Destiny is the catalyst for many tales of adventure and fantasy. A hero born with a special fate and immeasurable potential, someone who sits at the nexus of the world's direction. Fable II is based on this concept -- players assume the role of a great hero, the linchpin of an earth-shattering plan to avert the destruction of an entire civilization.

Destiny is the catalyst for many tales of adventure and fantasy. A hero born with a special fate and immeasurable potential, someone who sits at the nexus of the world's direction.

Fable II is based on this concept -- players assume the role of a great hero, the linchpin of an earth-shattering plan to avert the destruction of an entire civilization.

Players return to the setting of Albion, introduced in Fable I, but it's evolved from a world of high fantasy to one with a more Victorian feel. Flintlock pistols are set beside broadswords and fireball spells.

The clothing and appearance is Dickensian, and everyone speaks in a Cockney brogue. It's a magical version of A Tale of Two Cities, where dirty bandits, sultry whores and magic-wielding magicians all intermingle.

"Fable II"

System: Microsoft Xbox 360

Price: $60

Players: 1 or 2 (cooperative play)

Rated: M for Mature

Who Should Buy it?: Destined heroes

GameOn! Grade: B+

Choice and change work hand-in-hand as you decide how your character evolves through moral choices, ethical dilemmas and brutal combat. Make the choice to do evil, and the world around you becomes a dark place. Promote the ideals of purity and goodness, on the other hand, and the world becomes a prosperous one.

When they're not out adventuring, players buy homes, court spouses and have children. How you choose to live your virtual life determines how the game world and the people in it evolve, and adult subjects like fidelity and sex are options you can explore as you solve the overarching storyline.

If you prefer sharing your game world, you can invite Xbox Live-owning friends into your game. Guests can pop in and out easily, and changes made while they serve as henchmen follow them back to their own games. An hour spent in a corrupt friend's game will detract from the saintly aspects of your core character, so make sure you're willing to accept the consequences.

Fable II is a large game -- its core storyline lasts 10 to 14 hours, and the ability to play beyond the "end" ensures good replay value -- and any game of this size is subject to problems at launch. Players are already reporting some game-breaking bugs, enough that Microsoft rushed out an initial fix on the day the game released.

But in many ways, the game is what Fable for the Xbox was advertised to be. It lives up to the hype in spite of the lofty expectations. Fans of fantasy role-playing games should not hesitate to pick up this excellent title.