story of morality and corruption, read to you by J.D.
Iíll tell you a short tale to begin with.
a time there was an orphan boy named Sparrow.
Sparrow always tried to do the right thing.
Eventually Sparrow became a great hero called Blade and was
the talk of the land of Albion, his great deeds passed from
town to town, person to person. Eventually, Blade married
and had a child, and lived in bliss in the city of
Bowerstone. The pressures of being a hero took their toll,
though: children constantly asking for his autograph, and
mobs of people following him about whenever he returned to
the city to see his family, started to get on his nerves.
Sometimes, people even followed him into his own house to
watch him have a bit of the old Ďhowís your fatherí
with his wife, and he could do nothing about it.
Blade, the hero of Bowerstone and the land of Albion,
snapped and put a bullet between the eyes of a local man who
had followed him into his home and made a comment about his
hairstyle. Blade felt bad about this and was arrested
immediately without resistance, agreeing to community
service instead of a hefty fine, but the seed of evil had
already been sown deep in poor Blade. The people of
Bowerstone now looked at the great hero in a different
light. Children no longer asked for his autograph and people
avoided him in the streets. He
became an outcast, and resentment started to cloud his mind.
His wife left him and his son was put into care. The hero
had started to fall.
remembered how good it felt to kill that man and took murder
up as a new hobby. Anyone who said or did something he
didnít like would die. His appearance changed: his once
shining hair became dark and lank, his skin started to turn
murky grey and his eyes started to redden. The final nail in
the coffin of good came when he slaughtered every living
thing in the country town of Oakfield, a task for the Temple
of Shadows which he relished every second. No
one was spared, not even the women; all were hacked down or
shot in the back as they ran for safety, and the Temple of
Light was ruined. It was around this time his horns started
to develop fully, twisting out from his skull as his veins
glowed red with evil blood. He became known as
ĎExecutioner', and his corruption was complete. Later on
in his life, Executioner became tired of evil and tried to
become a good man again. It
was a struggleÖ but the tale of a boy named Sparrow is not
self-indulgent way to describe the good/evil,
pure/corruption element of the game, but I thought it
appropriate given the name is Fable 2.
Donít get me
wrong, though, reading that is probably like comparing any
of Aesop's tales to reading the nutritional information on
the wrapper of a Big Mac.
game of choice and consequence..."
2 is the sequel to the 2004 game by Lionhead Studios and
legendary designer and producer Peter Molyneux. Maybe some
of you reading this will remember the controversy
surrounding Molyneuxís apparent over-hyping the first
title, making promises of features that were ultimately
dropped from the finished product, leading to a feeling of
slight disappointment. It was still a fantastic game, but it
lacked real depth and scope.
This is something which I find occurring in Fable
2, although not to the same extent. Make
no mistake, though, Fable
2 remains one of the yearís best games.
is a third person role-playing game of choice and
things you do have an effect on the world around you and the
people in it, and to a greater degree your own character,
who becomes a reflection of all the choices you make
throughout the game. Do bad things and your appearance will
be corrupted; do good things and your appearance will be
pure. But itís
not just simple black
and white; this is a game of many shades of grey.
didnít plan to
play the game as a bad guy; I just genuinely did get very
annoyed at all my adoring fans. What Fable 2's designers are saying is that itís hard
to be a hero. You have a public image to keep up, and you
have to be nice to people, and do the right thing. The bad
guy can do what he wants without worrying about what people
think. The bad
guy can expose himself in the town square in front of women
and children, and when the guard comes just resist arrest
and hightail it out of town Ė or, if heís particularly
wealthy, just pay the fine and go cause trouble somewhere
else. Iím probably babbling about the morality thing too
much, but it really is a fantastically realised part of the
game that provides for some very difficult choices and strong
emotional responses throughout.
the story, itís a classic revenge saga, and this dish is
served ice cold. I donít want to say too much, because even
telling you about the reason
for this revenge would ruin a shocking scene near the start
that really does hold a lot of dramatic weight. What I will
say is that the story is a good one, if a tad on the simple
and clichťd side. The characters are well written and
rarely suffer from the fantasy clichťs that the main story
instance, one of your companions is a huge, powerful girl
called Hammer, who takes the role that, usually in fantasy,
is filled by the big bearded fat bloke. The voice acting is
fantastic, with actors such as Stephen Fry, Julia Sawalha
and Zoe Wannamaker giving the whole thing a very British
feelÖ which leads me to my next point.
