Everything in Fable 2, from the introductory scenes to the various missions, takes us back to that fairy world created by Molyneux almost five years ago, allowing us to rediscover the same magic, the same fantasy, behind every stylistic and playful choice.
Albion 500 years later
When a man who is able to engage you with divine powers meets free will in the world of fantasy he can only create something truly unique. Remember Black & White and Populus? Remember the first Fable about the beloved botolo? Here, think of something similar to all this put together, mix, add two hectoliters of RPG, a grain of Action Game, a little strategy and a pinch of madness and you have Fable 2.
Peter Molyneux churns out another masterpiece and does it starting from the console, albeit renewed, on which he had enchanted everyone, realizing, today as then, one of the best titles in circulation.
It is useless to dwell on the controversy of the genre to which Fable 2 belongs, if we are facing yet another RPG or is it to be attributed to the FREE genre, what really matters is that we are faced with a unique game of its kind. Everything in Fable 2, from the introductory scenes to the various missions, takes us back to that fairy world created by Molyneux almost five years ago, allowing us to rediscover the same magic, the same fantasy, behind every stylistic and playful choice.
The story focuses again on the relationship between brothers, an extraordinary event (in the first episode the invasion of the bandits, in the second the intervention of the local lord) causes the two to separate and that the protagonist turns totally to the cause of revenge and the possible search for their own relative.
The game essentially and almost entirely takes up all the elements already present in the first episode, enhancing them and raising them, in some cases, to real points of reference for future games. Albion is the same as in the first chapter despite 500 years have passed, you can breathe the same air of fairytale disquiet as you cross its boundless lands which, however, have increased tenfold in extension and depth, during the initial journeys between the city of Bowerstone and the suburbs surrounding up to Oakvale the landscapes portrayed and the ponds produce breathtaking views with cinematic shots, certainly the scenography and the textures are very reminiscent of those of Black & White 2, but overall the effect is really pleasant .
An essential element in the new chapter of Fable is free will or at least the widest possibility to make choices that affect your gaming experience; already at the beginning it will be possible to choose between a male and a female protagonist and immediately after, in the initial seconds (during which the background of our adventure is told) we will make some fundamental choices that will influence the character of our hero .
From here on, a very wide range of possibilities will open up for our "sparrow" (for the test we chose the male character, so first of all we will refer to it), we will have to quickly get used to the controls and the world around us, taking care not to forget the missions entrusted to us and to enjoy the game in its most satisfying aspects. Among these, the right choice of company, fundamental, of your dear four-legged friend certainly stands out, who, thanks be to God, will accompany you in your adventure, getting you out of trouble not a few times; the choice of the dog is in fact a winner for two essential reasons, the first naturally concerns the quality of the introduced figure who enjoys considerable characteristics (can attack, defend, use research skills, express emotions) and is well done, the second, closely linked to the first, it concerns the considerable extension of the explorable area during the game, in which it would be almost impossible to be able to find the buried treasures and many chests-caskets or silver keys without the help of the exceptional skills of your trusted friend.
Becoming familiar with the essential skills of your main and secondary character (the dog in fact), you will be able to deal with the game system entirely inspired by the first chapter, you will have to face the countless main and secondary missions, the secret side-quests and the main tests honing your magical, physical and precision skills. The character evolution system is based on the collection of "colored spheres" obtained with the elimination of each enemy and which differ from each other according to the action performed: if you eliminate an enemy with the help of the sword alone, this action connected to brute force, you will get mainly blue spheres (strength), if you eliminate the enemy using precision weapons you will get mainly yellow spheres (ability), with the magical powers finally you will get red spheres (magic), in in all cases we will also get green spheres (generic) that can be used in any skill, while with the combinations of powers we will receive important spherical bonuses.
From the first missions you will realize that exactly as in the real world, even in Albion there is a need for money for any choice you want to make, in this regard it is possible not only to find treasures and carry out missions, but also to perform thefts, play d gamble and even work. Just work and gambling are one of the innovations of Fable 2, even in the first chapter there were games in the inns but this time some of them have been created from scratch with original rules so that they can be considered together as a game within the game (Pub Games of Fable 2 released - for the record - at a time prior to the release of Fable 2 via Xbox Live), the work instead, despite being reduced to the simple activity of QTE (press the right key at the moment right) and therefore light years away from Yu Suzuki's "forklift", it is divided into difficulty levels and allows a pleasant digression in the course of our adventure.
