I was psyched to get Fable II at Christmas 2008 since I had been looking forward to it since completing the original Fable. The game’s creator, the crazy yet loveable Peter Molyneaux, promised that the game would transform RPGs as we knew them, feed the children, and save the whales. Or something like that. All I knew was that, after playing the original game, I had to carve out a good bit of time to play. Fable II was going to take time if I wanted to perfectly cultivate my most awesome RPGs character ever in the history of my awesome customizable RPG characters. Yeah…it’s a short history, if that. But still, I didn’t want any distractions, so it took me a few months to finish other games before starting Fable II.
(I realize this game is, like, totally old news — it being an ancient 4 years old and all. Still, for those who want to play but haven’t yet, spoilers ahead, probably, in some form or another.)
Fable II was set 500 years after the original Fable. You were still in Albion, only this time you got to choose between playing a male or female character. There was no longer a Heroes Guild, but several of the same locations remained. As with the original game, you started as a child and played your way into adulthood. Choices made early in the game (such as saving or destroying individuals or villages) affected later environments. Likewise, moral choices you made for your character changed his or her appearance, as did one’s choice of weapon: sword, bow and arrow/gun, or magic. A series of quests propelled play, but you could also freely roam and play the quests in whatever order you chose (mostly). Character interactions remained similar but were expanded to include numerous “expressions;” and your choice to pursue a relationship(s) with just about any NPC was still included. Players could also buy and furnish their own house(s) and buy and rent property and businesses, becoming stupidly wealthy in the process (since rent money was collected both during play and when the game was off). Most importantly though, you had a dog, and he was awesome, and a little annoying at times…but mostly awesome. Just as you could improve your character’s skills, you could also improve your dog’s skills, helping him become a better treasure hunter and fighter. I really liked having a non-human companion throughout the game. He didn’t talk or judge, and he sat quietly if you took a break to eat or sleep. And this is why (most) dogs will always be better than people. Sorry, people.
I played through Fable II twice. The first time, I set off as a male swordsman/archer and and towed the line between good and evil. I wound up being, like any good corporate American, “evil” and “corrupt.” (I wanted to be nicer villain, but the “corrupt” part was kinda by accident due to some choices I had inadvertently made. I stuck with it.) This time round in Albion was such a blast! I had tremendous amounts of fun trolling through each city, deciding where to go and what to do next, and seeing how my actions affected both the character and the land. As with most of my attempts to play bad characters, I didn’t really like my guy that much by the end of the game and neither did any of the other NPCs; until I got to Blackstone — the land of whores and fiends. Or maybe it was Miami? It was by the sea anyway, and there I was loved on by all.
After that play-through, I started the game again, this time, rightly so, as a good girl. And man, did I sink more than several hours into her game. I took my sweet time getting from destination to destination. I completed levels and found secrets that I had missed entirely during my male character’s game. My female was also primarily a ax-wielding mage, which made for more interesting battles. And because I’m so totally into looks and being shallow, I kept her thin and pretty. I spent tons of “money” on her clothes and hair and dyes, making her as “unique” as possible, and made sure she had just the nicest house in all of Albion. She had a nice husband and no kids (the one thing Fable still can’t get right – children, ugh), and made lots of money off rent because she kept all her rental houses in nice condition. It was a perfect, perfect world.
This sad attempt at vicarious vanity all took place after beating the game of course, after she had saved Albion. And the, one day, whilst lounging in her glorious abode she…er, I got bored. I mean, my character was filthy rich, Albion had no strife, and people were very happy. Well, no one likes to be happy all the time, now do they? My barbie doll fantasy land had become as plastic and lifeless as an actual barbie doll fantasy land.
So naturally, I started doing bad things. I went on a killing spree, wrecked havoc, ruined my reputation, and brought general death and destruction to Albion.
That last statement sounds a little psychotic. Rest assured CIA webcrawlers, the aforementioned activities all took place in a fake, virtual world that in absolutely no way exists here on the planet earth. Except maybe in Miami.
And I have no idea why I’m being so hard on Miami all of a sudden. I’m sure it’s a fine city. But I’m not, really.
My point about Fable II was that at a certain point it became less “game” and more “virtual paper doll.” I mean, gaming in the sense of beating bosses and gaining progressively better abilities stopped at the end of the story. Once that was done, some weird sense of “I must maintain my perfect virtual world” took over, and I played only for that sake. Of course, I still found things to do. Once I went to the dark side, new side quests opened. So that was okay. I eventually managed to attain just about every single-player achievement I could and I felt…complete.
And then Mass Effect 2 came out. All other games mind as well have been dust in the wind at that point.
Before I got Fable III (round 3 to be posted in a few weeks), I popped Fable II into our languishing XBox. Sure enough, there was my lovely hero, standing in the middle of Bowerstone, surely wondering what to do with the $10 million+ that had just floated above her head indicating how much rent money she had attained during the game’s silence. Having bought just about everything in the game, even I had no idea. I sent a telepathic bittersweet “goodbye” to my lovely hero and turned off the game.