For as good as Fable II is, it's not without problems that would have made the experience even better - some of which are hard to fathom. The map, for example, is one of the worst we've seen in a video game. It doesn't prove to be as much of a problem as we thought it would, mainly because of the guiding glowing breadcrumb trail that always points you towards your active quest (this can be completely turned off), but finding shops and the like is occasionally troublesome. Again, we won't spoil anything for you, but we weren't left overly satisfied by the ending. It simply didn't seem to suit the epic nature of the quest to that point. We're sure it'll work brilliantly for some of you, and isn't a complete failure thanks to a nifty forced choice, but we wanted more. Thankfully you can continue in your world of Albion beyond the conclusion to the main story (which took us about 15 hours), so you're free to complete any quests you ignored previously.
Although single-system co-op is available in the non-patched retail version of the game, online co-op isn't available just yet. On a single console you share the screen with a henchman who assists you. You can choose to pay him whatever you please and share the spoils, with anything gained being carried over to a saved character already on the console - we assume online will work much the same, although hopefully with less awkward camera positions. You can already see others moving through the game as orbs, and can talk and trade with them, but the prospect of having a random player join your world is both exciting and downright scary.
As an Xbox 360 exclusive we expected Fable II to carry the presentation torch high in the air for all to see, which it does when it's not being bumped into by a string of annoying problems. The main offender is an erratic frame rate, which at times chugs far too much. These occasions are rare, but the general performance isn't what's expected from a first-party 360 game. Animation also lets the visuals down somewhat, with characters moving in ways not uncommon in video games, but less impressive now we've seen the likes of Assassin's Creed and GTA 4. Your dog will also do some strange things, becoming temporarily stuck from time to time or warping on top of objects instead of climbing them. It's surprisingly amusing to see, but takes you out the game somewhat.
Something that doesn't disappoint in any way is the audio. The voice acting is full of the expected British humour that you tend to only get from games made in this country, and the soundtrack is wonderful. We're not sure if it matches the epic sounds of Bethesda's Oblivion, but it's right up there and fits the game's tone exceedingly well. Fable II gives you a fantastic looking fairy tale land to play in that could have come from the mind of a child, and the consistently impressive audio helps immerse you into that world.
The video game industry is often criticised for churning out carbon copy shooters, delivering little more than a different way to mass murder hundreds of identikit enemies. Fable II is different. It's a game that makes you think about what you're doing. It hasn't perfected the RPG, and in truth isn't close to doing so, but it's a massive step in the right direction and a beautiful game to boot. If you think you have what it takes to be a righteous hero, give Fable II a try. You might not be the angel you think you are.
VideoGamer.com Score9 Score out of 10
- Engaging story and characters
- Great character development
- Choices have consequences
- End falls a little flat