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Welcome Home - PAX AUS 2014
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Fable 2 Member Review for the Xbox360

GAME-QUEST-EX By:
GAME-QUEST-EX
04/28/13
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE RPG 
PLAYERS
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
DEVELOPER Lionhead 
RELEASE DATE  
M Contains Blood, Language, Sexual Content, Use of Alcohol, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

FABLE 2

 

Genre: Action Role-Playing Game

 

Release Year: 2008

 

Developer: Lionhead Studios

 

Publisher: Microsoft Games

 

Console: Xbox 360

 

Number of Players: 1 to 2 (Single & Cooperative)

 

Online Co-Op Mode: Yes

 

Memory: 10 MB for the initial save to the hard drive

 

Downloadable Content Support: Yes

 

HDTV: 720p/ 1080i/ 1080p

 

Custom Soundtrack Support: Yes

 

Audio: In-Game Dolby Digital

 

Rumble Support: Yes

 

Instruction Manual: 32 Pages in Full Color

 

ESRB Content Rating: Rated “M” For Mature 17-Plus (Contains: Blood, Language, Sexual Content, Use of Alcohol, Violence)

 

Series Legacy: Fable, Fable: The Lost Chapters, Fable 3, Fable: The Journey

 

 

STORY: “And So, Our Story Begins!”

 

Welcome to the wondrous world of “Albion,” a place where “Heroes” are revered and respected by the population! Whenever a village, town, country or even the entire world is in serious danger, a Hero rises up to fight for the rights of the people and bring about swift justice!

 

Will you be that Hero? It won’t be an easy undertaking for you, to be sure. You will need to develop the best hand-to-hand combat skills, while making use of Swords, Maces, Cleavers, Axes, Cutlasses and Hammers.

 

But even those skills won’t be enough to win the day for you. No, no, no: you will also need to hone your skill as a marksman (or woman). Learn to improve your speed & accuracy shooting Crossbows, Pistols, Rifles and Blunderbusses.

 

Don’t relax just yet! There is still one more very crucial ability to learn: the Power to weld your very Will! Some say it’s “Magic,” but you have to learn how to use your Will to bend the elements to your, well, to your Will! Cast Fire, Lightning, Wind, Force, Time Control, Chaos and even Raise the Dead “Spells” on your enemies to gain an edge over them in battle.

 

So, are your mastery of Strength, Skill and Will enough for you to be considered the newest and Greatest Hero Albion has ever known? Well, only you can decide that once you take the plunge into “Fable 2.”

 

The storyline in this game starts you off as a child (you get to choose to be male or female), and from there, a series of very mysterious and ultimately tragic events, gradually catapult your character named “Sparrow,” into a series of adventures beyond your wildest beliefs! At first, your motivation is just purely for revenge because one of your family is unjustly murdered before your very eyes, and you being the only witness to this heinous crime, is shot and left for dead. However, as progress through the story of Fable 2, you begin to uncover important side-quests, hidden treasures, property to buy and interactions with villagers, which could lead to life-long relationships! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

 

The plot in Fable starts out seemingly small, but what was once a desire for revenge on your part transforms into something more. To get the evil man responsible for the death of your family, you have to become the new Hero of Albion. In the process, you learn all of about the world’s many dark secrets, evil creatures, relentless criminals, magic-users and its legendary treasures, the latter of which can be yours for the taking. Your motive for vengeance transforms into a general concern for the safety and well-being of the people around you. Albion needs a hero and you are it! Help the suffering citizens and there might be a reward for you, and every reward, one way or another, brings you closer & closer to confronting and defeating the newest evil that now threatens the whole planet; the evil that was responsible for the death of your dearest sister!

 

As a child, you walk around and play a sort of “Tutorial Level,” which familiarizes you with the basic game controls. After the tragic turning-point event occurs, the story then fast-forwards to when you are an adult, and your real adventure begins!

 

As Sparrow, your character does not talk. He or she (depending on the gender you decide to choose at the very beginning of the game), largely remains “silent” when it comes to speaking English. This means that Sparrow has to interact with the citizens of Albion, mostly by using “Expressions” and “Gestures.” Sometimes Sparrow can simply communicate to people around him or her, just by their appearance because people will react positively or negatively to Sparrow, depending on whether they like or hate what Sparrow is currently wearing.

 

A constant companion of Sparrow is your faithful and trusting dog, who will accompany you virtually EVERY where you go. He is not just your best friend, but he is useful as a way to detect hidden treasures for you, and he can also act as an early warning “system” by altering you to the presence of approaching enemies. You dog also play an interesting role in the later parts of the main story.

 

Following certain missions will advance the story and show the ups and downs of the life Sparrow has chosen to live, seeking our Lord Lucien, in an effort to find him and obtain revenge. You are not restricted to just the main story missions, though. You can undertake NUMEROUS side-missions, which can land you with rewards such as Augment Gems, Weapons, Clothing, Furniture, Food and Rare Treasures. Talking to certain citizens with exclamation points over their heads or golden trails at their feet can trigger a significant side-quest which you can accept or reject.

 

As the plot progresses in Fable 2, you will meet new characters; some you will like while others you may not. For example, in order to defeat Lord Lucien, you need to assemble a group of 3 other “Heroes” to join your quest. Some of them, like Hannah, can get very irritating with her grumbling and complaining, much of which actually has little to do with the overall story. It seems that the writers of the story tired to inject their personal atheistic views or criticisms of organized religion, through the rantings of this character. However, they over-do it, as Hannah essentially rambles to the point of irritation, and she becomes more of a mouth-piece for the beliefs (or non-beliefs) of the story writers and producers. This happens on more than one occasion during the course of the story.

