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Fable II 360 Review

23/09/2011 Thinking Odyssey Gamer Review
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Fable II 360

Fable II




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Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Family Guide Gamer (360)
Family Gamer (360)
Soulful Gamer (360)
Perpetual Gamer (360)
Teen Gamer (360)
Eclectic Gamer (360)
Teaching Gamer (360)
Frugal Gamer (360)
Intimate Gamer (360)
Podcast (360)

Fable II is set in the land of Albion, where Heroes are the stuff of legend. So when you embark on this Odyssey you'd better be prepared for a thorough drenching in mythical archetypes and motifs: maps, keys, armour and weaponry, skills, spells, you name it.

That much I suspected before playing. What I hadn't anticipated though was that the cut scenes (story-telling movie moments), even the very first intro, are actually a teeny bit exciting. It's like you're stepping into an epic movie with cute little Hobbit-like houses and magical, white winters. It feels very much like you're off on a road trip with lots of exciting adventures ahead of you. The stuff of real Odyssies!

I should point out that this is not a kids' game, despite the frivolousness of some parts of the early stages of the game.

@libby_ol: It's not all about farting and kicking chickens, is it?
@GeekDadGamer: Smells and animal football is part of it, but not the full extent of the decision for good or evil

Indeed, once you get beyond that first phase -- when your character is a child -- you will enter adulthood to find you are faced with not only challenges to your moral compass, but also that other characters of both genders start to flirt with you. Clearly the aim of this is to set up a scenario in which you can couple and even consummate in order to have offspring. (I'll save you from more details.)

The adventure begins when you are a child -- Sparrow, an orphan -- whose sister is killed by Lord Lucien. Even though revenge is your initial driving force, you are guided by a blind Seer/Mentor, Theresa, who suggests you might actually be on another kind of Quest. And that Quest, as you discover, is to become the Hero of Bowerstone, as you were destined to be. Whether you choose to help others, loot and plunder, aid criminals in dastardly plans, overthrow thugs or kick chickens is up to you. You must follow your moral compass and bear the consequences.

The interesting thing about Fable II, from an Odyssey perspective, is that you can influence others' opinions of you by how you present yourself to them -- either by what you wear (some of them take offense to great coats, for example, which you couldn't anticipate), or by expressing a range of facial expressions and actions, such as flirting, joking, showing aggressive faces, and so forth.

@Ms12: Why do you keep kicking that poor chicken?
@libby_ol: I don't want to! I just don't have any other choice. It's glowing purple! It's asking for it! Really, it's not my fault.

In some cases I just had to curb my urge to click buttons because I knew I had only a limited selection of responses, and it's kinda easy to hit the wrong one and accidentally, er, eat the rancid jerky, for example, which might give me a bit of Strength for Healing, but will without fail make me lose points in the Attractiveness department (really, Attractiveness is a thing).

And don't even get me started on the farting. While it may have kept me in the villagers' good books because of my attempts at good humour, there was a very real and icky danger in holding that farting button down too long. (I don't need to spell that one out either.)

My main frustration with Fable II is this restriction of choice. So, while you may choose your path in terms of good or evil, and you are reminded at various stages that you can explore the countryside off the main path at will, you need ultimately to follow the golden trail that leads you and your faithful mutt through the countryside and on to the final destination.

The Will of the Gods requires that you follow one geographical path, and one path only, in order to reach your Goal. No matter how much you fight it, those Gods have it all sewn up. You are just a pawn.

Still, knowing your destiny is already decided is just one part of the Hero's Big Picture. Managing free will is the biggie, because even a full-blown Hero is human. I guess that's why there's always room for booting digital chickens around occasionally. It's all just part of having mortal failings.

Written by Libby O'Loghlin

You can support Libby by buying Fable II

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Libby O'Loghlin writes the Odyssey Gamer column.

"I bring my writing goggles to the gaming experience, because I see gaming as part of the Odyssey. I want to understand its attraction, and whether it bubbled up from the guts of our basic need for story-telling. I want to understand it as a narrative medium, and how it feeds into our daily lives."

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