The working title for the first Fable was "Project Ego," and the name still applies to the sequel, except that the "ego" belongs to the game's auteur, Peter Molyneux. Fable II delivers a rich fantasy world, and Molyneux wants you to love it as much as he does. Were you moved by the personal history he gave you? Do you find the people of Albion charmingly English, or easily subjugated? And what did you think of the dog, your constant companion in the game and the feature Molyneux is most eager for you to see? Isn't he cute? Don't you want to take care of him?

Fable II follows closely in the action-RPG style of the original Fable, but this time, accessibility was Molyneux's key goal, which makes Fable II easier and less engaging than its predecessor. Rather than going from zero to hero, you feel formidable from the get-go. The tactical decisions that shape your character—do you invest in your physique, or specialize in magic?—are just a matter of personal preference, and some challenges from the last game (like wooing a spouse) are much easier, presumably because Molyneux wants to make sure you try them.

The story's core decision points will either haunt you, or feel like an extended session of "Who would you save from a burning building?" Fable II has a moral compass, but it doesn't judge good or evil so much as selfishness and sacrifice: How can you balance your investment in your life, and this world, against your ideals? The risk Molyneux runs is that players may not feel that invested in the first place.


Beyond the game: Fable II ads are running everywhere, including political blogs—a nice payback for Barack Obama's ads in Burnout Paradise.

Worth playing for: The easiest honest way to make money is to take a job, performing repetitive, simple tasks like chopping wood or pulling pints. But getting them right leads to exponentially greater wages, making this simple mechanic incredibly addictive.

Frustration sets in when: The D-Pad offers shortcuts to certain expressions and to the dog treats, but it's twitchy and unreliable.


Final judgment: Here's a litmus test: If playing fetch with your virtual dog doesn't move you, the rest of the game probably won't, either.