 

Much later on in the Fable 2, you meet another so-called “Hero of Skill” named “Reaver,” but this man is anything but a Hero. In fact, his words and actions CLEARLY define him as a wicked villain. Yet, for whatever reason, Sparrow has to recruit him into the Hero’s Guild, in order to defeat Lucien’s army, which is all very baffling. This game is supposed to be all about choice, but you are never given the opportunity to fight against Reaver or at least to confront him about his downright evil ways, which he doesn’t even bother hiding from any one.

 

Perhaps it should be pointed out that in Fable 2, you can become either a Hero (the ultimate good guy or girl) or you can become a Villain (greedy, selfish and downright evil). In fact, as just mentioned above, the main theme of Fable 2 is “CHOICE” and you are giving PLENTY of opportunities to choose to do the self-less, Heroic deed, which will positively benefit innocent people. Either that or you use those same opportunities to choose to do very self-fish, self-serving, wicked and evil deeds, which will lead to the suffering or to the death of innocent people. The path of the Hero and the path of the Villain, both have their rewards and very, SERIOUS consequences, some of which you can never undo or change once they have occurred.

 

So, choose wisely!

 

 

ANIMATIONS & GRAPHICS: “All That Glitters And Glows”

 

Fable 2 is a very beautiful game, which presents to you the world of Albion in a very fantastical way. The villages and towns looks like places out of the Middle-Ages, but yet, at the same time, they look a bit more modern. Colors are very bright, pleasant and noticeable. They “pop” out at you, from the clothing of Sparrow, to the dresses of the other citizens of Albion, to the food, furniture and buildings. Darker, gloomier colors are typically used to paint the bad guys, so expect to see less cheerful colors used on Bandits, Hobbes, Hollow Men, Banshees, Trolls and Balverines, which all makes sense.

 

Weapons look like they are supposed to, and they all have their very own distinctive designs. For example, single shot pistols and rifles have one barrel, when compared to rapid firing turret guns, which typically have multiple barrels. Also, your blunderbuss has a huge barrel, indicating its immense firepower.

 

Melee Weapons range in design as well, so expect to see Cutlasses, Katana, Cleavers, Maces, Axes, and Hammers, all of which look very different fro one another. Their designs are not only unique, but some of them tend to be colorful in interesting ways.

 

Attack animations by your character all depend on which melee, projectile or Will Power they are currently using. All of the attack animations are smooth, and vary in speed depending of the type of weapon you are using, or depending on the Experience Level you raised your character up to. Elemental Energy which accompanies your Will Power discharges all look convincing. Expect to see columns of Lightning when you cast a Lightning “Spell.” Expect to see swirling wind and scorching fire when you activate your Vortex and Inferno Will Abilities respectively. The animations associated with these combat activities look nicely executed within the gameplay context of “Fable 2.”

 

When there are a lot of characters on the screen all at the same time, or when there is a lot of combat going on all at once in the same area, there tends to be some understandable slow-down of the graphics and animations. This does not break the game, though it may alter or interrupt the overall flow of your gameplay session. Slow-downs like these occur only occasionally and they don’t hurt the overall gameplay experience.

 

There are other typical collision detection and clipping issues founding Fable 2. Certain items of clothing might protrude or intrude, one into the other, or maybe they pass through parts of your body or your body passes through them. There are other cases when your character can get stuck between or behind certain physical objects such as wall, pillars or boxes. If you are unable to move at all, a solution is typically to “Fast-Travel” out of that situation using the menu screen options. Other Graphics and Animations issues include other non-playable characters getting stuck behind or inside or in between physical objects, doors or buildings.

 

All-in-all, there is A LOT to see in Fable 2, from the items you obtain from quests, to the food, clothing, furniture, houses and the facial expressions of the people around you. Your dog, being literally one of a kind, tends to stand out when next to you, even if you don’t always pay attention to this fact. Its design is basic, but convincing. If you so choose, you can eventually change your dog’s breed completely to something altogether different.

 

And let’s not forget you, or your character, “Sparrow.” He or she WILL literally change in appearance over the course of the entire game. If you do good and self-less deeds to help the innocent citizens of Albion, your face and skin-tone become more “Angelic” in a sense. If you kill, steal and terrorize the good people of Albion, expect to get “uglier” facially, with a more sinister, even a more “demonic-like” appearance.

 

If you eat too many fatty food or drinks, guess what? Yep, you guessed right: you will become fatter in person! Taking on a more vegetarian diet will actually help you to lose weight! Healthier eating options lead to a healthier look!

 

Using guns more and more in combat will stimulate your growth glands and you will progressively become taller! Using your melee attacks more in a fight will make you become physically stronger and help you build up muscle mass! Casting Will Spells will cause blue “Will Lines” of power to appear and grow all over most of your body!

 

Basically, almost any and everything you do actively or passively in Fable 2 will, in one way or another directly, or indirectly, affect your character’s visual appearance. This matters, because how you present yourself to the Albion folk will affect how they choose to react or respond to you in person. Some might like you and praise you with compliments, while others might fear or utterly hate you. Both your actions and your choice of clothing will influence people’s reaction to Sparrow.

 

When you zoom-in on the faces of people, you will notice details in how each of them is design. Some of the men obviously have moustaches, breads, side-burns and so on. The women have make-up, and both sexes can have funny of goofy facial expressions in response to how you look, what they see you doing, or what they witness going on around them. In a nutshell, you can tell when people are happy, angry, sad, confused, and even curious by looking at their faces to see their expressions. Some of the town and village folk will see you as a big celebrity if you become famous enough, and they will look completely awe-struck in your presence.

