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48 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Still an Action RPG?
on October 23, 2008
Before I begin this review, I would like to say that I have made my first run through the game (completed, from beginning to end), own and have played both the first Fable and Fable: TLC from beginning to end, and that my review may or may not contain some minor spoilers. I won't give away particular happenings, but I may hint at some events. This review will focus on some aspects of Fable II, but will mostly be a comparison between both Fables I and II and made for those who have played both.
I am a dedicated fan of Fable, and have been avidly awaiting this title ever since I finished with The Lost Chapters. And perhaps I hyped myself up far too much for this game because I loved the last so much, but I somehow felt very unsettled and disappointed after completing the game. I have done quite a bit of exploring, though perhaps not as much as I should have (I'm not certain yet, though I have done a fair few quests). And in regards to the storyline itself, I didn't like it that much. I found that while they repeated some aspects of the original Fable, which can only be expected, it really did fall short. I wasn't as interested in the events, and after a while going about the storyline just wasn't really that enlightening. The characters seemed hollow to me, and while interesting and eccentric in their own ways I just didn't connect to them, though the voice-acting was once again brilliant. The villain was the biggest disappointment of all to me. The previous villain was a mystery, and while his motives remained uncertain that was what gave him his charm and made him memorable. With the Fable II villain I kept expecting something interesting. I understood his motives, yes, but instead of that giving him depth (which had so much potential) he ended up seeming bland and cliche in the wrong sort of way. And the ending felt very anti-climatic to me. For anyone who plans on playing Fable II due to the grandness of the original Fable, don't expect too much here.
As far as the options for clothing and weaponry goes, I found that while there was plenty, none of it really appealed to me that much, and the items that did appeal to me were much too expensive for me to afford when I was focusing on gathering up a stock of potions when I found that perhaps I'd need them more than I expected. It's great that you can have jobs in this game and such, becuse earning gold in the original Fable was a bit too easy and therefore a bit boring, but I found that earning gold in Fable II was just as boring and more a hassle than an 'enlightening' experience. I enjoyed the simple repetitive activity of working when I found I'd rather wait around for shops to open, but when I'm playing a video game I don't want to sit there for seemingly endless amounts of time. The lack of making gold on quests also seemed to make it less exciting when I finished running around to do whatever task had to be done, and this leaves me feeling that an aspect of the good/evil thing was lost. What about a hero who doesn't necessarily care about renown, but would rather do quests for the gold? While that was never an actual moral issue when it came to the game, it was also a reason to do more quests and that thought just makes it more realistic. Quests weren't as fun anymore, and I didn't feel the need to go about fulfilling them just for renown. And rather than seem fun, they were just another chore. They had a repetitive feel that I didn't always experience when playing the original (and yes, I am well aware that Fables I and II are different games and a grown up world, but I am also dicussing improvement). It's wonderful that you can own so many buildings and buy so many new things, but where, pray tell, is this gold coming from? I found that I had an abundance in the original Fable with nothing to spend it on, and quite a lack in Fable II with much more available to purchase. I also don't have Xbox Live as I don't enjoy online play, so while I preordered I did not have the option to play any pub games, and felt no desire to play them when I actually owned the game. There's an augment you can get for your weapons that allows you to earn gold for every kill, but I didn't encounter that until much further into the game. And to be honest, I didn't find a point in doing quests unless I wanted to get through the storyline. Just about everything in Fable II requires gold, which you cannot earn by completeing quests... a bad decision there, I think.
As far as family goes, I found the courtship process to be very similar to the previous Fable, as well as the marriage process. Having a child was no large feat and not all exciting, and I found that the family became a bit of an annoyance. They repeated the same dialogue while I roamed around the house, and both the husband and son nagged at me about having an even nicer house (their's was mediocre; not poor not rich) everytime I came around. I can only imagine the headache I'd have if I'd decided to have more children or have another family (well, there's the realism for you, but I do mean this negatively and not in a cliche manner). Also keep in mind that now when you marry and have children, you are expected to give gold to them daily (it will be automatically drained once you set the amount to give them), and I'm pretty sure that for each member of your household the amount of gold you are expected to give goes up. I found this to be irritating when I had to make a large drain on my funds in order to upgrade my equipment.
The good or evil aspects that Fable is so well known have seemed to remain the same, so I'll spend no time focusing on that. What I do want to mention is the dog. I found this to be a unique and enjoyable aspect of the game, though it did sometimes get in the way (not so as to slow you down too much or prevent you from doing something, but he did get in the way when you are in a tight space and wish to get out). This dog will show you where to dig and where to find treasure chests, and while that is also a good thing it also is a bad thing. I found that because of the dog telling me where to find items I didn't feel as much of a need to go out and explore things. However, I did enjoy the dog. And when he wasn't around because he got stuck somewhere (another slight glitch) or was off for whatever reason, I discovered that I (being a little nerd) missed having the dog running alongside my hero. That is an accomplishment in itself. But I also must mention that while you can train your dog, teach him to fight, and get him to find better items for you (oh yes, see, those nice items aren't going to be that easy to find) it will likely cost you money. You need books to train your dog to do these things, and unless you can find them you'll need to buy them.
What I do wish to say here is that I believe that the developers spent far too much time focussing on expanding the amount of items available to you and enlarging the world rather than focussing on the storyline, which really needed improvement in my opinion. I also found it to be very depressing, and again, anti-climatic. I was stunned when the storyline ended, and sat there through the credits wondering "is it over? is that really it?" I can't get over my disappointment there. It seemed even shorter than the original Fable, and to be honest I never had a problem with what was available there and felt that they delivered exactly what was promised. I expected a more enhanced storyline, and I was also irked that I didn't get to know more about the characters. And while there is much more available to purchase and to explore, you really need to work at it, and now it seems to me that Fable is becoming more of a Sims game (sorry Sims fans, but I like action RPGs and I find the Sims to be horrendously annoying) than an action RPG which is the genre it is supposed to be part of. For people who don't enjoy repetitive tasks, I suggest you think carefully about purchasing this title.
In the category of the creatures you face, I found that there wasn't a large improvement here, and that they brought back most of the old creatures with little variations (not a negative thing). But I also found that it seemed like they had less creatures to fight than in the previous title, and while I don't care either way I did expect something new and more creatures to face. The change in the troll creatures was annoying (a good idea, but annoying) as you have to attack certain tendril-like parts of the troll, and I did this with a gun and found that I'd be there for ages trying to get rid of the troll while I was being smacked around with rocks and the like. I enjoyed the combat much more in the previous title.
I hope this assisted any readers in some ways, and that my thoughts weren't too all over the place. I personally find that this title falls short of the original Fable, and wasn't exactly an improvement. The graphics are beautiful and the world is quite intruiging, but I found that the action aspect of this RPG title was lost somewhere and became just another aspect of the game. Because of this, I give Fable II a 3.5/5 rating.