I recently had the opportunity to play through Lionhead Studios’ second expansion for Fable II, “See the Future.” It’s a brutally short bit of downloadable content that I don’t necessarily believe delivers the kind of experience as its title implies.
I figured I wouldn’t tease you guys too hard before the break. As I mentioned in the review, I’m obligated not to discuss any sort of spoiler content, and I believe that applies to both Fable II’s main storyline and the downloadable content. So, don’t worry -- I won’t mention that Atlus turns into a giant Cyclops and takes a giant dump on Bowerstone.
Also, just kidding. Hit the break for the review.
"See the Future" (Xbox LIVE)
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Released: May 12, 2009
MSRP: 560 Microsoft Points
There’s no boom or bang here, folks. “See the Future” begins with a thud, just like Lionhead’s previous downloadable expansion, “Knothole Island” -- with a dry quest option that magically appears on your Quest menu after downloading.
You’re prompted to visit Murgo the Trader, a man that you met before years ago as a child. He’s the guy that wrecked your life with the smallest of oddities that dear sister just simply had to have. Despite Murgo’s importance in shaping your character, hardly any interconnectedness is stressed during the brief dialogue between your character and the traveling merchant. He’s simply there, selling his wares to no one in particular in the back corner of Bowerstone’s port.
This ham-fisted approach echoes throughout the rest of the content. Everything -- including the story reveal at the end -- is thrust upon you with little substance or flair. For me, it felt like stream-of-consciousness design. I wondered around See the Future’s content, picking up pieces of the game that could have been interesting if they were backed up by better narrative or even contextualized. Murgo handing me two items and telling me to crack the riddle within them simply isn’t enough.
Neither of the two quests shake the foundation of Fable II, although a couple of new ideas were thrown into the mix. The first quest has you saving a very familiar town from a monochromatic tragedy. Evil has sucked the color out and the only way to put it back in is by killing terrifyingly bright enemies. It’s a wash, rinse, and repeat quest -- kill the enemies, watch the town get a little bit more color -- and ultimately boring. But it was cute for a few minutes.
The second quest is odd; you’re told to dress up like monsters and pose in front of statues. Other than the new costumes and a cagey boss monster, nothing new is introduced. Speaking of new stuff, several items will become available if you choose to download See the Future. They’re largely pointless additions, particularly the face paints, hairstyles, and period British soldier costume. The big draw is the ability to change the way your dog looks. You can turn the guy into a Dalmatian, Bloodhound, or Husky at the press of a button.
Other than the lack of meaning behind meeting Murgo again, the most tragic misstep is the story-related finale. To avoid spoiler content (that I’m obligated not to discuss anyway), I won’t dig into it. But to call it trivial would be an understatement.
Of course, at the tail end of the content you get the opportunity to fight it out arena-style -- much like you did towards the middle of the game in The Crucible quest. The difficulty here, though, has been ramped up considerably. It’s a horribly tough continuative series of conflicts with the grand prize being labeled as something worth obtaining. Try as I might, I could never reach the high score.
However, reaching that “ultimate prize” isn’t something that I actually wanted to do after catching the conclusion to the content. And that’s not to say I wasn’t already bitter about the DLC taking around an hour to conquer, excluding the Coliseum.
As a Fable II fan, it pains me to say this, but "See the Future" is a gauche and ultimately boring addition to Fable II. The key components of the DLC -- the “exclusive” items, the two quests, and the potential of seeing what’s next in the franchise -- simply aren’t worth your coin. Even if you’re a Fable zealot, I find it hard to believe you’ll walk away from this download with a smile. Stay away if you can.
Score: 3 -- Poor (3s went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice the game has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.)