 

 

AUDIO and MUSIC: “The Sounds of Adventure!”

 

Fable 2 has it’s main theme songs, which you will eventually become familiar with, as it repeats itself in one form or another, through out the course of the game. Sine this is an Action-Role Playing Game, occurring in a Fantasy World, don’t expect modern rock music sounds, which all makes sense. The music leans more towards giving you the player, a sense of wonder as you check out the surrounds. The pace of the music quickens when you encounter enemies. Even if you can’t see them, the music begins to change into something more ominous and upbeat, just to let you know you are close to danger.

 

Going underground, into tombs or graveyards will also trigger the much darker tunes, which all fit very well into the very sinister themes of the evil environments you now find yourself within. This is the case whether there are enemies in the area of not. The music still changes to warn you of any credible threats to you that are close-by.

 

Monsters like the Giant Beetle Bugs, Hobbes, Balverines, Trolls, Banshees and Hollow Men, all have very distinct sounds they make. From growls, to screams, to evil laughter, the vicious denizens of Albion all have something to “say” as they fight against you, all of which adds credibility to the whole atmosphere of this game.

 

Highway Men, Assassins, Spire Guards, Spire Commanders and Bandits are your human-based enemies, and they tend to smack-talk against you a lot during your fights against them. Expect these professional thugs to relentlessly mock and taunt you as they attack you in packs and waves, that is, until you shut them up for good. As you duke it out with these punks, listen to their near endless verbal banter if you can: it is all actually very well written and witty, all of which are very welcome in Fable 2!

 

The sounds the metal weapons make when they make contact with other physical objects are authentic. Bash in the thick skulls of ruthless bandits or fend off a pack of Balverines, and listen to the sounds of your melee weapons crushing their targets.

 

Gun blasts are satisfying and change from caliber to caliber. Pistols are quicker and less powerful weapons and the firing sound they make reflect this fact. Rifles and Blunderbusses are the higher ranking firearms and they blaze with power as each shot is fired. The Blunderbuss takes the cake as the absolute loudest gun you will ever get and it has the sheer power to match its thunderous sounds!

 

Voice-acting for the various characters are an odd, yet interesting cross between a Shakespearean Play and a Monty Python Comedy Sketch, if that makes any sense to you at all. The characters are all well spoken, but tend to have English-Accents, or variations of English Accents. Many sound funny when they speak, while some sound very serious, especially those in need of your help.

 

The interesting thing is that characters not only talk to you when they are close enough to you, but characters also talk to each other. Sometimes, non-playable characters will literally strike up a conversation with each other over what items they are looking to buy or sell. Other characters will have brief conversations with each other about the actions your character did on a recent quest! Other characters will complain toy you about problems in the world of Albion that need to be dealt with swiftly, even if they don’t give you a quest to do.

 

The more heroic actions you do undertaking Quests, Jobs and Mission, the more famous your character becomes. The more famous your character becomes, the more positive things people will say about you in the villages and towns you visit. Sometimes they will compliment you on your accomplishments or on your overall appearance. Play your cards right with certain people and you can even get them to fall in love with you and openly profess that to you!

 

The voices of characters like Theresa, Garth, Reaver, Rose and Hannah are all very well executed. Theresa narrates potions of the game during key cut-scenes that serve to advance the overall storyline forward. Her voice can be considered one of elderly-wisdom, which serves to guide and sometimes to motivate Sparrow in his/her quests. Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that each character is voiced very professionally and they convince you of each of the character’s unique personalities and even of their motivations. Reaver is probably the best example of this, though for more disturbing reasons. What this guy says later on in the game can be considered very unsettling.

 

If you find a Town Crier, you can pay him money to have your name changed. Basically, you get a new title, which the people around you will start to verbally call you by! Your new name is actually more of a title, than it is an actually birth-name. Still, the fact that the audio changes when you buy a new name if a nice touch!

 

One of the many ways you can increase your popularity (your renown) is by paying a local Bard to tell your story in the form of a folk song. The interesting thing is that if you successfully complete main quests, side-quests and certain jobs in Fable 2, the Bard will actually verbally reflect all of those facts in his song about you! So, if you fought monsters in a cave, beat them and collected the hidden treasure, then the Bard will sing a song recalling all of your activities you did to successfully complete your prior quests. And, when people hear these songs being sung by the Bard, they tend to think more highly of you and they tend to like you personally more and more!

 

 

GAMEPLAY: “Fight like a Hero!”

 

Let’s just say that in Fable 2, you aren’t going to wait your turn to fight or cast spells. This isn’t a traditional turn-based RPG. This is an Action Role Playing Game, so pressing buttons on your control pad will instantly yield onscreen results. As Sparrow, you are shooting cutting, stabbing, bashing, or zapping an enemy: no standing in line and waiting your turn! Roam around freely in the vast open world of Albion and execute some cool-looking combos while you are at it!

 

Default Controls

 

Left Analog Stick: Move your character on screen / Navigate Menus

 

X-Button: Melee Attack (Tap to Strike / Press and Hold to Block)

 

Y-Button: Ranged Attack (Tap to Shoot / Press and Hold to Zoom-in and Aim)

 

B-Button: Will Casting (“Magic Spells”) / Press and Hold to increase the Power Level

 

A-Button: Run / Dodge Roll (while holding any weapon) / Interact with People and Objects

 

Right Trigger: Will Powers Selector / Absorb Experience Orbs

 

Right Bumper: Activate Your Expression Wheel

 

Left Trigger: Target Lock

 

Left Bumper: Enter into First Person View

 

Right Analog Stick: Camera Control / Click in and hold to View Hero Close-up

 

Directional Pad: Context Sensitive Shortcuts / Navigate Menus

 

To execute “Flourish Attacks” which are basically stylish moves that are a variation of normal attacks, Press and hold down the X-Button, then press the Left Analog Stick in any desired direction and release the X-Button. Your Flourish Attacks actually do more damage that regular strikes and they can penetrate the Blocking Stance of most regular enemies. Level up your Strength Experience Points to increase the damaging effect of you weapon strikes, as well to gain the ability to Dodge-Roll incoming enemy attacks.

