|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Lionhead Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.27, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Because of this incredibly flexible character development, customization in Fable II is also extremely deep. Players can outfit their heroes not only with the best armor and equipment, but also the latest fashions of Albion. As you can imagine, clothes for adventuring may not be the most appropriate for courting. Likewise, tattoos and Mohawks, while intimidating during battle, may close doors of opportunity while interacting with folk in the many urban centers. Throughout the game, players will be able to find and purchase dyes, jewelry, and fashions that will affect their outward appearance. The sheer amount of customization options is virtually limitless, so players will find it easy to create a character that is completely distinct from those of their friends and family.
What's more, like in Fable, your hero will always be affected by the decisions they make. If you are evil, your darkness will manifest. If you are lazy or have a propensity toward gluttony, you will become a portly mess. Conversely, traveling long distances, swinging a heavy axe to chop wood, hammering metal into swords at the smithy, dropping experience points into your physique, etc. will make your hero ripple with muscles. If you're unfortunate enough to lose fights in the dangerous wilds, you will wear the battle scars from your blundering. Additionally, using more skillful techniques will not only make you lithe, but also physically long and tall. Finally, constantly using Will causes your character to be marked by the arcane energy that flows through their veins, bringing about a whole other set of reactions from people and opportunities in the world of Albion. These changes to your character overtime truly help to reinforce the decisions you have made in the past, and greatly influence the choices you will make in the future.
Combat in Fable II is both highly accessible and rewarding. Virtually anyone can get through fights by tapping or holding the simple three button controls that govern melee, ranged, and Will attacks. However, as players advance, deeper mechanics are made available by unlocking them through power-leveling your character with Experience Orbs. These orbs are divided into four different colors. Orbs of varying colors and amounts are dropped by your foes depending upon the speed, manner, and style with which you dispatched them. Green, blue, yellow, and red orbs represent General, Strength, Skill, and Will experience, respectively. Any orb of a specific color can be combined with the green General orbs to augment your character's abilities and skills. I really enjoyed the fact that the orbs are awarded to your character according to merit and style. Unfortunately, orbs aren't automatically absorbed by your hero. Players have to hold RT before they will be accumulated. I found this to be unnecessary and, frankly, cut-worthy. All in all, combat is generally engaging and rich. The only caveat being, it is perhaps too easy for very skilled gamers.
Fable II also introduces gamers to a very interesting A.I. sidekick: the dog. Your dog is your buddy, minion-at-arms, and treasure-hunting sleuth. Your dog is very useful throughout and never becomes bothersome. Moreover, your canine companion will learn new skills, perfect what it already knows, help to further express your character's personality, and will grow similarly to its master. It's easy to tell who's naughty and who's nice by the rabid or tranquil appearance of their pet. Players should enjoy that their dogs alert them to danger, take advantage of prone foes, and find dig spots and secret caches of loot and treasure. The dog in Fable II is definitely a welcome addition to the series.
Doubtless, players will get lost in their own versions of Albion, having statues commissioned in their likeness, and getting that noble bird to accept their character's advances. But, playing with a friend or family member is a real treat that should not be ignored, as sharing your world and its unique experiences with someone else is even more rewarding. At home, having someone jump into your game is as easy as powering up a second controller. The additional player becomes your henchman and will be quite useful in dealing with your adversaries. The online co-op experience, supposedly, will be very similar to local co-op. Players will be able to bring in their unique hero as a guest, define the gold and experience point percentages as the host, and trade items between each other's inventories. However, we have been warned that bringing an unruly player into your world can be dangerous; you never know what kinds of trouble they can get into.
Unfortunately, as you probably already know, online co-op is not available out of the box. According to a letter sent to editors by Peter Molyneux, the team at Lionhead is diligently working on developing a patch for the game to make the online components of Fable II as compelling and smooth as those of local co-op. This patch could be ready as early as the first day of release, but we'll have to wait and see. Even so, the co-op aspect of Fable II makes the game much more interesting at home, and should go a long way toward creating a sense of community among Fable II players when online capabilities go live.
Fable II is a worthy successor to the noble effort released on the Xbox. I could go on and on about the many varied bits there are to see and do. The role-playing possibilities are endless, and the world is amazingly well fleshed out. Unfortunately, technical issues with the visuals and the fact that non-role-playing gamers will likely be bored by the sheer size and scope of play limit the title's appeal. As such, know that this game is not for everyone, but rather for those looking for a living world within which to explore, live, and act.
CCC Editor / News Director