Having a Fable-ous time

Alex Kidman
25 June, 2008
View more articles fromthe author

As games ports to the Mac go, Fable: TLC is an odd one. It’s the sequel to a game that originally saw light on the original Xbox console, which means that one of the first things that hits you when you when you load the game up is a Microsoft logo; this usually doesn’t bode all that well on a Mac.

It’s to Feral Interactive’s credit, however, that this isn’t a particularly problematic game, at least from my experience playing through it. It is, however, a somewhat dated game — both graphically (even though the graphics are beyond the capabilities of any Mac with integrated Intel graphics, such as a Mac mini), and also because you could, for the asking price, track down a dusty old Xbox and a copy of the original game if you were stuck on a Mac with lesser graphics capability.

Fable is set in a fantasy context, and presents a mostly predictable tale: a young child (that’s you) is the sole survivor of a torched village, brought up at an academy for heroes and seeking revenge on those who murdered his entire family. Where Fable mixes things up is in its use of morality — throughout the game you’re presented with options as to your behaviour, and these affect how people see you, as well as cosmetically how you’re presented in game. If you’re too fond of ale and wenches (and in a fantasy setting, who isn’t?) you’ll grow rotund. Always perform good deeds, and you’ll end up with a halo that attracts butterflies, and crowds that cheer your name as you approach villages, and so on. It’s rather conceited, but it’s also undeniably fun stuff. And look — I’m always going to love a game that presents you with a choice early on as to whether or not to punt chickens around a village.

Fable also offers a decent level of replay, thanks to the morality system. While the basic storyline doesn’t alter that much, the way you develop your character, including the way that you age, affects your experience playing it quite profoundly. As I’d mentioned in my Macworld Expo games blog, there’s nothing wrong with a Mac games market where the best games get ported — and for my money, Fable’s definitely one of the better games.

A whole new world. At the same time that I’ve been playing through Fable, I’ve also been dipping my toes into something I’d avoided for quite some time; Blizzard’s World Of Warcraft. Now, I’m probably going to annoy a lot of people here, but the WoW, as a whole, left me rather cold, especially in the stark contrast to Fable.

Both titles utilise common fantasy settings, moderately simplified combat (this isn’t Street Fighter) and plenty of clichés. But to me, one of them has empathy and immersion (based on in-game elements), while the other is a rather cold and sterile setting that relies almost to a fault on the characters presented by other players.

Starting up WoW, I was tasked with slaughtering large hordes of critters, which nominally wouldn’t fuss a digital gaming veteran like me. Except that these things didn’t really fight back so much as just wander around waiting for me to poke them with a sword. The term "grind" gets thrown around a lot in MMORPG circles, and it felt particularly like a grind to me to just get to the "fun" bits of WoW. Whereas in Fable, I was having fun punting avians within seconds, even if it did seal my fate as something of an evil sod.

I repeated the WoW grind over and over until I hit an utter gulf of a mission that was clearly designed to force players into working with each other, whether you wanted to or not, and even irrespective of whether it was technically possible. Again, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, as long as you can find compatible players, something that I struggled with. Oh, and as long as you don’t mind the subscription fees on top of the game’s purchase, price, something I’ve always found more than a little odd.

Fable is available now from Apple resellers for $79.95; World Of Warcraft will set you back $29.95 for a boxed version, plus subscription fees.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us