Playing: Fable 2, Lost: Via Domus

Fable 2 (360)

This game is the sole reason for my number of books read this week taking a nose dive. I played almost every night and in just this week alone I’ve amassed almost 40 hours worth of playing.

While I thought the main story line was rubbish and incredibly predictable, the game managed to surprise me several times. Quite a few times I found myself generally interested in how some quest would play out.

One of quests, for example, is trying to find a date for someone in a local farm. His father says to find his son a good woman but the son, it turns out, doesn’t want to “…marry a woman. Any woman.” The subtle hint there is that he is gay and the object of the quest is to find a guy for this… guy. I did not expect to see a quest in any game about finding a date for a gay man.

Speaking of homosexuality, I liked that this game allowed it. You can as either woman or a man, marry either gender. I found that incredible and, of course, had to participate. As soon as I could, I married another woman in the first major town and started a family. Hours later, I married a man so that I could also have kids. Both relationships were very easy to arrange.

For most of the people in the game, doing simple expressions over and over again will have them loving you. Towards the end of the game this actually became a problem for me. So many people loved me that just walking through any town had people constantly requesting to marry me and, in one town, had the prostitutes propositioning me every time they saw me.

Including the variety of relationships, quite a few RPGs could take suggestions from this game.

The first is that after you beat the game, you should be able to keep playing. Almost every other RPG, including Fallout 3 for example, force you to take care of every little optional part of the game before the ending. Fable 2 does not do this. After killing the main antagonist, you can continue to work on your real estate empire or take care of those nagging random jobs.

The second is that your attacks and spells should be upgraded faster if you actually use them. The more physical attacks you do, the more points you can gather to upgrade those abilities. The same for spells. I can’t even say how many times I’ve been playing a RPG and had to chose between spells and physical attacks. Fable 2 allows you point categories for each separate attack style. That way you can work on only those you are interested in but always have points to spend in another category as well.

Lost: Via Domus (360)

This game was reviewed almost a year ago by a friend of mine. You should probably read it.

I am convinced that if this game had no connection to the television show Lost, no one would play this. The one, and only, reason to play this is because you really like Lost and want to experience their world.

I will admit to liking some things they do. The “Previously on Lost…” segments, similar to the show, are interesting and preface each new “episode” or section of the game. Having some, but notably not all, of the cast of the show lend their voices to the dialogue also really adds to the atmosphere. When Jack reprimands you or Sawyer calls you a name, you feel as if you are part of the story.

Unfortunately, several things have been damaging to my experience.

I’m not really a fan of dialogue trees but I accept them in games. They provide a quick way to give the player an illusion of choice while also serving up exposition. Via Domus uses them frequently. Every single time you find another person, who for some reason are glued to sections of the forest or beach, you find a dialogue tree. Having had to replay a couple of sections several times, I found them really annoying, increasingly so each time I saw the same one.

I’ve only played through the first two episodes (about 2 hours worth) but I can already see some bad design. The first cave section drove me crazy. Right before it you are given a lighter. As you use the lighter, your hand slowly grows hot. Once a threshold is reached, you are forced to extinguish the lighter. However, some sections of the cave have holes and the Black Smoke Monster. Both of which kill you upon contact if you don’t have the lighter working. The trick to the whole sequence is to light a torch. The game doesn’t tell you that though. I had to die over and over before finally looking up on a guide on how to get through it. The very first time I used the torch, I was able to get through the cave with no problems.