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 I’ve 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.