Review: Fable II

f2A few years ago, a new RPG from Lionhead Studios promised great adventures for XBox players. The premise was simple: create a character in the world of Albion, and tackle your quest however you wished. Want to kill villagers? Sure! Want to be a goody-too shoes? Go for it! While the game ultimately promised more than it actually delivered, many consider it to be a staple of the old XBox.

Fable II has now returned players to the realm of Albion, with promises renewed of an open world and a sprawling, epic tale. I eagerly picked the game up a few weeks ago, and started in right away. As some of you know, I’m a complete tool for open world games, so the prospect of diving into a new fantasy world that wasn’t Ivalice or something from Star Wars was very enticing.

So how did it hold up?

The first thing I noticed about Fable II was the outstanding art design. Not many games these days have an atmosphere all their own, and Albion really feels alive in the game’s opening. People talk as you run by, they live on schedules throughout the day and all of the houses shoved together really give off a Tim Burton world come to life.

The main plot of Fable II concerns the ruler of the land trying to eliminate 4 heroes of legend. And guess what. One of them is you. While this is a rather intriguing premise, it often isn’t executed well. The opening of the game is handled excellently, really building the sense of wonder and intrigue as your young hero discovers his/her gift. After that though, it takes a dive.


Much of the story is handled through cutscenes that you don’t really get to participate in. You stand around and watch other characters talk to one another, while the only input you can offer is through expressions like belching, farting or giving a thumbs up. Sure this sounds funny, but in a game built on choice and freedom, I thought I might have the opportunity to say “screw you go do your own quest” just once or twice. Instead, when it came to the story, the only choices you get are “Do you Accept? Press A.” I mean, really? That’s the extent of it?

Don’t get me wrong, some parts of the story are handled well. There is a portion where several years pass a couple of times during the game that are done really well, as is the very end. But beyond that, the actual game is a chore to plod through, and I felt like I was playing Wind Waker again because of all the fetch questing I had to do. They should call it Fable II: Run and Go Do This.

That being said, the sidequests are a lot of fun to play. Not only do you get to go on some grand adventuring to treasure islands or temples of shadows, or wipe out whole towns of villagers, you get to choose good or evil as you do this. While I was accepting a mission to massacre a whole village, cutting each person down one at a time, I thought to myself “this is what I thought this game would be like”. It’s a shame the main quest didn’t find a way to incorporate these kinds of missions and decisions.

f2-2In terms of gameplay, Fable II is maybe the buggiest/glitchiest game I’ve ever played. Seriously. Menus freeze constantly while loading up, trying to buy things from a store takes you violating a dude’s territorial bubble and mashing the A button, and there were times when my family wouldn’t talk to me but instead would stare at a wall.

It’s also just a bit too easy. There’s really no reason to become a magic user, because mashing your sword attack the entire time seems to do the trick. Beyond that, there’s no charge time for using your spells. Really. You can just use them over and over again with no penalty.

And speaking of penalties, you can erase a multitude of sins with just a few dances when it comes to villagers. The more evil or good you become, the more villagers are scared of you or drawn to you. However, just a few funny dance expressions can win them back over. So much for facing the consequences of your actions, eh?

All in all, Fable II is a really hard game to pin down. I loved the sidequesting and the distractions. Buying property and building families (or destroying them) proved to be a solid fun time. However, the main quest was such a chore, and so boring and uninteresting in terms of its presentation that the game really fell flat for me after awhile. The dog mechanic was ok, but nothing as special as it was made out to be. Throw in the fact that the game is buggy as all get out, and it’s really hard to give a good grade. When the story was great though, it was perfect, particularly at the three points that I mentioned earlier.

GamerSushi Grade:


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I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

10 thoughts on “Review: Fable II”

  1. Yeah, I tired this game out for a couple of days. I got up until the point right after you get the Hero of Strength, and just sort of stopped playing.

    Fable II really couldn’t hold my interest for that long. (I thought something was wrong with me, as I had given up on FarCry 2 a couple days before. As it turns out, neither of these games were fun. Lucky me, haha)

    The dog was a neat little touch that worked better than I expected. He never got in the way, and I didn’t have to worry about baby-sitting him.

    However, when I farted at some woman until she married me, that kind of broke the “real-life simulation” for me. If you tried farting to someone as a marriage proposal, you’ll quickly find yourself on the street with your clothes on the lawn. 😉

  2. i agree. it was overhyped and as a rule i try not to buy games that get any sort of hype because they almost always disappoint. a friend bought fable 2 about 3 weeks before i did and loved it. another friend bought it a few days after. by the time i got it, both of them were fed up with it and refused to play. and now, after playing it for three weeks, i’m bored to. as is everyone else who bought it. 3 weeks is the magic number for fable it seems.

    has anyone loved it for longer?
    (and don’t say your amazed we lasted 3 weeks, it’s not that bad)

  3. So this is what got you to ask the “better main quest or better side quest” question on Would You Rather?

  4. Eddy, you actually liked the end? I will try not to spoil it, but as it was happening, i was just like… what? While the dog wasn’t a total failure, i just thought he was a bit TOO efficient at finding things thirty seconds away. I also agree with you about making the main quest more difficult, in terms of enemies and actual CHOICES, which i hear is what the game is supposed to be about…

  5. Well, to clarify, by the end I meant the sections after you get Reaver through the confrontation with Lucien. I thought that was all handled really well. The VERY end was kind of a letdown.

    Speaking of Reaver, I could have spent half the review lambasting the game’s creators for saving the most interesting character for the last hour of the game, but I didn’t. Reaver was most certainly the diamond in the rough, and I can’t believe you didn’t get introduced to someone that interesting and entertaining until almost the very end of the game.

  6. I must say i was going to get this game but your review Eddy has changed my mind, no worries any suggestions for any good Rpg’s games i got a craving for it at the moment.

  7. i was also disappointed with this game and i’m surprised that you didn’t mention when you become good and popular everyone tends to follow you into small crowded areas where you can’t move

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