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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.
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.
102 Comments
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Posted by DualReaver

You toasted their ass.

Posted by Sunjammer

like this kind of game wasnt the most fantastically uncool aspect of the original Fable. What the hell drove those dudes to create this kind of product is beyond me.

Posted by Arkthemaniac

Burrrrrrned.

Well, I had no intention of wasting 8 bucks on this anyways. If I want money in Fable 2, I'll PLAY FABLE 2. Makes sense to me!

Good review, by the way. Way to stick it to the Molynator.

Posted by Kohe321

I completely agree!

Posted by Subway

I didn't want Fable 2 so I didn't want Fable 2 Pub games. seems like a neat pre-order bonus though.

Posted by Kontrapunkt

Its a nice pre-order idea but gambling in video games?
Thats just weak!

Oh and does anyone else see a stock market crash or overpriced everything for anyone that doesn't use the say "Ye olde ATM"

Posted by vinsanity09

"Keystone is a rejiggered version of craps"

haha

Posted by zig

As an A button pressing enthusiast, this game sounds like it was made for me.

Seriously though, tried the demo, told me all I needed to know.

Posted by TheGTAvaccine

Really? I'd probably go for at least a 2/5

Posted by Soap

Yeah the very idea of this always did jar a little in my mind, for one by gaining so much gold in fable 2 your just decreasing the fun of gathering such a fortune on your own terms, and everyone knows starting with enough money to buy the greatest items is no way near as fun as actually having earned them and played for the rewards.

Posted by imayellowfellow

yay giant bomb's first 1/5 review lets hope this doesnt happen too often

Posted by Dryker

I like how so many of the bashers here seem to have something awry in their post. Some even implying that they never had bought downloadable content and asserting how they would never buy this game. I personally don't find anything traumatically wrong with the game and have no idea where Ryan came up with his analogies for each. Their just wrong in my opinion. The game definitely isn't worth the 800 Microsoft Points, but it's still fun to play. That ATM glitch sucks. Guess I'd better try to exploit it before they patch it out. 

Posted by FiestaUnicorn

I don't think I'll mind starting the game with 200,000+ gold.  Seriously though, these games are terrible.  Winning a Fortune's tower tournament is the easiest thing in the world, winning a keystone tournament involves laying down the largest possible bets on the bottom row of bets and a spinnerbox tournament is the dumbest thing I've seen on XBLA game yet.  Free Gold = 5/5!

Posted by DaMichelinMan13

i kinda disagree with this review.  Here's the thing, if you are only playing this game if your stoked about Fable II.  And guess what, chances are if your into fable II in all likelihood you'll pre-order the thing and get the games for FRICKIN FREE.  One has to admit that at least two out of these 3 games are addictive as hell.  I could tell by last week's podcast that Ryan would hate on this game.

Posted by WolfLaser

I just posted a blog about this.

Games like this don't need to be reviewed. You are either into them because you are a huge Fable fan, or you aren't. It is not 1 out of 5. It is yes or no. 
Posted by NotaStalker

powned. also, RYAN DAVIS, you fats! you go girl :O

Posted by TheIneffableBob

Fable II Pub Games receives the honor of being the first 1-star on Giant Bomb.

Posted by Josh

I disagree WolfLaser. This "game" needed to be reviewed because Microsoft/Lionhead are charging money for it, and people need to be warned to stay away.

Without reviews, how are people going to know? This isn't about being a fan of Fable, this is about having the common sense not to spend $10 on a bunch of worthless gambling games that you get for free when preordering the game anyway.

I am a fan of Fable, and I'm looking forward to Fable 2. I haven't preordered it yet, but you can bet I'm not going to blow ten precious dollars on this crap. Simply because someone is a fan of Fable doesn't necessarily mean they are also an idiot.

Posted by Keyser_Soze

Ye olde crappy cash in game.

Posted by Snipes424

1 star?  Ouch, is there such thing as 0 stars?  I'm just curious

Posted by elko84

I got the Pub games for free due to pre-ordering.  So good or bad, I'm gonna bug a ton of gold for my Fable 2 hero!!

Posted by Echelon730

Its nice for a free game for those who are interested in Fable 2

Posted by John

This is only worth it if you got the pre-order code, otherwise it's a pretty lame way to blow 800pts.

Posted by Anonymous

Ouch. Although I must admit it was a fairly funny review.

Posted by KingBroly

I gave it 1.5 stars, but still, this is how I feel about it.

Posted by Paul

I'm not even going to download this. Don' WASTE my motherfuckin' time! 

Posted by Ubergeist

Wow, guess I won't be getting this. Going in debt before the game starts is lame. What a waste of money.

Posted by RHCPfan24

First 1 star review.  Ouch!

Posted by ImperiousRix

I became intrigued when I heard "Ye Olde ATM".

Posted by albedos_shadow

Yay, game-ruining glitches!

Posted by WilliamRLBaker

Good job ryan you hit the head on the nail the game is a peice of shit its not worth 800 ms points.

And it really does cheat like hell I played the spinner game the initial 1-10 bet one and played 5 rounds of 100 gold each betting 10 each time I never won once i gained 500 gold debt and never won a single time in 50 spins.