Fable 2 is British
through and through, not least in the humour. This is a very
funny game, with loads of little touches that sometimes have
you laughing away to yourself as you play. For instance, the
ambient chatter of people in town, that you end up standing
around listening to as itís so entertaining; and the item
descriptions, which are so funny that whoever wrote them
deserves a medal, a pay rise, or at least a book token or
a book token or something..."
letís get on to the exciting stuff. Combat is comprised of
three styles. Brutal styles are all to do with the physique
and melee abilities like blocking, flourishes, gaining more
muscle mass and endurance. Skill is all about ranged attacks
and speed, such as being able to zoom in when using a
crossbow or gun, or targeting specific areas of the body,
like performing insta-kill headshots or knocking an
enemyís weapon out of its hands. Will is all about the
spells, such as fireball, lightning, time control, raising
the dead etc. You improve these skills and buy new ones by
spending experience points. Experience is dropped in the
form of coloured orbs every time you successfully attack and
kill an enemy, and collected by pulling and holding the
right trigger of the gamepad. Combat is fast and satisfying,
ranging from long-range sniper encounters to massive brawls
and one on one combat. Gunplay is particularly brutal, with
loud cracks as the guns go off, bodies that pirouette
through the air, and heads that detach from bodies. Itís
all glorious carnage, and it never gets boring.
the most innovative features of Fable
2 are the glowing breadcrumb trail that leads to
whatever task you have chosen as your main quest, and the
dog. Initially, I wasnít that keen on the glowing trail,
so I turned it off. But then I found I couldnít find my
way anywhere without it, which I found quite strange, as I
can usually find my way around more open-world games than
this with ease. So I turned it back on begrudgingly. Being a
hardcore RPG fan, I did find it a bit insulting being led
around by the hand, but eventually I started to see the
thereís the dog, which I am in two minds about, really. On
the one hand, itís cute, and the way it runs along the
roads next to you and chases its tail is very endearing. But on
the other hand it just seems a little pointless, and takes
away some of the thrill of exploration. The dog barks and
leads you to any treasure, or digs spots that are in the
vicinity, which means you never actually need to find
anything for yourself. Still, you become attached to the
damn thing, and start treating it like a real pet. Very
these features were not really my cup of tea, I can see how
they would be great for the more casual or even non-gamer.
Or children, but then the problem with that is that Fable
2, while having the visual style of a kidsí game,
really isnít. This is a very adult game, in which you can
murder, drink, gamble, have sex, have group
sex and even pick up STDs if you donít use a condom. It
just seems like a massive contradiction. Itís not a
negative point; I just find it bizarre.
group sex and pick up STDs..."
there are a few
negatives which I have to mention. The inventory system is
terrible: itís all done through menus where you can select
different categories like food, weapons, clothing etc. Now
that doesnít sound bad, right? But two problems prevent
this from being a good system. The first is that the menu is
particularly unresponsive, meaning it takes more time than
it should to select something and use it. Moreover, every time you select a
sub-menu the game disk sounds like itís revving up like a
jet engine. I actually got quite worried at one point, as I
thought the 360 was about to blow.
other problem is this. Say you select some food to eat to
replenish your health, it drops you right back into the
game. So if that food didnít restore you to full health,
you have to go back into the inventory and go back through
all the sub-menus until you get to food, and all the while
your 360 sounds like itís going to blow a gasket. It
becomes rather tiresome after a while.
annoyance is the impassable terrain, like small slivers of
rock that look like tiny cliffs when you're walking down a
slope. You could easily just step over it, but no, the game
wonít let you, so you have to walk all the way around.
Navigating your way around the interiors of houses and shops
can also be quite painful, as you seem to get stuck on
tables and chairs and people. Graphically, while the game can
be stunning, sometimes it feels a bit rough around the
edges, especially in the caves, which all look the same and
seem to be made from Plasticine.
honest, though, these problems donít prevent the quality
of the game from
shining through. Thereís
so much stuff that I canít fit in this review, like jobs,
the insulting gargoyle heads, marriage and kids, the demon
doors, the mini-games, owning property, dressing up in drag
and much more. Youíll just have to see it for yourself.
2 is a very enjoyable game, with high replay value and
lots to keep you entertained for a long time. A lot of love
has gone into the making of Fable 2, and it really shows in the vibrant world of Albion and its
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