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This week Zero Punctuation reviews Peter Molyneux's latest action rpg adventure, Fable 2.

Transcript Edit

I hope you're ready to do some donuts on memory lane, because the original Fable - an action RPG-type thing concerning the adventures of a mute, extremely placid-faced bloke with a very strange metabolism - was, of course, the second review I ever made, back when I was a nameless YouTube guttersnipe with nothing to my name but a website and a couple of yellow swatches. So all I have to do is review The Darkness again next week, then crash and burn into total obscurity for the next twenty-five years before being absorbed into someone's vagina and my life is officially symmetrical!

Actually, after that review, Peter Molyneux contacted me and expressed his hope that Fable II would meet my unreasonable standards. Well, that may have been a little characteristically over-optimistic on your part, Peter! Especially considering you didn't change a bloody thing.

Well, okay, there are one or two new things. Now you can be a mute, extremely placid-faced girl with a very strange metabolism, too. Also, you have a dog, whose job it is to point out treasure chests, a job it adheres to with admirable gusto. This is a dog that might possibly be a little bit too well trained, who pattered about in the background while the bandit legions were carving my buttocks into luncheon meat, barking excitedly about a boxful of amusing novelty hats he'd found.

Other than that, though, if you played Fable 1 the actual story aspect will give you an eerie sense of déjà vu. You start off as a small, apple-cheeked street urchin with a hilarious mullet who leads an almost Disney-esque life of idyllic wholesomeness - presumably to amplify the perverse glee when an equally absurd tragedy comes along and shits all over it. Your sister is killed, and you get shot, thrown through a window, and dropped ninety stories. But ten years later, you're all healed up and back for more. And having been through the worst of it, injuries suddenly become a lot easier to recover from. In fact, every time you die, you pop instantly back to life with a paltry random experience deduction that can be instantly recovered by swatting the nearest gnat. Oh yeah, and you'll also get an unremovable scar somewhere on your body, but Peter Molyneux has yet to grasp that not everyone gives a shit.

As in the last game, you can technically specialize in either melee, ranged weapons, or magic. And as in the last game, I quickly found that most enemies picked the first option, so you'd better have as well unless you want your torso looking like a satellite map of Baghdad. But really, here's the best strategy for combat: pick an area-of-effect spell, pour all your points into it to get to level 4 or 5 as fast as possible, put a piece of electrical tape over the "Cast Magic" button, go to sleep, wake up, win game, have a well-deserved cup of tea, stalwart hero of the land.

So the whole RPG of this "action RPG" is a bit of a mess. The combat is easily broken, and even if you try to challenge yourself - by, say, playing without using magic while someone sucks you off - the lack of penalty for death and the shortness of the story means you can plow through to the end credits before you've even cum.

But someone made the point to me that perhaps Fable II becomes a good game if you judge it not as an action RPG but as a Sims-esque life simulator with action RPG bits. Of course, that's a slippery slope. Maybe it would also be good game if you judged it as a Frisbee or from the perspective of a nineteen-century time traveler. It does smack a little of making excuses. One would think a game called Fable would be all about the story. I mean, a guy who works as a blacksmith for twenty years to save up and buy a house for his cunt wife, yeah, that's the kind of timeless legend that will live on through the ages, isn't it? But whatever. We'll play it your way.

The first thing you're gonna need is money. Questing doesn't pay as well as it used to, so you have to get a job. I guess I missed the short story where Conan the Barbarian took up bar-tending, but NO! Bad Yahtzee! Life simulator, life simulator! Adjust expectations! Okay, then. You know how in The Sims you can get a job as a mailroom clerk? You remember how you had to go into the office every single in-game day and play a little minigame where you fling envelopes into pigeon holes? Of course not, because it would have been really fucking boring! Yes, all right, Peter, it's more realistic than dead monsters dropping pocket change. But you know what else is realistic? Working a desk job for fifty years in a cloying mire of tedium and self-hatred before dying of a disfiguring facial cancer alone and unloved, forgotten within a decade. But you won't see many games about that - at least not until I've finished the design document.

And then there's the infamous marriage aspect. Flex your arms a few times in front of NPCs and many of them will swiftly agree that yes, your magnificent pythons and tendency to break wind in public prove your relationship commitment. Then you have the option of marrying something, although why you'd want to is a question the game skillfully avoids. Everyone has the same voices and endlessly repeated dialogue lines, so you'll run into nine clones of your beloved down any given street. And none of them will get their tits out when you're bonking them.

These are just a few of the excellent reasons why I grew bored after around twelves minutes of happy marriage and decided it was time to murder my entire family. This was the point I discovered you can't kill children, of course. So much for total freedom, eh? What, so it's all right for someone else to shoot me in the face and throw me off a building when I'm a kid, but the moment I try to spread the love then ooh, suddenly we're getting off-message! And while we're on the subject, why can't I marry my dog?

You see, you can gab on about freedom until the eagles choke, but in a game it's always going to be within some constraints. Fable II is actually pretty restrictive by the standards of sandbox games. The world is rather small and linear, and appearance customization is so shallow and arduous you might as well not bother. The key phrase here is: "You can, but why would you want to?" You can get married, bone your spouse 'til their eyes drop out, pump out enough kids to start your own jazz orchestra, but it's all for its own sake. You can buy every house in the game and be crowned king, but there's no benefit besides more and more useless fucking money to make your wallet look untidy.

I am, of course, emotionally jaded, but the characters in the game don't have enough charm to make me want to marry or rule them. They all operate as some bizarre, schizophrenic hive mind who will chide you for your numerous murders one moment and praise your farting prowess the next. Fable II is less of a sequel, more like an upgrade of Fable 1, warts and all. They just try to distract from the flaws by going: "Oh wook, it's a doggy! Mash up his widdle face and call him Chips."

AddendaEdit

  • Could be president some day: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Your dog has to be like thirty years old by the end of the game, does that not give anyone else pause for wonder
  • eGames expo in Melbourne this weekend woo party time in the Australian games industry


ScreenshotsEdit

Fable II 1

Crash and burn into total obscurity

Fable II 2

You remember how you had to go into the office every single in-game day and play a little minigame where you fling envelopes into pigeon holes?

Fable II 3

I grew bored after around twelves minutes of happy marriage and decided it was time to murder my entire family

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
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Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells · Fifth Console Generation · The End is Nigh, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles · Pyre · Splatoon 2 · Hellblade · Agents of Mayhem · Sonic Mania · Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle · Destiny 2 · Metroid: Samus Returns
Q4 Knack 2 and SteamWorld Dig 2 · Cuphead · Hob and A Hat in Time · Middle-earth: Shadow of War · The Evil Within 2 · Super Mario Odyssey · Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus · Assassin's Creed Origins

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