), when you are trying to have "alone time" with your spouse -- who will react negatively to you (thinking you are more crass/pig like), if you try to sleep with him/her when people are around. I have found the best way to get the NPCs to go away, is to turn my back on them, and stop moving for about 30 seconds. They quickly lose interest after they have had their say (usually incessantly begging you to marry them -- I mean, honestly, the romance option would be MUCH more satisfying if it wasn't so stupidly easy to find a spouse and get married. Do a few "seduce" expressions, and darn near the entire town will spend the rest of the game following you around begging for a wedding ring (and that gets old REALLY fast)). I FULLY intend to be evil next play though, and that should help this annoyance immensely.

Overall, *GOOD*, *SOLID* RPG! Lots of fun, engrossing, good story. Good side quests. The dog is an interesting game mechanic, and I would like to see more exploration done on that mechanic. The look and feel of the game is much improved over the original. The depth of the game is MUCH deeper than the first, and over all this is a 4 star game. If they manage to fix my gripes above in Fable 3 (and refrain from adding too many new ones), then I will consider the series a 5 star game. Over all, good job Lionhead Studios! I will be watching the news for Fable 3, closely.

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More Fable 2 reviews
review by . June 19, 2009
I don't play many video games but every once in a while I'll find one that really catches my fancy.  Fable II is one of them.  First of all, it puts me into a fantasy world of magic & sword fighting, which is right up my ally.  The storyline is fairly interesting.  The graphics are good & fun to watch & the scenery is beautiful, at times.      You can chose whether to play as a male or female.  You start out as a child, then the story …
Quick Tip by . August 21, 2009
Does it really matter if the game lets you do anything you want if the story sucks and its just plain boring to begin with?
review by . May 15, 2009
All you 360 fans can finally exhale....Fable II has been released. After the wildly popular Fable became a classic this has been the game most of us have waited a long time for. If you missed the first Fable...this became the game you had to check out to see what all the hype was about. But once the hype machine calms down, we're left with a game with many flaws. Story: It won't take you long to realize that Fable II isn't going to revolutionize the genre. You have two choices: you can either …
review by . February 27, 2009
Fable II, the aptly-named sequel to Fable, hit the markets a while back. I didn't have a way to play it then, but I do now, so even if this review isn't terribly timely, I hope you'll find it helpful.    The game takes place in the world of Albion, a beautiful, lovely world somewhere between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. In that it quickly differentiates itself from most fantasy worlds.    You play the Hero. You don't get a name, but you can get titles …
About the reviewer
R. McAdams ()
Ranked #415
Computer programmer and information security and computer forensics professional. Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Information Security and Computer Forensics.      … more
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About this video game


Who will you become?  Beginning as a penniless street-urchin, your destiny is to become Albion's greatest Hero.  But will your power lie in kindness or cruelty?  Chose your own path to glory and experience how those choices change you and the world forever.  A new life, a unique adventure - every time!

It's all up to you: Man or woman, good or evil, career and family, or just you and your faithful canine companion - live life your own way.

Share the experience: Dynamic co-op play allows friends and family to join your game at any time, and share your world. 

Roads are for chumps!  Explore the landscape and openly roam the countryside in a world 10 times the size of the original Fable.
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ESRB: Mature
Number of Players: multiplayer
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Microsoft
Console: Xbox 360
Genre: RPG
Release Date: October 21, 2008
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