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Fable II

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Lionhead

About Brad Hilderbrand

I've been covering the various facets of gaming for the past five years and have been permanently indentured to WorthPlaying since I borrowed $20K from Rainier to pay off the Russian mob. When I'm not furiously writing reviews, I enjoy RPGs, rhythm games and casual titles that no one else on staff is willing to play. I'm also a staunch supporter of the PS3.

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X360 Review - 'Fable II: See the Future'

by Brad Hilderbrand on May 23, 2009 @ 8:35 a.m. PDT

Fable 2 is an inventive action RPG that will be a true sequel to the original, offering even more choices and building on the core gameplay theme of “Fable” where your every choice continually defines who you become, allowing you to truly live the life you choose. Set 500 years after the original, “Fable 2” will provide gamers with an epic story and innovative real-time gameplay including a massive amount of freedom and choice.

Those who have spent any length of time with Fable 2 know that the land of Albion is full of mystery and adventure. Not long ago, heroes were whisked off to the fantastical Knothole Island to save a village plagued by extreme and variable weather. Now some new surprises have appeared, and while there are still daring deeds to do, they are significantly less substantial than any full-fledged hero might hope.

In Fable 2: See the Future, players start out by tracking down Murgo, the shopkeeper who provided little Sparrow and his sister with the music box all those years ago. It seems the old blaggard has a few new items on sale, namely a snowglobe and a skull. Of course, these items are actually cursed, but hey, that creates new adventure, so what's to complain about?

The first new quest finds your hero plopped down in a village that's been drained of its color. The panicked townsfolk are also being harassed by malevolent shadows, and these new breeds of enemies take a little more strategy than previous baddies. You see, each shadow has a color — blue, red or yellow — which just happens to coincide with a different hue each of your weapons gives off in this mostly colorless world. Can you see where this is headed? That's right; each shadow is weak against a specific type of attack, so you'll need to play your cards carefully to come out of the encounters intact. The only real downside for these miscreants is that they almost always attack in groups of a single color, so if you start with melee, ranged or magic attacks, you'll likely stick with that particular style of combat until the threat is dispatched. A little mixing and matching would have been nice, but overall, the new enemies are quite fun. Once the color has been restored, the world stands in stark contrast to the previous drab black-and-white version. I imagine it's similar to what our parents felt like switching from monochrome TV sets to Technicolor, or what we've been through jumping from SD to HD. In any case, the transformation is very impactful.

The other main quest, housed within the skull, is known as "The Costume Ball," and it won't be long until you begin to understand why. While there is a bit of combat in this second mission, it's mostly about dressing up in new ensembles and mimicking statues. The new duds are admittedly hilarious and inspired, and while I won't ruin them for you, I will say that I particularly enjoyed wearing one outfit found late in the mission around the noble section of Bowerstone while making the farting gesture.

While the missions themselves are rather inspired and definitely much different than what you may have come to expect from Fable, they're also incredibly short, and both can be completed in just a little over an hour if you hustle. It feels like each major mission is truncated before it has a chance to build any momentum, and just when it seems like things start moving, the challenge ends and you're teleported back to Murgo's stall wondering if perhaps you missed something because that can't really be all there is. While this scarcity of content may be good for making review deadlines, it's not particularly enjoyable after you've plunked down a fistful of Microsoft Points for what amounts to roughly two episodes of a TV show.

There are a couple of other distractions for those who wish to draw out the experience, but none of them really stand up that well on their own. Players can go hunting for "Murgo trading statues" as well as head over to the new Coliseum to bash the brains out of unsuspecting evildoers in the name of experience and points used to buy new items. There is also a new doggie potion available that allows you to change the breed of your faithful companion to one of three new ones. If you're tired of looking at that same mongrel face day in and day out, all you have to do is give him the potion and voilà, it's like you got yourself a brand new puppy.

You're probably wondering where the See the Future title came from, and it turns out it's based on some cryptic allusions Lionhead is making toward the next game in the series. Without spoiling too much, I will say that it appears Fable III will be a direct continuation of the story line, so it's likely the next game will contain several familiar landmarks since we aren't picking up the story 500 years in the future once more. Aside from that, though, there's really very little information to go on. The continuation of your character's story culminates the same way basically all video games do, and if you didn't already see it coming, then you probably haven't been gaming or paying attention to any other sort of media all that long. The reward is pretty unfulfilling, but considering how little time it took you to earn it, I guess we can't ask for too much, now can we?

The thing that hurts the most about See the Future is the fact that the new missions are incredibly entertaining, but they end far too soon. At about the 30-minute mark of each task, I was so excited to see what came next, only for the next thing to be the end. It's sort of soul-crushing to be having such fun one minute and then be completely done the next, but that's what this DLC pack does to you not once, but twice.

It's hard to hand out a recommendation for the content in Fable 2: See the Future considering how it seems to revel in pulling the plug on you, not to mention the fact that the glimpse of the future you get to see is fleeting and not at all memorable. This is one of those sets for the absolute completionist — the person who buys all the Ace Combat planes or can't live without every Street Fighter IV character skin. Everyone else won't miss much by skipping out on this fun but all-too-brief trip back into the realm of Albion.

Score: 7.0/10


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