Fable 2 Part 2: In-Spire-ing

By Shamus Posted Thursday Feb 5, 2009

Filed under: Game Reviews 85 comments

The scourging of the Fable 2 story continues here. You might want to read part 1 if you missed that yesterday.

In the comments, someone has pointed out that It’s “Lucien” not “Lucian”. Didn’t have time to fix it since then, so please bear with me.

Spoilers below.

Having successfully recruited Hammer the Warrior, Theresa sends you to find Garth the mage next. He’s living in a big tower, as wizards do. Lucian’s men get there just moments before you, and kidnap Garth by teleporting him away.

What are the odds? Ten years of no activity, and now Lucian just happens to get everywhere five minutes before you do. It would only have taken a moment to paint over little contrivances like this.

Leave behind all your gear, your powers, your dog, all your property, your money, the mini-games, the fun combat, the treasure hunting, and the amusing sidequests.  That’s what happens when you go to the Spire.  It’s also what happens when you <em>stop playing the game</em>.
Leave behind all your gear, your powers, your dog, all your property, your money, the mini-games, the fun combat, the treasure hunting, and the amusing sidequests. That’s what happens when you go to the Spire. It’s also what happens when you stop playing the game.
So Lucian now has Garth and has taken him to the Spire. Theresa concludes the the only way to get Garth back is to go to the Spire yourself. Not by sneaking in, but by joining Lucian’s forces. And to join, you have to win the Crucible. (A Gladiator – style tournament.) Lucian apparently only wants people tough enough to win the Crucible in his army. In order to even attempt the Crucible, you must already be famous.

Once you have enough fame, you compete in the Crucible and are then allowed to board the boat that will take you to the Spire. All of your weapons and items are taken away, and you set sail for the Spire. You get off the ship with a load of other new recruits.

Once again, walking in the front door seems like the most stupid and pointless way of doing things. Stow away on a ship? Sail out in your own? Have Theresa use her own teleporting powers to take you there? No. Give up all your awesome toys and walk in the front door, ignoring the risk that Lucian might recognize you. Or that they might have some way of detecting heroes. Or maybe they’re just feeding new recruits into a giant woodchipper as they step off the boat, just for laughs.

And while we’re at it, where did all these other recruits come from? Are these generic dudes all somehow incredibly famous Crucible champions like me? Or did the writer just not think this through?

As you walk towards the entrance you meet Bob, another recruit who seems to have joined up for… money? I guess?

It becomes clear that once people enter the Spire they never, ever leave. Which makes it all the more absurd that Lucian continues to find waves and waves of new recruits. A crucible champion is a proven badass and a celebrity. They should be able to find some sort of work in the world. The idea that all these champions would sign up to go work in the big evil tower no matter how many people go in and don’t come back out is just silly.

The recruits gather at the entrance and Lucian appears. He drones on about his plans to re-make the world and end all the chaos, and then casts sleep on the lot of you.

Because of course, once you’re standing five feet from your sister’s murderer, you’re going to stand still and listen to him give a speech rather than lob a fireball at him. This is classic plot myopia. The entire reason we’re screwing around gathering up these heroes is because they will somehow (?) help us stop Lucian. But here he is, a few feet away and flammable. At the end of the game I took him out with a single lightning bolt, but the game won’t let you do that here. No, the writer wants you to listen to the evil guy monologue without your stupid character intruding on his beautiful story.

The Commandant requires instant and unquestioning obedience. He doesn’t care if you stand ten feet away and give him the finger, though.
The Commandant requires instant and unquestioning obedience. He doesn’t care if you stand ten feet away and give him the finger, though.
When you wake up, you’re wearing an obedience collar that will torture you (and drain abilities and XP) if you disobey. The Commandant – Lucian’s second-in-command – then “breaks” you. In an interactive scene, he beats on you with a sword and you must humiliate yourself by thanking him. Then at the end you must beg for mercy. Failure to do so will drain XP away from you.

You work as a guard in the tower, overseeing the half-naked, starving slaves that are building the place. The guards are all strong, hulking, well-fed, and wearing obedience collars.

Lucian, you drooling buffoon: You have collars on happy, well-paid(?), well-fed guards, and no collars on your abused, starving slaves? Which group is more likely to revolt? Actually, what do you need the guards for? Put collars on the slaves and you don’t need guards. Then add the crucible champs to the pool of slaves and spread the food around evenly. Well-fed slaves will work faster than starving ones. And everyone will work harder with collars on. I thought you were in a hurry to build this tower?

Of course, things are this way because the writer wanted to make sure the player understood that Lucian was, like, really super extra double evil. Apparently the designer was worried that you were too stupid to have figured that out by the way he shot a twelve year old girl who visited him because she thought she was going to get to live in a castle.

Yes, we get it. Lucian is evil. So evil that he makes idiotic plans and then executes them with stunning ineptitude.

The evil guy who tortures his own workers is an old trope. It never works for me. Imagine if the evil guy bought a bunch of work horses, and then had them… tortured to death? The evil of the deed is far overshadowed by how pointlessly idiotic and self-defeating it is. You don’t think, “Ooh! Evil!” You think, “Idiot.” And fighting idiots is no fun, even when you win. Give me a cunning villain any day.

Build cells. Put workers in cells.  Assign rotating shifts of guards stand and watch over the cells for weeks until the workers starve to death. What exactly is the point of all this again? You know you can just shoot people, right Lucian?
Build cells. Put workers in cells. Assign rotating shifts of guards stand and watch over the cells for weeks until the workers starve to death. What exactly is the point of all this again? You know you can just shoot people, right Lucian?
Some groups of slaves are thrown into prisons and starved to death. On purpose. For no discernible reason. (In Star Trek-style forcefield prison cells, no less.) At one point you must watch over some starving slaves, who you have been told “won’t survive the night”. You can pull a lever to feed them and endure another dose of torture and XP drain, or you can stand there, and not feed them. Either way, you have to wait there for three real-world minutes (I made coffee) while listening to the endless cries for food.