 

As you constantly use Melee Attacks to kill enemies, they will drop Blue Experiences Orbs. Your Strength Experience Points are indicated by these Blue Orbs, which you collect from your fallen foes by pressing the Right Trigger to absorb said orbs into your body.

 

Certain Weapons share similar Attack Animations with each other. For example, the Hammer, Axe and Mace have very similar-looking swings, trusts and strikes. Also, the Cutlass, Katana and Cleaver also have animations that look more similar than different. Some diversity and variety in the way Sparrow swings, stabs, cuts, thrusts, parries and bashes would have been a nice change of pace to his/her melee arsenal.

 

Press and hold down the Y-Button to Zoom-in and Aim at your target. Release the Y-Button to fire. Just tap the Y-Button to rapidly shoot bullets or arrows at your foes. As you level up your Skill Experience Points, you gain the ability to target specific body parts (like the head, arm, or crouch) of your enemy. So, in effect, you can shoot weapons out of enemies’ hands, shoot them in the groin, or literally decapitate them with one clean head-shot!

 

As you constantly use Skill Attacks (shooting) to kill enemies, they will drop Yellow Experiences Orbs. Your Skill Experience Points are indicated by these Yellow Orbs, which you collect from your fallen foes by pressing the Right Trigger to absorb said orbs into your body.

 

Will Power is Fable 2’s version of Magic Spell. Tap the B-Button once to instantly activate a Level 1 Spell. Press and hold down the B-Button to charge up a Will Spell of Level 2 or higher. The longer you hold done the B-Button, the more powerful the resulting blast. You can charge your Spell Selector up to Level 5, an ability you gradually unlock and gain over time by constantly using your Will Power in combat. You go from Level 1, then over time, you unlock access to Level 2, 3, 4 and 5 Spells. At higher Will Power levels, your Spells Charge up much faster than normal, and all of them do much more damage than normal, even the lower level spells!

 

Press and Hold the Left Analog Stick in any given direction immediately after you activate your Will Power to literally hurl a more concentrated magic bolt directly at your enemy, instead of casting spells for an area blast effect around you.

 

Your Will Powers affect the Natural Elements of your surroundings and they are as follows: Blades, Chaos, Force Push, Inferno, Raise Dead, Shock, Time Control and Vortex.

 

Blades materializes energy swords that fly out and impale enemies; Chaos confuses weaker human opponents and can even cause them to fight for you against their own friends or other enemies; Force Push generates a violent force field that puts distance between you and you foes, hurting them in the process; Inferno is your classic fire spell; Raise Dead actually summons ghosts (not zombies) from beyond the grave and they will fight for you; Shock is your classic electricity/lightning spell; Time Control literally does what it states by slowing down time for your foes while granting you more speed in your movement and attacks; Vortex is your classic swirling wind spell.

 

As you constantly use Will Power Attacks (Magical Spells) to kill enemies, they will drop Red Experiences Orbs. Your Will Power Experience Points are indicated by these Red Orbs, which you collect from your fallen foes by pressing the Right Trigger to absorb said orbs into your body.

 

Once you get used to battling the baddies in Fable 2, you should be able to mix and combine melee strikes, with projectile combat and even spell casting, all done one after another. This can lead to some very interesting and exciting combo attacks which can devastate almost any creature or crook foolish enough to stand in your way.

 

General Experience Points are in the form of Green Orbs. No matter how you fight, you tend to get these dropped by your vanquished foes. If you mix-up you Melee, Shooting and Magic Abilities in Combat, you tend to obtain more General XP Orbs.

 

The more Strength XP Orbs (the blue ones) you pick up, the more/faster you Level-Up your Brutal Styles (Physique and Toughness). The more Skill XP Orbs (the yellow ones) you collect, the more/faster you Level-Up your Dexterous Styles (Accuracy and Speed). The more Will XP Orbs (the red ones) you attain, the more/faster you Level-Up your Spell Casting (Targeting and Surrounding).

 

In a nutshell, the more you play, the faster, stronger, and more accurate you become in any combat situation. You also gain Block Counters and Evasion Maneuvers to help you of any sticky fighting confrontation.

 

The only problem with the XP Orbs is that once you have totally maxed out ALL of your Skill Sets, your enemies still keep on dropping the different colored XP Orbs. This can become awkward or even look a bit silly, since your character really no longer needs to absorb any more XP Orbs. The excess, left over orbs just lie around on the ground, unused, seeing that there really is no point to assimilate them. You can still absorb them if you want, but it’s no longer necessary when you peak in all your Skill Sets as a Hero.

 

A partial remedy to this problem is that you can use the EXP Orbs as currency, to return your Hero back down to a lower Level Skill Set, if, for whatever reason, you don’t like your current level abilities. This would be odd to do, considering that your character is at his/her absolute best when they max-out all of their Skill Stats. Why regress ever? You only become weaker. For example, at higher levels, the Shock Spell can damage and stun your enemies, all while holding them standing in place for you and your allies to finish them off. If your use your excess EXP Orbs to drop Sparrow to a lower Shock Magic Level, you will completely lose that very useful Zap-Damage-and-Stun Effect, which is only accessible at higher Will Power Levels.

