In honor of GDC (game developers conference), I thought I’d share some of my observations and insights into the games I’ve been playing recently, namely Fable 2 and Resident Evil 5. This isn’t a review, though. Everyone has already done that. Twice.
Peter Molyneux (pronounced molly-new), the designer of the fable series, promised Fable 2 to be so much you’d think it was some sort of glorious hybrid of the mona lisa and a colecovision. Not to say that it’s bad, I just really, REALLY wanted those tough moral choices he promised. In my first playthrough, I saw the plot points that were supposed to be tough to get past, like choosing between hundreds of people and your family, or listening to a prisoner beg for food while you try to maintain your cover as a guard in the bad guy’s dungeon, but they all felt too forced to me. I could go right or left, but nowhere else. That was boring to me.
Though, the real fun of the Fable games was never about the story. Rather, it’s how your decisions indirectly affect the people around you. I could make the townspeople cower in fear if I had committed evil acts or crowd around me if I did the opposite. I could bolster the town’s economy by frequenting the shops, buying houses and selling houses, or getting drunk at the pub. On the other hand, I could send the people into abject poverty by buying their houses and charging exorbitant rents. On a more personal level, I could also have a family and a dog. This feature can be touching if you let the plot control how you build your family or hilariously wrong, as you can have a family in each city and become a secretive bigamist if you so choose.
Peter Molyneux’s Fable 2 did get me to question my choices, but not exactly the way the designer planned it.
Resident Evil 5 has been my first in the series, and it didn’t disappoint. What it lacked in horror and subtle pacing, it made up for in tension and seamless cooperative play. Unlike Halo or Gears of War, you can’t plow your way through the level, shooting at anything that moves. Resident Evil 5 gives you very wisely chosen handicaps to keep you in delicious, delicious peril. The ammunition is sparse, your partner is always getting surrounded by zombies if they’re controlled by the AI, and whenever you shoot, you need to stop and line up your shot.
I found that being forced to stop in order to shoot was an ingenious gameplay mechanic. You have to watch as mobs of zombies inch their way towards you. With limited ammo, you never can afford to waste bullets, especially with that creeping feeling that the boss is right around the corner. Distance is the scary factor in this game.
As for the stink people were causing about the racism in this game… it’s not there. There may be some sexism in the game though… your partner, Sheva Alomar, is smoking hot for an anti-terrorist operative. I can’t help but relate her to Lara Croft- super capable and dangerous, but the creators and the buyers only seem to care about her tits.