I did not enjoy Fable 2. In fact, it's one of those games that I've given up on forever after playing less than 10 hours. So this is not a detailed analysis of the game, but rather an explanation of why I completely failed to connect with it on every level.
Fable 2, like the original, is the work of Lionhead Studios, which is headed up by ex-Bullfrog developer Peter Molyneux. This is the man responsible for Black & White, Syndicate, The Movies, Magic Carpet, Dungeon Keeper, Populous and Powermonger. Those are all games based around fantastic ideas which implemented revolutionary game mechanics, and which all laboured under crippling flaws relating to game balance, user interface, and complete absence of narrative and characterisation.
Fable 2 represents a step forward for Molyneux in as much as it makes a genuine attempt at storytelling. The game opens with the player in the role of a young urchin living wild on the streets with his or her sister. This portion of the game, which effectively functions as the tutorial, is excellent, and the sister is one of the most instantly engaging characters I've met in a game for quite some time.
At the end of the tutorial, your sister is shot dead, and having thus been taught an important lesson about emotional attachment you proceed to spend the rest of the game treating everyone you meet as a not-particularly-complex toy.
People in Fable 2 are idiots. They have a five second memory and are more gullible than some kind of animal which is renowned for being gullible. If the mood takes you you can invade the house of a small family and slaughter everyone present in an explosion of gore, with the exception of one traumatised survivor (probably one of the game's bizarrely indestructible children). Then you can dance a saucy jig in front of the survivor until she laughs delightedly and offers you gifts.
Fable 2 isn't the first game to have an exploitable social minigame. The Elder Scrolls is infamous for it, and you can go back further than that. But to some extent the exploits were the joy of those titles. In Fable 2 the game makes a point of attempting to acknowledge your moral choices, and encourages you to form attachments to the community by buying land, performing odd jobs, and getting married. So much development time has been spent on the social aspects of the game that their shallowness is hugely off-putting.
Take, for example, Fable's infamous titles. Your character doesn't really have a name, so you're just known by a "title" wherever you go, which can be something as simple as "Mayor" through to something like "The Fearbringer". Sometimes villagers will use your title appropriately - "Watch out! It's the Fearbringer!" - but then sometimes they won't: "How's it going, Fearbringer?"
Your character can't talk. Every other character in the game can talk. The lowliest peasant has spoken dialogue. Animals make sounds. Your character is mute, and can only express him or herself through the age old art of mime. It's very hard to take your character seriously as the Bringer of Fear when the only non-violent way to instill terror in villagers is by making scary faces.
In amongst all of the chatty salts-of-the-earth, there are really very few "anchor" characters. No-one feels unique, no-one feels special, no-one feels like someone you'd want to just hang out with. Any given NPC is only a couple of sword-swings away from becoming your next level-up.
Whether to murder these flesh-robots on sight is not a moral choice but rather a practical one. When you meet yet another superstitious villager with a West-country accent, you have to ask yourself, "Will disembowling this guy break a quest line?" If the answer is no then it's time to gain some XP. He'll respawn next time you load the zone anyway.
Combat is pretty good, I guess, even if it's not connected to the social part of the game in any way. It kind of feels like Fable 2 mashed an average hack-em-up dungeon crawler into the back end of The Sims. It doesn't excel in either area, although the dungeon crawling is reasonably unobjectionable.
Also, you get this dog that follows you around and helps you out. You can get kind of attached to the dog, I hear (I didn't), but that would be forgetting the important message taught to you in the tutorial. Treating the dog as a real character would just be setting it up to be horribly gunned down in the final act. I sure hope that doesn't happen!
So, anyway, Fable 2 really failed to grab me on any fundamental level. I understand that other people have had a blast with it, which is good for them even if they are clearly crazy. You should probably make up your own mind.