Fable 2: Knothole Island DLC Review - February 13th 2009

Any fans of Lionhead Studio's Fable 2 will have been delighted to hear of some additional content for the game which was perhaps a little short. What does it add to the experience, and is it worth a purchase?

Whatever you think of downloadable content, it can't be denied that we're in a pretty good era for it right now. What with Fable 2, GTA IV, Fallout 3, Tomb Raider and Mirror's Edge to name the most publicised, it's nice to know that when you buy a game it's not a static product. It's evermore likely that the single-player game you buy will have a worthwhile addition to it released a few months after release (or longer, in GTA's case). But with most of these costing the best part of a tenner, if not more, some might argue, especially in Fable's case, that a longer campaign should have been part of the initial package. Regardless, the important point with this particular content is whether it's worth the 800 Microsoft Point (6.80) asking price.

For your money you get three new quests, all intertwined in a manner such that you could easily call them one major mission rather than a trio of smaller ones. These are placed on Knothole Island, a large new area, set around a village out at sea. It is only accessible via a submarine from Bowerstone Market, and as such, it does feel a lot like an add-on. It's hard to imagine how else Lionhead could have implemented a new area without disrupting the rest of the game, but then it is their job to find solutions for such quandaries. The submarine is located at the docks, and you really wouldn't know Knothole existed if you didn't go down there.

The way to Knothole Isle. Seriously.

The area is made up of a mountainous landscape and you can only see the sea at the docks where you make a landing and leave if you're not fast-travelling away. Up a short track is a village built up on decking around a lake – a really picturesque location, particularly in the snowy climate in which you first find it. This brings us on to the unique feature of Knothole. While the environments in the main game of Fable 2 are all pretty similar, varying in lighting conditions and basic scenery rather than weather or landscape, Knothole boasts three climates in one place.

The people of the island are suffering from problems caused by greed. Their ancestors left for the island from the Albion mainland to found a new community on the rumoured island where its inhabitants could control the weather. After much-searching they eventually found it out to sea, and, indeed, there were weather totems waiting for them which, when activated, allowed them to bring sun, rain or snow to the island. The ability to use the weather in this way left those on the island to grow lazy, so a plan was devised to hide the totems in a number of tombs which would challenge the islanders to keep fit in order to retrieve them only when necessary. When you arrive on the island, this plan has backfired. The island community has produced no warriors and any possible candidates for this task are all fat and weak. You are tasked with the role of entering the tombs and retrieving the totems to save the islanders.

Some of the shrines are particularly dramatic, though filled with flit-switches.

Thus, when you arrive, the great lake is frozen and you have to retrieve a key to open the tomb, then fight through to get the totem. But activating this causes the opposite effect. The ice melts but the Sun Totem causes a drought so you must return and capture the Storm Totem. This continues until all three totems are gained. Each totem makes up one quest, but all three together won't take you more than a couple of hours, though you have to return to Bowerstone to trigger each one in an odd action.

The main quests alone are not the only reason to visit Knothole. As well as seeing the all-new frozen and desert environments, there is a stone-mason's shop (selling an augment-removal tool), a potion/general store (selling many exclusive Knothole items) and a quirky little establishment called the 'Box of Secrets'. There is a 'quest' entangled with this shop which reflects its unique nature. Every product in the shop can only be obtained by finding a requested item that is rare on the island (but usually common on the mainland) and trading it at the shop. In return you can get your hands on new legendary weapons, including the Assault Rifle from Halo 3, here called Hal's Rifle, as well as other Knothole-exclusive wares.

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