I’m really torn right now about making Fable 2 a Noble Failure. I personally think it is a fantastic game with one of the most interesting use of choice in any video game I’ve ever played. I in fact liked this game so much I had trouble finishing the story since I still had a boat load of quests to finish and essentially an entire life to craft with a family to raise. I think the outcry of people of the internet that couldn’t get past the ever annoying map system and glitchy interface (PETYO) give me the right to label this a Noble Failure. Also since there were improvements that could have been done, though my limited playtime with Fable 3 has yet to show any. (Something pending)
Some may draw comparisons to Nier my last noble failure since I will be discussing choice and how it affects gameplay integrally. Know that Fable 2 takes another step forward with a half step backward.
(NOTE TO ALL SPOILERS FOR A 2 YEAR OLD GAME BELOW)
Fable 2 starts off with a young hero, much akin to Fable 1 where you can choose your sex. The childhood section doesn’t last long but it gives you choices that will start a trend for changing the world of Albion. Now the game at these points seems like any other action RPG with morality system, wherein people will like you if your good or run away from you in fear if your evil.
Now your choices have an effect on the world as I mentioned earlier but it’s near the last third of the game, once you gain access you the Tattered Spire (which is the main goal the hero had been working toward the entire game) that these choices become evident.
Once you gain access to the Spire you don’t kick the doors in and beat the big bad down while saving all the prisoners in an epic onslaught. Instead all your weapons and the ability to use magic are taken. Then you’re turned into a guard for the Spire and your head is shaven to remove more shards of your personality. At this point your character doesn’t physically resemble your prior self which really play with your notion of what makes a hero (a topic for further discussion). Then you are lead to the Commandant of the Spire a cruel individual that tells you simple tasks. If you refuse your experience and memories will be taken from you, which essentially means your XP that made you as strong as you are. His orders start at first simple as take a hit and not retaliate to do not feed people or kill your only friend at the Spire. The more you resist the more XP you lose making you essentially weaker and therefore perhaps unable to combat enemies later in the game.
Now these points are moot if you’re playing as evil as you can but that’s not the way I played it and I think that’s the way the people over at Lionhead wanted the game to be played.
This is the best use of choice I have ever seen in a game, giving your choices real in game consequences. Since most games being more of an empowerment fantasy making you feel as powerful as God and no one can touch you. Fable 2 decides if you really want to the right thing, just like in real life there are consequences that you may have to suffer for it. Because doing the right thing is rarely the easiest thing to do.
The second part of Fable 2 that was great was the usage of the dog, your friend throughout the entire game from childhood to old age. A great ally that attacks downed enemies and finds hidden chests and buried treasure. (SPOILER ALERT))Now I knew the ending where the dog takes a bullet for you and dies, before even playing this game. So I knew what to expect, but after completing the game you are given a free roam where you can go back and do all the little things in the world like side quests. But since my furry friend wasn’t there anymore it felt empty and pointless and I didn’t wish to proceed playing anymore. Turning off the Xbox I felt odd like there was emotional resonance in this game that I normally don’t feel for games. It’s an astounding success if you can feel anything like that after beating a video game, which is usually an emotion I leave for movie and books to evoke in me.
Now there is a another moral choice at the end of the game to resurrect any lost family you may have made and your dog at the cost of everyone else that died in the game but since I was doing the “right” thing I felt that needs of the many outweighed the few (Star Trek 2 WHAT WHAT!).
All in all I would love to see more choices in games that give a player more consideration then if I kill X I’ll get Y’s money to save X and get reward from Y. This could be one of the great concepts that lends more legitimacy to video games.