Giant Bomb Review

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Fable II Review

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  • X360

Fable II keeps you thoroughly entertained whether you're saving the world or unraveling it.

Welcome to Albion, the fantasy realm where heroes do battle with deadly blades and fearsome magics, and the best protection comes not from a shield but rather a steadfast condom. It's a land set adrift in a sea of nonsense and you've got your hand on the rudder. This is the world of Fable II, and the choices you make here will provide hours of entertainment, granted you can get past some minor technical issues.

The world of Albion is yours to shape as you see fit.
Fable II opens with you as a young, impoverished orphan. Accompanied only by your sister's plucky attitude and a wooden sword to fend off starvation, you quickly find yourself performing quests for gold coins. Without giving too much away, your destiny to save the world comes at some fairly high costs, not the least of which is the sudden end of your childhood. It's a fairly short sequence, and you'll find yourself in the throes of adulthood soon enough, yet even the choices made here will echo into the future. From the very first scene where you're christened by bird poop until well after the credits you will be making moral choices that affect not only you, but the world around you as well.

It's these choices that are really at the heart of Fable II. At the game's most fundamental level you'll be constantly choosing between good and evil, but rarely will it feel as sterile as that. The choices are usually couched in some sort of ambiguity, with the consequences remaining a mystery for years. That's right, years! The game will span more than a few by the time you're finished, but even though there are day and night cycles, the big jumping points are clearly marked, so don't worry about taking your time. Also, be prepared to commit for the long haul if you want to be a saint. While running into a town and starting a massacre will turn you evil in mere minutes, it may take you the majority of the game to tread the road to righteousness. It seems like being good requires a pretty strict commitment, both in playing style and in actual sacrifices.

The best part about all this heavy decision-making is that the game rarely takes itself very seriously. While the choices certainly have weight to them, the world's inhabitants are so ridiculous that it's hard to not derive some pleasure no matter how things break. Yes, towns will prosper and despair by your hand, but everybody seems to be having a good time of it, regardless. If you're playing as a nice guy you'll be swarmed by loving fans seeking autographs or marriage proposals,  or generally wanting to bask in your light. If you're a big meanie, you'll feel the scorn of the townsfolk. A couple of jerks even took it upon themselves to kick my dog. They are dead now.

Your dog is actually one of the few constants you'll have throughout Fable II. He'll run around with you throughout your adventures, alerting you to treasure and biting your foes once they've hit the ground. You can name him, teach him tricks and he'll even change in appearance, much as you do, as your alignment alters. That being said, I didn't find myself bursting into tears every time he nicked his paw but realized that we had a good working relationship. I feed him treats to heal him and he tells me where to find treasure. Though we did find common ground when it came to laughing and urinating on things.

No, you can't kill children, but you can scare the crap out of them!
Aside from the sweeping, moral choices you'll be making throughout the game, there are many more subtle interactions that will probably take up just as much time. There's an economy to the land of Albion and you can participate by buying up homes and businesses. You'll receive income from any business you invest in as well as any home you rent out. You can also make some cash doing a few odd jobs, but since you'll constantly be getting new influxes of real-estate cash every five minutes of playtime, you can leave the manual labor to the chumps. In fact, you'll even collect rent and other income while the game is turned off, based on how much time has passed. Needless to say, money (and ways to cheat the system) are not hard to come by.

If running a business and saving the world weren't enough, there's also an entire social aspect to the world. While people will eagerly blab your ear off with all sorts of chattering, apparently your hero opts to respond only in pantomime. You'll dance, flip-off, fart, growl, and pose your way in or out of the hearts of hundreds of different townspeople, each with their own likes and dislikes. You can also buy them gifts, but with the population thinking the sun rises and sets by your thumbs-up, it's hardly worth the investment. I guess if you've been slaughtering a town and would like to turn over a new leaf, a couple of chocolates couldn't hurt, but you'd be surprised how quickly a jig can turn that frown upside down.

