Fable II was a huge improvement over the original but had faults.
Overall, I enjoyed Fable II more so than the original. Most of the bugs were kinked out, the controls were fixed, the quests were better, etc. I just had more fun with this game. The map, while not great, was still improved. The dog was an "ok" addition. Could they have made this better? Obviously, but I think it was a fun experience.
A few things that really annoyed me though were the bad fart and poop jokes. They were lame in the first one and they're lame in this one. I thought the storyline was a step down. The characters in this game are actually worse than the original Fable. The story felt like a rehash of the first game too. They simplified the game a little to much making it extremely easy. I liked that you could upgrade your skills on the spot, but you could only upgrade a few skills.
I hated the NPCs the most. They were so worthless and annoying. Everyone hyped this game up like it was so full of live and wonder, but they're just annoying lemmings that either followed you or ran away from you. If you're well liked, then they will follow you, and if you have 100 people following you, and having them all screaming or talking at you, then it just gets freaking annoying.
Fable II is an action RPG. One thing I hated the most about the original Fable was the clunky controls and terrible button mapping. They corrected most of that in the sequel, thank god.
The controls are much more simplified than the previous game. You control your melee attack, magic and projectile weapons with a unique button. The expressions are easier to navigate through too.
You gain experience for each kill. If you kill with a melee weapon, then you'll gain blue experience, a projectile weapon will give you yellow and magic will give you red. You also gain green experience, which are considered "blank" experience and you can spend that on any of the three skills. Both Melee and Projectile skills have 3 skills each. Magic has about 8 skills to learn. You can level each skill up to level 5 (with one exception).
It seems they give you less weapon choices in this, and there's actually no armor. The clothes you wear only effect your appearance, not your skills or stats. I like this actually, I really disliked buying new equipment every 5 minutes in the original game.
The quests are less blatant Black or White like in the original game. For example, in the original Fable, they you have to accept quests before you took them on. Most of the time they gave you an option to take the bad path or the good path. They don't do that in this one. You usally make your desision on the spot. Which is a much better idea.
The missions are improved too because they no longer send you with babysitting missions or lame timed missions (with one exception at the end).
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as the "Hero". Very very very much like the original Fable, you start the game off as a small kid, then age as the game progresses. As a kid, you and your sister are murdered, but you are resurrected by an old blind mage. She sends you on a quest to find the 3 Heroes and with them, you much seek revenge on your murderer.
The story follows the same basic steps of the first game. I actually felt the story was worse in this sequel. I really hated all the NPCs, even the storyline driven ones. Everyone is so lifeless and boring. The dialog is terrible too. The relationship with the dog was a huge disappointment too.
One thing that really annoys me about the storyline is how they can't figure out if they want this game to be stupid or serious. One thing I love about Tales of.. games is how they can flesh out the comedy bits with serious moments, and they never feel out of place. In Fable II, it just gets stupid. One scene in particular, is one of the early cutscenes where you are murdered. Which was nice and touching. Then it goes to a load screen and they promptly tell you to not hold your farts to long or else you'll make a mess in your pants.
I really don't get British humor.
The graphics didn't impress me all that much on an artistic level or a technical level. On the technical side, it looks like the original Fable with more stuff. More grass, bigger levels, more characters on screen, but the same lame level designs, character models, and art style. It's like they took the original Fable and slapped vaseline over it. Just because everything is shiny doesn't mean it looks good. I hate how they put a shine on EVERYTHING. It looked good in Twilight Princess, but it's an overkill here.
However, I really loved the pre-rendered cutscenes. Games rarely use them anymore. When Fable II goes from a pre-rendered cutscene, to a normal one, it shows how much better this game could have looked.
Once again, I enjoyed the music but the voice acting really got on my nerves. The main theme was really cool, but it reminded me of Metroid Prime for some reason.
The world map is similar to the original game. It feels like an open world, but everything of importance is blocked off until you reach a storyline bit. Basically like a Zelda game.
You can take carriages if you want to fast travel, and if you start a quest, you can warp to the starting point of that quest where ever that may be. This speeds up traveling quite a bit.
One of most notable things about Fable II is the breadcrumbs addition. Instead of a compass or minimap (which I think I prefer), you get a golden trail of breadcrumbs that light up your way to your next objective. You can use the breadcrumbs or turn them off, but I felt like I needed them for the most part because of the lack of landmarks in most areas. I didn't like the design of the world map, and I got lost sometimes even with the breadcrumbs. They are useful if you want to zoom through the game though.
There are a ton of things to look for on the world map too. The Demon Doors, Silver Keys and Black Chests return to the game. They also added these strange Gargoyle Statues with weird Scottish accents. There are 50 of them scattered across the world, and you have to find them by listening for their voice. The statues don't move, but they do insult you. So if you hear a Scottish person insulting you, then you should look for a Gargoyle statue. Much like the Skulltula's in Ocarina of Time, each 10 you find, you get to open a new chest.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
Fable II doesn't record your overall time, so I have no idea how long I actually spent on it. I can tell you for a fact I spent more time with this than in the original Fable though. It felt somewhere between 15 to 18 hours. I did quite a bit of exploring and sidequesting. After you beat the game, you get to resume your quest to finish up any forgotten sidequests (and even start new ones).