Peter Molyneux is one of the video-game industry's most enthusiastic promoters, always pushing the boundaries of what games can accomplish. He's generally credited with inventing the "god game" with 1989's "Populous" (to which this year's "Spore" owes an incalculable debt), and his other successes include "Syndicate," ''Dungeon Keeper," ''Black & White" and "The Movies."
Molyneux has also developed a reputation for biting off more than he can chew. Before the 2004 release of "Fable," for example, he crowed, "It's gonna be the best game ever." A few months later, he famously apologized for promising features that the final product didn't deliver.
Over the last few years, Molyneux's been talking a lot about "Fable II" (Microsoft, for the Xbox 360, $59.99). But this time, he's throttled back the hype and talked about features only when he was confident that they would appear in the game. "I hope you're going to say, 'This is a lot more than what I expected,'" he told one British gaming Web site.
As one of those players who found "Fable" somewhat disappointing, I'm happy to say "Fable II" is, indeed, a lot more than what I expected. It delivers on most of what Molyneux promised the first time around, presenting a living, breathing world filled with adventure. It's not perfect - which Molyneux has already acknowledged - but it is one of the most absorbing experiences you can have on an Xbox 360.