Once you've charmed the pants off someone, you'll be able to settle down and start a family. There are plenty of choices for a mate here, as illustrated by their descriptors: Romantic, Cheerful, Serious, Lesbian. Once you've found love you can opt to have protected (if you're packing some rubber) or unprotected sex. While the worst thing protected sex can lead to is an awkward morning after, unprotected sex can leave you with a check in the STD column and a baby crib next to your bed. For the most part you'll just visit the crib, but later in the game you may find yourself with an actual walking, talking little townie. Talk about pressure! The marriage system is actually kind of harsh and I had more than a few wives walk out on me for no apparent reason. Once a wife divorces you and leaves the area she is considered dead, and the child is taken away from you. I guess I should be fair and say two wives actually did die. One by banshee attack and one by axe-to-the-back-of-the-head-don't-you-leave-me attack.

Flippant wives are actually the least of the technical woes plaguing Fable II. The menus and interface are poorly suited for all of the things you'll be juggling at any given time. While instant travel between quest areas and towns is easily accomplished by clicking on that area's name, finding shops, family members and even your own house can be a chore. The map system is woefully underdeveloped and you'll only be able to get waypoints to quest objectives. Managing and using items from your inventory can be just as cumbersome. There is no indication as to whether or not you own a particular item while you are shopping as well as no way to tell if what you're about to buy is worse than what you have. On top of that, your inventory itself is no joy to sift through and seems to get bogged down once you've collected a fair amount of items. While all of this definitely detracts from Fable II, there's enough going on to keep you entertained in the world instead of constantly being burdened by menus.

Getting that store discount can take some persuading.
You'll be engaging in a fair share of combat during the game and even with its simplified controls it all feels rewarding. Hits seem to hit big, and you'll send foes into the air, into walls, and plummeting off of walkways. You'll have your choice of melee, ranged, or magical attacks, but the most fun comes from seamlessly switching between all three. Putting a few bullets in advancing opponents and then quickly whipping out your axe to finish them off is really satisfying. The action is relatively fast and you'll be treated to some slow-motion cutaways for the bigger hits, which are always more entertaining than annoying. With the ability to drop experience into each area of attack, you'll find that there are enough changes over time to keep things interesting.

The biggest thing Fable II has going for it is probably its M rating. While the jokes, choices and dialogue are all smart and rather sharp at times, they are made even more entertaining given the backdrop of this childlike fantasy world. You'll come across stone gargoyle heads that you can destroy to collect treasure, but these particular heads will curse you out and mock you, which makes shooting them oh-so-satisfying. Marrying Kristen is cute; marrying Kristen the Whore, who is a bisexual prostitute and was later killed by an accidentally summoned banshee, is truly memorable. While the main plot in Fable II has some great characters, it's probably not going to stick in your mind for too long. Now, eating five baby chicks to join a dark cult...that has staying power.

The game also has co-op, both online and local. While it might sound fun on paper to have a friend join you on your adventures, it really seems to do the game, and the overall experience, a disservice. Your friend will only be able to join you as a premade character--dubbed a henchman--and you will both share the same view and camera controls. This leads to frustrating camera angels, and requires both players to stay in pretty close proximity. In addition to the limitations on movement, the second player will also be unable to interact with much of the world, reducing them to an extra hand during combat. The time I spent with the co-op seemed to strip away a lot of the charm and joy that I found playing in single-player, and appears to be more a novelty than anything of substance.

Fable II comes packed to the gills with content to keep you busy. While there are definitely some issues with the user interface and the occasional NPC freak-out, they are easy to stagger past whilst getting drunk on the fanciful world of Albion. After you've beaten the main quest, you can go back and finish up side missions, find collectibles, or better yet, start a new character and make totally different choices. With its peculiar blend of charm and dark humor, Fable II is an adventure that will leave you with your own unique tales to tell. Vinny Caravella on Google+
176 Comments
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Posted by Coltonio7

Only 4 *?

And Dead Space got 5*?

....what a world

Posted by Turtlefuzz

Great review Vinny! I'm probably gonna go pick this one up soon.

Posted by lordofultima

Good review Vinny! I'm pondering my financial situation at the moment, otherwise I wouldn't hesitate in picking this one up.

Posted by Pibo47

Looks good! Cant wait to play it!

