Fable II

Fable II
Fable II Cover
Platforms Xbox 360
Genre Action RPG morality sequel
MtAMinutes to Action 11
Keep Playing? Yes
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I once owned an Xbox for what it was intended: to play games. Now it sits under just about every television in my house as an excellent, but dated, media center running XBMC. Games have taken up about 1% of its total processing power over its life.

But at one point, it was the darling of my dorm room with Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. There was another game though that caught our attention, and that was Fable. I have no idea what originally drove me towards this game, but I pre-ordered Fable from GameStop and even received some throwaway bonus DVD that I would never watch.

Three of us in our house played Fable, and we all played different classes (warrior, mage, and archer) which made for three entirely diverse 15 hour gaming experiences. My roommate could one-shot werewolves from across the map and my other roommate’s hero looked to be about 150 years old after draining his body from excessive magic use. My warrior was scarred and muscular; I’d like to say that these avatars represented us in real life, but that would be a stretch.

Fable 2’s release, like many games this generation, came and went for me without much notice. I’m trying to be much more selective with what I played, and while I enjoyed my first Fable experience, I wasn’t that interested in returning to Albion.

But in time-honored First Hour tradition, with Fable 3 just released a few months ago, it is now time to play Fable 2. Here is its first hour.

Minute by Minute

00 - I select New Game and the first hour of Fable 2 begins. Male or female? Male tonight. “Then let his destiny unfold.” The game begins loading Bowerstone Old Town.

01 - The opening cutscene begins and it looks and sounds like a Harry Potter movie with a dark sounding boys’ choir following a bird flying around what I assume is Bowerstone. The cutscene graphics sure look pretty.

02 - Our bird friend... poops, and lands right on our hero’s head as the game switches to in-game graphics. Some girl says, “I hear that’s lucky.” She’s talks more about the Lord of the city and how he recently lost his wife and child. She’s apparently my older sister.

04 - Running through the streets of Bowerstone, some creepy old guy approaches my sister and asks if she’s ready to go ahead with his requests, she rudely refuses. The Mystical Murgo has arrived in town, some sort of trader pawning “magical” items. I can hold the left trigger to zoom in on the trader’s items.

06 - My sister yells something about how there isn’t magic, and some woman feels sad for her that she’s so young and doesn’t believe in magic. Then she seems to convince her that the trader’s magical box is for real.

Fable 2 Child Forest

07 - We’ve decided to scrounge up five gold to buy the music box, but since we’re flat broke, it’s time for some quests. One guy down the road has a giant yellow exclamation mark over his head... a bit obvious.

08 - He’s asking us to find warrants for Bowerstone’s most wanted criminals. What’s a warrant look like? A piece of paper? I follow the glowing yellow trail (more obviousness) on the ground for more gold.

09 - The voice acting in Fable 2 is way over the top, but in a good way, not too cringe-worthy. My sister Rose strong arms a photographer into a gold piece for us getting our picture taken.

11 - I strike a pose and he takes the picture, rewarding us with a gold coin. We run down another alley and all of a sudden my sister is mixing words with a local brute... and he just head butt her! Time to fight!

12 - I spam the X button to take him down in a flurry of wooden sword blows. Having saved my sister I have improved my standing with the people in town.

14 - Ah, my first warrant for an arsonist. Four to go.

Fable 2 Child Bowerstone dog

15 - The next quest has me shooing beetles out of a warehouse. While inside, another guy offers me a gold coin to smash all of the owner’s stuff up instead of shooting beetles. Now, that wouldn’t be very nice.

16 - I decide to kill the five beetles, which apparently that bad guy had planted in the building in the first place.

18 - Running around town is pretty seamless, there aren’t any menus, and to talk to someone you just enter their immediate area and they start presenting their quest to you.

19 - Pete wants me to recover some of his lost alcohol, but his wife will pay me to not give it to him... alcoholism is a disease, friends.

21 - Pulling my sword and gun out in front of other kids impresses them. There’s also a dog that keeps following us around helping us find warrants. Nice.

22 - The booze was just inside another alley, protected by some sleeping tramp. I sneak up and steal it, and decide to give it to the woman. Oh, hey! The bottle has my fifth and final warrant inside!

Fable 2 Bowerstone

24 - The creepy guy from the beginning stops us in the alley and demands the warrants. Rose does a bit of biting back, and asks to be paid, but I’m not dealing with this scum. I hand over the warrants and land at 4 out of 5 gold pieces. One more to go.

27 - The camera focuses in on some woman on a roof, I’m not sure what’s going on... oh, like a minute later some other woman finally comes out and scolds her for staring longingly at her beau, Monty. I suppose Monty needs some help. He would like me to deliver his proposal letter.

29 - I take the letter and knock on the front door. The evil mother answers but the Mom plays it cool. I dash upstairs to give the letter directly to Belinda and receive not only my fifth gold coin but the Whippersnapper achievement.

