A biased Fable II review

Posted by SpaghettiOh on Saturday, September 12th, 2009 in Gaming Life /Reviews
Fable II cover

Yes, definitely biased; though, not biased in the way you might think. I, for one, will spill it straight up that I love this game as well as it’s predecessor on the original Xbox. I’m more than positive, however, that there is a plethora of people out there that absolutely loathe this franchise, and are keen to spouting off the creator, Peter Molyneux’s, name like they have beer with him every Friday. For some ungodly reason, they’ve had a horrible experience with either title, or have heard enough about someone else’s horrible experience to never want to play the game and take the stance of being the stubborn shit-head they are and not actually play it for themselves and declare independent thought.

I’m here, today, to be one of those people; a shit-head. You’re going to read a review on this game from a perspective of one that thinks less of Fable II than they might of their ex. For if one in favor of the title were to look past the charm, glamor, and tuxedo that is the game’s reputation by those that worship it, it’s actually quite easy to call the game out on its shortcomings. Because in all honesty, this game needs a lot of work.

Let’s talk about graphics! Those things that make up the reason the video game industry is still around, right? The glimmering shiny display of neatly organized polygons blended with a unique art style that, from things small to tall, look like they came straight out of a fairy-tale book. Take these concepts and mash them all together to form bland and generic templated houses, shops, towns, and wooded areas. What indeed looks absolutely amazing on paper (and it does… see concept artwork below) doesn’t end up looking all that stellar in a video game.

Fable II artworkFable II artworkFable II artwork

I’m honestly convinced that this game was not meant to be played in HD. In hooking up the 360 to my PC monitor via composite (I know, just the thought of that could make next-gen fanboys cringe… kinda like I just did) I was quite able to enjoy the game; complete with its graphical hiccups, ridiculous similarity of townsfolk and surroundings, or nitpickable poor textures and animation. If it wasn’t for the menu being damn near microscopic by comparison, SD would probably be a favorable format. As if reducing visual quality to compensate for poor execution isn’t bad enough, fill those uninteresting settings from earlier with boring and unintellectual NPCs & invincible children and you’ve got one lovely, glimmering, shiny shit-pile-looking game with enough bloom to put the sun to shame. The elephant in the room is, though, that this is a next-gen game, and these characters look like a bunch of albinos that just stepped out of a high-spin clothes dryer.

And they said my jokes were bad…

Now, let’s talk about gameplay! The hard fact: this is an RPG trying so hard to be an RPG that it fails at being an RPG. Look, just because you make me collect orbs of colored light so I can purchase upgrades to skills and appearance doesn’t mean you’ve got a solid RPG on your hands. Shit, Arkham Asylum does that. Not only do I actually have to hold a button to collect these things, since running over them doesn’t work, but you forgot to add in some logic that says something like, “Experience Orbs SHOULD NOT FALL BELOW GROUND! If they do, they should reappear 10-in-game-feet above their current position until they appear ABOVE GROUND.” No; instead, your character just stands there looking like they’re silently shitting their pants while the hum of your light-orb-magnet buzzes away for ten minutes as the lone invisible orb comes floating up your way, eventually passing through the ground and into your feet thus collecting it. FAIL.

The AI leaves something to be desired. What the fuck am I talking about…? The AI surmounts to three whole commands on its own: idle/wait, attack, and flee. What an achievement! A majority of the time, the commands available depend on the character of interaction, and said character cannot interact with another, or even you, until your action is complete or the guy you’re pummeling finally departs his most enjoyable artificial life.

Fable II non-happenings
Wait, when does this type of camera shot happen in the game? Oh yeah, it fucking doesn’t.

The alignment system (karma) is also lacking. A play-through with a “pure” alignment could have you waiting until the end of the game to be that messiah you’ve always longed to be. Whereas you can become Satan incarnate by merely buying a few properties, jacking up all the rates, and just flat-out being a dick to people. One good point to every three bad it would seem. Hardly fair for all those goody-goodies out there. I must say, playing through with an evil alignment is far more satisfying; considering having a halo is a “benefit” of playing through with a pure character, along with every NPC in the game all ready to follow you around as if you were Jesus himself. At least being evil keeps people away from you. All too often you’ll find yourself trapped in a one-way alley or some other inescapable spot & having to warp somewhere else because everyone in the town knows your exact location from the beaming-high frequencies you apparently emanate.

I wrote a rather elementary letter to Lionhead, and requested they double check the production release and make sure that it matches with the one they have on file. I never got a response, but it is noted on their website that they plan to make an optional patch available for download and included the following release notes:

Lionhead Fable II Title Update Patch 3 notes

  • Glowing trail removed — It never really worked anyways… Besides, your bitch-arse should learn the layout of the land before you develop the need for a GPS to find your bollocks.
  • Bonus experience removed — This includes all bonus experience earned during battles as well as bottled experience, because you shouldn’t be able to obtain maxed out stats before or by the time you hit the 40% completion mark of the story.
  • Real estate is leveled — No, you cannot buy the pub so you can make 80,000 Gold every five minutes… yet. Besides, what would you do with all that loot if you couldn’t just go and buy your experience, you wanker cheaters.
  • Jump button added — Sorry about that…
  • Stupid fucking camera clipping/fade fixed — We realized it was better to just go through objects instead of seeing the horrible mess of a mesh that is your dog while opening chests or digging up treasures.
  • Legendary weapon class added — It dawned on us that having the ability to max out weapon upgrades so early in the game came at a serious disadvantage to people who enjoy diversity.
  • Improved physics — We went ahead and replaced our garbage rehash of the Fable engine with GTAIV’s Euphoria engine. This includes…
    • All dynamics & physics — Because true dynamics are better than animated falls and object-weighting.
    • Drastically improved AI — We realized that this game is based on interactions, and there’s nothing better than to have the person you’re interacting with actually interact with you.
    • And finally, animations — Our control scheme was extremely sloppy, and we figured, “what better way to put the new engine to use than to make your character not look like he’s on a moving invisible treadmill!”
The Bottom Line: My friend said this game sucks. (out of 5)


Fable II screenshotFable II screenshot
Fable II screenshotFable II screenshot