 

However, some gamers might choose to use their left-over collected EXP Orbs, to drop the level of their character, if they say want to make their character less muscular or to make them shorter than they current are, if they were tall. The look of said gamers’ character will change as they desire, but so will their abilities; they will NOT be as good in certain combat scenarios at lower levels.

 

Augments are Special Gems that you can attach to your Melee and Projectile Weapons, in order to give them Special Effects. For example, some Augments can make your weapons inflict Fire damage on your foes. Other Augments can add Lightning Damage to your striking and shooting attacks. Still other Augments give you a more powerful offense (that is, you do more damage), while others grant you a better defense (you take less damage). Really Special Augments can combine 2 to 3 or more Positive Effects for you and your weapons so keep and eye out for those ones!

 

Bear in mind that some Augments can have powerful effects, which are negative. These bad Augments can cause you to loose health, have a weaker defense, do less damage to your enemies, cause your skin to scar or make innocent people fear you.

 

The frustrating thing about Augments involves the process of adding them to and removing them from your weapons. To do all this, you have to pause the game and navigate through several menus, which chews up a lot of time. Once you find the weapon you want, you have can add up to 4 Augments to your weapon (provided the Weapon has 4 Augment Slots available). If you change your mind and want to remove Augments from your weapons, you have to pause the game, yet again, and navigate all those menus to find your weapons and apply the Augment Remover to them, in order to take them out. Again, this entire process is actually longer than it sounds, and can begin to drag down the fast paced fun of the gameplay.

 

Something else to bear in mind is that some Augments cancel out the effects of other Augments, so don’t think you can just add up to 4 Fire or 4 High Damage Augments to each of your own weapons, to make them ultra-powerful: it simply won’t work. Also, some Augments will not work with some types of weapon, because some weapons also have certain damage levels that might clash with the any Augments you add, canceling any potentially beneficial effects.

 

Only certain Augments with Augments, or Augments with Weapons combinations will work, so you can have a fun time experimenting with such combos to discover how to turn your character into a nearly unstoppable fighting machine.

 

Every time you add an Augment to a weapon or more than one Augment to your weapon and it all works, your weapon will glow and sparkle different colors. If the Augments clash with each other, or if they clash with the weapons, your weapon won’t glow or sparkle at all. That means you have to go through the lengthy process of navigating the in-game menus to remove the Augments from your weapons, which can be annoying.

 

The Fable 2 gameplay is not all about fighting. You can use the Expression Wheel, which you have to play like a mini-game (similar to the jobs you have to perform), to get people in Albion to either like or hate you. How? Your aim is to stop the marker within a designated strike zone, by first pressing and holding down the appropriate button, and then releasing it at the correct time. The marker will then “hit” within the strike area on the mini-game meter and you will get the appropriate reaction from the people around you who are watching. If they enjoy your physical gestures, they will laugh, applaud and praise you. If you screw up the mini-game or perform a vulgar gesture that they dislike, all you will get from them are negative reactions, and that in turn will affect how they talk to you; they may even over-charge you when you try and buy items from them at their stores. Then, you popularity declines as well. The Expression Wheel is a simple, yet interesting gameplay feature that positively adds to the overall experience of playing Fable 2.

 

For your faithful Canine Companion, you can buy Special Books which you can use to teach your dog new skills. Buy or find Books on Dogs of War to train you dog to become a better fighter in combat. Buy or find Books on Treasure Hunting and teach your dog to become even better at seeking out and finding hidden treasures (both above and below ground). There are other Dog Training Books to find or buy, which teach your Dog cute and funny tricks to perform alongside with you as you perform your own goofy gestures for the crowd!

 

The Gameplay in Fable 2 also involves traveling from one location to another. Basically, you first have to physically walk or run to a specific location and visit that place. After doing so, that area is automatically added to your World Map. Now, any time afterwards, you can “Fast-Travel” back to that location, or any other location in the world of Albion that your character physically visited for his or herself. All you need to do to Fast-Travel is to pause the game, enter a menu screen, locate the region you wan to visit, highlight it and press the appropriate button. After a couple of load screens, you will be sent to that location or to a “junction” point nearest to that location.

 

Bear in mind that traveling any where in Albion will take up TIME. Even if you Fast-Travel, time is still passing. Keep this in mind as it takes time to cover vast distances on foot. Keep this in mind since there are time-limits on how long certain jobs, side-quests and discounts/sales in stores will be available for you to take advantage of. Once their time-limit is up, the jobs, side-missions and discounted sales will disappear temporarily from your main quest menu, and you will have to wait a while until they are randomly generated to appear on your main menu-list in the future.

 

If you need to hurry to any distance location, you can try faster transportation in the form of a horse carriage or a ship. At Westcliff and Bloodstone, you will see the ship Captain waiting at the docks. Talk to him, pay him and he will ferry you between those two ports. There is a Carriage Driver at Bowerstone and Oakfield. Talk to him and pay him and he will transport you between those that town and village. The point is that Horse Carriage and Ship Travel are faster modes of transportation than just walking or running. The horse and ship can cut down on your travel time.

 

There is no animation of you riding in the horse carriage or traveling onboard the ship. Once you pay for your trip, you are only treated to loading screens with tips and info on Fable 2 (which is what all the loading screens in the game actually look like). Some original and unique animation showing off Sparrow being transported from one place to another onboard a carriage or a ship would have been a welcome and a nice touch to see once in a while.

 

 

CONTENT: “The World Is Not Enough.”

