Fable II Hands On

We return once more to Albion and the wonderful world inside the minds of Lionhead Studios.

by

When it launched in 2004, Fable might not have turned the action role-playing genre on its head, but it was definitely a rewarding and imaginative adventure and one of the best Xbox-exclusive role-playing games. One of the highlights of Fable was the ability to guide your hero down the path of good or evil and see how his appearance and reputation changed with the choices you made.

Four years on and it's time for another adventure in Albion. We had a chance to sit down with the near-finished game and its designer, industry legend Peter Molyneux, at a recent event in central London. Five hundred years have passed in the storyline, since the fabled Hero of Oakvale defeated the Jack of Blades in the original, and it seems Albion is again in desperate need of a hero. As was the case in Fable, you'll take the role of a child at the beginning of a game, and you can choose to be a boy or a girl. We started off as Little Sparrow, a poor young boy who seems to be orphaned along with his sister, Rose. Living on the streets of Bowerstone is hard, but the kids are harder, wittier, and more streetwise than children their age should be. They won't have to do it alone, either, because early on they'll earn the gratitude of a stray mutt, which will follow them faithfully, it seems, whether they like it or not.

Soon into the action you'll meet Murgo, a trader offering all sorts of useless treasures, except for the one that catches the attention of the children--a music box that's said to give a wish to whomever uses it. Scoffing at the notion, Rose is told by a mysterious woman called Theresa that the music box is in fact magical and is worth far more than the asking price of five gold coins. To get your adventure off to a start you'll need to complete a few quests in town to earn the coins and buy the box.

Amuse the citizens of Albion with extended expressions, like farting.

The first quest required us to help a nearby guard whose arrest warrants have blown away in the wind. You'll need to track down the warrants, thereby protecting Bowerstone from a number of ruffians, including Leroy "Unremarkable" Stone (aka Leroy-ten-fingers, Leroy-one-nose, Leroy-two-eyes, Leroy-has-hair, or Leroy-is-alive), who is wanted for "suspicious though otherwise unremarkable behaviour." If you're unsure where to go at any point, there is a trail of gold dust that indicates where you have to go in your current quest. Around town you'll also need to find a tramp's stolen grog, deliver a clandestine love letter, and clear a warehouse from some pesky beetles by using a ranged weapon--in this case a popgun. It should come as no surprise that in a shady town like Bowerstone you'll be given two options for each quest: either to help the quest giver or to accept an offer from an adversary (such as the drunk's wife who asks you to give her the bottle and help her husband on the path to soberness, or the lover's mother who wants to stop her daughter from marrying that "good fer nothing" slob). Each decision you make will incrementally increase, or decrease, your favour with fellow citizens.

Early on you'll learn of Lord Lucien, the ruler of Bowerstone, who lives in a remarkable castle high above the town. It seems Rose's wish is to live in such a castle, and with the help of the music box her dream may come true sooner than expected. Without revealing details of the plot, you'll soon fast-forward to adulthood--as you did in Fable--where Theresa reveals that it's time for your epic quest to begin.

In a gypsylike camp on the outskirts of Bowerstone it appears our Little Sparrow has become a man and even has his own caravan. Given that we were about to embark on such an epic journey and it might be some time before we came back to the camp, we decided to rent out the caravan, earning gold every five minutes in the process. According to Lionhead, you'll earn gold even when your Xbox 360 is turned off. If you forget to play the game for a few weeks you might find your coin bag overflowing when you come back to Albion, but thankfully there's something to do with all that money. In addition to buying the usual weapons, upgrades, clothes, and items, you'll be able to buy, sell, and rent properties. In fact, Molyneux told us you can become very well off buying properties all over Albion then leasing them back to the citizens, which is good because it will apparently take 15 million gold coins in the game's currency to buy everything for sale in the game.

Interacting with the people of Albion is always an amusing pastime, and so we headed back to Bowerstone to see how things had changed since childhood. While it was business as usual in town, characters remembered us from the past, and the choices we made earlier in the game still reverberated (such as the guard who was promoted thanks to our help). While waiting for Theresa to continue our quest, we decided to get a job at the nearby blacksmith shop. We started out as a level-one smithy and tried our hand at a minigame that involves striking an anvil at the right time using an onscreen meter. After forging a few swords, we'd earned a few gold pieces and received a promotion. As you get promoted through a total of five levels, your wage increases with your skill. Once we'd pocketed a bit of spare cash, we quit and then interacted with a few of our fellow citizens.

