So, first let me start off saying I really enjoyed the first Fable. The game had a number of flaws but it was still fun. It was so easy that a friend of mine decided for a challenge he’d play through without leveling up, naked, wielding only a stick. He managed to almost beat it without being touched. The skill system was also broken – I played through the entire game using one spell which made me basically invulnerable (inferno, I believe). However, the character of the game was brilliant. That’s what made it fun for me. This holds true for Fable 2 as well.
Fable 2 seems like a worthy successor to Fable. It is still way too easy. The skill system has been revamped a bit so that higher level skills actually take time to charge now instead of just tapping a button and an instantaneous ring of death surrounds you. They haven’t really added much in the way of skills – all the old standbys are there.
Skills are based on three basic attributes – strength, skill and will. You gain experience in each of these by performing appropriate actions. Whack someone with a sword get a bit of strength exp, shoot someone with a pistol get some skill, zap someone with lightning and get will. Specializing in one area allows you get special moves which add a bit of fun to combats. I won’t go into all the details but it’s a very simple intuitive system that gets the job done. Hardcore RPGers may not enjoy the simplicity, however, as the amount of customization of a character on experience you can do is a bit limited. The amount of customization you can do on everything else to do with your character is almost unlimited.
This is a great game for someone who enjoys Sim-style games as well as smiting evil (or good!). You can buy out cities and generate gold. As a nice touch gold is generated for you while you aren’t playing. This was really great since I got the game, played it a bit, and then had to put it down while I dealt with some exams and such. When I came back I got a nice chunk of change. This does lead to the economy being broken eventually, but for some reason that was okay with me. The main point of this game is to just be fun – it doesn’t go out of its way to try to simulate a real economy point for point. As well as just owning property you can get married (gay marriage is legal in Albion, by the way), raise a family, have an adulterous affair, have multiple families in different cities, etc. You can trade between cities as various random economic events occur to build up a bit of cash. You can also take on a number of “odd jobs” such as blacksmithing, bartending, woodcutting, bounty hunting, assassinations (evil only I believe), and a couple others. I only really found bartending and woodcutting to be worth the money although bounty hunting is worth it for the experience collected. With all that said, what you do really impacts the game.
The way the story is told you begin as a child. From here you are given a very short tutorial of the game and introduced to the main bad guy as well as given motivation. You are also given a number of decisions before the segment ends. Fast forward a number of years, you come back to the city you grew up in and it has either flourished or fallen into degradation as a result of your choices. There are a number of other things like this which you can determine the course for with your choices. This is the sort of thing I love about RPGs. You are a hero with the power to change the world. This is also my main gripe about MMORPGs: you are a hero amongst a vast horde of heroes who really don’t do anything. Fable 2 handles this very well and it’s one of the main draws to this game despite its shortcomings. It’s not just your impact either, it’s the way it handles it with style.
The style of Fable 2 is much the same as the original Fable. There’s a good deal of tongue-in-cheek humor and its obvious that while the creators wanted to craft an excellent game, they didn’t take themselves too seriously. The voice acting is very well done- well enough to actually disturb me. At one point I was chopping wood (making money to buy the local inn) and some man who had fallen in love with me walked up next to me and breathily said “I want you. I want you now!” It threw me off so badly that I actually missed the mark on the task at hand and had to start over. Moments like this seem to happen quite frequently in the game and you can develop quite a list of anecdotes within the context of the game. The game is visually appealing as well. Idyllic villages and haunted marshes have an excellent visual style to them as well as just being technically beautiful. As far as these elements, Fable 2 has advanced far beyond the original Fable.
Of course, with any game there are its problems. The touted multiplayer sucks. It is a waste of time. When playing multiplayer with a friend you login as a generic henchman character. You can choose your sex, alignment (good, neutral, evil), melee weapon, and ranged weapon. You can load up your personal character to mirror skills and such but other then that, you look, well, generic. This is rather sad especially if you have pimped out your yokel hat to be a bright pink. All of the trouble you go to customizing the look of your character is lost if you are not hosting. While this is sad the most criminal thing is that multiplayer just isn’t fun. You are forced to share a camera and cannot walk away from a particular range of each other. The host has total control over the camera which can really affect a henchman’s ability to aim at anything. This camera style results in both players frequently getting stuck on objects, unable to see around corners, and any number of incidents that can result from poor camera choice.
There are also a number of bugs (see gamefaqs for a list) which exist. I only really enounctered one which was particularly maddening. It was almost a game ender for me but somehow I resolved it. In Fable when you kill a creature it drops experience orbs which you must then collect. You hold down the right trigger and they fly towards you – during this time you are vulnerable to attack however. The bug was that when I’d hit something some orbs would fly out and my character would immediately try to collect all the experience leaving me defenseless. I died a number of times due to this.
The main storyline is also quite short. It is very well told and enjoyable to progress through. You are left to play in your world at the end however. I will be sparse on details here because there are a good number of choices you make which leave you in a certain spots in the game.
I forgot to mention – you get a dog. I thought this was going to be a terrible gimmick but was pleasantly surprised. I actually became remarkably attached to my dog and when he felt sad I was sure to give him a biscuit or something to make him happy. This is the other sort of thing Fable 2 does very well.
That’s my review – I strongly recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed the original Fable but I recommend others who aren’t fans of this style of RPG to give it a rent first. I think you’ll really enjoy it but it may also not be your cup of tea if you want a long story-driven RPG.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to ask – I know I left out a number of details here.