Video Game Review: Fable II (360)

In order to save time on my reviews, I’m going to forgo my old format and split up the things I enjoyed from the things I loathed.  Then I’ll wrap it up with the same bottom line I’ve been using.  I plan on getting on to some side projects now that I’ve finished the Fall blockbusters I most anticipated (expect a Fallout 3 review soon [SPOILER]).  Let’s hope I can get focused and get to programming.



Social Simulation
The interactions allowed with the NPCs are complex and realistic enough to be interesting, while avoiding the overbearing realism of maintaining relationships.  Things like cheating on your wives or summoning skeletons in town have an effect on the population’s opinion of you, but it never goes so far as to make you lose friends because you didn’t take them to a strip club when you were busy, GTAIV.

Making Money to Make More Money
The jobs are an easy way to take a break from exploring and do something mindless but engaging.  I could use PIP to make gold while watching some TV.  This really was just a way to get some extra cash to spend when I wanted to buy a property and jack the prices up.  I expected to have no interest in obtaining real estate, but ended up buying almost every property in the game.  The constant reward of gold piling up every 5 minutes, along with the hefty payout on game start up, persuaded me to spend the vast majority of my gold on property.

Being Hilariously Evil Actually Matters
The good/evil choice thing is a bit old hat, but Fable makes it unique by changing everything about the game based on your morality.  It affects your character’s appearance and behavior options, making your character change completely based on your actions.  The world also reflects this in the town’s crime rates, economy, and NPC behavior.  You can really get into the role of your character and see how it affects the setting.  Also, it is hilarious to kick chickens and fart on babies.

Man’s Best Friend
The dog was a great companion throughout the game, and its loyalty really made me feel for it (I killed many on its behalf – don’t ever kick my dog).  Its usefulness was also unparalleled, as it found me tons of gold.  Faced with the final choice, it was easy (considering I already owned most of the world).

Combat Subtleties
The simplistic combat gives rise to slight changes as your character levels, making the way you fight in the end completely different from how you fought in the beginning.  The rhythmic melee combat is visually rewarding, the quick shooting allows you to throw in attacks to further enemies while in the middle of combos.  The magic makes you feel empowered and offers a solid amount of variety.

Overall Personality
The entire game is presented with little seriousness, offering a fresh drink of lighthearted, mischievous fun.  Chesty is my favorite character in the whole game.  Be sure to look for him.



Wooden Ghost Puppets
Graphics and animations seemed to be a low priority here.  The characters moved stiffly, and clipping problems were prevalent.  The models weren’t very detailed and textures seemed boring and low-resolution.  After watching videos of Fable, I am reminded of just how much this game looks like its predecessor – and not just stylistically.  Considering the generational leap, I expected more.

Menu Interface Not So Great at the Interfacing Part
I spent so much time wandering that menu system.  Going through the whole system to find the next quest, use a potion, or change your inventory was such a bother that I sometimes would hold off on leveling up my abilities just to avoid it.

Same As I Ever Was
The lack of choice in terms of clothing and weapons stunts your character’s growth by causing you to keep everything you have.  In the entire length of the game, I went through 4 distance weapons and probably 7 melee weapons – I just rarely found anything better than what I already had.  The same went with clothing.  While the dyes were a nice touch for customization, I only found 2 outfits that I liked at all for my character.  I never found a tatoo or hairstyle that I liked (out of the 15 possible for each).

Stacking Spheres
The magic stacking was incredibly annoying.  You can have 5 spells active at a time, but you have to hold down the magic button longer and longer to traverse up the stack of spells you have equipped.  So, the spells that I wanted to use quickly I had to leave at the bottom and never use at a higher skill level.  Switching spells around was a pain (see the menu interface referenced above) so that was out of the question.  Also, when you only have low-level spells, you can only equip one at a time.  This drew me away from using magic for a long time.

The Fable Part Sucks
The story in Fable 2 is absolutely boring.  I often forgot why I was fighting the antagonist and never cared about any of the main characters.  Some lady your character doesn’t (and never does) really know, despite the player knowing, tells you where to go and what to do without giving you any motivation to do so.  [Spoiler possibility]  After finding some allies, you don’t get anything from them except a cinematic which claims to make you powerful enough to fight the end boss, which really changes nothing about you.  Then, the game ends abruptly and with no climax.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

Worth the Purchase
Fable 2 had its fair share of problems.  I would definitely say that Fable was a better game for its time, which left me a little disappointed by Fable 2.  However, it was a fun experience that kept me entertained through the entire game.  I don’t see myself coming back to it soon, but the possibility is there.  I would’ve definitely gone back if the coop were worth it, but oh well.

Your thoughts?