Review: Fable II: See the Future (Xbox Live)

A beautiful vista symbolizing great things on the horizon. But a chance to see the future? Well...not so much.

A beautiful vista symbolizing great things on the horizon. But a chance to see the future? Well...not so much.

After our last journey to Albion’s Knothole Island left us feeling cold, dampened our spirits and hung us out to dryLionhead brings us another content pack with See the Future. It promises new dungeons, new items, plenty of new achievements and an enticing glimpse into Albion’s (and the franchise’s) future.

But just like any of Murgo’s wares, this new purchase will probably leave you feeling swindled.

Purveyor of curios, doodads, and mysterious music boxes that make people want to shoot you and your sister, Murgo the trader has returned to Bowerstone with a new batch of slightly cursed wares for your perusal. Purge them of their curses and a glimpse into the future is your reward.

That’s the premise, at least. But the two cursed items merely act as portals to a couple of minuscule, self-contained areas that can be cleared in about an hour in total. They’re not without their charms: one tasks you with returning color to a monochromatic land by defeating color-coded, faceless enemies, and the other (and far shorter) quest has your hero dressing up like a variety of Fable monsters to complete a short puzzle. However, they feel very linear, even by Fable standards, and they lack any semblance of permanent consequences for your actions.

Fable II did a wonderful job of shaping the world based on your actions, and even Knothole Island was altered considerably by how you controlled the seasons and where your loyalties lay. Unfortunately, See the Future suffers from an even greater disconnect. The quests feel like deleted scenes from the retail release with almost nothing anchoring them to the game’s canon (save for an appearance from everyone’s favorite sadistic piece of furniture, Chesty,) and the rewards for your persistence are a colossal disappointment and an utterly missed opportunity, respectively.

Even the content pack’s final challenge, the Colosseum, fails to deliver on expectations. While a five-minute battle royale between your hero and hundreds of Albion’s deadliest creatures sounds like it has the potential to offer a difficult challenge for the game’s most die-hard players, it ends up amounting to nothing more than a button-mashing exercise. On my first run through, I earned around 31,000 points, and the grand prize (and score achievement) only require 20,000. Granted, I had maxed out my hero’s abilities on my first run through Fable II, but I was still disappointed that Lionhead still hasn’t managed to make combat challenging enough to require players to be dexterous and mindful of their surroundings.

An innocent soul is trapped within these ruins. Your hero valiantly proves once again just how dense he/she is to fall for yet another ruse like this one.

The DLC’s raison d’être — that whole “seeing the future” bit — is an even greater letdown than the quests that preceded its revealing. Spoiling the specifics would be a disservice to readers, but suffice it to say that, with the exception of one new proper noun being introduced to the Fable lexicon, nothing really happens.

But if there’s any solace to be had in this expansion, it’s that it reaffirms Lionhead’s commitment to continuing the Fable experience. Here’s hoping the studio takes its time to make our next venture into Albion (or other worlds, perhaps?) live up to Fable II’s exemplary standards, instead of releasing more content that fails to improve upon the experience of the retail game.

Fable II’s See the Future add-on is available for 560 Microsoft Points ($7.00) in the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Recommended for:

  • Albion’s most avid heroes who will pay any price for a couple of costumes and some of the weakest quests in the game
  • Fans of the game’s voicework and lush environments (which are blessedly still present) who are willing to overlook a dearth of content and a disappointing conclusion in exchange for another reason to return to Albion

Not Recommended for:

  • Players expecting a tick upward in quality from Knothole Island; despite the intervening months, See the Future is just as sloppy and even less satisfying
  • Anyone expecting anything even remotely revelatory from the game’s glimpse into the future

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