Anyone who follows me on Twitter will probably know that, in between writing binges for NaNoWriMo, I’ve been playing Fable II. Now, I’m far from what I’d consider a seasoned gamer. I like RPGs, I like fantasy games with swords, and good stories. I played the first Fable game, and was really impressed, but definitely hoped with the second that they’d get some of the things right they got so wrong the first time around.

They didn’t.

Sure, it’s prettier. It’s… sort of steampunky. But all in all, the game is such a huge disappointment on all levels that I honestly feel cheated out of the fifty bucks I coughed up for this game. I mean, I don’t buy games lightly, you know? To keep it concise, I’m putting my major gripes here below.

  1. Don’t say the game is super customizable when it isn’t. The truth is, aside from picking your male or female character, the customization is the same as in the old game. You can’t choose body types, you can’t choose eye color (except through doing things in the game, and having that change as a consequence), skin color, etc. Sure, you can dye your hair and pick hairstyles and clothing later, but the choice is laughable. Really, why even bother? Especially with the women’s clothing, it’s just pathetic. I swear, clothing choice is one of the main reasons I played WoW… I get a perverse amount of pleasure out of it.
  2. Don’t pretend to be steampunk when you’re not! The beginning almost seems Dickensian, and I was excited. I’d love to see Victorian-urban fantasy! But as the game quickly progresses, you realize for all the gears and cogs in the load screens, other than the pistols (some which are *gasp* clockwork!) the world is entirely high medieval-to-Renaissance. Tudor style homes, farms, peasants… some pirates for good measure. But really, for someone who bought the game in no small part because it looked like it was going to be steampunk, this was extremely disappointing.
  3. Please spend five minutes thinking about combat. I am by no means a combat whiz. I’m a hack and slasher–my character in the first game clearly covered in scars from head to toe. However, if you learn some of special moves, they trigger little slow-motion cut scenes that zoom you away from the actual fight. When you go back into it, you’re disoriented and you lose track of just what you were doing in the first place. Spells don’t engage half the time; shooting is sloppy and far from precise. I ended up stacking skill because I enjoy shooting from a distance, but still had to take spells. It was… weird to say the least.
  4. Consider the experience curve. Experience is really, really weird in the game, as is general game progress. I played the game through nearly to completion in about two days and was so confused I started again. I mean, the game couldn’t really have been over, right? Basically, if you want to complete the major quest strand quickly, you have to ignore the repeatable quests and smaller quests. And what happens? You finish the game–but you’re underpowered, and you’re likely not ready. The second method was to complete a good amount of quests, at least until I could stand it anymore, and finish the game. Guess what happened then?
  5. Make the final boss a challenge. I swear, I sneezed on the final boss and he died. I killed him with a music box, and then hit him ONCE with a sword. Seriously. I had murlocs give me more trouble than that in WoW. Which brings me to the next point:
  6. TELL a good STORY. The game ends and you see characatures of the entire crew that built the game, and honestly, it made me feel guilty for hating it so much. “Oh, these people worked so hard to make your game! Look how cute and smiley they are!” But the story was so lacking, so thin, that I really didn’t care at the end. I had no motivation, even when they killed my family because they didn’t:
  7. Make the NPCs engaging! They run around like crazy lemmings, rushing you into corners you can’t get out of, never leaving you alone. Even my husband was so annoying and two-dimensional that I really didn’t give a care when the evil bad guy told he’d killed my family. I kind of thought: “Good, now he won’t be so damned annoying.” I honestly started avoiding Bowerstone on just that count alone; I didn’t want to deal with people at all.
  8. Just follow through, you know? There are so many ways this game could have been awesome. But it wasn’t. It just wasn’t. It’s a fishbowl game pretending to be an RPG. And it doesn’t work. I finished the game out of sheer determination hoping that something might happen to sway me, to change my mind. I held out hope for a long time, but realized: no. This game is just crappy. It’s not worth my time (something my husband figured out really early on in the game, and gave up).
  9. And finally… consider making the game challenging. The first game was hard. I died a lot. This time? I breezed through just about everything. And like I said, I’m not a games genius by any stretch of the imagination. But it was not satisfying in the least to accomplish quests, even with the inclusion of random drag queens, banshees, and gargoyles.

There we go. My nine major gripes. There are others, but you get the idea. Overall rating is a D. I wouldn’t play the game again if you pleaded with me to… it’s just… a waste. Alas.