Platform: Xbox 360
When Lionhead's Peter Molyneux was promoting the original Fable, he often described the aim of the game as to make you feel like a hero. He didn't mean by this that you would feel like someone else's idea of a hero, but like your own idea. You would create the character and forge his destiny. You would decide whether to be good or evil, and your choices would change the world for better or worse. As you adventured the world would also leave its mark on you, aging you, scarring you, the goodness or darkness within you echoed in your face and body. We would all start Fable with the same small boy, but would end with several million very different heroes, each reflecting who we were and how we played.
Maybe the concepts weren't solid enough, maybe the technology wasn't ready, but Fable only half delivered on that ideal. For all that it was an enjoyable, accessible action RPG, brimming with neat features, it felt too small, the consequences of your actions too obvious or limited, to truly make you feel like a hero who could shape a world. Such was the fuss made about the loss of relatively minor features, like the ability to plant acorns and watch them grow into mighty oaks, that Peter Molyneux has seemed uncharacteristically shy about the accomplishments of this Xbox 360 sequel. Perhaps he needn't have been. Fable 2 is everything Fable should have been, and arguably more.
It's not as radical a reworking as you might think. Fable felt rooted in a tradition of British folk tale and legend rather than the Tolkien-esque high fantasy adopted by so many RPGs, and Fable 2 follows along the same lines. While the kingdom of Albion has its share of misty mountains and gothic ruins, the scenery is dominated by the kind of woodland, town and farmland that fits into a very British rustic idyll. Nor is this necessarily a grimmer, darker tale. Yes, the setting has moved forward 300 odd years and there's a touch of Dickens around the prologue, but the gentle, genre-mocking wit and toilet humour that made the original so unique hasn't disappeared. While Fable 2 has a stronger plot than its forebear and a slightly deeper, more emotional tone, if you want to play the kind of hero who finds breaking wind at a funeral hilarious, then the game will be all too pleased to accommodate you.