Posted by MasterSplinter

@Coltonia7

Brad reviewed Dead Space, not Vinny.

Posted by ieatlions

but dead space was amazing and this might not be as amazing ^

Posted by supercubedude

Nice 4/5 pose, Vinny.

Posted by Stratto83

I got this game yesterday and have not had a chance to start in need a Fable fix. On a second note not sure about the rest of the gamming world but in the Collectors Edition wit the extra content download code is now the same price as the standard edition ($99.95 AUS) because the supplier buggered the collectors’ figure. 

Just hope that all the things Peter promised are actually working the way they should in Fable2.

Keep up the great work on the Giant Bomb guy 



Posted by Jothel

hell yes

Posted by RHCPfan24

Uh. interesting. I was expecting a 5 on this one. especially with Dead Space at a 5.  well, I am still getting this game anyway.

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

Strange, I really didn't think it was going to be any good.

Kudos to Mr. Molyneux for not putting out another below average game. I might actually check it out (not a huge RPG fan)

Posted by Jtan21

4 stars, still pretty well thought of, as far as I am concerned. If you think it should have gotten a 5, then I suppose you don't really need to pay attention to the scoring of the review, since you have your own opinion on what it should be rated. What he's saying in the text of the review is far more important than the number of stars at the top.

Posted by dtran1212

great review vinny, you're always a good writer, keep those reviews comin!

Posted by Scooper

4 stars is the right score from my on-looker's opinion of the game. BTW I really enjoy reading Vinny's reviews they're actualy very funny and dead on.

Posted by BiggerBomb

Vinny is a fantastic writer, I found myself frequently laughing out loud during that review. Gotta love the guy, great job man! =P

Posted by Johanz

Good review, seems like this might be a bit more sandboxy, and lets you wreck havoc á la GTA style. Sounds fun, much to do in the game I hope!

Posted by Elazul

Wow, It actually looks pretty good. Although I'll need to read the Fallout 3 and Farcry 2 reviews before I decide what I'll be buying next.

Posted by jakob187

And again...as I've said numerous times...we'll see what everyone thinks of the game in two months...when it's collecting dust.

Posted by Gump

"Fable II" seems to be good, I'll try to play a RPG (for the third time in my life).

Posted by gouveia

hmmm how can i say this... it sucks

RPGS are like when you step in poop, its bad for a long time

Posted by MagusMaleficus

Woah, a bisexual prostitute gets killed by a damn banshee? I must rent this game, post haste!

Posted by JohnDeadly

Good review and very funny

Posted by oobs

the main quest is way short thats for sure

Posted by lilarchie232

Nice review Vinny!!

Posted by YoungBuck

4/5 = the new 8.8

Posted by TripMasterMunky

"Uh. interesting. I was expecting a 5 on this one. especially with Dead Space at a 5.  well, I am still getting this game anyway. "

Different reviewers have different tastes. The score is their own personal take on the game. Not really meant to be compared to others.

Posted by StaticFalconar

Only reason why DeadSpace got a better score is because not everybody was expecting the world from it and it was surprisingly good. Fable 2 however was hyped as the next coming from god. Both are good games that doesn't infringe on each others space since one is survival horror and the other is RPGish.

Posted by CoverlessTech
Strange, I really didn't think it was going to be any good.

Kudos to Mr. Molyneux for not putting out another below average game. I might actually check it out (not a huge RPG fan)


Yes, 4 out of 5 is below average

And again...as I've said numerous times...we'll see what everyone thinks of the game in two months...when it's collecting dust.

You mean just like any game you have had for 2 months? I'm sure you still play all the games you bought 2 months ago.
Posted by eternaLightness

Hope to be playing this soon. Loved the first Fable

Posted by deaux

So what happens if you cheated in Pub Games?

Posted by wakkoloco

good and hilarius review, i really want this game i think that in fact delivers everything San Peter Molyneux wanted for fable since the first one, the only thing that dissapoints me is the co op, i was hoping that i can take my character weapons, armor and look to a friend game i dont necessary need to interact that much in a world that doesnt belong to me but is not funny playing as another dude, well al least they didnt make us play the co op being the dog.