31 - I stick around the house for a minute and can hear the interaction between Belinda and her mother, kind of sad. I dash over to Mystical Murgo and buy the destiny shaping music box.

32 - Rose and I run off to our corner of town and Rose begins to wish while I turn the music box. It begins spinning around spewing out colors and then disappears. Rose seems very disappointed and we sulk home, though the persistent dog is there to greet us. We all go to sleep.

34 - It’s the middle of the night and someone is at our hovel. Some guy from the castle is here to tell us the Lord wishes to see us. Unexpected turn of events. We don’t get to personally walk to the castle, but instead meet up with escorts and the game begins loading Castle Fairfax.

36 - Jeeves, the castle butler, greets us at the castle entrance.

Fable 2 Castle Fairfax Lucien

37 - As we slowly walk down the corridor, Rose interrogates Jeeves for information on the Lord. Outside his study, Jeeves gives us some final instructions on respect, and we’re let in.

39 - He immediately asks for the whereabouts of the magic music box. Well, he’s actually interested in our ability to use the box, and is most interested in Rose’s wish. He seems like a very good man, and hints that Rose’s dream of living in the castle might be able to come true someday.

40 - The Lord asks us to stand in a circle and it immediately begins glowing blue. He says that we have hero blood, but then the circle starts glowing a blood red and he freaks outs. He mutters something about how we’re not one of the three, and one of us is the fourth, and then pulls out a gun and SHOOTS US!

41 - Pretty sure my sister is dead for real, but I’m shot out of a window and land in the streets below. The mysterious woman from the beginning approaches and says, “death is not in your destiny today, little sparrow.”

43 - A cutscene begins with the lady narrating. 10 years have passed with the dog and I growing up. We’re now standing together overlooking some jungle camp, then the woman approaches. I guess she’s been helping us out this whole time.

45 - Oh! I’ve finally discovered how to interact with people like in the original Fable. You have to hold the left trigger to focus on them, and then you can hit a direction on the D-Pad to be nice or mean. I think I’ll focus on being good this round.

46 - Holding RB brings up a ton of available actions ala The Sims. I’ve got quite the crowd around me now laughing at all my antics.

Fable 2 Hero Abilities

49 - I flirt with a woman and the game warns me that she is very unlikely to fall in love with me for a variety of reasons. Bah!

50 - Now that two women have hearts over their heads for me, I think it’s time to move on! Wait, one of them is a guy. I decide to be mean to him just to see what happens, haha, I growled devilishly at him.

52 - I finally find my way to my caravan and open up the chest outside of it. Inside is a sword, crossbow, health potion, dog elixir, collar of holding, and a... spade.

55 - Without anything better to do (than proceed with the story that is), I sleep in my caravan for a few hours. The game informs me that people around here like me more that I slept here. Okay... didn’t I live here?

57 - After a bit more flirting, I find Theresa, the woman who has been guiding my way. We head outside the small village.

59 - She gives me a small artifact that allows her to communicate to me whenever she wants, and then points me to a watery dungeon in the middle of a lake. When I come out of that I will be “stronger, much stronger.”

60 - In one of my oddest final minutes in a first hour, I use my spade to dig up a rubber ball for my dog. Haha! Well, that’s the end of that.

Fable 2 Bowerstone Hero dog

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 11

What I loved: I enjoyed the original Fable for its action and organic character progression system, there isn’t a lot of that present in Fable 2’s first hour but the groundwork is obviously being laid. I really like how the game starts you off as a child again, and the climactic scene in the castle was definitely a surprise. The presence of Theresa just seems a bit too convenient, why can’t my character discover for himself why he’s so important?

What I liked: Graphically, Fable 2 looks decent. The world is well-populated by various sorts of people and they all say repetitive, out of place phrases wherever you walk. Lionhead obviously went to a lot of work fleshing out Bowerstone and it pays off pretty well, I wouldn’t have minded more room to run around like in the original; everything feels a bit too straightforward and linear even early on.

What I hated: Everything feels so laggy, nothing about Fable 2 feels responsive, like it is trying to do way too much behind the scenes. The menus are the worst, it feels like a half second response time to every menu action you perform, making things like checking what quest you’re on a chore. The regular gameplay isn’t as bad, but it still isn’t anywhere near as responsive as most other current generation titles. It all just feels a bit off.

Fable 2 features this golden sparkly path to help you find your way, to me, this just screams bad level design. Games like Mass Effect or The Legend of Zelda don’t hold your hand every step of their adventure making sure you don’t step out of bounds. It’s really bizarre why this is necessary, and it becomes such a crutch too! Why bother trying when the game will just show you? I really have to blame the level design here and a lack of mini-map. This should definitely not be necessary.

There’s a sad lack of action in the first hour of Fable 2, though it’s counter-balanced reasonably well with the amount of interesting story introduced that I mentioned above.

Would I Keep Playing? Yes, Lionhead Studios tends to shoot for the moon with their titles, but while Fable 2 will almost assuredly fall short of what it could have been, I still expect to have a fun time in my return to Albion.