The money we said is a fundamental aspect of the game experience in the world of Fable 2, it is thanks to it, together with the skill spheres, that we are able to customize our character; with money in the new Albion you can buy anything from a simple caravan for wanderers to the most luxurious villa, from the rusty sword to the most sophisticated rifle to rings, chocolates and books. From the point of view of history then thanks to the expressions our character is equipped with we will be able to conquer or scare any inhabitant of the world of Fable 2, with our charm and a few gifts it will not be difficult to have more than one companion (which you can "Love" in complete safety thanks to the possibility of choosing a protected relationship ..) and some little children around the kingdom, as well as it will not be difficult to overcome the many difficulties in opening secret doors.
The combat system has been improved compared to the first chapter, favoring even more the already excellent management of the different powers, this time in fact, thanks to a new distribution of the keys on the pad, especially for magical powers, you will be able to use your resources. in a varied way, ending up by combining the different skills acquired in a rather intuitive way.
The Cullis doors are always present (portals capable of teleporting us from one point to another in Albion), but the lack of an interactive map that can be consulted on the screen or by entering a menu is an important impairment partially resolved with the presence of a "golden trace" that will show you the direction to follow for the current mission (option that can be disabled from the menu) and the possibility of selecting different destination points to which to move at any time, with the unpleasant effect, however, of reappearing suddenly in a city maybe thousands of miles away.
The landscapes of Fable 2 and the scenography in general, such as the architecture of the houses, the crates and the different elements of Fable 2, adhere to what was the experience of the first chapter but at the same time show the extreme research of details ; the textures are good, frame drops are limited, the effect of water is just as good, especially when we swim, the colors are bright and bright, our four-legged friend enjoys a life of his own next to us, guiding us perfectly to exploration of the world without obvious defects (sometimes we will not be able to see it anymore, just rotate the camera and it will reappear).
The lighting is completely dynamic and manages to obtain extraordinary results in any situation, of course, the choice of delegating to the protagonist the function of "torch" in the caves and in the darkest places is not fully shared (by playing you will realize that the body of the main character part of the lighting of the surrounding environment in dark places), but it must be said that the effect is practically flawless.
The music is at the height of the first episode and the sound effects play their part very well, the main theme was taken from Fable and continues to be a decidedly successful choice, Gregorian chant places the whole adventure in an era suspended between fantasy and the Middle Ages, while all the other music does nothing but reaffirm the great care of Lionhead Studios for this title. The dubbing is then really well done and beyond a few passages a bit pathetic or too dramatic it gives the title characteristics of enjoyment out of the ordinary.
Cooperative Mode and Final Considerations
A mention deserves the online cooperative mode that allows us to face the adventure of Fable 2 through the Xbox Live service in the company of a real friend, but who may be comfortably seated in an armchair on the other side of the globe.
Until the last moment, the online cooperative mode was a real mystery, there were uncertain news about the availability of the service at launch; Although Lionhead struggled to confirm its presence through an update available on launch day, there was always someone on the net who denied this news, in the end the update was made available as announced by the manufacturer.
The online game of Fable 2 immediately shows an "activation" problem, well even an experienced player (usually the more experienced ones avoid reading the information booklets), cannot immediately understand how to play online; the cooperative mode indeed, although active immediately, is set by default from the options menu (reachable by pressing the start button on the pad) on the possibility of viewing only the spheres of friends (so as to be able to play and display on the map only the tags you have set as friends on Xbox Live) this way, however, if your friends don't have Fable 2 or aren't playing it, it will seem like co-op doesn't work at all.
To solve the problem, just set the “all” mode in the “activate spheres” submenu so as to view all the players who are playing Fable 2 at that moment and who have chosen to be visible; once you have identified what your partner could be in the cooperative mode, just invite him to join the game and set the criteria for dividing the skill spheres or earnings and then enjoy in company the hunt for bandits, hobbes and the conquest of Albion.
Ultimately, the writer feels he has to place Fable 2 among the "must buy" titles (absolutely to buy) for every Xbox 360 owner and for every gamer worthy of the name: the practically infinite longevity, the variety of contents and experiences , the plot worthy of a good book, the convincing localization and the online mode make the title absolutely attractive to gamers even if the lack of a total upheaval compared to the first episode and the unfinished realization of full "free will" together with the others features promised in development and never realized, do not allow us to attribute the maximum total score (remember that it is not an average of the individual aspects) to the new great work by Peter Molyneux.