I’ll start off by saying that I have this terrible habit of believing the things that people say, I know I’m a complete sucker right? When someone says something to build up hype, I generally just want to believe it, I don’t want to think that they’re out there just trying to lie to me just to disappoint me. Before you start saying, “Yea, you’re a sucker, so what does that have to do with a Fable 2 review?” Don’t you play dumb, I said Hype remember? You know hype and Fable go together like Texas and bestiality (Don’t you question me!). So when Peter Molyneux comes around and talks like some kind of touchy feely poet about his hopes and dreams for his games when he should be talking about what is actually going to be in a game it gets my hopes way up, and so when I do get my hands on Fable 2 it tears me up because I was dumb enough to listen to him rambling on about all the sweet things that fable just isn’t. So just to sum it up the game falls short of my expectations instantly simply because I follow game news, if you’re one of the lucky ones who just gets the games and doesn’t really take the guided tour of the development studio through videos online then you should be off to a much better start then the rest of us.
Well, with that out of the way I’ll start off with the Visuals. They look good. Yea they aren’t up there with games like Dead Space or Gears of War 2 or even the original Gears of War for that matter, but they do the job. There are times where you’re stop and notice the lighting and specular effects and really be pleased with the world you’re running around in. One thing I’ve noticed ,and this is with most games really, is that some textures will look downright great like the brown and gold leaves that clutter the ground throughout the early areas of the game but then some terrible textures come up right next to a great looking one. It’s weird and seems like they had to cut corners for some reason. Since we’re already on the subject of graphics and such we might as well talk about the art style which is great if you’re looking at the concept art but then is terrible when it gets translated into the game itself. It’s a problem that plagued the first game also; the main character had a cool look about him in the art but then looks like crap in game. It’s as though they hired these artists to make great concept art and then fired them right after. Overall the game does a fine job of giving you an interesting world to explore (even if you’re on a bit of a leash) but it’s been done better by others and won’t impress anyone whose already familiar with the 360 and some of its back catalogue.
I’ll keep this section short since there isn’t much at all to say about the music and sound effects in the game. The music is nearly nonexistent. I mean it’s there but it doesn’t add much to the game and it’s so bland that I can only remember two tracks out of the however-many-tracks-there-are. It’s a sad sort of thing when those two tracks just happen to be the songs for when things are normal and for when the game is angry at you. As for the sound design in general its fairly typical, swords sound like swords and guns like guns, nothing really stands out much and nothing really sounds terrible. It is as it should be and that’s a compliment, as long as things sound mildly realistic and guns don’t sound like basket ball dribbling, then all is right with the world. Sound and music is altogether average with nothing making it stand out in slightest, you won’t be whistling any tunes really but it’s not going to ruin your experience either.
Next up is game play, my favorite section of discussion apart from the story, but I’ll make sure to cover a tiny bit of that here too without any spoilers, just my thoughts on it. First things first, the game play is much better than the first game. Flat out the first game did a terrible job of making combat fun or even interesting unless you’re really into imagining how in the fuck someone thought of making something play like a perpetual battle between fleshy fist and metal wall. It’s improved in fable 2, the much touted one button combat works fairly well, it’s simple and effective and you have a decent enough time just killing things, even if the animations still look a bit wonky and unnatural. Magic works in much the same way one button does it all, hold to charge and choose to do either an Area of effect spell or target one poor old Joe, fun and simple. Only problem with it is that there isn’t much depth to it so it can get boring after a while of gallivanting around Albion once the game is done with, more on that in a second. With combat down we’ll move onto a more general look at the game play from the start of a new game to its end. You begin the game a child as in the first game, for a brief portion of the game where you learn the basics of combat and interaction with the citizens of Albion while also learning about your actions and the consequences they have on the people and the world you’ll be playing in. It starts off looking great and sounding interesting, it’s a dark and snowy section of down with poverty having done a number on the place well before you got there. It gives you a feeling of hardship but it isn’t pulled off quite as well as it could have been and so it falls a bit short in emotional impact. The choices you make as a child affect how that part of town will looks once you’ve grown up, which happens right after a traumatic experience befalls your character in a similar manner as the first Fable (notice a trend going on?). So after your not-exactly-halcyon-days, you skip a few years and now you’re a big ol’ boy skipping into the wild world with a sword made of shit and a crossbow made of something tougher. You go on exploring while doing quests and side quests at you leisure as your dog stops you to point out something buried or a treasure chest you may have missed. For as much as they wanted you to love the dog in this game there is never any scene involving the dog doing anything at all besides one in particular where it’s quite important to the story but by that time I had forgotten I had a dog, for as much as he “Helped” in combat he was almost unnoticeable. He could have been replaced by a fighting metal detector and I think it would have added more to the story. Running around the world can be quite fun though, just wandering looking for anything that might cross your path to go right on and cross it, so they can see what happens, or apologize sincerely since it’s up to you how you lay that game and that’s it main hook. You play the game either as an asshole or a nice guy. The world changes according to some of a the decisions’ you make, although there aren’t more than a handful of them so it’s a shame considering it’s a key feature of the game. The NPC’s stroll about town and either go about walking their paths or come up to you and comment on that things you’ve been doing throughout the game. What they say can often be funny and or interesting, but after a while you simple stop caring and, with your head, mute the voices completely out of the game. They don’t add much to the enjoyment and later just become fodder for your guns and swords when things culminate.
While I have been absolutely ragging on the game in its entirety it’s not terrible at all it’s really quite good, well besides its story, which if you didn’t know by now is nearly identical to the first games (with slight “Enhancements”). To say the least it’s predictable and unexciting, that’s not to say there aren’t a few key moments where the game really shines, of which it has a somber few, but they aren’t enough to pull the story out of its mediocrity. It always feels like the entire game is some big joke that was never meant to be serious at all, despite what Molyneux says. It feels paper thin with nearly no back-story to anything or at least not very in-depth. The jokes are stale and the fact that they claim to have professional writers working on the game puts me ill at easy when the “Evil Society” of the game has a poker night on Fridays…Har har. With some incredibly annoying characters throughout the story just to do something surprising and stupid just to get a pity laugh out of you it solidifies the “This games’ story is a fucking joke motif”. I’m going to flat out just say to sum it all up that the story is absolute crap. Don’t play this game for its story, it will only disappoint you and insult your intelligence.
All in all the game is decent at its core. Fun and thrilling for a short time or slightly longer if you’re taking a more casual approach to it, but regardless of how long it takes you to finish it ends up feeling like there could have been more to this game. It’s as though the game was never finished and this is only the XBLA trial of the full game, and that to me is a sad thing. With all the time and talent put behind this game it falls so short of its lofty back-of-the-box aspirations that I would like my money back right now. But that’s me and I’m an asshole, you all might now think so and honestly find the game flawless, but this is a review built to give some insight into a game you know nothing about supposedly, and as such don’t take my word for the absolute truth, but if you see you’re an angry and pessimistic prick, like myself, then you have a better understanding of how this game works and can make a decision based on that, so go on make a choice. Oh and the co-op is absolute shit, but well intentioned.
Status:Playable and slightly enjoyable
By Alfred Romeu