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Fable II Pub Games Review

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A crappy gambling game that also doubles as a parable about the dangers of downloadable content.

Forsooth, it's just as confusing as actual craps.
Forsooth, it's just as confusing as actual craps.
Fable II Pub Games is an Xbox Live Arcade game designed to give fans a head-start on their Fable II experience, and it is terrible. If this collection of imaginary gambling games is representative of the quality that can be expected from Fable II, the world of Albion is in a heap of trouble.

Pub Games presumes that you're already pretty jazzed up about about the pending release of Fable II, so much so that you'd be interested in playing some games of chance in order to earn some imaginary gold to spend on tabards or flagons of mead or condoms or whatever in Fable II. The games themselves are just Ren-Faire versions of familiar modern gambling games. Fortune's Tower is a blend between blackjack and solitaire, Keystone is a rejiggered version of craps, and Spinnerbox is literally just a slot machine with a different skin. If Fable II becomes a giant smash-hit, I would not be in the least bit surprised to see Fable II Spinnerbox machines in Laughlin, Nevada.

Played straight-up, Fable II Pub Games isn't a very good way to accrue gold. The risk/reward model is heavily slanted to the house's favor, and of the three games, Fortune's Tower is far and away the most engaging, simply because it's the only one where player input has much impact on the outcome of the game. With both Keystone and Spinnerbox, it's pure chance. A social multiplayer element might've improved Keystone, but Spinnerbox is only interesting to enthusiasts of pressing the A button. You'll unlock a few variants of these games as you play, and you can also compete in tournaments against the computer for the chance to win actual items to use in Fable II, and that's about it.

If that were all there was to say about Fable II Pub Games, I probably wouldn't have even bothered writing this review. Fortunately, as of this writing (nearly a week after the game's initial release) there is an incredible bug in Fortune's Tower that essentially turns it into Ye Olde ATM, making what little gameplay there was here irrelevant. I suppose we won't know the full extent of the impact this infinite-gold bug will have in the economy of Fable II until that game is on store shelves, but I can say that I'm curious to see what my ill-gotten 130,000 gold will get me.

So, in a sick sort of way, these Pub Games have accomplished their mission of increasing my personal investment in Fable II. Unfortunately, it has taken on a certain car-crash appeal that I'm mostly sure the developer did not intend. It's slightly less offensive as a Fable II preorder bonus, but it comes nowhere near justifying its 800 point ($10) asking price.