Gaming: Fable II – From Saint To Ghoul

By James

Do you remember Lionhead Studios? If you do, then you no doubt remember the Fable series – specifically Fable II (the best of the trilogy). Now, recently I have been playing a great deal of this game … again. In fact, I’ve played so much, I’ve managed to amass 12 million gold, and that’s as a ‘Good’ hero. So, replaying through this titan of a game led me to dissect the differences between the ‘Good’ play-through and the ‘Bad’. Both of which are fun but there are significant differences if you’re devoted to your cause (be it one of pure evil or one of an angelic saviour).

The Good

Being a good guy is usually very rewarding. People like you, they treat you favourably, and life is generally much easier due to everyone’s willingness to help you. In Fable II, this is also true. People go out of their way to give you presents, which is nice. I mean, I don’t remember asking for fermented tofu but I appreciate the sentiment.

The culmination of your goods deeds has tremendous impacts on the regional housing situation. For instance, helping an incompetent guard (as a child, I might add) at the beginning of the game aids an entire borough of the main city progress into a wealthy and thriving community. Of course, the actions of a small child with an absurdly large head will 100% influence the economic and political success of a small borough... (‘It’s a fantasy game, James. Stop being pedantic.’ Bill would say).

Arguably the climax of your career as a halo-donning patron of benevolence is when you protect the aptly named, Temple of Light. This sees you slaughtering multiple carrot-nosed monks and swathes of shadow monsters. Now that you’re a Demi-God of incorruptible altruism, you’re given the privilege of buying the Temple of Light and earning that sweet, sweet gold in rent.

The Bad

Gold. It is all about the gold. You can rob, pillage, raid, steal, and murder to your hearts content. Provided you’re half decent at defending your newly found wealth, there is nothing that can stop you amassing silly amounts of money. Not only that, but you can put rent up so high that people are forced to pump you with wonga.

You could say that being evil is more fun. You have no worries and you do as you please – answering to yourself and nobody else. Most of the ‘cool’ items in the game are geared towards those of us who prefer the villainous path. I myself am an advocate for purging throughout the game, the whole game and constantly within the game.

And, let’s not lie to ourselves, the best part of being a diabolical, fiendish felon is the wheel of death and hysteria. Bring a follower to the Temple of Shadows and you’re offered the opportunity to spin the big wheel of multiple fates and, ultimately, kill them. Whether you reduce them to ash, turn them into chickens, or decapitate them, it really never gets old. Even if they simply have their gender changed, they know exactly what’s going to happen next... Back to the wheel they go!

The Ugly

Now, even in this world of delights and disasters, there are always ugly and unwanted negatives, cons and drawbacks. We shall start with a few of the set-backs laid upon you if you were to choose the path of enlightenment.

The Good

1. When one happens upon a certain part of the story where one’s character is forcibly transported to the giant vertical structure of antagonism, one has to make a few choices. If you have chosen the path of smiles and sunshine then you’re given the opportunity to extend your saintliness with those less fortunate than yourself. The ugly part of this is that you lose experience - that juicy, highly valuable substance that allows your character to ascend the ranks of power and skill to then wield against the forces of malevolence. Not. Good.

2. In another section of the aforementioned narrative, one is required to make a decision that may or may not permanently scar one of those involved. I refer to, of course, your run in with the Shadow Court. This triplet of smoky demon-lovers present you with a life-changing choice – literally. You can choose to offer your life-force in place of an innocent in order to prolong the already extended life of Reaver. If you are committed to your divine cause then the consequences include glowing red yes and a sudden fast-forward of your own age. Nobody wants to see a vampiric Gandalf running their church... Or do they?

3. By far and away the most infuriating consequence of being a goody-two-shoes is the flip side of the general public’s love. Yes, it’s nice that they want to show their respect and appreciation but there are boundaries! Have you not heard of personal space? Walking into Bowerstone is like walking through an episode of The Walking Dead, only the people don’t want to kill you, they want to get in your pants. Men, women and children gravitate to your location and do not stop or leave until you either launch a stray fireball into the local fish market or actively try to scare them away. Relentless...

So, they’re my ‘Big 3’ drawbacks down the path of righteousness. Now, we move onto the core triplet of issues facing any budding outlaw.

The Bad

1. It would seem that the people of Albion have a very extremist view on the hero. Unless you’re as neutral as a magnolia cardboard box, you sway the hordes of people in one of two ways. The first is the undying love listed above, but the second is, arguably, worse. The answer to the ‘needy-public’ problem turns out not to be scaring them too much... For if you’re a malevolent, heartless demon, it turns out people simply cannot stop running and screaming. The screaming is non-stop. I’ve literally entered this blacksmith to sell an Iron sword I found – I did not ask for the cacophony of yells and shrieks from any neighbour that happens to see me.

2. Of course, the biggest reason for their fear is your appearance. I think Deadpool summed it up quite nicely, ‘a testicle with teeth’ - only you have the addition of dark, goat-like horns, grey ‘Crocodile-skin’ and a very serious case of BO, apparently (I only get this impression from the unabating swarm of flies that follows you around). No wonder people run. The thing is though, it’s really bloody irritating...

3. Possibly the biggest and most impacting negative of this little shindig, is the fact that every thing suddenly becomes very expensive. You may get a severe discount because the shopkeeper is petrified of your hideous and otherworldly visage but the RRP of each item sky-rockets because nobody has any money (you’ve literally rinsed everyone through rent and shop-prices). I mean, I never really noticed it affecting me as tens of thousands of gold rolled in every 5 minutes but it’s still infuriating that even after all the rage-induced murdering and theft that got you to the top in the first place, is also biting you in the ass. How many people do I have to murder to get what I want around here?

As an extension of point 3, it is worth mentioning that economic decline plays a huge part of being evil, it would seem. Progress far enough into the Temple of Shadows storyline and it will point you in the direction of Oakvale with an instruction to kill – everything. If that doesn’t obliterate a small economy based in trust and favours then I don’t know what will. Not only that but remember that Old Town borough that you saved earlier as a good guy? Well, do the opposite and purposefully crush the hope and dreams of those people and you’re left with a deteriorated, large back-alley of an excuse for a borough on the East end of town.

Well, there’s a nice little dissection of the holy and unholy extremes that Fable II offers. In my honest opinion, both are fun. Being good is a little more tedious but being bad is as detrimental to game play as being a saint is a chore. Mainly because in the wake of your murderous eyes, you leave whole residencies empty and bereft of life, chickens, or anything.

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