Image captured by Hatm0nster
In my ongoing mission to finally return to the games that have been languishing on my replay list, this month I finally got back to Fable II. The game was a favorite of mine back in the early days of the Xbox 360, when menu blades were still a thing and the Kinect was only a pipe dream. I hadn’t picked it up since completing the game back in 2009, so I’d forgotten just about everything about it except that I’d really liked it. So, this month’s revisit carried a purpose with it. That purpose being to answer two questions: Why was this game a favorite? And why would a so-called favorite be left to rot for so long? Well, I’m happy to report that not only did I finish Fable II once more, but I was indeed able to answer both questions!
For those who aren’t familiar with the game, Fable II is an action/fantasy game in which you take on the role of a Hero, one of the last remaining Heroes in fact, as you struggle to save the land of Albion from the evil Lord Lucien. Over the course of your journey to stop him, your Hero can partake in all sorts of activities: buying and selling property, monster hunting, questing, taking up odd jobs, farting… There’s a lot to do, but like the game’s plot there’s really not much to any of it.
Once I took up the mantle of Hero once more it became immediately obvious why the game could hook first-time players or newer gamers. Fable II is classified as a fantasy RPG, but I’d say it’s closer to a fantasy toy-box. Your Hero can do all of the things I mentioned earlier, but also take on shooting mini-games, travel the world looking for the treasures of legendary Heroes, solve riddles, kick chickens into a blood-thirsty door, and even get married and raise a family. It’s enough to get any player caught up in trying to do it all, and sure enough it got me again too. Only a few hours in and I’d somehow already become a master blacksmith known far and wide for my quality swords, bought most of the town’s food stands, and earned quite a bit of renown as the bane of both thieves and undead hoards alike. It all felt great at first, but it faded as the hours continued to tick by.
It’s as if everything about Fable II begins at the top of a hill, and then spends the rest of the game slowly sliding down it. It all starts out feeling as if its going somewhere, only to disappoint once the player realizes that what they’ve seen so far is all there is to it. You mastered Blacksmithing? Great…keep working at it I guess. You bought all the property in a town? Cool…here’s another 10,000 gold you don’t need. You got married? Wonderful…make sure you interact with your spouse every so often. You stopped Lucien and save the world?! Awesome! …did you hear that a new blacksmithing job opened up in Bowerstone? There’s no depth to any of it, including the main questline. In Fable II, what you see is what you get. And that’s it.
Fable II tries to be a game that offers its players a great many things to do, and it does; it just doesn’t do it very well. The game makes a great first impression. It definitely would have impressed someone who was just starting on the Xbox 360. The game’s problem is that it feels half-baked towards the end, and so it winds up being quite easily forgotten. I love that it tries to offer its players as much as possible, it just does so at the cost of having any depth whatsoever. It’s not a game I would recommend to anyone who has played a decent RPG, but same lack of depth might actually make a great point of entry for those who have never played an RPG before and want to get and idea of what playing one feels like. Fable II is no longer a game for me, but it might just the right thing for a new gamer.
April’s game was a bit disappointing, but there’s no time to dwell on it. Time marches on and so does this challenge! This month I’ll finally be getting back to a game that’s been sitting on my shelf for far too long. It was Mario’s first outing on the Wii and the game that redefined platforming as we know it. That’s right, it’s finally time for Super Mario Galaxy! This is gonna be great!