XBOX360: Fable II

“Who will You become?”, the big question in the latest Action RPG game from LionHead. Putting players in an open world environment and give the player freedom of how their hero progresses that extends beyond the good or evil originally coined by the series. Sequel to the original Fable, also developed by LionHead Studios, the latest installment takes players back into the world of Albion to once again save all of mankind. The team has created an open environment that is fully fleshed out with many new dungeons and towns to explore.This time around however, you won’t be alone on the journey as your faithful canine companion will be tagging along on your quests to become the savior of Albion from the evil clutches of Lucien. But does the game conquer evil or remain on the path of evil?.

The story sets itself in the world of Albion where you start yourself as a poor kid known as Sparrow off in Old Bowerstone with your sister Rose where you meet a merchant who sells you a magical music box which he claims can grant one wish . After acquiring enough gold, Rose makes a wish to live in the nearby castle but the box vanishes and disappears in a flash of light. Later that night, Sparrow and Rose are wakened by a guard and bought there otherwise. Meeting Lucien, the owner of the castle, he tells them to step in a circle of blue light after they tell him about the music box. The Circle of blue light then turns red and he learns that they are not anyone of the three heroes but a fourth. He shoots Rose and then shoots Sparrow out of the window. Luckily Sparrow survives and get rescued by Theresa where ten years later, Sparrow (the player) are told that they are a descendant of a great hero and destined to be the downfall of Lucien who is restoring the great Spire which grants enormous power. Accompanied by your trusty dog, your great journey begins. The plot plays out well, though, short as you can expect to finish the story in about 7-8 hours of playtime and after that there’s a few additional quests which can take a few more hours to fully complete. You won’t find yourself getting lost as there’s always a golden trail which shows you the way to go to the objective.

The whole gameplay in Fable II revolves around choice and what the player chooses to pursue. These decisions ultimately affects the world around them. You can choose different genders and different outfits for your characters and make decisions in the story which will affect the economy, environment and outcome. The Action RPG element is when you traverse the lands of Albion going into dungeons and caves battling pirates and bandits. The combat is broken up into close quarter melee, ranged attacks and magic each being assigned to a face button. Though the combat does have some depth to it, the magic attacks don’t seem be doing much damage as you don’t really see the force of the attack. The other issue is that trying to do a high level spell incurs a tremendous amount of lag time especially when you try to perform a spell straight after a melee or ranged attack. When an enemy is beaten, it leaves behind certain orbs giving experience and allowing you to use those points to gain new abilities and level up existing ones. There is a fair amount of depth to how you spend your experience points on certain attributes but in the end you’ll most likely be either maxing them all out or just a few. One issue is the skills you can pick where alot of them seem to lack any power or usefulness. The ones that seems to be most used is Time control, Raise dead and Shock. These three given a good combination early in the game but you’ll be quickly switching back to magic for the remainder of the game.

A new addition to the core gameplay and giving more personality to your character effecting certain attributes to them is the new expression system. By using to top bumper on the controller, players can use gestures to impress, annoy, scare etc. These expressions are mostly useful only in co-op or in towns where they effect how villagers perceive you. The issue is that the expressions lack depth and seems like a timing based minigame where you’ll just spam an expression just to raise a certain attribute. Owning land and property is also a new part of the game where you can build your own empire and real estate by purchasing property with gold. If done early in the game, alot of challenge will be removed from later portions as you’ll eventually be gaining so much gold that paying a beggar 3000 gold is not a big deal.

The biggest addition to the game is your dog. The dog accompanies you throughout the entirety of the game and aids in finding dig spots and treasure. The dog is your only friend on this long journey and this greatly helps your journey as you never feel alone. There’s always someone there with you all all times and he quickly becomes a valuable asset making the game feel more personal.

Visually the game looks good whether in a town or roaming across the land. Your hero is modelled well and will take scars if you die in battle and you’ll see any items you attach onto the hero appear on them. There is a small amount of pop in occurring in towns and some lag with magic but they don’t take anything away from the experience. The big issue is the people where you’ll see the same reused models time and time again and there isn’t very much detail to distinguish one from another. They all look bland and some look disproportionate. Additional effects are used well from the visuals of each of the magic sequences being performed to the CG cut scenes used for some of the story. Each of these shows the high production value in the overall design of the game.

The audio is also impressive where the soundtrack is a mix of choir and orchestral tracks. They all play at the right moments with small melodies when in towns or revving up with enemy battles. The tracks never feel out of place and accompany the action well. Dialogue gets annoying sometimes but is admissible. The speech for the citizens of Albion however are well produced and the amount of varied phrases will surprise most. They all have something different to say and hardly reuse the same phrase over and over again adding to the individuality of each of the citizens.

On my play through however there didn’t seem to be much to accomplish besides the main questions except for real estate and achievements and hopefully LionHead will fix these with the upcoming DLC adding more quests and a new island.

Overall Fable II is a satisfying sequel to it’s predecessor and fans will like the new presentation and style of the game. There still is a few things that needs to be fleshed out abit more but those looking for a solid action RPG, look no further.

Story -8.0
Gameplay – 9.0
Video – 7.5
Audio – 9.0
Overall – 8.4

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