If you don’t feed them, you get a pile of evil points, apparently because it’s evil to avoid being tortured for feeding people who are going to die tomorrow anyway. They’re being starved to death on purpose. Feeding them will prolong their torment. You can’t save them. Not pulling the lever doesn’t make you evil, it means you’re not a complete idiot.

Not feeding them while feeling regret at their plight is fundamentally different from not feeding them because you’re some nefarious douchebag that loves making people suffer. But only if you’re trying to play your character. And by now you should have learned to stop messing up the writer’s awesome story with all your silly role-playing nonsense.

Garth is here in the tower, also wearing a collar. The two of you live in the tower for ten years. You as a guard, him as a prisoner. Then Garth breaks free of his cell, destroys his collar, a guard, and your collar. But then he’s out of magic juice and you have to do all the fighting. You battle your way up to the Commandant’s chamber past waves of armed guards.

You’ve been a guard for ten years. You’re supposedly an officer by now. Yet in all that time you’ve never been issued a weapon. The Commandant had to hand you one earlier for another one of those be-evil-or-lose-XP choices where he wanted you to kill Bob the guard.

But six seconds after you have your collar off every single guard in the tower suddenly has a sword and a firearm.

And what was the point of feeding all those unarmed guards in the first place, Lucian?

You give the Commandant a beating and put him down. This is the only time in the entire game that you’re really allowed to get revenge against someone who has wronged you. Once he falls, Garth regains his powers. Then the two of you flee the tower.

Once again: Focus people, focus! What is our quest again? To kill Lucian, right? Well, we’re here. We have our powers. We’re badasses and we’re mowing through these guards. We just put down his second-in-command. Let’s just head upstairs and pop him now before he has a chance to recover or rally his defenses.

Even if my character is an idiot who does everything Theresa tells him to, Garth has no reason to walk away when he’s so close to the bad guy. This is senseless.

You battle your way down to the docks, nick a ship, and sail back to the mainland. As you come ashore, Theresa and your dog are waiting for you.

Your spry and happy twenty year old dog.

Theresa convinces Garth to join without really giving him any good reasons, then she teleports away with him.

Oh, now you can teleport away with him? Man, that might have come in handy about ten years ago.
 


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85 thoughts on “Fable 2 Part 2: In-Spire-ing

  1. Avilan the Grey says:

    *Bangs head against desk in sympathy for people forced to play this*

  2. GruntOwner says:

    I always thought the story was awful, but half these things never occured to me until reading this. My god I wasted my time on that plot, eh?

  3. acronix says:

    You know, all the stupidiy the main character is forced to do in the main plot would make a lot of sense if he had an “Obligation” spell cast on him at the beggining of the adventure. It wouldn´t solve the other inconsistencies, though (altrough I guess they are more like plot black holes…) but it would certainly make the “you can´t kill Lucien right now!” and the unquestioning obedience to Theressa more acceptable.

  4. hewhosaysfish says:

    In this roiling sea of nonsense, I can see one thing that potentially makes sense: the slaves being starved to death.
    Were these slaves accused of laziness or shoddy work or pilfering or something? And was the process obvious to the other slaves i.e. the cells were visible from a well-travelled area or there were loud announcements to the other slaves as the the victim was led away?
    Because that makes more sense. Admittedly, not as much sense as putting the damn collars on the slaves instead of the guards but still…

    But please don’t tell me that they just grabbed slaves at random and left them to rot in a hole were none of the others knewe what had happened to them. If you tell me that’s the case then my brain may attempt to kill my eyes for daring to read this drivel (the plot of Fable 2 that is, not your breakdown of it).

  5. Nihil says:

    I never would have thought the plot could get so much worse than that of the original Fable. That’s actually pretty damn impressive.

    Now excuse me, back to playing Pathologic. Shamus, by the way, this one’s right up your alley.

  6. Muttley says:

    Yes, we get it. Lucian is evil. So evil that he makes idiotic plans and then executes them with stunning ineptitude.

    wow, he’s like, the RPG equivalent of Donald Rumsfeld.

  7. Mordiceius says:

    I think it all comes down to the fact that Teresa is probably the real evil.

    Granted, a lot of things are dumb story devices (Lucien’s men appearing the same time you arrive), but other things can be explained because Teresa is a bitch.

    Why can’t you kill Lucien when you first go to the Spire? Because Teresa doesn’t want you to. She wants the Spire to be completed.

  8. Avilan the Grey says:

    @Mordiceius
    Ah, that makes sense.
    She puts the whole thing in motion to get a spire of her own to play with without the hassle of slaves, guards, etc etc. All she has to do is make sure your sister gets you into the tower, dies, and then she “coaches” you for the rest of the game… Still annoying, but less work than to actually live in, and supervise, the building of the spire. I guess.

  9. Ramira says:

    I was/am sort of considering buying Fable 2… but, TEN years?! For serious?

    There was no other opportunity to sort things out for ten years. A whole decade? Is time like that in the game?

    I thought you had a dog and a family? They don’t 1) die or old age or 2) give you up for dead after that time? I thought the spouse left you if you “abandoned” them. Did I misunderstand?

    What about other quests? Do they just get put on hold for ten years?

    I guess it doesn’t matter. Just… sheesh. I’m twenty, that would be half of my whole life.

  10. Dan Hemmens says:

    The spire is exactly the point where I gave up on Fable 2.

