Review: Fable II. Weird systems

An old game to be sure, but I felt bored and reviewing this game would give me the opportunity to get some things off my chest that not even Yahtzee managed to pick up on.

Fable II is a bizarre game for a lot of reasons. The overarching oddness about the whole experience is based on the obscure ways in which different mechanics of the game operate and that make no real sense. Enormous and evidently quite well thought out ideas teeter totter on not as well thought out ideas, making the whole thing a bit mental.

I’ll give you a few examples here. The leveling up system isn’t really a leveling up system in any conventional sense. Attack with a melee weapon and you get melee points, attack with a gun you get marksman points, attack with magic you get… anyway this makes a fair bit of sense- if you use something often you get more experienced with it. However there’s this weird and totally unexplained system about how these points are earned. At the end of the battle, or in the middle depending on the size of the fight, multi-coloured orbs representing the sort of skill plop out of defeated opponents. That’s a little hard to understand but not that uncommon. What is uncommon is the requirement to stand perfectly still as your body sucks them up like some sort of Aristolean-concept-of-soul vacuum. Again not that much of a problem. Well I mean it’s totally unexplained in the scheme of the game and doesn’t make any difference beyond your character being literally forced to stand still after each fight for a few seconds, but not that much of an issue. What is an issue is the punishment for death i.e. nothing. All those experience points are essentially worthless because all they will help you in doing is killing your opponents faster and give something for you to lose should you die (and not many at that). Well you do get a scar which manages to reduce your attractiveness, which means you’ll have to do a random act once or twice more. Armor doesn’t exist, and if it does it doesn’t actually protect you, only makes you more attractive somehow.

Another bizarre way of doing things is the talking to other characters design. Focus on a character, they glow purple, you’ve got their attention. So far so good. Now instead of communicating with them with words, you prance around them with gestures you’ve found on your travels. Whether this is a subtle remark on RPG players in general, insinuating they would need a book to learn how to smile won’t be investigated here. What will be investigated is that by doing a little dance, having a thumbs up and farting are somehow useful candidates for marriage proposals. That’s quite weird. Stranger still, while this wooing is going on, crowds form around you, soaking up the grandiosity of your expressions and becoming equally enraptured as your intended soon-to-be meaning that you can wander down that town square and have dozens of the buggers running up to you for love and attention. All weirdness.

Perhaps the strangest thing about this strange game is the currency system. You see you’re given (through methods unknown) the various specials on offer for weapons and clothing and suchlike. However the specials are completely unnecessary by about two hours of solid fund gathering, or simply buying a couple of houses and putting up the rent. Money gets into your coffers even if you’re not playing it as a result you could outright buy the entire armory of your local town after waiting a week out of game. Gold can also be accrued by having your dog find treasure or dig spots, 90% of the time conferring about 25-500 gold for your efforts. By the time you own a couple of houses this source of income is so inefficient that its barely worth the button presses if the dog would just shut up about it.

What else is there? Character designs are small in number as is combatants (all combat is of course unnecessary given your character’s immortality). You are somehow “evil” for eating chicken. Morality in this system can be reduced down to adopting vegetarianism. Never mind how many innocent people you save, or the cows that undergo daily enforced torture for milk to make your pastries, eat ten baby chickens and you’re eligible for candidature in the most evil organization the entire game has to offer.

I’m baffled by the rave reviews to be honest. The story isn’t compelling and is really quite basic. Voice acting is substandard at best and I’ve already pointed out the baffling mechanisms that take all the challenge out of the game. Its slow, predictable and mired in heaps of poor design decisions.



~ by freeze43 on April 26, 2011.

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