Posted by LordAndrew

Woo! Free money!
Wait. There's a game in here? Not interested.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

Funny thing is: some gaming publications that I won't name here actually liked this one. Interesting.

Posted by Milkman

Giant Bomb's first 1 star review. Sweet.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

Tried the demo,  this will probably be delisted once the full game is actually out, I could have more fun busting out one of the old Hoyle Casino games lol

Posted by st0ph

Wombat on the recent CAGcast made an interesting point... He said that nobody actually expects anybody to pay for it and the only reason they are probably charging 800 points for this is because they want people who preorder to feel like they are getting a $10 game for free. 

Posted by IKenjiI

This should never have had a review, thats what the demo is for. I personally thought it was not terrible, not worth 800 "space bucks" but a pre-order bonus is cool.

Posted by SaitenMar

I tried the free trial, was confussed as hell about one of the games! glad I didn't buy!

Posted by TewDee

"...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."

I lol'd.

I really think good old Peter need's to chill out a bit.

Posted by FoolInjection

Am I right in assuming that... these pub games will probably be playable in the actual Fable II game itself ?.

I mean you could play blackjack and stuff in the pubs in Albion in the original one so yeah I'm assuming that you could play these 3 games in the pubs in the new one.

Which begs the question... why would anyone once they have the game... quit out of Fable II to fire up Pub Games to try and earn some extra gold... when you could just nip down the pub in the game and  play them ?.

Posted by Midgar

I actually tried the demo out last night and completely agree with the review....hopefully fable 2 is good

Posted by cosmothehound

I got it for free, so I really can't bitch about it.

I just pressed a over and over to get to level 5 because I'm close to being an achievement whore, but now I'm 180,000 in debt. Oh well, ill try to get gold on fortunes tower later this week;.

Posted by JRSPipBoy2008

Wow ... brutal.  I don't know that Fable Pub Games was so bad it deserved only one star ... It's at least a two star game.   I found Keystone to be a creative reworking of Craps (which I love) and Fortune's Tower is pretty interesting.   I didn't know about the money bug (and don't plan on exploiting it) and I've managed to earn a pretty decent profit on my own through careful Fortune's Tower and aggressive Keystone trips betting.

I mean, Spinnerbox .. whatever.   It's a slot machine.  It's definitely boring and it stands out because there's only three games.  But the different approaches are interesting. Okay, but it's slots .. I get it ...

I found the review slightly harsher then it needed to be, but then, I'm a fan of games like Hoyle Casino so I like these kinds of game.   I'd give it at least a 2 star.

Posted by DARKIDO07

Jeff forgot to mention the $10 price tag too.

Posted by Aaron_G

I agree with that review, as this game should only be a pre-order bonus not charged for at all. 

Posted by HeartbreakRidge

Fortune's Tower is not too bad, but I agree that Spinnerbox is just an exercise in button-mashing grinding, and I actually got 200 pts in an XBLA game for a change. (I'm such a cheevo junkie).  I wish there had been SOME sort of online component to keep things interesting.

I also don't really get the complaints over pricing.  Anyone who actually pays the 800 pts needs to have their head examined.  Play the demos, if you love it, preorder and you get it for free, if you hate it, you still pay nothing.  I imagine they put it on XBLA so everyone can try the demo, and if it is up on XBLA they have to feign selling it, so they have to set a price - and I'm also sure they will be surprised if they actually sell copies.  They won't want to break their XBLA 'rules' just for this game.

I wouldn't pay for it, but for free? Sure, especially because I'm looking forward to the hints about how the game world treats you if you come in either with buckets o' cash or debt.

Posted by Rio

Im a little surprised at this.  I dont think a review was necessary seeing as this is a fairly obvious marketing tool.  I guess I feel you kind of made a big deal (sort of) out of nothing.  This seemed like an excuse to take a shot at Fable for some reason, or at least thats how it came off. 

"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."    Come on really?   Thats just a terribly annoying statement to hear you say.  As if Gambling is large focus of gameplay in Fable and not a funny little side gimick for mild entertainment..... because that doesnt exist in Fable at all, right?  This is just an uncomfortable review that doesnt seem to be needed.

edit: Oh and yes I do think that the pub games should have never cost money, but you can get it free through pre-order (as I have).  So its not that big of a deal.   

The bug is rather annoying, shit happens.

Posted by ethanmmm

laughlin nevada, i know that place!!!!

Posted by Loomis2

I agree this should have received 2 stars, but this XBLA also plays by a different set of rules.

I never pre-order games but this free release made me do it this one time.  It is a great incentive and I expect more of this in the future.  I'm actually surprised they didn't just make it a free download for everyone and gave people with no interest in Fable 2 a reason to at least consider buying it when it comes out.  I'm sure more than a handful of people would have made some gold and then bought the game just to make their efforts have some meaning.

I personally plan to play the game until I earn all the achievements.  By then I should have enough gold to never have a reason to play Pub Games again, whether in XBLA or in Fable 2 and I cna just play the Fable 2 story without the need to suck time away in fake gambling.

Posted by Jayge_

The review was totally justified. It was a terribly designed game, and should never have been available at retail. It should have been left as a pre-order bonus only; and it wouldn't even be a good one at that.

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