    I was having a great time running around Bowerstone, slaughtering people for no clear reason and then going back to my bartending job, sacrificing a string of spouses at the hilariously pythoneque Temple of Shadows, and generally raising hell.

    Then suddenly you’re taken to the Spire and I remember that oh yeah, I’m supposed to be taking this game *seriously*.

    As well as your 20 year old dog being remarkably spry and healthy your 10 year old buildings investments have made you remarkably little money (that only racks up in real time) and of course, your family haven’t even noticed you’ve been gone.

    (Edited to add)

    Also: Notice that although nobody ever leaves the Spire, Bob seems to think he can send letters to his “Girl back home” (he is *so* dead). Also remember that you get points towards evil for *refusing* to kill Bob.

  11. Dan Hemmens says:

    I thought the spouse left you if you “abandoned” them. Did I misunderstand?

    Your spouse leaves if you abandon them for enough *real* time, I think. The ten in-game years only take about twenty minutes.

    If you do too much stuff *you* want to do, your spouse might get uppity and leave. If you’re doing stuff *Peter Molnyeaux* wants you to do, your spouse will cheerfully hang around for ten years without batting an eyelid.

  12. Solid Jake says:

    This can’t be real. I mean, I know it is, but my God. This might literally be the worst story I’ve ever heard in my life. The idea that this is a professional product is mind-boggling.

  13. bbot says:

    I wrote a similar thing taking apart Fallout 3’s ending, though I didn’t intersperse it with mockery, which is a nice writing device which I will be sure to steal.

    http://bbot.org/newblog/archives/2009/01/09/review_fallout_3_part_1_the_ending/index.html

  14. Mordiceius says:

    I refused to kill bob. I used the blade I was given to attack the overseer instead. I took an XP penalty, but I received good points.

  15. Dan Hemmens says:

    Yeah, you get the Good Points if you attack the Overseer, but if you just refuse the sword you get Evil Points.

    This is generally in keeping with Fable II’s definition of “Good” as “Screwing yourself over for no good reason”.

  16. Mordiceius says:

    Seems their “good” is “very strict lawful good without considering any of the consequences”.

  17. RKG says:

    Fable 2 plot = Epic fail

    This review = Pure ownage

    :D

    Keep up the good work Shamus (you should consider playing a shaman in wow, Shamus The Shammie ;))

    /RKG

  18. Veloxyll says:

    So, in summary: Fable 2 is a great game PROVIDING you avoid the story. If you play the story it’s a giant railroading turd.

    And re: Mordiceius – yay for Lawful stupid protagonists!

  19. MikeSSJ says:

    Hmm – now I have to make a decision:

    This is exactly the point I’m at in the game (just having left the Spire). So am I going to continue playing now, in order to complete the story BEFORE continuing to read your summaries, or spare me the torture, just read your summary, and start playing something else?

  20. acronix says:

    @Ramira:

    The original Fable also had you stuck in a prison for 10 years. And then there was a mini-game there: you had to make a run trough the prison walls, and if you made it before any of the other prisoners, the warden let you stay in his office while he reads a poem hung in the wall, thus letting you steal the keys that are hidden in one of three books. And there´s no way to tell which book has it. If you succeed, then you get back to your cell, but you can now open it with the key and scape. If you fail, however, you pass another year before you reattempt the running mini-game and the guessing-game, not to mention that you get tortured. You didn´t lose anything, but your character got white hair suddenly.

    And, it doesn´t end there! Before the prison, you must beat a series of battles in a coliseum. I doubt it is a coincidence that in Fable II you must fight in a coliseum too (the Crucible), and lets take into acount that both come before the 10 lost years thing.

    Considering all, Fable II main plot is Fable´s I plot, but much, much worse.

  21. K says:

    Head asplodes.

    Seriously.

  22. LafinJack says:

    Seems their “good” is “very strict lawful good without considering any of the consequences”.

    Also known as Lawful Stupid (because good is dumb).

  23. Danel says:

    For the people who haven’t played the game: seriously, the fact that it’s still a pretty good game despite having a main plot this ridiculous should give some indication of how good the good bits can actually be. The stories of the side-quests are fun and don’t take themselves too seriously, though at a few points they can actually approach serious nastiness in a way the main plot’s ridiculous histrionics can’t. The battle mechanics are fun, and abusing the trading/property system to get riches and awesome equipment is actually somewhat addictive. (That these awesome weapons – that I spent ages running back and forth to find and gear up and get the money for – are taken from me is what makes the Spire even more annoying, especially when it then gives me weapons not half as good and swarms me with guards unlike anything it had done before).

    Your spouse does react when you return from the Spire. In my case, she commented in surprise that I was still alive, and then said there was someone she wanted me to meet: “Your son!” “Hidad.” Yes, during the ten years I’d been away, the spawn had aged from a baby to being about seven or eight, maybe. Knew who I was, too. And a few things change in the world, as well – some towns grow considerably bigger, possibly depending upon the choices you made previously; I think the season might change as well.

    The really annoying thing about Lucien is that the game implies that he’s not so much evil as a Well Intentioned Extremist – you can find his diary, revealing how after the tragic death of his family he went crazy. In order to mend the world that had so hurt him, he’s prepared to do whatever it takes, up to and including pointless, self-defeating sadism. What?

    Maybe the Spire’s kind of like that gag from Order of the Stick about Evil Food tasting better if pointless sadism is used in the production of it; it needs the stupid, ridiculous cruelties and slavery to be constructed? Somehow? Yeah, I have no idea.

  24. Shamus says:

    MikeSSJ: My favorite quests (Love Hurts, the Max & Sam Quests, and the “Charlie” quest) all take place post-spire. Not to mention doing Crucible runs.

