A Moral Fable

Gonna be a long one. I’m out of games to play and I’m very, very bored.

I finished Fable 2 tonight. Thank god. I think I’ve broken its weird, home-sick-from-school spell. It really reminds me of nothing so much as the kind of obscure NES and SNES adventure games my parents would sometimes rent for me when I had sick days. You play it because it’s there, and you associate it with long periods of dormancy in your room out of direct sunlight. Its weird, cartoon aesthetic and not-funny Molyneux sense of humor really remind me of games like Wizards and Warriors and other similar fantasy games. It has an oddly retro feel, for better or worse.

In Fable’s defense, it does have some good points, such as those environments I mentioned before, as well as a few story moments that are genuinely well done, if highly manipulative. But the whole point of the game is to be something of a send-up of generic Western European epic sagas, not to mention the equally spoofable console RPG tradition. It’s good for what it is. At the end of the day, that doesn’t necessarily make something playable. But in Fable’s case it squeaks by. It’s addictive, and in a truly narcotic sense: it gives you a weird buzz, but it wears off quickly, and you feel vaguely unwell afterward, like you need a strong cup of coffee and a Vitamin D drip.

I played the game Paragon-style (that’s a BioWare term, but it’s coming to dominate general video game parlance, which I think makes sense), which means that I missed out on a large portion of gameplay just so that I could be chased around every town by adoring, idiot NPC fans and get a stupid little halo above my head. I’m considering doing a Renegade playthrough and slaughtering everyone. That’s an interesting thing about the Fable franchise that sets it apart from other moral-choice games like Mass Effect: you can literally kill everyone. The social ramifications, oddly enough, are not as serious as in Mass Effect–or at least, they don’t feel that way, because cartoony Fable lacks the high-caliber writing and incredibly deep dialogue of ME– but it definitely changes the tenor of things a bit.

Transformers: War for Cybertron is a strange beast. It’s a stripped-down, clunky 3rd-person shooter that I wouldn’t bother with if it didn’t happen to have the deal-breaking transformation feature. If this were any other thing than what it is–namely, a game where you get to play as the fucking Transformers–it would suck. But because you can sneak up behind an opponent, club him in the back of the head, and then instantly transform into a jet and speed off cackling into the Cybertronian night, it is playable. But only just.

Waiting on Alan Wake DLC, which drops in a few weeks. I don’t know why everyone thinks the game is so ambiguous. It’s at pains to be unclear throughout, but at the end it wraps everything up neatly with a big red bow that’s waiting for you on your desk in the morning next to a Harry and David basket and a lovely card that reads, “SRRY I KILLED UR WIFE U CAN HAV HER BAK LUV SHADDOW MONSTER”.

“PS HAHA SRRY SPOYLER ALLERT”.

It’s a very good game, don’t get me wrong. It has its flaws, as Yahtzee so masterfully points out, but overall I really liked it a lot. My friends Bret and Carlea and I did a Wake marathon in two nights, and it was especially good as a communal, Fatal-Frame style experience (ice cream abounds).

I sent my resumé to BioWare a month or so ago. Haven’t heard anything, and I doubt that I will, but goddamn, working for them sounds like heaven right now.

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5 thoughts on “A Moral Fable

  1. What morons thought “Alan Wake” was ambiguous? I found the ending a little unclear, but symbolically ambiguous? Not for a second.

    What I really want to know is . . . Are you going to play “Folklore”?

    • Have I mentioned that I love your icon? Also, I just watched a trailer for an Australian prom horror movie called “The Loved Ones,” which looked super-creepy . . . although that may just be because formal dances are inherently unsettling.

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