 

To put it simply, there is a LOT to do in Fable 2 and you won’t be disappointed at all!

 

You have the main quest of finding and defeating Lord Lucien, the creep responsible for killing your sister and nearly killing you. Of course, by the time you catch up to him, he is not alone and he is much more powerful. These main quests you under-take will progress the main plot so expect to see well done cut-scenes, which are unique only to this main story. Some of the cutscenes are 3D while others are hand-drawn. You hear Theresa’s voice narrating the events as they unfold, which is a nice touch.

 

During the course of the game, be it the main quest or side missions, you will be given the opportunities to make Good Choices, or Bad Ones. These always have consequences that you can measure and that you will notice. Your Good Choices will give you a more Angelic Appearance and most regular citizens will like and trust you. Your Evil Deeds will give you a more demonic look, making the good folk of Albion hate and fear you.

 

After the main story concludes, don’t forget the numerous side-quests left to take care of. Some of them are in the form of challenges to complete. For example, there are 50 Gargoyle Statues which relentlessly mock and taunt you verbally. Can you locate and destroy these cheeky stone heads? There is a reward if you do! Also, can you locate and open up the so-called “Demon Doors” scattered throughout Albion? If you find them, you have to listen to the verbal clues that they give you, which you will need to perform actions in order to get those doors open. Open them up and enter into a pocket dimension within Albion, which conceal hidden treasures for you to take. And, those are just two examples of many side-quests you can under-take in Albion!

 

How about successfully completing the many Combat Challenges poised by the Crucible and the Coliseum Arenas? Sounds easy, right? Okay, then just pay attention to the clock-timers, otherwise you win no prizes! Maybe you should also focus on surviving the relentless waves of enemy men and monsters! Or, perhaps a Shooting Gallery Challenge at Westcliff is more your thing? Speed and Accuracy here will get you the Highest Scores and the Highest Scores get you the most Valuable Prizes! Tired of all the violence? Then, why not chill out and pose for an artsy female sculptor who wants to crave a statue of your likeness? You even get to choose the pose you want, and your statues will be set-up all over Albion, which will in turn increase your renown and make you more popular will all of the masses!

 

You earn money in a number of different ways, like successfully completing quests, having your trusty dog dig up hidden treasure, by selling items you have, and by selling or renting out property. Yes, you can actually BUY buildings in Albion, from Street Vendor Stands, to Apartment Buildings, to Farm Houses, to giant Mansions and even to Royal Palaces! Once you own these buildings, you can choose to rent out some of them (not all of them) to Albion Citizens, who will pay you rent money that is automatically added to the total amount of Gold in your collection. Certain unique buildings like those that used to belong to royalty and mysterious towers can’t be rented out to anyone.

 

By using the Expression Wheel, you can express your emotions to the Albion Citizens through a series of Physical Gestures, which could range from Flexing Your Muscles to Giving the Thumb-Up, to performing a Funny Dancing. You can also unlock and perform rude, angry or vulgar gestures such as angry roars, vulgar crotch thrusts and even middle-finger gestures.

 

If your audience (who is typically anyone nearby, either indoors or outdoors) likes what you do, their thoughts and feelings towards your character will become more positive. This will be indicated by a Smiling Face Icon, which will rise up above the heads of each person watching your physical routine. They will also say something nice to you or about you. If the people observing your antics don’t like your performance, you will see Angry Face Icons rising up above their heads, accompanied by angry or disappointed verbal commentary from them.

 

If Albion Citizens like you enough, they will offer you gifts which you can take from them. You can keep the gifts, use them to empower your character, or sell them off to make money. If any of the adult Albion citizens REALLY likes you, they will fall in love with you and will ask you to marry them! If you have a ring in your inventory, you can say “yes” and get married! Just bear in mind that you will have to look after your new family. You have to buy your new husband or wife gifts to keep them happy. You have to visit them often so that they don’t miss you. And, yes: you have to have sex with them when they ask for it to keep your marriage passionate and interesting!

 

In addition to all of that, you can have children with your husband (if your character is female) or with your wife (if your character is male). You also have to visit your children and buy them gifts to keep them happy.

 

There is even a meter to indicate how well or how bad your relationships with all of the people in Albion you meet, including your husband or wife! If your marriage relationship is on the rocks, the Indicator Bar will move towards the left-side, indicating your marriage is heading to a divorce. You can let it happen, or you can salvage it by being nice to your spouse. These are just SOME of the many interesting relationships you can have in Fable 2!

 

In between all of your endless questing, don’t forget that you need to find a job so as to earn money. Try working at the blacksmith, wood cutter or at the local pub (bar). Each of these jobs is actually a simple mini-game that requires you to carefully time the on-screen icon as it travels along an arched meter. Press the appropriate button at the correct time, within the “strike zone” on the meter, and you will beat the metal into the shape of a blade at the blacksmith, pour beer in mugs at the pub, or split logs into 2 pieces at the wood-cutters. The more you do, the more money you earn, and you can even get promoted to higher levels, which will earn you even more money. Just bear in mind that the better you get and the higher the level you get promoted to, the more difficult the mini-game jobs become.

 

To find certain items you need immediately, try shopping for them at the various Sale Stands and Sale Stalls. If they don’t have what you want, don’t forget to check out the larger General Stores, Furniture Stores, Local Pubs, Blacksmiths and even Bookstores. If you are on the road, you can come across Walking Vendors; men and women who carry their goods around on their backs. At any and all of these stationary or mobile locations, you can buy items that you want or sell items you want to get rid off (which you will obviously get paid for).