  25. Ryan says:

    I know a few people that really liked this game and really wanted me to try it. However, I remember my journeys through Fable and how fun it was until 8 hours later, I was finished with the game and had nothing else to do. The plot was mediocre but the gameplay at the time more than made up for it. This offers the same gameplay but an even worse plot…how can I even think of playing it now? I mean, I can’t take anymore dissapointment. ;_;

    XD

  26. Hotsauce says:

    @Solid Jake: This might literally be the worst story I've ever heard in my life.
    Clearly you’ve never read the works of David Eddings. The hundreds of holes, nay, abysses in the plot are only made more glaring by the occasional half-hearted, painfully contrived efforts to cover one of them.
    Shamus, I think they would drive you mad. The plot holes look into you!

  27. Lazlo says:

    OK, I’m going to try and rationalize the whole collar/guard/slave thing here…

    Posit, if you will, a limited supply of food, and a limited supply of collars. If you round up a bunch of thugs, put collars on them, and keep them well fed, then put them to work building your spire, then you have two problems:
    1) it’s terribly difficult to get anything useful done while carrying a sword. So either you’re inefficient at doing your spire-building work, or you’re unprepared when The Forces of Good (TM) arrive to attack.
    2) When the aforementioned Forces of Good do arrive, you’ll be too tired from slaving away at your spire-building day job to be any use at defending against them.

    Now, my second assumption here is that, while food and collars are expensive or in limited supply, recruiting is cheap. So you go out and recruit enough thugs to fill all your collars, give them all swords (except for that one guy you never really trusted…), and feed them well. Their primary job is slavemaster, but in the event of attack, they’re your defense force. Next, recruit a few more slaves than you can feed at starvation rations level. The lowest-performing ones get stuck in a cell to starve to death, as motivation for the rest. Sure, it’s not as effective as a poster with a pretty picture and a clever phrase on it, but you go with what you’ve got.

    It does seem really annoying that you seem to be put in a lot of situations of trading “goodness” for XP. I think someone’s forgotten what XP stands for. I’d think that being tortured by a collar would be quite an, um, experience.

    But yeah, it sounds pretty horrible, story-wise. I do think there’s a parallel here: The point of the whole story is revenge on Lucien, which the character conveniently forgets whenever there’s an opportunity to get there. The point of the whole game is to have fun, which the developer conveniently forgets whenever there’s an opportunity to get there.

  28. Peter H. Coffin says:

    I wrote a story like that once. I was 12.

  29. potemkin.hr says:

    @ Acronix:
    Does the plot in the original fable really include the prison thing? I stopped playing at the rescue mission of the archeologist.

    @ Danel:
    You say that the kid was around 7? Consider the fact that you were absent for 10 (or more) years and the fact that pregnancy lasts 9 months and you come to the conclusion that the kid’s not yours :D It’s probably the neighbour’s fault :)

  30. Luke Maciak says:

    Wow! Just wow. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry at this. I think I’ll just laugh.

    This is possibly the stupidest plot ever. I think they should get some sort of award for this!

  31. acronix says:

    @potemkin.hr:
    Yes, you get imprisoned just after that (not counting the graveyard-rampage quest that´s in the middle, since its only purpose is to give you something to do while you get to the prison). Taking into account the pathetic way in which you are imprisoned (Shamus made a post about most of the game´s fault right here), the pathetic way in which you scape, and the fact that you get 10 plus n years older (and an n number of bonus scratches), it was a hell lot better than Fable 2 prison, since they didn´t take any xp for you and the way you get captured is almost Tolkienesque in comparison…

  32. Ben says:

    @Hotsauce: I quite like Eddings books. You just have to apply the “Simpsons Xena rule”- Whenever you see something out of place, a wizard did it.

  33. Moire says:

    Why would every last one of his workers need to be legendary crucible champions if all they’re set to do is manual labor?

  34. Sean w/o an H says:

    Behold the power of… playtesting and tweaking the script before the game gets designed?? I wish I could find the link, but after reading Peter talking about acting and blocking every scene, along with rewrites, before the game passed pre-production, this makes me cry just a bit… maybe games don’t just need writers, they need directors. :Shudder:

    Fantastic writeup as always Shamus, keep up the good work.

  35. MintSkittle says:

    The thing that gets me about this is that quite a few people feel this is an excellent game:

    http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/xbox360/review/927246.html

    A lot of the reviews are 8 to 10 out of 10, though there are few that fall below 6.

  36. briatx says:

    @MintSkittle

    Why is that relevant? Maybe lots of people don’t care about story. Maybe people tend to rate games they have already paid for pretty highly. Maybe most people rate major releases on a 7-10 scale.

  37. Nazgul says:

    I just wish I could have heard the outbursts of exasperation and anger as you played through this train wreck of a game. :D

  38. Dev Null says:

    Two things I hate more than anything in a role-play plot:

    1) When the big evil badguy who is the point of the entire exercise is patently a drooling idiot.

    2) When _I_ am forced to behave like a drooling idiot.

    I’m thinking I’m going to give this game a miss somehow…

  39. nilus says:

    Another great post. For those wondering if Fable 2 is worth playing. Yes the story is shit but the game is still a lot of fun despite it. Worth a rent at the very least. I learned long ago to turn off my brain when I play any RPG not made by bioware and have enjoyed them much better for it. True Fable 2 has a horribly written story, probably one of the worse, but most non-bioware RPGs do as well. Especially ones with cutesy graphics(like the Zelda games) and most JRPGs(especially the Final Fantasy games, which all look good but have stories that make you go WTF)

  40. La says:

    Well, that sounds asinine.

    I mean, even for a game like Fable 2, which I would have already fully expected to have a plot thin as… well, as Fable 1. Suspension of disbelief my butt.

