Don’t Believe the Hype!!

When Gabe (I say that like I know him. I don’t, but he seems like a pretty cool guy) from Penny-Arcade was talking about the hype surrounding Fable, he said:

I realized a long time ago that the hype machine was ruining video games for me. I wanted to go back to the days when I was actually surprised by a game. I made a decision to stop reading previews and Iíve stuck with it.

I am following suit. I fell for all the Peter Molyneux hype about Fable. It was going to be the greatest RPG ever. It was going to make you cry for mommy. It was going to make your fricking bed. Right. To be honest, I was so sold on Fable that I bought an Xbox for the express purpose of playing Fable. Me, as Nintendo-Fan-Boy as they come, bought an Xbox. I awaited Fable with the anticipation of a eight-year-old on Christmas Eve. When it arrived, I watched with awe at the opening sequences (they were very nicely done) and I dove right in. I knew the game had potential. I had no idea how sorely disappointed I would be.

This is how I imagined Fable would be: A huge, expansive world populated with interactive NPCs, eager to task me with quests of the utmost importance, all the while an overarching story-line was taking place. What I got was three or four cities that were peopled by NPCs that were semi interactive and occasionaly impressed by my bony chest. Quests (outside of the main story line) are few and far-between and are not fun anyway. I envisioned a MMORPG like environment in a single player game. Not even close.

I thought there would be interactive environments, teeming with wildlife and monsters, where I could go anywhere and do anything. If I wanted to kill some Bambis and deforest acres of woods with my axe, I could. What I got was small, fragmented areas that were on rails, allowing for no exploration or interaction. Loading times were unacceptable.

I was expecting to flirt with girls and entice them with my handsome charms and quick wit. What I got was a lame, super chunky interface that pretty much renders the interaction with NPCs to button-mashing (hey, that’s an interesting concept. Actually, it should be D-pad mashing.)

I imagined fighting and magic controls that would make Diablo’s point and click look like checkers in comparison. In actuality, there is a mediocre fighting control scheme that was fun for a little bit but is just a console version of point and click. Almost no skill is required (or acquired). If you have enough health potions you can easily beat the game having never tested death. The magic system is okay but my character concentrated on melee, so I can’t comment too much on that.

In fine: Fable was built on a shaky foundation of hype and hyperbole (is that redundant?). It promised filet mignon and delivered cube steak. I enjoyed the game, but it pains me that I paid fifty smackers for this one. I definitely will be trading this one in soon.

I am disappointed and hesistate now to read previews again. It serves two purposes – it shields me from disappointment and it allows me to be pleasantly surprised. Oh, and I’m still getting Halo 2.

Update: After writing this post, I came across this apology(?) from Peter Molyneux (not confirmed as him, but they seem to think so, I didn’t troll through the 37 pages of posts):

All I can say is that Fable is the best game we could possibly make, and that people really seem to love it.


More Fable

I did have a chance to play a little more Fable and I must say I’m beginning to see flaws become more apparent.

First and foremost, the game purports to be open-ended. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In each zone there are multiple paths you can take to get places but they really don’t let you go anywhere else. No exploring off the path, no random encounters in the woods, nothing. It’s just getting from point A to point B and doing X. Nothing open-ended about that.

Farting and flirting is also starting to lose its initial fun. Interactions with the NPCs are good but still feel canned and unnatural. I suppose I really need to give the game some more face time and let my character develop and see how that really works. Seeing the scars appear and watching him grow is still cool but I am just not feeling Fable right now.

Fable’s first impressions

I didn’t update last night, I was too busy playing Fable! Before I get my second crack at it this evening, my first impressions:

Presentation is pretty sharp. The graphics definitely aren’t the best in the world but it still looks darn good. The character models look great, if not a little over-exaggerated. The big gloves and boots you wear as a kid look a little disproportionate but it works. My adult character has already done a couple quests involving battle and he’s beginning to develop scars. That is pretty cool. Music is great, as well.

The openness of the game has been great. A game that will let me fart, burp and flirt at will has been great. Character interaction is pretty well done, too. As a little boy I decided to punch a little girl looking for her lost teddy bear. She screamed and ran away from me. The next time I talked to her, she cowered in fear and pleaded that I not hurt her and would I please find her bear. Then I ran into a town guard who informed me that if I was an adult he’d have to rough me up. Then later still my dad said he heard I’d been doing some bad things and pleaded with me not to sully his good name. I like that.

The gestures are pretty cool. I’m getting some renown and girls are already swooning for me. It’s fun to flirt and watch her heart grow as she gets enamored with me, then fart and make a mean face and watch her run. I just learned the “I’m sorry” gesture and now I think I’ll go punch someone and then tell them I’m sorry. I’ll be interested to see how that affects things.

So far I must say I’m impressed. I think I’ve barely scratched the surface (I’ve only played for about 2 hours) so I really can’t form a coherent opinion just yet. I like it a lot and I’ll reserve judgement for later.

Fable has gone gold!

EA lets us know that Fable has gone gold, less than a month away. Man, this fall-winter is shaping up to be a great video game season.

Fable previews

There are countless Fable previews coming out now, and needless to say, I am excited about this one. This one from IGN is pretty long but it was pretty well done with a lot of information and impressions. Some are saying the best RPG ever.

I’m not sure what I think the best RPG is. I really liked Final Fantasy III/IV on the SNES, I liked Baldur’s Gate and others. Diablo II comes to mind, but it may not qualify as an RPG. Regardless, the game is ambitious and looks like it could be stellar. It was definitely one of the reasons I bought an Xbox and I may even say I’m looking forward more to it than Halo 2. Blasphemy, I know!

I’m still not what to make of the marriage/sex aspect of the game.