Fable 2 is the much anticipated sequel to the overall underwhelming original fable, from Peter Molineux and Lionhead Studios. After the success of the game Black and White Molineux decided to turn his attention to his next project, a completely original RPG called fable. In fable the player is presented with many choices, all of which affect several aspects of the game, from their characters appearance and personality, to the surroundings of the game and the storyline.
The story begins and you take up the role of Sparrow, a poor child who with his sister lives on the streets of Albion. The minute you begin the game you see first hand the stunning visuals that you will become accustom too during the game. After some dialog with your sister, Rose, you begin on your way down to the market, all the way led by a glowing trail which leads you to your destination. Throughout the game, apart from a few notable exceptions, you will be led by a glowing trail of light which can be altered and even disabled in the games options, this trail will take you to where you need to be to continue the story, but if you follow it religiously you will miss things in the game that are hidden from it's path. Once you arrive in the market you will see a stall where a trader is trying to sell a music box worth 5 gold, this is what you eventually buy having done five small quests to rustle up the funds.
Once the music box is purchased the game takes its pivotal twist, after a long cut scene (which like most others in the game is interactive) you will begin your quest as an adult. All in all the story of Fable 2 is involving and very enjoyable. It will take a regular player all of 10 hours to complete, however this is no true indication of the sheer amount of playability that the game possesses. Whilst playing through the game you will see a number of side quests for each part of the story, and have the opportunity to take on these tasks in order to earn renown, or fame, within albion. My main issue with the story mode in Fable is the lack of consistency, although the story flows magnificently well in places and the twists and turns will have you playing for hours, the quests are very up and down alot, especially in terms of difficulty. You can go from extremely challenging quests to simple ones back and forth many times throughout the game, and I think that the game suffers in some ways because of this, most notably in the part of the game called The Crucible, I found this to be, by far, the most challenging part of the game and it is quite a way before the end of the storyline and quests immediately after it do not advance on its difficulty at all. It is difficult for the game to establish a learning curve for new players as you are thrown into combat one minute with several enemies and the next you are walking for long distances without so much as a peep from potential enemies. Despite this the control system is very easy to pick up and after an hour or so playing, most gamers should not have trouble mastering more advanced moves and techniques.
Combat in Fable 2 is all triggered around single button commands and is free flowing which makes it alot more entertaining to play than other turn based RPG games. A new addition to the game is the use of guns, although a crossbow among other weapons can be used in their place. Alot of people were concerned over the inclusion of guns in the game but i genuinely think it works, they are not too powerful and have their downsides. For example with most of the guns available in the game you will have to pause to reload after a few shots (although as your experience grows you can spend experience points on skills and traits that will allow you to reload quicker, among other things). Guns are not overly powerful in the game either, which was the concern of many people once they were announced. Despite the inclusion of guns, I still found that using a sword for combat was alot more beneficial and entertaining. As well as guns and swords (ranged and melee) weapons you can again use magic, this magic will require experience earned in battle to learn and use. After a few hours of playing the game you should have earned enough experience to have a good understanding of most of the powers in the game. However, as you learn more magic, your character will become covered in glowing blue scars, somewhat acting as a deterrent for players to rely too heavily on magic. I feel that is a small price to pay for the sheer fun and benefits of unleashing among other things, rings of fire and hugely beneficial lightning shocks. Apart from blue scarring players can also experience physical scars from battles in which they have been knocked out, if you are knocked out in the game you will loose all collected experience up until that point and will bare a scar which, unlike the blue scars, have no way of being removed (if you simply un-learn alot of the magic you have learnt in the game your blue scars will dissapear). However this can be avoided with the simple purchase of a Resurrection Phail.
In Fable you can customize your character with a range of different items, unlike the original Fable you do not earn gold for completing quests, instead you must work (if you plan to play the game being good) or steal (if you don't). The jobs in Fable are either that of a woodchuck, a blacksmith or a barman. The jobs as they are called are in reality mini-games that do get extremely tedious but are a great way of earning gold. Once you have acquired enough gold, you can purchase a range of different clothes, hair styles, weapons, homes, furniture, potions, food, jewellery and a whole load of other items. A nice touch is that you will encounter various traders and shops throughout the game, a small amount of which will sell items that are unavailable anywhere else in the game. When you have purchased your required clothing, you can also purchase dies to alter the colours of it for maximum customization. As you can now play as a female hero, aswell as a male one there are a varied amount of both male and female styles of clothing, that can be worn by heroes of either sex. Sexuality is a major factor of the game, as every item of clothing you buy can affect how attractive people in Albion find you, if you wear a nice coat and have a dashing haircut the female villagers will be swooning over you, or if you decide to have a ponytail and wear womens clothing you may attract some attention from the more new age men of Albion. Interaction in Fable is dealt with by a series of actions and poses that can be learnt and used to impress the people you meet in the game.
In the game you are also given a pet dog, which you can name as you wish and becomes a great help throughout the story, finding treasure for you and sometimes helping you on your way. The aim of the dog is that of unconditional love, your dog will be your loyal servant now matter how you treat him or how evil you become. In the game you are given good or evil points for the choices that you have to make, if you become too evil you will spurt horns and villagers will quiver in fear at your every step. However, if you become a good citizen they will celebrate your very existence. I find that whilst playing the game that the most enjoyment lies between the two, it is impossible to be a complete saint in the game and i find that the occasional bit of adultery or petty theft can be rather enjoyable.
Despite having alot for gamers to sink their teeth into Fable 2 is not without its faults. I experienced alot of jumpy cut scenes and minor freezing whilst playing the games and the loading times are among the worst i've experienced. Also the much hyped multiplayer option is really disappointing, among it's flaws is the fact that you cannot move more than all of 20ft away from the hero whose game you have joined, i also find it to be very laggy and take a long time to load, as do most other things in the game. I found the graphics to be very good, alot of people have complained about them but i thought that they were perfect for the game, they aren't the most polished but that makes the surroundings and characters very clear. The sound in the game is a bit average although there are some nice touches when enemies are approaching you from some distance, the soundtrack is at times daunting and really does add to the overall atmosphere of the game.
In conclusion I found Fable 2 to be alot of fun, and a huge improvement on the first game. There are some flaws however but the way from which it was marketed and speculated upon was never going to help it. As with the original Fable expectation for this game was very high, I think for the most part Molineux and Lionhead have delivered. Well worth playing 8.5/10
I thought this review was very nicely done. In one of my first times playing an RPG on a console I was surprised and enthused that Fable 2 was so nicely done. My favorite part was being able to get around using the glowing trail that was a nice touch otherwise I would have probably given up not knowing where to go. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes RPG's or even some who don't but are willing to explore :)