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Games about the same difficulty:
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500 years after the first game, we return to Albion in Fable 2 and sculpt a fresh virtual hero. Your actions determine whether you will be good or bad, villain or hero and even good looking or ugly. Watch as you grow up and tackle tough moral choices, choices that affect both your character and their world. This Fable II Limited Collector's Edition also includes an exclusive making-of DVD with game director Peter Molyneux and his team at Lionhead Studios.
Fable 2 is fantasy creation engine masquerading as an adventure game. The player led pacing; the simple direct interactions and the sense of place make this an experience you'll want to return to again and again. Perhaps more than any other game, I trusted the world of Albion to be meaningful, fun and entirely other.
The game starts with an orchestrally backed, exquisitely voiced and playable back story that, while introducing the controls, social system and decision making, also lays down the first few broad strokes of their grand narrative. Out you pop the other side, blinking in Albion's bright daylight having been taken from childhood to young adventurer with a score to settle in a compact half hour's play on the 360.
Unlike similar games, Zelda Twilight Princess or Mini Ninjas for example, rather than tutorials and walk-throughs, Fable 2 Limited Collector's Edition relies on the player to discover things for themselves. It thinks highly both of the individual's abilities to understand and engage with the experience, as well as the game's clean effective design. It's the video gaming equivalent of showing someone a story first hand rather than simply telling them about it.
Although other adventure games like Fallout 3 allow the player to pick and choose their character and experience, Fable 2 is the only game to take seriously each and every decision the player makes. Seemingly innocent choices (about who to help or hinder for example) result in a widely varying character and adventure in Fable 2. This is tangibly seen by both the appearance of, and reaction to, the player as they make their way through the world. Influence gained from being scary or personable can be used to get what they want.
If you lose a fight in Fable 2 you don't die. The game has something much more valuable to take away from the player if they fail. When a player runs out of health they not only lose some hard earned abilities but also suffer a permanent visual scar. Players who take care to avoid combat, or only fight with ranged weapons will preserve their baby fresh complexion, whereas those who battle axe their way through enemies will be riddled with pot marks and healed wounds. By the end of the game your character will look unrecognisable from that innocent chap (or chick) that set off into the bright Albion sunlight many moons ago.
For me there was nothing better than losing myself in the world of Fable 2, the simple joy of getting to know the inhabitants and generally role playing my adventurer's life. I was surprised to see how seriously the game took my actions, not least when I discovered that my in-game wife was with child. A novel, if slightly costly, discovery that really made me smile.
These sorts of interactions and their connection to in-game consequences result in a genuinely persistent world. Players soon get to know and invest in the other people they meet. Even if the physical interaction with the architecture can't quite match Assassins Creed 2 detailed clambering, the experience here is none the worse for it. Add-in the excellent Tolkien-esque story telling and requisite voice-work and you have an experience of considerable weight and meaning. Fable 2 on the Xbox 360 is a game that is great to spend time with, and with so much to do it's going to take a long time before you are done.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: