>Fallout 3 / Fable 2 / Saints Row 2

>I don’t know if I qualify as a full-fledged agoraphobe, or if I’m simply someone who really enjoys staying at home, but the end result is that I don’t get out very much, and I almost never go out late. Which is why I was surprised as anyone that I found myself leaving my apartment at 11:15pm on Monday to go wait in line for the midnight release of Fallout 3. As it happens, I knew I was going to be taking a mental health day yesterday, and the line (such as it was) was pretty small, and I was home by 12:30.

As for the game itself; well, that’s a tough one. I’ve played for maybe 2 hours; I got out of the Vault, made my way to Megaton, talked to some people, made some choices, ran out of obvious things to do in Megaton and decided to find my way towards another city for a sidequest I’d picked up, and got jacked by some raiders, and then my game froze up as I lay dying. And I thought about it for a minute, and decided that maybe I should just roll a new character and start from scratch, since I wasn’t terribly excited about the choices I’d made.

Normally, whenever I play any game that features a morality system, I pretty much always choose to play a good guy on my first time through, and that’s generally pretty satisfying; certainly it makes being a bad guy that much more satisfying, when you already know what you’re going to deprive other people of. But Fallout 3 is different than these other games; the game itself takes place in a pretty ugly world, and I think I’d rather try to out-ugly the ugliness, so that if I were to play it again as a good guy, I could better appreciate my efforts.

In any event, as I said before, the game froze up, and since I was staying home all day (and let me tell you, it was an absolutely perfect day to stay inside all day playing videogames), I figured that was as good a point as any to take a break and get back into Fable 2 (and then, later, Saints Row 2).

As I said the other day, and as I’ve said in emails to friends who’ve also played it, Fable 2 has some pretty glaring technical issues and shortcomings that are hard to ignore; and yet the more I play of it, the more I enjoy it. Sure, the story is pretty much boilerplate, but I’ve grown to appreciate how the world changes based on my actions; the combat is simplistic but effective and quite fun; the sidequests and jobs are kinda meh but you can never complain that there isn’t anything to do. In fact, I’ve been kinda neglecting the main quest so that I can better explore the world and see all there is to see. My biggest problem right now is that my dog is so good at finding treasure that I find myself constantly stopping and going in a different direction to dig up whatever its found.

(Re: the dog. I understand what Peter Molyneux was saying about how he wanted people to fall in love with their dog; you want to care for it, you want to keep it happy, you feel genuine pangs of concern when you finish a big fight and you see it whimpering and limping. It’s just that I actually have 2 tiny dogs, who I really do genuinely love, and who are so tiny that they can both sit on my lap and not get in the way of my controller, and my Fable dog is just never going to be able to compete with that. She is genuinely charming and fun, though, and I do like to praise her whenever I dig up something awesome.)

The other thing about Fable is that it’s actually pretty easy. I’m probably a little more than halfway through the game but my dude is pretty goddamned powerful; the first house I bought has a Health Regeneration perk which is pretty friggin’ handy, and I’ve got a very robust supply of potions and healthy foods of which to partake in. I’ve only been knocked out once, and that was during the 2nd boss battle, and the equipment I had been given during that sequence was much worse than what I’d already been working with in before that. With the right augments, I’ve been able to generate extra XP with every kill, and I’m pretty close to being fully maxed out in almost everything. I’m pretty sure I’ve already gotten the most powerful weapons in the game, too, which is maybe a little disappointing but not that much of a big deal; killing dudes is killing dudes, and I’ve got no problem killing dudes quickly. I’ve got a nice little thing going right now; I’ll launch a level 5 Shock which renders everybody totally frozen and fucked up and then I’ll quickly finish them off with my Master Cleaver. Again: simple, but effective, and scooping up XP orbs is always satisfying.

And after getting to a logical stopping point, I put in my neglected copy of Saints Row 2. (BTW – I am utterly unable to type Saints Row correctly; it always comes out as Saints Roy, which makes no sense.) Man, that game is FUN. It’s the anti-GTA4; GTA4 was serious and moody and dark and awesome, and SR2 is totally fucking insane. (It’s also VERY stingy with Achievements, but it’s a credit to how much fun that game is that I’m still playing it and not really caring that much; I’ve been playing for almost 8 hours and I’ve only got 5 points to show for it.) And I maintain that for all its faults, it still does certain things better than GTA does, the most important being not having a death penalty. If you die during a mission, you can immediately restart it – sometimes with a checkpoint – and you don’t lose any money or ammo. WHICH IS HUGE, because you’ll die a lot. I was hoping to finish up the Ronin storyline last night, and near the end of the story arc, there’s a firefight that is absolutely insane; hundreds of Ronin are flying in from all over the place, and I’m totally outgunned, and for a while I was getting killed before I even knew what was happening. But being able to immediately retry it again was 1000 times more satisfying than waking up near a hospital, losing money and guns, and having to get back to the mission starting point.

It has its problems, though, and the biggest one is that there are almost no parked cars anywhere, which SUCKS. When you finish a mission, you re-enter the game world where the mission stopped and you are almost always without a vehicle, and the game usually takes about 10-20 seconds before it starts generating jackable vehicles; moreover, your default running speed is SLOW and your turbo running speed only lasts for about 10 seconds, so getting around on foot is a PAIN in the ASS.

But if you can get past that, and the fact that it doesn’t really look that great, it’s one hell of a fun time.

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