Lionhead’s roleplaying game, Fable, was said to have under delivered — “too many promises and not enough results” they said. With no expectations, I played Fable: The Lost Chapters and enjoyed it thoroughly. When Fable II was announced, I kept tabs on the sequel’s development, but I remained distant in order to preserve realistic expectations. From the get go, it looked like Fable II was everything Fable should have been, but would the magic last until the very end? Almost.
This fable begins with either a boy or a girl. I chose to be the scrappy young lass who’s just looking to make it in the world of Albion. Starting with baby steps, Fable II slowly worked in its combat tutorial and morale decision making. By the end of this tutorial childhood phase, my heroine’s tale turned into one of revenge. And already I was seeing the results of my decisions. Unlike Fable where most of the decisions you made did not culminate until the very end, Fable II forces a mid-game advance of time to show the fruits of your deeds (or misdeeds). I thought it was a smart move.
Equally brilliant was the combat. Melee, range and magic attacks were mapped to individual buttons which made teleporting behind a bandit, throwing in a few sword slash combos and then finish off with a shot with a rifle easy as one, two, three. It was a surprisingly fluid and satisfying system. I enjoyed it so much, I opted to spend a sizeable chunk of time on foot tangoing against the higher level foes and not choosing to fast travel between destinations.
I’ll admit it. There was another reason why I liked to stay on foot. I wanted to spend time with my faithful dog who was just the most helpful creature ever. He would sniff out treasure chests, buried goods and other items. The more tricks and techniques that I taught him, the more valuable he became. I would go as far as to say that he was the perfect dog. He kept Fable II interesting and by the end of the game, you could say that I grew to adore him.
Character development was accomplished through the use of experience orbs. Whack enemies with a melee weapon and you’re rewarded with Strength experience. The same goes with ranged (Skill) and magic (Will) experience resulting in an easy to understand “the more you use, the more you gain” system. Unlike the ‘Will’ branch, the ‘Strength’ and Skill branches started out noticeably slower. As more experience was dumped into each ‘Strength’ and ‘Skill’ branches, the more entertaining combat became. Not being able to block, counter, break blocks, control my rifle’s aim and shoot off heads until several hours deep into the game did give off a poor early impression.
It may seem like a no brainer to max out the ‘Strength’ and ‘Will’ attributes, but there were some striking side affects which bothered me more than they should have. Seeing my character turn into a towering woman with biceps the size of tree trunks and blue glowing veins wasn’t the most pleasant of sights. I could have subdued these physical manifestations by relinquishing some of thee Strength and Will points, but I decided to live with the choices made.