    Now, even though after reading this the game experience seems just a step short of a root canal, I have to ask – for the people who played it – is there anything to do if you choose NOT to follow the main (pardon the expression) “quest”? As in, can the side tasks keep you interested for a while, or is the Spire/heroes/veryveryevilvillain nonsense obligatory?

  41. Demyan says:

    You know, it’s really not a bad game. Based on what I’m reading here, you seem to have lost the forest for the trees. I don’t envy those that choose to review games, I think it forces them to pick them apart a little too thoroughly; I find I enjoy most games more if I don’t over-analyze them.

  42. DaveMc says:

    @Hotsauce and Ben: I liked the Belgariad, too — it was a whole pile of fun to read. Does this make me a bad person?

  43. Rubes says:

    This is just pure awesomeness.

    Shamus, you should really consider creating an annual award along the lines of the Golden Raspberry Awards (or the “Razzies”) for the worst writing in a video game.

  44. La says:

    @ Demyan

    Actually, the review posted here earlier did say in, what I believe was full seriousness, that the game is quite good.

    Notice that this is an article about story elements alone. Hence me even taking the time to wonder – had the review already said it’s a piece of crap, i wouldn’t have bothered. AND would know what’s what. Now I have two drastically different views and I’m confused ;p

  45. Freebeema says:

    Fable 2 is a great game. But it is called “Fable 2”. It’s not called “Masterpiece of Literature 2”. I got what I paid for and am more than happy with the story. Plus, it’s the first game the missus has really liked beyond Puzzle Quest. The plot is no worse than most movies.
    Still, a well written and understandable viewpoint, Shamus.

  46. 10Kan says:

    @La

    There’s a whole bunch of side-quests and other non-story-related things, such as building a real estate empire, but the problem is that many of them only become available after you’ve gone through the spire.

    Liberal use of silly gestures kept me sane while going through the spire’s nonsense.

  47. Sam says:

    The plot of this game makes my brain hurt.

  48. freykin says:

    I also really liked the Belgariad by David Eddings, along with the Mallorean, Elenium, and Tamuli. His writing isn’t the most impressive, but his books are fun, and that’s what I look for sometimes.

  49. Veylon says:

    Yet another Eddings fan here. His characters were fun, just skip the Elder Gods series, though. Horrific plot holes there.

  50. Mari says:

    You know how sometimes you’re just in the mood to be angry and hateful? As of this portion of the review I’ve slotted renting Fable 2 in when I find myself in that mood so that I can work up a really good hatred of the world. Here’s the full range of feelings I’ve had towards Fable 2 (a game which I don’t even own):

    Pre-production: “I’m boycotting Fable 2 because Molyneaux is a dick who thinks females like myself don’t play his games.”

    Production starting around 07: “OK, turns out that somebody talked him out of his misogyny. I liked Fable 1 so I’d rather like to give Fable 2 a try.”

    Imminent game release: “I might even go buy a 360 to play this game. But no, I’ll wait until they get some of the system issues worked out. Still, Fable 2 will be my first game for a 360.”

    Three days after game release: “This makes me nervous. Everybody talks about how awesome it is and it’s very highly rated. Usually means it’s a steaming pile of crap. But maybe this is an exception?”

    Day Yahtzee reviewed Fable 2: “OK, but he hates everything. He’s a celebrity because he hates everything. Liking it would tank his career. That must be it…”

    Day Shamus Young started his Fable 2 review: “Excellent. He started on a really high note. OK, so he mentioned the plot being shite, but he (rightly) thought Fable’s plot was junk, too. I can deal with this. Still want to play badly.”

    Day Shamus posted his Thematic Failures of Fable 2 post: “Oh no. I see the writing on the wall here. Please, please let the game not suck as hard as it looks like it’s going to suck.”

    Day Shamus posted part one of Plot Failures of Fable 2: “I don’t want to play this game. Ever. Maybe one of the walkthroughs on GameFAQs will give me a reason to play it.”

    After reading two walkthroughs: “I want my money back and I haven’t even bought this game. Really? Do I really need to up my crossdressing meter to be attractive to same-sex partners? And corruption points for making a profit off of my rental units and for eating meat? I hate you Peter Molyneaux. I hate you so much.”

    And today I am here. Willing to rent the game or borrow it from a friend once I have a 360 to fuel my festering rage against all of humanity. Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

  51. the Jack says:

    I suppose you can vilify and crucify anything if you try hard enough.

    When it’s broken down onto a 2D screen into language, the game does seem, well, flat.

    This was not the experience I had when I played the game. I wouldn’t play it again, but it was well worth the 10 hours or so it amused me for.

  52. Mark says:

    I am sad to hear about all the people who will be voluntarily missing out on this otherwise excellent game just because the writing of the main plot is garbage. The story is very definitely not the point of this game! It’s a tiny fraction of the things that you can/will do over the course of playing it!

  53. @ Mordecius #7

    That’s definitely the impression I got from the ending when she takes the Spire for herself and orders you to leave. If there’s a Fable 3 I’d expect her to be the main bad guy.

    She’s still an idiot even if you take this as read though, since that teleport spell would have been really useful repeatedly throughout the plot. And it does nothing to explain the various gaping plot abysses that aren’t to do with her.

  54. Mari says:

    Honestly at this point it’s not even the story I loathe. I mean it sounds like a steaming pile of poo but I’ve actually read the comments here and Shamus’s contention that the game is fun aside from the story and I accept that. It’s how Fable was except slightly less…steamy? No, what made me completely turn off to the game has barely even gotten a mention from Shamus. It’s the stuff I read in some of the mechanics notes of the walkthroughs on GameFAQs.

