Fable 2 thoughts

Today I finished the main plot line for Fable 2. I’ve got a lot I’d like to say about it, but frankly I’m not sure how to say everything without spoiling the game for folks who haven’t played it. I certainly don’t want to post explicit spoilers, but later in the post there are some generic ones. I’ll warn you before they start.

Overall my opinion of the game is very favorable. The main story plot line wasn’t incredibly involved but it was enough to keep you moving forward, and it worked as an excellent framework to hang off many incidents that had real impact on me as a player. It was an RPG that spoke to the heart more than to the head.

I do think Molyneaux pulled some punches though, and I wish he hadn’t. And I wish the game had been more difficult. I’m not speaking about combat (combat never gets very hard, but it always feels pretty satisfying) but more about the ‘moral’ system in the game. As I mentioned in an earlier post, you have a Purity/Corruption stat and a Good/Evil stat. From about half-way through the game, my character was 100% Pure/100% Evil, and that was through no deliberate choice of mine, aside from the choice of eating vegetables and passing on meat. Veggies give you +Purity and meat gives you -Purity and +Fatness, and I was just trying to avoid the Fatness.

Money was another issue. Or rather, non-issue. If you invest some time early building a nest egg doing mini-game jobs, then buy a few houses/businesses to generate some income, you’ll never be strapped for cash. Also since business income accumulates even when you aren’t playing, if you take a break for a few days you’ll be even richer. Sure, there are big-ticket items you’ll need vast amounts of wealth for, but they’re really just to get Achievments and don’t impact the plot of the game at all.

And then there’s your family, or families. Another neat system that has very little impact on the game. In theory having a healthy, happy family will get you buffs from spending the night at home, but in practice you never really need to sleep since food, drink and potions will keep you going indefinitely. I only slept at home when the wife wanted sex, and I don’t think the game would’ve been drastically different had I never married.

I’m doing a lot of griping, but understand that’s just my nature… I really did enjoy the game a lot. The world felt very alive, and having the family, the businesses, doing the odd jobs; all of that was fun even if none of it really felt necessary. I just think it would’ve made a great game even better had these systems had more impact.

Part of the challenge, I think, comes from making a game for everyone. I spent a lot of time wandering around, fighting things, doing side-quests, exploring, collecting… just really taking my time. So I improved skills early, and had the gold to get the best weapons early, which meant the game never got hard. If some other player stuck to the main quest, used the Quick Travel feature to get around. and never did any of the ‘extra’ stuff, I’m guess the game would get pretty difficult further along.

Which brings me back to wishing there was a difficulty setting. Maybe some day we’ll get one as DLC.

But, as someone who got bored of Fable 1 and never finished it, I can’t recommend Fable 2 enough. It was an immensely satisfying game.

Spoilers follow. I’ll try to be as vague as possible but stop reading if you want the game to be as full of surprises for you as it was for me.

One of the most emotional moments in the game came when I was…removed from the world…for an extended period. I left my wife, my child, my dog, my businesses…all to fend for themselves for a decade. It wasn’t something I chose to do, and I was really bothered by it.

It just so happened that when this happened it was late at night out there in real life, so I had to quit. I spent the next day fretting about what would happen when my character returned from this exile. As soon as I got home from work I jumped back into the game, and my character returned to the world and… my wife said “You’re back!!” and kid had grown up a bit, but otherwise nothing had changed. My dog was still my dog. The wife had waited for me. The kid politely introduced herself then treated me like her dear old dad. My businesses had continued to collect rent. There was very little indication that I’d been gone so long, as far as personal impact.

Again, I think this is a spot where Molyneaux pulled his punches. I assumed my dog would be dead (and I’d have to get a puppy and raise it), my wife would’ve remarried, my businesses auctioned off. Essentially I assumed I’d have to start anew.

Maybe Fable 3 will take all this stuff a bit further. And I really do hope we get a Fable 3. There’s certainly a setup for one in the game.

Review of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

I recently finished Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for the Sony Playstation 3, and even though the game has been out for over six months, I felt the need to review it just because I enjoyed it so much.

First let’s establish who I am, in gaming terms. I’m not an ultra-competitive, hardcore gamer. I’d call myself more experiential or narrative-driven. Or more simply, I play games primarily for the story or the exploration of a new world. Challenge doesn’t become important to me until it hits an extreme, either low or high.

I mention this because Drake’s Fortune isn’t a very difficult game (at least on the Normal setting) and it doesn’t have any multiplayer. It’s a linear romp from start to finish. My final save clocked in at ten hours and change, so its relatively short. There are hidden items to find and faux-Achievements embedded in the game, both of which might be enough to get you to play through the game a second time, but the narrative is what really drives this game.

You play modern-day treasure hunter Drake, who is convinced he is a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, even though there are no records of Drake Sr. ever having fathered a child. Drake Jr and his partner, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, are hunting for the lost city of El Dorado (and all its hidden wealth). Chronicling their journey is videographer and reporter Elena Fisher. During their adventures they’ll encounter ancient ruins, Nazi relics, and modern day pirates. While the storyline isn’t high-art, it’d make a wonderful Saturday afternoon adventure matinee, which in fact was what it was modeled on.
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