Sorry about the delay between. I've got a few games to update on in the next few, but now we'll start with Fable II.
I'm sure most of you remember the promises of what the original Fable was supposed to be like. Huge spanning adventure, the likes of which the world had never seen. Moral choices that change not only your character, but the world of the game. Sadly, most of that got the axe before release. Well, they managed to push most of it in to this game. And it's still not that ground-breaking, or great. Don't get me wrong, there's a fairly solid game there. It's just not going to make any top 10 lists for me.
Start with the good: The fighting's a bit more in-depth now. As you gain levels in Strength or Skill, you get more options in fighting. Melee still devolves into button mashing most of the time, however. You only need the advanced techniques if you're consistently getting your butt kicked, which you probably won't. The skill is a bit more useful. You can zoom in, which does more damage, then you can eventually target specific body-parts, which is probably the most useful out of any combat option - you can score a lot of one-hit kills by aiming for the head.
Marriage: You can get married, which is a neat touch. Straight, gay, or lesbian marriages are all possible, as long as you find someone compatable. Doesn't play a huge feature in the game, and in fact may not be worth the time and trouble, but as I said, a neat touch.
Property ownership: You can buy houses and shops, and get income every 5 minutes or so if you've rented out the house. The reason this is good? It keeps counting even while you're not playing, so you can amass a fortune while you're at work.
Weapons: You can have guns as your ranged weapon now.
Morality: You're actually going to run in to a case or two where you ask yourself "Why bother doing the good thing here?" Most games only gives you the "evil=fun" and "good=rewards." It's nice to see "good=right, though it costs" once in a while.
Story: I'm only putting it here because it's not actually _bad_. It is rather mediocre though. "Childhood ruined by evil guy, sworn vengence by Chosen One, get the Heroes of Prophecy who only together can defeat the yadda yadda yadda." No surprises, and I've already gotten 2 out of the 3, and the game's telling me quite firmly that I don't have much to go after I get the 3rd hero.
Now for the Bad. Will powers are almost useless. I had a level 2 spell fairly early on, and it took a couple dozen shots to kill one. Spells also have a targeted and an area version, which is awkward to use in combat, since you're probably going to be moving around, and you'll probably cast the targeted version when you didn't mean to. Even Time Control's been nerfed into oblivion. The duration is not as long as it says, or the effect is much less pronouced. It's hard to tell. The targeted version is probably more useful, as it helps you break someone's guard, and deal extra damage for a short while. Good luck trying to remember to use it, though. As I mentioned before, melee is still pretty much button-mashing. And ranged is almost overpowered, since you can hit multiple targets if they're lined up. The problem arises when you're trying to manually target, since the cursor moves nice and slow.
The menu's going to be annoying you a fair share as well. No cursor memory, and every time you use an item, you're booted back to the game screen. I guess they never figured on someone wanting to use two potions in a row or something!
Your dog: Nice companion, but fairly useless in the grand scheme. List of useful features of your dog that couldn't have been replicated with a design change:
Yeah. You can find things to dig up. Change the ground a bit in diggable spots. Find treasure chests? Have a little noise made as you get closer, or a glow, or hell, just let people explore to find them. Fighting? He can only attack people on the ground, and knocking people over when there's a half-dozen surrounding you isn't easy. The dog's expressions aren't easily handled either. Most of them are done in response to your expressions. But if there's an in-game list of which provokes what response, I couldn't find it. And you can't directly control the dog, in any way. If he runs off to point out a dig-spot, but you're looking for a treasure chest, you've either got to get the dig-point, or you run away far enough for him to eventually follow, and then hope when you get near he doesn't go for the dig-spot again.
Related to the dog are the heroes. A more useless bunch of gits I couldn't imagine. The Hero of Strength swings around a big hammer, and does about as much as your dog. The Hero of Will (voiced by Ron Glass, aka Book on Firefly. Woohoo!) makes pretty lights, and is a decent damage magnet. I don't have the Hero of Skill yet, but I can't imagine him being much more useful.
The experience curve to level abilities is, quite frankly, insane. Half a million for one level 5 in skills. Level 4s are about one hundred thousand. I hope you like grinding, because you're not going to get the XP to max your abilities just by playing.
Demon doors! Some are stupidly easy to open, others are obtuse to the nth degree. I don't see many people opening all of them without some form of guide. The stuff inside isn't even that great.
I'm not 100% certain, since I'm scare to try, but it doesn't look like you can have multiple games running, either. The title screen only gives you "New Game" and "Continue" and your game continually auto-saves to the same slot, so it seems unlikely. That means you're going to have to take turns in a multi-gamer household.
I think I've now hit the major points in the game, so I'll wrap it up now by saying that this is by no means a bad game, but if you weren't a fan of the first one, there's not a lot of chance you'll like this one either. Actually, unless you were a big fan of the first one, I'd give this one a pass.