    Mostly I’m flummoxed by the tiny bits of “morality” tucked into the mechanics. You get corruption points for eating meat. Yes, you got evil points in the original for eating live chickens but this is completely different. Merriam-Webster defines “corruption” as (leaving out definitions involving the root of the word) 1) moral perversion; depravity 2) perversion of integrity 3) dishonest proceedings 4) debasement or alteration and 5) putrefacive decay. Somebody in the design department must have pretty strong vegetarian or vegan feelings, huh? Then there’s the protected/unprotected sex issue. Wow, I play video games to escape the ugly realities of life like unplanned pregnancy and STDs not to get a promiscuity simulator. And from what I’ve read unprotected sex leads to pregnancy somewhere around 7 times out of 10. Beating the kiddies in the head with those consequences. And the higher the profit margin you take on your rentals, the higher your corruption points go plus the townspeople hate you more. I don’t want this to turn into a political debate but I think there’s a pretty clear message in there that the developers wanted you to take away. If I wanted my entertainment preachy I’d go watch Captain Planet reruns, thanks.

  55. Nabeshin says:

    What’s worse is one of my co-workers came in with this game today.
    “This looks badass!”
    I had to tell him, “Well, you’re HALF right.”

  56. Shamus says:

    Mari: What amuses me about the retarded purity system is that if we accept their notion that low prices = purity, the WAL MART is run by glimmering saints.

    Not the message they had in mind, I bet.

    Heh.

  57. Nazgul says:

    Freebeema, “The plot is no worse than most movies” is what is known as damning with faint praise. It’s a little like saying it doesn’t smell any worse than the other poop.

    I’ve worked with a lot of people that used that as their personal design philosophy, and I think it’s a big reason why there’s so much poop out there in the first place.

    Really, people can aspire to more than doing “no worse”…

  58. Kevin says:

    Funny how much I dislike this game I’ve never so much as laid actual eyes on.

    Keep up the good work! I love reading these reviews! (I guess that makes me evil for forcing you to keep playing. Oh well, you’re not getting any of MY XPs!)

  59. =Dan says:

    Wow…I played this game and at first loved it and recently I played it again and found it annoying and contrived. You made me realize I should hunt down Peter Molyneux and demand my time and money back. All of your points have been in the back of my mind but I have been trying to suppress them. I kept insisting to myself that Fable 2 HAS to be a good game. Thanks for the intervention…

  60. Zolthanite says:

    @MintSkittle: I don’t think a lot of people would understand a good game if it slapped them in the face. Then again, anyone who purely games on a 360 wouldn’t have anything better to compare to.

    I tried to get my brother to play through Fallout 1 and 2. For someone who used to play Icewind Dale, he surprisingly gave up after a few minutes.

    @bbot: I think you missed the point of what NMA and Shamus both claimed about Fallout 3 in your review. And it relates exactly zero to how he views Fable 2.

    Fallout 3 is a horrible sequel, but a “decent” standalone game. If you ignore everything about Fallout 1 and 2 and the mythos of them, then Fallout 3 is a good game with an otherwise completely horrible ending. Definitely not GOTY though, but a good effort.

    I have yet to see a review/opinion of someone who played FO1 and FO2 AND loved 3.

    This is completely different from Fable 2, which has a bunch of fun stuff intermixed with a plot written by a six-year old with a sadist streak.

    The short of it is, Fable 2 is a beautiful land with a pretty whimsical theme and feel and a plot that borders on obscene in how bad it is. The failing of Fallout 3 is a beast that is wholly unique to video games, as the best examples of it are in television, comic books, and 4th Ed D&D players.

  61. Cybron says:

    This is unbelievably terrible. I can’t fathom how anyone could play through that. Meat and corruption points indeed…

  62. JKjoker says:

    wow, and game reviewers were drooling all over this ?!?, i really cant see how you can praise the rest of the game, if you mix 1 bowl of the best chocolate in the world with a turd you get 1 bowl filled with crap, how can you separate them ? how can you ask full price for it ? how can you give it top scores ? jeez…

    its similar to whats happening to resident evil 5, the demo looks horrible, the coop might be loads of fun but the reality is that most ppl will play the game far more time in single player and suffer the problems created by the multiplayer limitations, why not adding a coop mode with just the combat sections?, why forcing the sp to become a full time escort mission?, and i wonder how this will affect the non combat exploration sections (most likely gone) and story exposition (most likely gone too) its so obvious by watching any demo footage, shitty inventory, crappy AI, stolen art from re4 without any attempt to improve them, etc and yet many ppl just refuse to see they mixed a turd with a (badly polished by still shinny) gem as resident evil 4 gameplay was and ended up with crap, its time to wake up! say no to crap

  63. Alex says:

    I gotta hand it to them. I thought “Jack of Blades” was as retarded as storytelling could get, but they’ve topped themselves once again.

  64. Guile says:

    Wow. Haven’t played the game, but you’ve effectively killed any desire for it I might have had, Shamus. There’s bad storytelling (much, though not all, of Fable 1), and then there’s… this.

    I might be misremembering, but isn’t Teresa the name of your blind seer sister from Fable 1?

  65. Avilan the Grey says:

    @Zolthanite, 60:
    Not to poke in open wounds or beat the (un)dead horse, but there are several people here that played through all three FO games and liked all of them. Same in other places on the net. Even in NMA there are a number of brave souls that openly states they like all three games (although most of them are being called lyers by the religious fanatics).

