It only makes sense, given my previous review, for this review to be about Dark Souls, and it really should be, since Dark Souls is amazing. So, now, without further ado, prepare for another trip into the land of Hellish difficulty and demons, which is where this review would have been going, were this not the long awaited Fable Week! In many ways the Fable II is a lot like Dark Souls; it takes a very special kind of person to finish each game, each game is playable on the Xbox 360, they are both sequels, and they are action RPGs. However, one of the two is a good sequel, while the other is somewhat bad. Although it may be hard to believe, Fable II is the bad half of this sequel duo.
Fable II, the simply named sequel to Peter Molyneux’s Fable, and like Fable, it too claims to have an ever-changing world full of choices and repercussions. The game does have a character moral system, and NPCs will react to the choices the hero makes, that much is true, but Fable II is in no way ever-changing or full of choices. For example, with the typical NPC, the player can basically either talk to them or murder them, and that is the extent of the morality system. An evil character will scare off NPCs, while a good character will easily impress them, but neither have any effect on the story. Even if the player becomes so evil that they resemble Satan or so pure they have a halo, each player is still given the option between the “good,” “evil,” and “neutral” endings at the very end of the game, meaning it is possible for pure evil characters to receive the good ending and vice-versa. It is also worth noting that it is extremely easy to manipulate a character’s moral standing, provided players have enough money to pay beggars, or strength to kill the town guardsmen.
In many ways, Fable II is like “Baby’s First Action RPG.” The nice glowing trail that points players to their next quest destination removes any sense of or need for adventure, while instantly reviving upon death removes any difficulty the fights may have. It is also extremely easy to reach the max level with each of the games three skills, removing any customization in character building. Combat itself is very simple, with only one button for melee attacks, one for ranged, and one for magic, but despite the simplicity, cutting one’s way through a horde of enemies is still pretty fun. Of course, the simplistic system does lose the little bit of fun it has after a few hours of play, but luckily enough for Fable II, there are only a few hours of core gameplay in the game.
Fable II is extremely short, and may be one of the shortest RPGs this console generation. The story is mediocre, and hardly ties into the original Fable at all. The final boss, which appears out of no where, is simply a fight between the hero and waves of regular enemies, and the final showdown between the hero and Lucien is over in one gun shot. Despite how disappointing the core story of Fable II is, though, the sidequests have that same simplistic fun to them. The bulk of the side content involves hunting down collectible items such as dog tricks or silver keys, but others have full fledged side stories, such as defending Fairfax Castle from bandits, or exploring the hero’s dream world.
Another great thing Fable II claims to include is multiplayer, which, yes, it does include, but, like many other mechanics, it absolutely botches it. Rather than joining a friend’s world and wandering about while they clear a quest, or possibly assisting them with their adventure, players must use a pre-made character and are forced to stay on the same screen as the game host. Not the same dungeon, not split-screen, but literally the same screen. The camera will only follow the host, and player two can not move beyond the screen borders, very similar to the way Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles handled single-screen multiplayer. Many other open-world RPGs such as the Elder Scrolls or Fallout series have yet to even touch multiplayer, so Fable II might deserve compliments for attempting to include it, but it being done in such a poor way, combined with the other horrible parts of the game, really just adds more garbage to the pile.
Fans of action RPGs should not play Fable II, they should play something like Dark Souls, or Fallout. Casual gamers or those who have never experienced an action RPG or adventure game before might enjoy the Fable series for the very little things, or for the simple freedom it gives players, but it is in no way the hardcore game it tries to bill itself as. Those of us unlucky enough to have stumbled upon this game have gained at least one thing from it, the right to say “I played a Fable game before Fable Week forced me to!”