When you ask people “What is your favourite game?” the answer is often uncertain. Most usually name a few ones, as they can’t decide which out of those few were their favourite. I too did this for a long time, that was until I played Fable 2.
Prior to my experience with this masterpiece, I had played Fable 3 when it came out as the first free game as part of Microsoft rewarding people with a Gold Xbox Live subscription, and while I didn’t hate it certainly didn’t amaze me. It was a fun, whacky game that seemed to have a lot of wasted potentials, particularly the sequence in the Cave with The Crawler. That part of the game had me scratching my head, pondering where that writing was in the rest of the game, the answer as I found out a few years later, was in Fable 2.
So, let’s just get this straight, there will be spoilers for this game. If you haven’t played it, I would absolutely suggest it.
Fable 2 begins with the protagonist, known as Sparrow, and his (Can be a her, but I tend to play men, as I am a man) sister Rose. These two are street urchins in the city of Bowerstone, homeless and orphaned. Rose wistfully gazes at the castle of the Mayor of Bowerstone, Lord Lucien, while wishing that she and Sparrow could live there.
Suddenly, you hear a crowd and go to investigate. You discover a merchant, selling what is clearly shoddy goods. His name is Murgo, and he claims to be selling legitimate magical artefacts. However, one that catches your attention is a music box, your sister calls him out on his lies. However, an eavesdropper named Theresa convinces you to buy the music box, so you do little jobs around town to acquire the gold for it.
After getting the music box, you make a wish to live in a castle, and it disappears. Disheartened, you and your sister go to bed, only to be awoken by the Lord’s men, who take you to his castle. He interrogates you about the box and tells you to step on some odd stone carving. This carving reveals you are heroes, and that one of you is the hero that’ll stop him. So, he shoots Rose, as she cries out and then apologises to you before shooting you. This is where the game truly begins.
You wake up in a Gypsy Camp ten years later, having been protected by Theresa, who it turns out is a blind seer. She promises to help you get your revenge and sends you off on a journey to gather 3 other Heroes, who Lord Lucien is looking for, in order to defeat him.
I love the story in this game, while it’s nothing too complex it has a lot of motivation for Sparrow, and even the other Heroes (I’ll get to them). Lord Lucien killed your sister and tried to kill you, he robbed you of the only family you have left. Sadly, there’s a lotta questing between you and Lucien, so you gotta get your adventure on!
The game doesn’t just stick with Rose’s death though, the game constantly adds to what drives you to carry on, and even adds stakes to what would happen if you fail. If you fail, the world will literally be destroyed and rebuilt in the image of the madman who killed your sister.
Let’s talk about the three Heroes. In Fable, there are three main disciplines; strength, skill and will. Sparrow is a descendant of the master of all 3, and first Archon (The Old Kings in the Fable universe), William Black and thus you are proficient in all three. The other three, however, are only good at one.
First up is Hammer, The Hero of Strength. Initially, she was a pacifist Monk of the Temple of Light, named Hannah. You meet her when her father asks you to protect her while she carries out a holy ritual. After this ritual, her father is killed by one of Lucien’s men and she joins your team to get revenge on Lucien. Hammer is a massive individual and, after the ritual, wields a massive Warhammer in battle. She’s hasty and stubborn, but also caring and fierce. She’s also the one Sparrow forms the strongest bond with out of the Three, seeing as she is around for the longest time.
Next is Garth, the Hero of Will. Garth is a very talented Mage, who has a large interest in Old Kingdom artefacts. He befriended Lucien due to their shared interest, and they started rebuilding an Old Kingdom artefact that was used to destroy the Old Kingdom, known as The Spire. A massive tower designed to channel all of the worlds Will. However, when he discovered that Lucien intended to use The Spire for this purpose, he severed contact with him and became obsessed with stopping him. Lucien manages to kidnap him just as you get to him and takes him to The Spire. You rescue him from there and he joins your team because he realises it’s the only way to stop Lucien. Garth is a rather wise, and powerful member of the team. However, he is slightly more morally questionable than Hammer, as he and Lucien both used slave labour to build The Spire up.
Finally, there’s Reaver. This guy is a prick. Reaver is the Hero of Skill, the best shot in Albion (The world Fable takes place in, not Great Britain) and is a scoundrel. Reaver has no real link with Lucien, but boy is he a bastard. Reaver grew up in Oakvale, the village the Hero from the first game grew up in, and he sacrificed the village to gain constant youth, though he must keep making these sacrifices to maintain his youth. He now lives in a manor in a town known as Bloodstone, which is where you meet him. After going to the Shadow Court (a place where evil spirits live) to complete another sacrifice, he reveals he’s betrayed you to Lord Lucien, who has been hunting you ever since you rescued Garth. Lucien, however, betrays Reaver as he needs Reaver for his plans, so you and Reaver escape together. He only joins you to save his own skin.
The other three Heroes are great characters that stand out from one another but not just because of their disciplines. No, they are unique characters with very conflicting personalities brought together by a common goal, to survive.
Now, this game is very bloody deep. Fable 2 has brought me the closest I’ve ever been to crying at a form of entertainment, honestly, this game gets to me man. I guess I’ll go over the moments that really stand out.
So, as I mentioned, your sister is killed at the start of the game, not much else to say there. Lionhead Studios do a great job at getting us to care about Rose in the short time before her death, and then break our hearts by making us watch our sister die. Fantastic voice acting by Gemma Boyle, Rose’s death cry still haunts me.