Posted by F1

I'm really disappointed that I will have to skip this game for now. There is just too much good stuff coming out. I just got Dead Space, I'm getting Little Big Planet next week hopefully, and Fallout 3 is coming in hot. F3 alone will occupy a lot of my time to say the least. Then there's GH:WT. Oh God! TOO MUCH! TOO MUCH!!!

Posted by SleepyDoughnut

"I KICK YOUR DOG!"

"BITCH YOU JUST MADE A MISTAKE."

The possibilities of the game seem fun and funny. Just a personal take, I plainly think if Brad reviewed it would have got a 5*.

Posted by Gorillawhat

I played about 3 hours of it, which is the most I'll play in the next month due to the fact that I'm sending my 360 in for repair tomorrow (long story). I really enjoyed the start, even though the controls felt a bit clunky and the dialogue has the same problem as the first Fable in that it starts and stops randomly. The few cutscenes so far have been great, the characters are charming, and the dog is cute. (when do I name it?)

Posted by Bass

"A couple of jerks even took it upon themselves to kick my dog. They are dead now."
Awesome

Posted by CharleyTony

I just ordered it from Amazon(canada) it was 10$ less than the normal retail price...

Posted by Derios

Lesbian? Nice.

Posted by MeatSim

This ones going on the Christmas list it looks like, while I'm buying fallout 3 and gears 2 straight up.

Posted by ManMadeGod

I just turned off the 360 after playing it for about 2 hours and so far so good.
Funny review Vinny!

Posted by Waffles13

I'm sorry Ryan, Jeff and Brad... But Vinnie, the one who doesn't have years and years of editorial experience, just put out one of the best and most entertaining reviews I have seen. Bravo, my friend. Bravo.

Posted by SilentBob251

Since when does 4 stars mean it is a bad game? People just hate on this game because for some reason they hate Molyneux. Yes the guy has high hopes that sometimes fall short, but the games are still good. Play a game for what it is not what you thought it was going to be.

I, for one, bought this game earlier tonight. Haven't had the chance to play it, but I'm looking forward to it. Nice review Vinny.

Posted by Crono

Everyone complaining about the reviews here lol.  Fact of the matter is, GB is reviewing some pretty damn good games.  Not to mention they don't review everything, only select titles, meaning they are more likely to review the AAA titles over the lesser games.  They want to go after what will be most important to their readership, not try to cover every game ever.... I don't understand why so many complain about how many 4/5 there are and whatnot...

Anyway the review was good, but still did not convince me that Fable 2 is worth owning, even with a 4/5 star rating.  The first one just wasn't my cup of tea (this idiom is brought to you by Mr. Molyneux)

Posted by artfan

"axe-to-the-back-of-the-head-don't-you-leave-me attack"

Hilarious.  Vinny, you get a cookie.

Posted by Duffy

Great review Vinny, I was a little bit disappointed the way the game turned out, but I'm sure I'm still going to love it. I think things like the bad inventory "There is no indication as to whether or not you own a particular item while you are shopping as well as no way to tell if what you're about to buy is worse than what you have.” are ridicules because they solved that problem in the last Fable. Anyway Thanks!

Posted by Minos

I'll pass! Big fan of good rpg's such as: Oblivion, Final Fantasy VII... etc...

this game doesn't seem to be at that level. 

Posted by tmontana1004

Disappointed in this review. Another reviewer who is hard to please *sigh*

Posted by ImperiousRix

Got this game today... and I'm somewhat undwhelmed.
Much like playing the first Fable, it just seems like the game does the bare minimum to string you along to keep playing.
I don't understand why I can't get into it.

Posted by gla55jAw

i got this on my way home from work, and wound up skipping my night class to play it. i now have a headache from playing 6 hours straight, this game is awsome!

Posted by TheWorstPlayerEver

I am loving this game but I have to agree with Vinny. Its not a 5 star game but its still worth playing especially if you enjoyed the first Fable. Im just dissapointed in the crappy online co-op

Posted by RedSox8933

huh, a bad giant bomb review? that's unheard of!!! but seriously think that this game deserves 5 stars.

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