The future in Lionhead's "See The Future" Fable 2 downloadable content slice is so vague, you don't need shades so much as a pair of shock paddles. Not that shades would help my hunk'a burnin' hero look any less creepy. It's been seven months since I polished off the game with a hero more or less pure as the driven snow. Thing is, my irreproachable paragon was also inexplicably fugly-looking. Imagine a pasty, bald, over-brawny, middle-aged, jut-jawed dude with bulging neon-blue eyeballs and a circle of light floating ghost-like above his pate. Now imagine that glow-lit face leering at you. That's my guy. Creeped out yet?
"See The Future" is Lionhead's second micro-expansion for Fable 2 (PCW Score: 100%) and while it sounds like a preview of things to come, it's actually not. Let's get that out of the way: If you're looking for Fable 3 inklings, all you're fed here is a slightly elongated epilogue with a dash of fortune cookie forecasting. Put it this way: If for some bizarre reason you'd assumed the protagonist lives out his or her days destitute, alone, and unloved, it's safe to say that's not gonna be the bridge to whatever Lionhead's got planned next.
Remember Murgo? The curio peddler from the prologue who gave you the magic thingy that kicked off your quest? He's back, though his business skills have lapsed. Instead of hanging out somewhere prominent, say next to the clock tower in Bowerstone Town Square, he's hitched his wagon to one of the riverside promenades down the steps of the Bowerstone bridge, between the square and eastern entry city gate. Kind of an inauspicious spot from which to run your silver tongue, no?
In any case, speak to Murgo and he'll start dishing tchotchkes, like a snow globe and a cursed skull. Use these items and you're snatched away to new zones, from a village that's been leeched of color and invaded by the Blue-Yellow-Red-Man-Group, to a creepy graveyard stocked with the latest in B-movie latex-wear. Cue plaintive cries for help, monstrous invaders, quests for lists of artifacts, all commensurate with the usual bit of underground spelunking.
My main beef — and I'd extend this to include the previous Knothole Island expansion — is that both slices feel logistically lobotomized. Knothole Island relied too heavily on the original game's whack-a-sphere mechanic to carry off its quickie weather-puzzling dungeons, while See the Future's bad guys go down — almost without exception — after one or two hits.
You'll grapple with a few new puzzle gimmicks, like matching melee abilities to different colors, or dressing up in goofy critter-costumes to open gates (and eventually scare or repulse passerby) but it's all so effortlessly obvious, the story intrigue so nonexistent, and the rewards so vanilla, you'll probably finish either expansion in just a couple hours. To be honest, I was more entertained tying off a few achievements I'd let lie originally. By contrast, the weightiest ones in either expansion are a breeze, and while the two new collect-so-many-of-X quests are modestly more diverting, one where you have to grab a bunch of "Murgo's" statues appears to be bugged: I grabbed all 10, but only nine show up in my inventory. Since there's no such thing as "do-overs" in Fable 2, tough luck for me, I guess.
If there's a reason to grab See The Future, it's probably the Colosseum, a circular arena-style combat zone where you can battle waves of increasingly difficult enemies on a timer and without the security of healing items. The prizes aren't much to write home about, but getting all the achievements definitely takes skill (thank you, thank you very much) and the whole thing doubles as a speedy location to power-level your remaining skills.
Is it worth seven bucks, i.e. 560 MS Points? I suppose. I'd probably buy it if I wasn't reviewing it, though only because I adore the original game — once I'm in, I'm usually all in. If you're not, you might want to hold off and see if there's a discount down the pike when the rumored third content pack hits.
PCW Score: 70%
For more gaming news and opinion, park your tweet-readers at twitter.com/game_on.