In the cutscene proceeding you being shot, Theresa mentions that Sparrow’s dreams have been haunted by Rose’s death. This is an important detail I missed in my first playthrough, that led to me hating the game. But after giving it another shot, that line made me realise how much Rose’s death drives Sparrow’s motives good or evil.
So, Hammer father’s death. Hammer’s father is the abbot of The Temple of Light, and while I don’t care for him particularly as he isn’t firmly established, it’s Hammer’s reaction that gets to me. After he dies, Hammer sobs over his corpse before it skips to his funeral. Hammer lashes out at the priests, Julia Sawalha’s voice acting here is spectacular. You can feel the pain and rage in her voice. Just before Theresa comes and whisks Hammer off to explain everything to her, she says to her father’s grave: “I’m sorry, not for breaking my vow… But for not breaking it sooner.”
Now, for my second-favourite sequence in the game. The sequence in the Spire. After you fail to save Garth, you draft yourself into Lucien’s army that guards the Spire. This a ten-year section, though the vast majority of that is skipped, what you do play is very powerful. Throughout the Spire, you’re given orders. A collar is placed around your neck to ensure obedience, but you can still disobey if you do you lose experience points and after three times of triggering the collar you pass out.
When you arrive at The Spire, you meet a man named Bob, an enthusiastic man who’s trying to save up enough money for him and his lover, whom he calls Lil. Bob’s a nice guy, and you often find yourself talking to him at the start of each section of this sequence. However, during one of these sections, it appears Bob has been driven mad and the being who kidnapped Garth and commands the Spire Guards, known as the Commandant, orders you to kill him. Regardless of what you do, Bob dies. Now, as I tend to play Good characters, I disobey every order and as a result, my Sparrow goes through a lot of pain and loses a lot of xp. Even if you don’t, this adds to the motivation for Sparrow to keep pursuing Lucien, he made you endure ten years of pain and misery, on top of the ten you spent after Rose’s death. After this sequence, you really hate him. Well, anyway, after ten years in The Spire, you and Garth break out of The Spire and kill the Commandant.
Now, the next one is optional. If you got married and had a kid with your spouse before you left for The Spire, when you return your kid will now be ten years old. The feeling of getting home and realising you missed raising your kid because of your personal quest is quite heartbreaking. Especially when your kid asks “Are you my daddy?” (Again, I play dudes). This is amped up when you go to leave to carry on with the game, and your spouse confronts you about breaking your kid and their hearts. I love it, because it adds to making those ten years feel like they made a difference.
Oh, my god, this is a big one. This is my favourite sequence in gaming, ever! Absolutely no other competition here. After you gather the Three Heroes, you group up to complete a ritual that will allow you to acquire a weapon that is required to defeat Lucien. After that ritual is complete, the other three Heroes are weakened and Theresa is missing. Lucien shows up and teleports the other Heroes away, leaving just you and him. He goes on a monologue, and if you are married with kids by this point, he will reveal that he has killed you, family. He goes to shoot you, only for the dog you’ve had since the beginning to jump in the way. He then seems to show some sorrow, saying “When I killed you the first time, it tore my heart out” before shooting you again.
However, it is not over. You hear Theresa’s voice echo a line she uttered after coming across your body after Lucien shot you the first time: “Death is not your destiny today Little Sparrow.” You then wake up as a child, on the farm your family owned when your parents were still alive, with Rose. You spend the day with her gathering up chickens, shooting bottles and killing beetles. And I gotta tell you, I stared in awe for a few seconds when I saw Rose again. I did not want this sequence to end. It was amazing seeing Rose again, but spending time with your dead sister isn’t the kicker.
After it gets to night, you two go to bed, whereupon you are woken up by the sound of the music box from the start of the game. As you go towards the noise, Rose pleads with you not to leave; this begins with her casually telling you not to go, with it progressively getting more desperate with her begging you not to leave her alone again. You hear an echo of her death cry, as she disappears and the sky goes red. You then see some burning corpses, and proceed to the music box.
Upon picking it up, you find yourself in a void, holding the box as a kid while hearing lines from the start of the game, including Rose’s death cry (Is this game trying to make me cry?) before you become your adolescent self and hear lines from that section, finally you become your current self and hear lines from this section of the game. After this, Rose’s voice congratulates you, and deems you ready to face Lucien.
You then find yourself outside The Spire, you go in and confront him before draining his power with the Music Box. After this, you pull out your ranged weapon, and Lucien goes off on a typical villain monologue. At this point, you can shoot him, or listen to him. I shot the bastard instantly.
The story of this game just carries so much damn weight, I found myself VERY invested in it and followed it with armour. It’s honestly some of the best writing I’ve seen in a game, coupled with some amazing performances from the cast and I couldn’t honestly blame you for shedding a tear during this perilous journey.
Fable 2 also contains one of my favourite video game enemies of all time, the Banshee. Why is this enemy great? Is it because the fight is really challenging, or the mechanics work so well? Is it incredibly well designed? Well, while the design on the Banshee is great, the reason I love them is because the Banshee’s taunt you during the fight. Bringing up a lot of events from the game, most importantly though, they taunt you about Rose’s death. They claim stuff like the first shot didn’t kill her, and she watched in pain as you feel from the window to questioning whether Rose would be proud of you. Holy crap that’s evil!
So why’s Fable 2 my favourite game? Because it pays attention to detail. Because the game focuses on great writing and performances, and because of this, the story is really immersive and you feel interested in it. The gameplay isn’t great, it’s clunky but it’s not unplayable, or boring. Fable 2 is my favourite game because, as a storyteller, the story is the most important aspect to me.