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59 Reviews

Fable II

Lionhead finally delivers

Page 2 of 3

Yet, despite the abundance of great voice acting from various British talent (we killed Billy from Eastenders), the lip-syncing and facial animation (outside of the excellent social commands) by Molyneux's own admission is a bit ropey. But this is mostly forgivable thanks to the lack of cut-scenes - you never really see anything up close.

When we were sent off to meet the powerful heroine Hannah (or 'Hammer') instead of the slim, big-breasted femme-fatal we were expecting we were introduced to a tardy red-headed lass with a West-country accent, and she was more interested in keeping the order of her pacifist monk cult than eating pies or some other stereotype, which shows that Lionhead at least has grown as a narrative studio. We still farted on her, though.

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You don't even notice your canine companion (when he's actually working how he should) there at all. Chasing your pooch companion to a treasure chest he's just barked to your attention feels totally natural, and teaching him tricks - including the ability to take a leak on command - adds a whole new layer on the social side. Again, he's not the tear-inducing virtual love object it was hyped to be, but another notable and significant layer on the pie.

The combat system is one of Fable II's highlights. The decision to dedicate melee attacks entirely to the X button, thanks to clever combination and timed attacks, makes for a simple but satisfying experience.

For the first few hours you're stuck with basic button-mashing attacks until you amass enough XP to upgrade, which probably isn't the best idea for introducing people to what's actually one of our favourite adventure game combat mechanics in a while.

Eventually, after investing XP into your sword swiping, you'll unlock satisfying flurries (executed by holding X and pressing the direction you want to lunge), useful counter-moves (performed by pressing X as an opponent attacks) and devastating combos (pulled off by chaining together X button presses at just the right time).

Ranged combat meanwhile properly keeps the FPS player happy; you can nail enemies with your cross bow from a third-person, GTA-style lock-on view, or zoom in with an over-the-shoulder aiming reticule for more precise shots. Through upgrades you can improve your accuracy, speed or even aim for specific parts of a target's body using the right stick.

Add all that together and you've truthfully got a combat system that's easy to use, but tricky to master. Our Nans could quite easily mash at the pad, but they're not pulling off the sword-swipe combos we've got going on with our timed button presses.

Once again, Fable II is all about choice. If you don't want to bother with Albion's troubles you can ignore the main quest and - like we did - setup shop as a humble blacksmith, build enough cash to buy a big house and then rent it out to the poor for a stream of profit every five minutes - even when you're not playing.

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Fable II offers an even more unique side quest experience at the end of the game when you can finally afford to buy the big castle at the top of the hill, marry a barmaid, have kids and create your very own Bowerstone credit crisis.

This undeniably huge layer of the Fable experience promises to become even more important with the introduction of a day-one co-op patch, which as we're sure you can guess we haven't been able to try out in our version of the game.

It's all come together nicely then. Fable II is definitely for a certain breed of gamer; it's the Ying to Fallout 3 and Oblivion's Yang. If you're the sort of gamer content with making your own fun, breaking into people's houses and doing a chicken impression at the end of the bed, then this is the adventure game for you.

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