  66. James says:

    I feel obligated to defend the game at this point and I haven’t read all the comments so perhaps somebody has already gone over this.
    *spoiler*
    The people who have beaten the crucible aren’t necessarily bad people. None of them actually KNOW what Lucien is doing so it is certainly possible that if they knew he was keeping slaves to build a big ass fortress to take over the world they might balk at signing the employee contract that required them to torture the slaves (or take over the world). The collars have two purposes, to punish them when they disobey and to make them forget about their lives prior to their recruitment into Lucien’s army. As evidenced by your conversation with Bob, he thinks that he will be going back to his family eventually!! Imagine if all the employees knew that their recruitment was a lifelong commitment. The collars are necessary to ensure that Lucien keeps his army forever. I actually liked the whole sojourn into the citadel. I will admit that a lot of the game is your typical fantasy plot shoehorning but I think you need to give it a little more credit!!

  67. acronix says:

    @Mark:
    Fable II is like buying a chocolate cake covered in cream. But when you cut a portion and taste it you notice that they put crap inside. And you must eat the crap if you want to enjoy the eateable parts. That´s whats so bad about this game. I agree, tough, that the rest of the game is a lot of fun and very enjoyable.

    @James:
    It doesn´t deserve it. To start with, getting only champions of the Crucible is an impresibly bad idea. Yes, having an army of champions may look good at first, but there are some flaws in the logic in there. To start with, why every Crucible champion would go to the Spire? Every single champion of the world wanted to work there? Secondly, if they are indeed champions, how is that no one suspects that they dissapear forever after going to the Spire? They musy have been famous to get there. If we suppouse that Lucien has been doing this for 10 years or so, then someone would certainly notice. But no one does, no, because the writer doesn´t want them to.

  68. Zaxares says:

    Oh. My. God.

    This story is even worse than Indigo Prophecy’s plot-hole meltdown! >.< Would write more, but late for dinner!

  69. Robel says:

    Gah! I really hope that Diablo 3 won`t be such a big disappointment (although it`s impossible to be THIS bad since it`s made by Blizzard). Besides, Diablo 2 was a railroad hack n slash in it`s essence but was still much better than Fable. Though I must admit I liked Fable for the same reasons you like Fable 2, Shamus. The whole whimsy feeling and the bright (not-epilepsy-friendy) colors just gave it an overall good feeling, despite the gruesome main plot.

  70. Aires says:

    I’ve got a friend who recommended this game to me, because of the main storyline!

    He’s part of the 1e D&D group I’m a part of. After a particularly awful time with a GM who we no longer associate with, he said “I hope to never have to undertake such an awful, rail-roaded, terribly-written quest again.”

    A few months later: “Yeah, Fable 2’s got a fantastic story!”
    *sigh*

  71. Scourge says:

    @36: Actually the fun thing about that reasoning is: This game is stupid, but I paid 60 bucks for it and I am not a stupid person so the game must be good.

    Repeat that enough times and you will believe it.

    Yes, it sounds strange but it is a psychological aspect of people, they will convince themself that the crap they bought is good because they would never buy crap.

  72. Weasel says:

    I’m somewhat surprised nobody has mentioned my least favorite part or the game, the Plot Enforced Slowdown. Someone about to show you something? Can’t move faster than a walk. Some “Story important event” happening across town that you can hear but the event won’t work right if you get there too soon? Can barely move at a walking pace with the run button held. Walking past the Bard thus triggering his spiel? Slowdown till he’s done talking, no matter how far away from him you are in the meantime. Bah!

  73. JKjoker says:

    69-Robel: everyone takes Blizzard for granted, i remember when they took Romero for granted, remember how that turned out ?
    and i really cant understand why, warcraft 3 was pretty bad, it had no originality the story was stupid and they completely killed any attempt at strategy other than rushing all i could say is that they managed to make an ok single player campaign

    its not just diablo3 that looks mediocre, starcraft 2 also looks crappy, full of bloom covering the action, the races dont seem that different anymore (what i loved most about sc1 was that the races had their own strenghts and weaknesses it really felt like playing 3 different games)

    dont get me wrong, i still consider sc1 and Diablo1 to be two of the best games i played and i logged a looot of time in diablo 2 but my expectations for the new games get lower everytime i hear anything about them, the disaster hellgate was doesnt give me any hopes either

  74. CobraCmdr says:

    As I previously stated, the part of this game I hated the most was Reaver. I thought that guy was complete scum and he walks away completely unpunished. He wasn’t even a “rogue with a heart of gold” type, he was a complete monster who murdered hundreds of people so he could stay young. Plus he murdered one of the most likeable NPCs right in front of me and the game refused to let me take any action to stop him or punish him.

    Despite the bad story though I immensely enjoyed the game. I loved exploring the world, buying property and using different hairstyles and tatoos to make me look like a crazed pirate.

    For some reason I tend to enjoy most games that allow me to customize my character. This is actually one of the main features I look for.

  75. Annon says:

    Since you’ve been recieving so much grief for your grammar and spelling lately, I would like to personally express my gratitude at your proper spelling “bear with me.” I swear, if I see one more person type “bare with me” (you see it a lot if you read online comics) I’m going to bust a capillary…

  76. Mordiceius says:

    I hope people don’t pass up this game because of the main story though. The main story makes up about 10% of the quests in the game and all the additional quests are really enjoyable. Plus, with all the other content (however superficial it may be), you actually spend very very little working the main story. My girlfriend has probably put about 60 or more hours into her character and the main story itself is all of 5-6 hours of gameplay if you were to play it through nonstop.

  77. Hotsauce says:

    Regarding Eddings. Wow. Just, wow. Here we have a wizard-in-training who can knock down city walls with a word (literally), but a locked door stops him. I mean, it’s made clear that the only limit to magic is the weilder’s will and imagination. And yet they’re constantly stymied by a bad shot with a crossbow. Sometimes they make a shield that keeps anyone from detecting their magic, but other times they daren’t use magic because it will be detected. They have a magic horse that can cover leagues in an instant, and they’re in a hurry. But nobody ever says “hey, we have a magic horse that can cover leagues in an instant, maybe we should use it!” The magicians can shape-shift, and can fly to cover great distances quickly, but they never say “hey, we’re in a hurry, we should maybe shape-shift so we can fly and cover a great distance quickly.”

