Jumping the Sharkticon: Cancel or Reboot the Fable Series?
Welcome to the inaugural running of GameDynamo’s series "Jumping the Sharkticon", where we will look at game franchises in need of either complete cancellation or at least a serious reboot. This time around we’re looking at the Fable series.
First hitting US shores in September 2004, Fable was the best-selling game that month, and arguably one of the greatest Xbox games ever. Fast-forward to 2010 and Fable III has captured a whole new generation of gamers, or has it? It’s true, Fable III sold well in the USA and UK, but I can’t help but wonder how many gamers played it and quickly traded it in for something else. Here are a few reasons why I think the Fable series (long hampered by big promises and little follow-through) needs a reboot.
“After the first game, the story doesn’t really grab you”
I still have fond memories of the first Fable game. It was spectacular-looking at the time, with haunting music and whimsical characters with which to interact. Lionshead Studios did a great job of blending action, tragedy, and humor in that original game. However, by Fable II a lot of that original material was completely scrapped. Players could visit the old town where Fable hung its hat, but aside from that, there was no connection to the first game or its character. The biggest innovation was adding a four-legged sidekick to the mix - your trusted hound. At first the dog seemed like a good idea, but after a while it made exploration rather tedious and chore-like.
Fable III’s story was connected to the second game. However, the story just wasn’t there, and therefore I put it down after several hours of play time. For the first time in the series, I grew tired of what I was experiencing.
“The game itself is a bit too easy”
As a gamer, I’m leery of games that don’t have difficulty settings, because that usually means the game is on the easy side. The Fable series is a prime example of a game that is far too easy down the stretch. I’m by no means an uber-gamer that plays everything on the hardest level, but I do need some kind of challenge, if for any reason, to stay awake!
What Fable IV needs is a difficulty setting option to appease a wider array of gamers. If the story is ho-hum and the game is easy to boot, the game developer is in trouble. Having the dog even takes the wind out of the sails of game exploration, a risky move to say the least. The best you can do is remove the golden trail and wander around aimlessly, and that’s no fun.
“The 4th game needs a new setting”
Even though Fable III takes place in a fictional industrial age, it’s still pretty much swords and sorcery, which can be cool, but it's dated. Why not fast-forward the setting to something urban or futuristic but keep the swords and sorcery? What if the main character was an urban hero that still used a sword? Wouldn’t that be cool?
Fable III also subtly changed the dynamic of magic in the game with no explanation - an interesting choice (to be nice), but one that left me scratching my head. The story of Fable could stand to be a little more consistent going forward.
“The game's solid controls begs for better online play”
Crackdown 2 is a good example of free-roaming online play. Another good example is Borderlands. Fable II’s online play was a joke, and don’t get me started on choosing to remain with floating orbs in Fable III! Talk about the story not mattering! Fable IV should allow for an almost MMO experience, which is something that would be truly groundbreaking. XBL has its fair share of MMOs (Ultima Online, Final Fantasy) but not one with the seamless control of Fable!
Final Analysis: In need of a serious reboot
There is already a mild buzz about Fable IV, and many outlets are posting tags like, “Will Fable IV redeem the fallen franchise?” If they persist with the same basic play style and setting, the answer is probably no. But just maybe they’ll update the story and really take advantage of the online capabilities of the Xbox 360, and then maybe they will survive jumping the sharkticon.
|Dante' R. Maddox
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