 

You can buy and sell food, clothing, furniture, books, shoes, boots, drinks, autograph cards, toys, precious gems, magical potions, weapons and so on. You want to get a discount? Charm the store owner by performing physical antics that will make them like you enough to give you a special discount! Want to get an even larger discount? BUY the stationary business building and automatically get a Store Owner’s Discount! Bear in mind that you can’t buy the Mobile Vendors outside of town, though you can still get them to like you enough to grant you a special discount on the goods they have!

 

Side-Quests are never short or boring affairs; quite the opposite. Side-Quests can give you a much deeper insight into the mysterious history of Albion’s past, especially about the ancient Heroes and Villains, who may have died under violent or mysterious circumstances. Some of the people from Albion’s distance past may have also buried some legendary treasure that citizens of Albion may want you to search for and find. Your side-quest could involve traveling many miles into dangerous or long-deserted territories, where you will inevitably encounter giant beetle bugs, bandits, ghost pirates, trolls, hollow-men, banshees, highway men and all manner of evil monstrosities. That’s where your extensive combat prowess will come into play: have fun slaying them and collecting your reward!

 

If you are a good guy or lady, you get Slave Rescue Missions in which you have to save innocent people from vicious slavers. Bounty Hunter Jobs also become available for the Hero and they involve tracking down and eliminating randomly generated monsters and mad men who can suddenly begin plaguing the different towns and villages in Albion.

 

If you decide to be the mean villain, expect to get Assassination Missions (in which you are hired to murder a particular civilian target in a very specific manner) and Civilian Displacement Missions (in which you trick people into being traded as slaves). Again, the more evil you do, the more your corruption and impurity meter rises, turning you into a full-fledged villain, in how you look and how others treat you.

 

On the downside, there aren’t many boss battles, and the ones that are in the game are not as great or as grand that they could be. Sure, there are some boss battles at key points in the main mission and some during some side-quests. The bosses have some patterns and weaknesses to exploit, but the boss fights will never really frustrate you, which is fine. Still, some more dramatic boss fights that could have been more over-the-top would have been very welcome in Fable 2. Crazy boss battles can be fun and can spice things up in an action RPG title like this one. The ones in the game are good, but could have been more memorable.

 

Successfully completing main quests, jobs, and side-missions will increase your overall renown. In other words, you become more popular and more people will get to know you all over Albion. In addition to paying Bards to sing your praises to make more people like you, you can commission a sculpture to crave your statue and have them erected in different places all over Albion for all the masses to see. This sculpturing mission is in the form a mini-game and completing it would increase your overall renown. Your statues continue to give your character more positive exposure to the masses of Albion (increasing your overall popularity up to a point), even if you yourself are not physically present at the locations where your statues currently are.

 

If you ever get tired of exploring the above-ground locations in Albion, then don’t fret! Turn your gaze underground to explore the many ancient tombs, catacombs, tunnels and caves. They all hold secrets and adventures for you to discover, to loot and enjoy.

 

Tired of underworld exploration? Then, feel free to dive into the many bodies of water all around Albion and find so-called “Dive-Spots” which all hold a variety of hidden items for you to swim down to and take for yourself. There are even some Dive-Spots that can lead into newer under-ground areas that you can’t otherwise see, or that you may have known was down there. These Dive-Spots can also be the only ways into or out of certain hidden areas in the world of Albion.

 

On the down-side a bit is the 2-Player Co-Op Feature. If you join another player via Xbox Live and you go into their own version of Albion, then you CAN’T use you own personally created character to play in their world. No; instead, you are forced to pick from a generic male of female character model and you become the henchman of the other human player. The same rules apply if another human player joins you and enters your version of Albion; they must pick a generic male or female model and become your henchman. Only the main host of a multi-player session game gets to keep and use their very own custom-created version of Sparrow. This just goes to show that the 2-Player Co-Op mode in Fable 2 was more of an after-thought, which was added in at the last minute and was mainly done for the purpose of gaining extra sales. It’s not as extensive as it could be. Using your very own unique character (your own version of Sparrow) should allowed even within other versions of Albion belonging to other Xbox Live Players.

 

The good news about Co-Op Mode is than you can now fight enemies along with a friend to help you out. You can coordinate or synchronize your Will Power Attacks, so as to create much larger and more devastating Team Attacks to utterly decimate your foes. On the funnier side of things, you and your Co-Op Buddy can also perform funny physical gestures together, so that you impress the crowds even more. Just make sure you nail those Expression Mini-Games first! The good news is that whatever you earn in another players version of Albion (money, experience, items, etc) you can take it right back to your own version of Albion, and all of those things will be saved for you to make use of!

 

 

CONCLUSION: “Until We Meet Again.”

 

There is simply so much to do in Fable 2 and a lot of it has not been covered in this particular review!

 

For example, if you are injured in battle, instead of using food or potions to heal yourself, you can find a bed and sleep in it for a number of hours to recuperate! Don’t sleep for too long at one time or for several times in a row otherwise the citizens of Albion will see you as being lazy and that will give them a negative view of you in their sight!

 

Another example about rest is that sleeping in certain houses can be beneficial to your character physically. Sleeping in some houses might temporarily make you stronger in combat, make you more attractive to the local people, or might even help to regenerate your health slowly in battle! These effects (and many others kinds) only take place after you have slept in the beds within those particular houses, and these effects are only temporary.

 

Yet another interesting example is that people walking by or near you will often stop to pet and compliment your faithful canine companion, which adds a cute and realistic touch to the whole atmosphere of Fable 2! And, those are just a few examples of the little interactive touches that really make this game shine!

 

Once you save Albion from Lord Lucien and the Black Spire, don’t relax just yet! There is so much more to do and so many more places to explore in Albion and beyond!