    The other thing that bugged the living heck out of me: a party of six or so men, and one woman. The woman is the most powerful woman in the world, the second most powerful human being, as well as the second-oldest person in the world. And guess who does all the cooking and cleaning.

  78. CobraCmdr says:

    Hotsauce, I loved the Edding’s books when I was about 14, but as I got older they lost their luster. Looking back, the heroes are ridiculously powerful and the villains usually pose no real threat to them.

    I always wondered why they worried so much about their magic being detected when they were a hundred times strong than the people they were hiding from. That’s like Superman sneaking past two guards armed with revolvers.

    It also annoyed me that so many events of the story were waved off as being “Part of the Prophecy”.

    Eddings was better at world building than he was at story telling. He created some very memorable characters, but he didn’t know what to do with them.

  79. Mark says:

    I don’t buy the chocolate+turd analogy. For one thing, poop is toxic, not just boring. For another, putting poop in food seems like it would ruin the flavor of the entire dish, whereas the story in Fable 2 is neatly separated from the good parts.

    I just got the story out of the way while the new-game-buzz hadn’t worn off yet, and now that I can examine it critically, there’s nothing left but the good parts. (And they are excellent. Not just good!) So, uh.

  80. Miral says:

    @77:
    I don’t remember too many doors stopping him — in fact he had quite a reputation for exploding them. I also don’t remember a crossbow being involved (there was one in the Sparhawk series, but that’s a different universe). There also was no magic-detection shield as far as I can recall. And while they did have a singular magic horse, that didn’t really enter the picture until the second series and only two of the characters knew about him — and they were usually travelling in larger groups where insta-travel of one single horse isn’t going to help much anyway. And they did indeed shape-shift to cover long distances, quite often — but again, often they were travelling in groups that included people who couldn’t shape-shift, making it only really useful for scouting purposes. And they all took their turns doing the cooking/cleaning.

    So I find your comments puzzling, and can only conclude that you’re getting them confused with something else.


    @78:
    They might have been a lot stronger, but the enemy had greater numbers. It still takes strength and endurance to cast spells, so they could be overwhelmed if they were detected.


    I love the first four series; the world is great, the characters are great, the plot is interesting (albeit somewhat recycled between the two worlds). I also liked the Althalus book, although not as much (and the ending of that is particularly weak). The Elder Gods series…. well, yeah. Avoid.

  81. MelTorefas says:

    @Solid Jake: This might literally be the worst story I've ever heard in my life.
    Clearly you've never read the works of David Eddings. The hundreds of holes, nay, abysses in the plot are only made more glaring by the occasional half-hearted, painfully contrived efforts to cover one of them.
    Shamus, I think they would drive you mad. The plot holes look into you!

    Did you not know that Eddings and Molenaxyius (whatever) are the same person? It explains SO VERY MUCH. Gods, I never drew the parallels between the main character of Fable 2 and Garion (main character of one of his retarded series’). Drooling, spineless morons, both of them. The main villians of both stories are self defeating asshats as well. And the similarities between Theresa and Polgara would chill me to the bone if either of them were even remotely compelling characters instead of mindless sadistic control freak BITCHES.

    /*pant pant* Sorry. I hated Eddings, and I hate Fable 2 reading this. Thank you for this, though, Shamus. Because of your reviews I will be able to play this game and enjoy the good parts, instead of being horribly traumitized by the P.L.O.T. (Predictably Ludicrous Omni Torture)

  82. Gunslinger says:

    You are coming up with excellent points – some of which occurred to me (such as the ageless dog and the “why can’t i kill him earlier” bit). I just want to point out one thing.

    You said, “You give the Commandant a beating and put him down. This is the only time in the entire game that you're really allowed to get revenge against someone who has wronged you.”

    Well, almost. I chose to save my family and dog and a while later I got a quest pop up that said my son had been kidnapped by Hobbes. I definitely felt wronged there, and I took it out on those Hobbes.

    This quest was perhaps the most important quest in the game for me, and I think it was because I went to so much trouble to have a son and keep him happy (you have to have sex with your wife at a certain point to get a boy – ridiculous).

    As a side note, my family seems to recently have become victim to the “disappearing family” glitch, so there you go Mr. Molyneux, you took away the thing I cared about most in the game (as evidenced by my sacrifice of all those affected by the Spire, not to mention the oodles of gold I could have made).

  83. Deadpool says:

    Btw, I’m one of those insanely stubborn people who roleplays games even when the designers don’t want him to, and the Spire REALLY pissed me off.

    Not for the loss of XP mind you. XP was easy enough to come by, but because I kept getting good karma!

    I was roleplaying a badass, no nonsense, take no shit from no one, evil kinda character, and I surmised my character would fight the conditioning, not because it was the right thing to do, but because nobody is gonne be telling me what to do. So yeah, I fed the damned slaves that were dying any ways. In DEFIANCE.

    Btw, I was a guard to defied his every command for, presumably, TEN FRIGGIN YEARS. You’d think he’d jsut fire me…

  84. Carley says:

    I’m an excellent audience member. I am the perfect railroading victim. Why? Because when I want to be entertained, I turn my brain off, so I will accept HUGE amounts of bullshit (and only notice it later or when I read stuff like this) before it even starts to niggle at me that something isn’t right.

    So when I, of all people, spent the whole Spire sequence wondering where all the guards came from (meaning I not only noticed, but noticed immediately and clearly, as opposed to a vague sense of something not right), you know you done fucked up.

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