Hundreds of years ago, heroes roamed the land. They hunted evil throughout Albion for the betterment of their fellow citizens. But something changed. After the famous Hero of Oakvale destroyed Jack of Blades, his brethren grew lazy and cared more for food and drink than for swords and magic. Angry that their heroes no longer protected them, the citizens rose up and destroyed them and their Hall.
It’s now been 500 years since the time of heroes, but the bloodline still remains. Tasked with avenging a wrongful death, a new hero, Sparrow, rises up to claim the attention of Albion and the mantle of Hero.
Fable II is a quaint, renaissance-style world overcome with danger and roving bandits. Sparrow’s rise from peasant to legend is laced with needs. Each mission bestows renown, and with greater renown, comes greater influence and additional missions.
Most missions fit into the overarching story of vengeance, but the ones that don’t really shine. Ranging from destroying a zombie invasion unleashed by hapless brothers or helping a closeted son come out to his traditional father; every side quest is a blast and helps slow down the otherwise lightning-quick story. The actual story only takes about eight to 10 hours to grind through, far shorter than your typical role-playing game. However, add in the additional quests, various side jobs and even a possible career in real estate, and it ends around the 17 to 20 hour mark.
While the game may not last that long, it certainly leaves an impression. Every mission allows you to change the world, for better or worse. The morality system from Fable returns with an additional boost: an additional bar representing how pure or corrupt you are. Changes in either slider will change Sparrow’s appearance. A morally chaste character will glow with an otherworldly light (complete with halo) and corrupted, evil characters resemble a recently deceased corpse with demonic horns.
The supporting characters are other Heroes recruited to the cause. They too have their own philosophies and reasons for joining. In a heart-breaking sequence of events, the resident do-gooder monk and Hero of Strength, Hammer, watches as her own father is brutally murdered. Cradling his body in her arms, she denounces her faith and its tenants of pacifism and sets out to restore her belief in hope.
Fable II rests heavily on the laurels of past pieces of fantasy works but creates a fully encompassing realm that can be changed. But whether the needs of the few or the needs of the many will be fulfilled is entirely in the hands of a Hero named Sparrow.