I liked Fable. I liked it a LOT. I even forgave Peter Molyneux for promising so many things that didn’t materialize in the first game, because it was still a ripping yarn and great RPG.
Now, a few years later, Lionhead have delivered another tempting trip into Albion, one filled with all kinds of humor, action, great storytelling and more than a little sauciness.
Set a few hundred years after the first game, Fable2 starts with a lovingly rendered cut scene of a bird flying through Albion, soaring gracefully amongst the rooftops of a small town, before coming to rest on the edge of a building and dropping a large dollop of poo onto the shoulder of the unsuspecting young tyke standing below!
You are that young tyke, and from that moment on, you are pretty much free to behave however you want as you grow and explore the land.
Fable 2 is a very British RPG, with all the voices coming from across the various regions of the UK (no Welsh though – buggers!) and the voice acting of the main characters is top quality, from the hilariously insulting Scottish gargoyles through the lilting voice of Zoe Wannamaker as the Narrator / Theresa and finishing up with the brilliant Stephen Fry as the caddish, vain and sexually ambiguous Reaver.
It’s not just the voices though that give the game its British feel, the locations in game, from imposing castles to little villages all seem familiar to me as I was born in a rural part of Wales and have visited many a historic site that could double for Bloodstone, Oakfield or any of the other locations in the game.
The third indicator of the Brit theme? The wickedly suggestive sense of humor! Take a dash of lewd, a pinch of crude, add a few nudges and winks and sprinkle with a healthy dollop of Benny Hill, and you have a fair idea of what to expect when playing this game.
Make no mistake, this is not a game for kids. In fact, anyone without a sense of humor should stay away from Fable 2 and they will only get offended and the next thing you know Fox News will be screaming from the rooftops that video games are teaching kids to fornicate.
To those people I say now – go away, this is not for you. Go back to shooting wolves from helicopters, or believing that the world was made in seven days. This game is way to taxing for your kind.
Anyways, rant over, back to the review.
There is the one overarching quest during the game and while that will always be there, you are never in any rush to complete it, as the game allows you to tootle along at your own pace, exploring, performing side quests and generally being as nice or as nasty as you want.
Being nice or nasty of course have their own benefits and drawbacks. Be nice to everyone and you will be loved, traders will give you discounts and your renown will soar, be too nice and EVERYONE WILL LOVE YOU, and want to marry you, and pester you for a ring or a gift, and that gets annoying really quickly.
Of course, if you wish to play as a total bastard, the peeps will tremble in your presence and you will get discounts borne of fear. The flip side is that guards will be watching you closely, some townspeople may attack you and your evil deeds will corrupt your appearance so much, no one will want to shag you.
That’s right, shag you. Fable 2 allows you to mate, bone, procreate, do the nasty and get jiggy with it. (You don’t actually see the act, it’s all blacked out and you hear a few sweet nothings being uttered) You can get frisky with a man or a woman (no gender bias here) and the game allows you to purchase condoms to stop you getting STD’s or putting a bun in someone’s oven should you so wish!
You can also get married, buy a home and raise the nippers if you are that way inclined, or you can drop seed and hightail it out of there to go kill more things! It’s all good fun and nonsense, and adds to the games sense of immersion. You also get a dog as a sidekick early on in the game, and you can train him up to perform tricks, search for buried goodies or sniff out treasure chests, as well as be quite useful in fights, and in charming the ladies with his tricks.
Another diversion from questing is to get a job, and there are several on offer, from Bounty Hunter (kill bad guys) Assassin (kill good guys) to being a blacksmith, woodcutter or even a bartender. These last three jobs take you to a little mini-game where you have to stop the cursor on the ‘sweet spot’. Hit it just right and you chop, hammer or pour like a champ, making gold and increasing your gold multiplier on the road to promotion. Screw up and you get laughed at and head back to the bottom of the money making tree. These games are nice little diversions initially and a good way to get gold early in the game, but soon become repetitive.
Another way to make cash is to become a landowner. You can buy houses and businesses and make coin from the rent and profits. Be warned however, charge too much and you will be deemed corrupt, too little and you won’t make enough to buy all those shiny guns and stuff.
Talk of guns, swords etc lead me onto combat, and your options are three: Strength based (swords, maces) Skill based (guns, crossbows) or Will based ( magic type stuff) Of course, nothing is straight forward, and you will find a balance of the three skill sets will serve you best as Strength also increased your health, Skill increases your speed and accuracy and Will is just so darn fun to use period!
My only criticisms of the game are that a few of the quests can be repetitive and predictable, occasionally you do get gypped out of the money you are owed by your tenants, which can suck if you need to stock up on potions and the other main characters you come across in the game as part of the main quest could have been more developed and involved, as opposed to just buggering off to wait for you at certain locations – lazy bastards. Also the game is a little short compared to games like Fallout 3, so here is hoping some varied DLC content is on the way.
To sum up, if you like games with a bit of cheek, deliver a great story with lots of options and things to do, that don’t take themselves too seriously and are more fun than two strippers in a pool full of jelly, then this should be right up your alley. If not, well there is always the latest Hannah Montana game to get in a tizzy over.
Fable 2 is one of the best games of the year in my book. Now let’s see if Lionhead can deliver us some more tales of Albion via DLC soon. I hope they do!
Verdict: Annoyingly Great!