The original Fable game was pretty neat. It was a by-the-book fantasy story about a boy growing into a hero, but it played well and was plenty charming. At the time, it seemed like the Fable series could be Microsoft’s answer to Zelda and its sequel continues to deliver on that potential.
Hundreds of years have passed since the first game, and most of the inhabitants in Albion no longer believe in Heroes or “Will,” this games’ version of magic. Once again you take control of a character from childhood to youth to adulthood and even old age. You are on a quest to avenge your sister’s murder and save the world from an evil man called Lord Lucien.
Like the last game, the story itself isn’t too special, but it gets the job done. More importantly, the writing for all the little social interactions in the game is great, and the voice acting is absolutely top notch. Characters aren’t very animated when they talk to you, but it’s not nearly as distracting as it should be; that’s how good the VAs are here. You often have to choose between being evil or good, and this game presents it more as being selfish or selfless. A nice twist, because sometimes it will actually be a sacrifice to do the good act, which is pretty uncommon in gaming. And whether you give a damn about the story or not, you sure as hell will care about your dog.
The dog is the big new feature in Fable II. It can sniff out treasure, help you find your way, even fight enemies. But you have to take care of it. It’s not that big a deal, feed him to heal his wounds, praise him to calm him down. The dog never gets in your way, helps a lot, and is easy to love. You’ll never be more ruthless than when you attack someone who hurt you dog.
The famed one-button combat is all real-time, and surprisingly fun. X swings your melee weapon, Y does ranged combat. As you develop those skills, you can learn more advanced techniques, like how to block, counter, and manually aim your shots. The B button is for magic, and the execution of that is pretty interesting. In combat, you have 5 tiers of spells, with the lowest tier being an instant cast and the top spell requiring a considerable charge. You can have a lot of fun coming up with a good combat strategy, for example mine was: slow down time, raise an army of dead, cast a powerful lightning spell, then finish off the survivors with my sword and gun.
Like the last game, you are free to go wherever and do whatever you want almost all the time. You can buy and rent out property, get a job, do quests for people in town, go on a date, get married, raise a family, the list just goes on and on. Plus there are plenty of hidden treasure to be found around the world. So even though the main quest isn’t that long, there’s still plenty of hours of entertainment here.
Sadly, this game still lacks the polish I would expect for something that’s been in development for this long. There are several bugs that could ruin someone’s game, and many moments just feel off. That said, if you enjoyed games like Zelda, Oblivion, or maybe even GTAIV and want a delightful British experience, this is your game.