If you've played Fable before you know you'll have a wide range of expressions, including flirting, mocking, laughing, posing, and farting. You'll also be able to express your pleasure or displeasure with a few commands to your faithful dog; while exploring the wide-open spaces, he'll sniff out buried treasures of all sorts, including books to teach him new tricks. You'll then be able to access these commands from the expression menu, such as playing fetch with a ball or getting him to hop like a rabbit. When interacting with others you can choose from standard expressions and extendable expressions, which are indicated by an "e" next to the expression's icon.

If you need a break for your epic quest you can always get a job and earn some spare cash.

Extended expressions are performed much like the minigame we saw as a blacksmith. A white dot and coloured line rotate back and forth within a semicircular reticle, and the goal is to release the button while the dot and line overlap. As you hold down the button, the line gradually shrinks, making it more difficult to time it right. However, the longer you hold the button the greater the result. If you get the timing right you'll earn less favour, or potentially even soil yourself if attempting to perform a fart. It seems that we've just scratched the surface in the number of expressions, jobs, and colourful people you can discover throughout the game.

Of course, it wouldn't be Fable if you couldn't wreak havoc in town and evoke fear in the hearts of the townspeople. When you get caught breaking the law in Fable II, you'll choose between resisting arrest, accepting a fine, or undertaking community service. We decide to accept the latter, which involves a small quest, such as clearing beetles from a cellar, and also helps to restore some of your cred with the common folk.

Fable II doesn't appear to stray too far from the original, but with the addition of numerous jobs, minigames, properties to buy and sell, and what looks to be a solid multiplayer mode, fans should have plenty to do. This is, of course, in addition to the single-player campaign, which Molyneux estimates will take around 10 hours to complete if you rush through without experiencing the full gamut of what's possible. Fable was two and a half hours by comparison. Ambient orbs, which we didn't get a chance to experience, allow you to jump in and out of friends' worlds over Xbox Live at ease, promising to extend the gameplay even further. Fable II will be heading to Europe on October 24 and to North America on October 21. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more on the game as it approaches.

Discussion

424 comments
newbie69
newbie69

does anyone else have problems with transfering items from the pub games to fable 2. the money works but not the items.

GMarks06
GMarks06

Can you have a baby with a black person and then play as the child???? No I am not racist I just like for my character to be black, or at least mixed

souledge959
souledge959

the collecter attion I resureved one year ago, but have been whating two and the quest for asomness is almost over

kakeman987
kakeman987

no you cant create a character my housemate has beeen playin this game for hours now and hes pretty impressed with it. Im sure its amazing.

chanwahl
chanwahl

can u create a character???!!!

wep
wep

playing it right now, it rockssssss!!! 10 times better than Fable I

MobySSX
MobySSX

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

mrfreakuk
mrfreakuk

Oh and as for game play if you watch the interview Peter says that the 10 hours is if you do nothing but follow the bread crumbs. If you go off quest then there is a whole world of possibilities out there. 10 hours is just for the people who are desperate to complete it .... !

mrfreakuk
mrfreakuk

What you mean like the money they lost on Halo !!!! Dont think so ... Fable is another xbox exclusive and long may it continue ! That would be like G.T being on 360 ... not gonna happen and I for one am glad. Cant wait until next Friday !

stopheltje
stopheltje

Awsome, can't wait till next week! :) Like the story says above.. Fable toke 2/3 hours to finish.. I seriously hope Fable II will take us those promising 10 hours ! :):):) .. Btw, is it a free-world game? Even more than Fable (I)? Or do you have to take a pre given road? ... greets

kimen
kimen

theyre gonna loose alot of money not converting this to ps3...

onixies619
onixies619

i can't wait for this game.it's going to rock!.should i be good or evil?ahh who cares as long as i play the game!:)

AxelMccloud
AxelMccloud

"Joshy485 Posted Oct 16, 2008 5:46 pm GMT I think this could be the next oblivion. Nice you can fart!" well first of all oblivion was the next fable lol but if your going into technocalities then morrowind was before and blah blah blah. Although oblivion was the next Fable, Fable takes the cake.

Joshy485
Joshy485

I think this could be the next oblivion. Nice you can fart!

Joshy485
Joshy485

Nice!The guys at lionhead are very creative and think outside th box.

SnowmanU360
SnowmanU360

HELL! i whent to reserve the collectors edition yesterday, and canada has reached its limit of sales, so i have to get the regular version. :( Oh well, as long as i get the game release day, im happy.