 

There is a DLC Expansion called Knothole Island. In it, your character, Sparrow is summoned to the far-off land by the tribe living there. Apparently, your reputation as a world-renowned hero has gotten their attention, and they need you to infiltrate their own ancient Weather Shrines. Your job is to retrieve the Weather Totems from inside the monster-filled and booby-trapped shrines, for the purpose of using said Totems to change the extreme weather conditions, thus preventing Knothole Island from being destroyed.

 

In the “See the Future” DLC, you buy cursed artifacts from Murgo, a shady trader who deals in ancient items from Albion’s distant past. You will then be magically transported INSIDE these cursed relics and try to survive the many horrors that lie within each of them. Save a village trapped within a Snow globe from evil beings! Encounter a Necromancer and a trapped Knight inside an evil-looking skull! Battle for your very life and cool prizes inside a bloody arena, in which wave after endless wave of blood-thirsty enemies attack you! Don’t forget to get a glimpse of the distant FUTURE! What will you see there in coming decades?

 

Want to let people know how you really feel about them, be it for better or for worse? You can unlock certain Gestures just by deciding to be Naughty or Nice but there are some other expressions you can only get by purchasing or finding and “reading” Special Books, so keep your eyes out for them!

 

The Character Customization Feature in Fable 2 is utterly unique in nature! Instead of spending all of your time customizing your character in a series of menu screens, it is the actions that you do during active gameplay, which form and mold both the physical appearance and the way people will respond to you in the world. Doing positive things makes you look virtuous. Committing evil acts drags down your appearance, making you look wicked.

 

If you fire your projectile weapons a lot, you grow taller and shoot more accurately. If you bash down freaks with your close-quarter combat weapons, you become more muscular with your looks and you become much stronger physically and more resistant to damage. If you cast Magical Spells to destroy the minions you confront, your skin grows blue Will Power Lines and the power of your Magic increases dramatically.

 

Eating certain types of food can make you fat, skinny, more corrupt, more pure and so on. You can even find Magical Potions that can change your body’s dimensions (tall or short, fat or thin) if you want instant results. Just remember that you have to spend money to buy them and these potions ALWAYS have some sort of side-effects which directly or indirectly affect your Good versus Evil rating among the people of Albion!

 

You essentially Customize your Character by playing through the game. Sure, you have to be patient to wait before you see any tangible results, but it’s worth it because your good or bad actions also tend to affect the entire world and the people around you. In the long run, you are not just Customizing your Character, Sparrow, but you end up Customizing the entire world around you!

 

Making nothing but evil choices will turn parts of Albion into a dark, run-down and depressing place full of shady characters and oppressed citizens who are terrorized by all manner of evil.

 

Making righteous choices will turn parts of Albion into brightly colored and happier places for people to live, work and visit. There will be little or no crime in those towns and villages and life in them will progress positively. The people will still need to be rescued from crooks and creatures frequently, so going the positive route with your choices does NOT make Fable 2 boring at all.

 

If you want to customize the look of your character even further, you can change your hairstyle, buy new clothes, wear facial make-up, buy gloves, boots, change your hair color using hair dyes and so on. Beware though: any and all of these extra items will also affect how positively or negatively the people of Albion will react to your presence. In other words, your fashion and style does make a statement about you. Remember, since your character can’t speak, he or she can only express themselves through how they look and how they act.

 

To be honest, it would have been better if your character could talk, even if in a limited capacity. It would have been awesome to hear him or her express their emotions verbally during certain very emotionally and traumatic cut-scenes, during the course of the main story quest. Since your character is silent (at least, since they don’t speak clear English), we will never know what interesting things they would have said during those key plot points. Sadly, this is a missed opportunity.

 

The combat gameplay is easy to get into but ultimately fun to execute, especially when you combine your Will Power, with your Weapon Strikes and Firearm Shots to completely devastate your opposition. You Melee Attacks could have had more diverse animations to them, and your Augments should show the after-effects of Fire and Lightning Blasts on your enemies when you hit or shoot them. As it is, your weapons only sparkle and glow when they have Augments attached to them. The weapons themselves don’t produce any cool-looking blast effects on your enemies when you successfully attack them, which is another missed opportunity on the part of the developers, to vastly improve the gameplay.

 

There is simply too much to list about what you can do in Fable 2. The game is that big; it really is. If you are a fan of Action Role-Playing Games, which have a great story, and is loaded with a sense of humor, plus has vast open world areas to freely explore, then Fable 2 is an absolute MUST HAVE.

 

If you own an Xbox 360, please buy this game. Just make sure that you buy the “Fable 2 Game of the Year Edition,” or the “Fable 2 Platinum Hits” Edition. The Platinum Hits Edition in particular, has both the “Knothole Island” and the “See the Future” DLC already on the disc FREE! So, if you get the Platinum Hits Version, which has the phrases “Greatness is Earned” and “Extra Content! More Quests, More Locations, More Choices!” written on the front of the Game Cover, you get 2 DLC Packs for FREE: no codes to download and nothing extra to buy! This Edition also has the phrases “New Areas Include: Knothole Island and See the Future” written on the back of the game box. Inside the game case, there is also a Color Insert Card, which has the details for both the “Knothole Island” and the “See the Future” DLCs.

 

And, you can now get all of this awesome content for less than $20, brand new, still factory-sealed (the game, that is)!

 

In a nutshell, Fable 2 is truly a must-have Xbox 360 Classic! If you don’t own it now, GO AND GET IT!

 

Highest Recommendation!

 

Reviewed by Game-Quest-EX


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