Once again, Microsoft have given us more than we could ever want or need with another installment of the Fable series. For those of you who have yet to play Fable or Fable 2, allow me to introduce you to a whole new adventure.
As a direct continuation of the original, Fable 2 is yet another colorful romp through the English countryside. You play as yet another version of William Shakespeare’s ‘William the Bard’ and are joined by a host of supporting characters, both human and animal.
This time around, you have the freedom to roam the countryside liberating animals and battling creatures both human and beastly. You’re not only fighting for your life, but you’re struggling to save the world as we know it. It’s your choice whether you play a good guy (like William Shakespeare) or a bad guy (like the Wolf).
The game’s hub is the titular Willoughby estate, a place that you can renovate and settle down in with your loved one. You get a good look at the house and its surrounding environs in the opening cinematic. From there, you can explore the British countryside on foot, on horseback, and even crop-duster-fly. It’s your choice how you travel to reach your destinations. You can even walk into towns and explore their wonders from an up-close and personal perspective. The world of Fable 2 is yours for the taking.
To begin with, let’s talk about the actual gameplay. The original Fable was rather unique in that everything was physics-based. It was the first game to really put the ‘immersion’ back into ‘immersive sim’. The combat in particular felt fantastic and the grappling hook added a whole new element to the mix. Fable 2 has kept all of that, but added a few new twists.
One of the first things you’ll notice is that combat is a bit… slow-paced. On the other hand, the driving sections are some of the best in the entire series. You’ll be leaping from junction to junction, overtaking traffic lights and weaving in and out of traffic like Beckham. The car physics are top-notch and add a whole other dimension to the driving experience. It’s quite an accomplishment that Microsoft have managed to keep all of the original Fable’s DNA and managed to cram it into yet another game.
The biggest change, however, has to do with the hook. Instead of just being a gadget you can use to grab onto objects, you’ll now use it to actually dispatch enemies. It’s a great mechanic that encourages you to keep your distance and use your weaponry to truly butcher your opponents. This makes combat feel a bit more like playing on the classic Xbox or PlayStation platforms. You get more of a feeling of accomplishment when you actually put a good hit on an enemy rather than just tagging them with a critical hit.
Speaking of which, many of the game’s encounters now require you to play an active role in the action instead of being a passive observer. There are several mini-games you’ll need to complete including racing, target shooting, and even fishing. All of these elements were present in the original game, but they were more of an afterthought. Fable 2 puts them front and center, giving you a good reason to return to these mini-games time and time again.
Let’s talk about the graphics now. While the graphics in Fable might not be the best on a PC, they run really well on the Xbox and Xbox 360. For those of us who still play video games on those systems, Fable 2 looks exactly like it does on screen and runs at a perfectly acceptable resolution. It is also important to note that, unlike most other games, you don’t need a constant Internet connection to play. It would be great to see how these graphics hold up on today’s high-end gaming rigs.
Sound and music
As usual, Microsoft have given us excellent sound and music in Fable 2. The original Fable was often criticized for its bland and forgettable background music, but I would argue that it is a step forward from the norm. For one thing, it’s an orchestrated score that changes based on the situations you find yourself in. It also uses a lot of reverb which gives it that trademark ‘Fable’ sound that you’ve come to expect from the series. Unfortunately, due to a change in record labels, we won’t be getting any new music in Fable 3. The only good thing about this is that it means we’re getting closer to the end.
I could go on and on about how great Fable 2 is, but I think it’s best summed up by the fact that, once again, Microsoft have given us another brilliant game that we couldn’t possibly play enough of. If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to try out the Fable series, this is it. You also need to make sure to play the Xbox version, as PC players have been whining about the porting issues for years. It’s great to see how far the series has come and how much more there is to explore. If you liked the original Fable, you’ll love this one too.