McGuire0025
McGuire0025

i want someone to make gladius 2, that game was amazing and had about 500 hours of campaign

benoxtoby
benoxtoby

its only got 10 hours of campaign? thats pretty poor. i know its not the same but the last final fantasy i played i played for 200 hours?!

Luigi081
Luigi081

I love RPG's, but this game is goona be the best 1 yet

Cedoreborn
Cedoreborn

I just bought a 360 for this game can't wait

ooKERMIToo
ooKERMIToo

This and gears make me happy to own a 360 ;[ but we still missing a few

ranman1990
ranman1990

this game is worth buying a 360 for,... im definatly pickin up an xbox for this game. i loved the first one and fable 2 looks outstanding so im looking forward to it.

zephyrus17
zephyrus17

What's the combat like? Was it like what Molyneux said about just pressing one button and having context do the rest?

Goldrock
Goldrock

Yes must have! this time it looks like its worth the hype.

ansem2793
ansem2793

these 2 weeks (roughly)are torture ive never played the first one but know the story and this one seems like one of the best rpgs ive seen in a long time.

oerien355
oerien355

I been waiting on this game from the second i completed the first and these last 12 days are absolute torture!!!

Karmazyn
Karmazyn

This is so good game that the owner of every platform should taste this awesome title. This game should also come out on PC PS3 and WII.

maximaxi4eva2
maximaxi4eva2

Im just wondering...Will fable 2 still have thos damn loading gate...things every five-20 metres??????

Red_Flag
Red_Flag

Spoiling yourself whilst farting, eh? This seems like the remedy for the perfect game!

jjmonster2006
jjmonster2006

can't wait can't wait can't wait can't wait can't wait ca.......

mankeyador
mankeyador

yay farting!!!! I heard the patch for online co-op will be available the day it launches.

Sodney
Sodney

This game will be so awesome:) Only weeks away.

ChristianDohmen
ChristianDohmen

So i guess it would take like 60 hours to complete the game at 100%? It looks like a promising title though im uncertain about continues game-play for such a good looking game. Fable (the lost chapters) took me around 20 hours to complete fully and it seemed to me i had been given a beautiful game experience though i would not mind playing it again for a second time because of the straight linear story. Even if you can make choices, in the end the choice is clearly destroying Evil, with Evil or Good. And that's the only option and aprouch you wil get out of the former game. But it had wonderfull gameplay nevertheles.

Karmazyn
Karmazyn

Heheheh I have just pre-ordered it. I can't wait for this game. I hope it will be blocbuster but I have strange feelings about it. We will see. Fallout 3 on my Pre Order list too. What a October. So many games to play not enough cash to have them all at one time hehehhehe.

DaSKK17
DaSKK17

@ Banzi92 It may be releasing on the PC in the future, just as the first one did. Who knows how long that will be though. Not that it matters to me. I'm a 360 fan-boy and I'm stickin' with the 360. Can't wait...

Banzi92
Banzi92

Will this come out on the pc?

Banzi92
Banzi92

Will this come out on the pc?

SliceSlice
SliceSlice

man i cant wait for this!! two weeks to go!!!oneone1

SliceSlice
SliceSlice

man i cant wait for this!! two weeks to go!!!oneone1

gamepwnerwade
gamepwnerwade

Fable 2 will only come out on xbox 360 , its ot going to come out on PC or PS3, i cant wait i wish it was october 21st already!!!!!!!!!!!

pell2k8
pell2k8

Cant wait 4 teh game 2 come out

Outlaw-X13
Outlaw-X13

Fable-2! ARGH! The next 2 weeks are going to be murder. (the game is like 2 weeks from release)

Devin_Kondro
Devin_Kondro

well the campaign may only be 10 hours but peter molynuex said that if all u do is quest u'll be very well known but u;ll be very poor so u gotta work at ur job then do quests u just gotta balance the 2 it will be a fantastic game

Devin_Kondro
Devin_Kondro

well the campaign may only be 10 hours but peter molynuex said that if all u do is quest u'll be very well known but u;ll be very poor so u gotta work at ur job then do quests u just gotta balance the 2 it will be a fantastic game

lilaznfromabove
lilaznfromabove

10 hours or so of campaign fun thats not very good but nonetheless there are other things to compare but if it weren't for those things would it be given a too human score as well or be given a high rating just because of the hype like Halo 3? Q and A please admit your thoughts

NPC_Killer
NPC_Killer

The expression option sound weird, but I can't wait to play this. Sounds fantastic !!