Thursday, July 23, 2009

REVIEW: Fable II for the Xbox 360

Fable II is the sequel to an Xbox game I never played. It centers around... well, you, whatever you choose to be, whoever you choose to be, and really whatever path you choose to walk. The way the game presents these choices, and their effects, is remarkably effective. Fable II is really a very personal experience in that it asks you to decide exactly how you want to shape yourself and how that will in turn shape the world. The main campaign shows little effect of this, but the people in the shops and towns do.

Fable II starts out strong, introducing your character and the villain early in the tale, along with morality choices and economics. Don't forget, things cost gold, and gold doesn't come without some work. Soon after the tale gets under way, I found myself working obsessively for the blacksmith. Jobs are small minigames that require you to make timed button and I was hooked on making as much money as I could by getting a long string of successful hits in. I'm not one for this sort of thing but I was having a good time and wanted to get a healthy start on buying decent equipment for my character.

The next quests were fun and had me straying from the main story line repeatedly. The characters in the game have lots of personality, mostly due to the terrific British voice acting cast, so their problems are either hilarious or heartfelt. It was almost like a world full of living breathing distractions. I wanted to dance for everyone that would applaud and fart for anyone in the town square that would have it (and a lot of people liked it when I farted). In a way Fable II truly allowed me to be myself in a video game world.

The combat also varies itself enough to have depth and nuance so that you'll never bore of feeling like a powerful combatant. Some of the less powerful enemies never fail to entertain either. Whenever I came across a battle with Hollow Men I rejoiced. They're probably the easiest enemies to dominate, but when Fable II throws tens of them at me at once it was always fun to swing my sword and crack their bodies apart three at a time.

I continued down the campaign trail and each area it opened was new and varied, as were the enemies. The final battle culminated in a big challenge, but overall I felt like it was appropriate for the level of experience I had reached. There was one climactic disappointment though.

[SPOILERS] After the end of this final battle, you travel to the top of what's basically your batcave. Lucien, your villain kills your dog and puts you to sleep. You enter a dream world, shoot some bottles, kick some chickens, and boom your back to the spire. Essentially, Lucien was trying to control you through a dream world. You are face to face with Lucien in the spire. After this, you pull your gun out and immediately shoot him. He's dead. The end. [END SPOILERS].

I know I'm pretty late to the party here, but Fable II is/was great. I'm even going to play it through again as an evil character, and I usually can't do second playthroughs in quick sucession. As a game world Fable II succeeds in so many ways, and on so many levels. It has a cast of characters that exude personality (so much so that they repeated character models are easily overlooked). It has a reactive community (to the point that you're own desires will come out in your character). Most importantly, it's fun.


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