Welcome to another guest blogger week on simpleek! This time, give a warm welcome to the super funny and charming Cary of Recollections of Play! She writes about video games, but with a focus on her memories of what it feels like to play the old and current games she enjoys playing. If you are looking for reviews on retro and some current games that isn’t the typical cut and dry reviews, you’ll enjoy reading hers. Her sense of humor shines through in her writing, and she’ll leave you either laughing or smiling as you read her posts. She even throws in an occasional reflection post on the music she is currently listening to and how it’s tied to her past in some way. For this week’s post, Cary has written a great article that combines fashion and video games together. She gushes over her love for dressing up the characters of Fable, and if you enjoy character customizations as much as she does, you’ll relate to her experience really well. Be sure to follow her blog for more of her charm and wit. Stalk her on Twitter, where the laughter and commentary never ends! Also, follow another blog she helps run with two other bloggers called United We Game. This blog is still fairly new, but its goal is to bring all video game bloggers together to write and discuss a passion they love––video games!
I’m a big fan of customization in video games. The more clothing/accessories/hair/dye options I have for a particular character, the better. I know I’m not alone, though I might be in something of the minority, when I say that I probably spend a good quarter to third or so of any game (that allows customization) changing up the way my character looks. What can I say? I grew up with Barbie, I used to sew costumes, I enjoy a good shopping trip – it’s probably embedded in my genes or something. Anyway. For the most part, when a character’s appearance can be changed in a game, it’s usually done (1) for better armor/health, (2) for specific purposes related to that character and his/her missions (i.e. the dating missions in GTA IV), or (3) to simply tap into any gamers’ natural creativity and desire to be different.
All fine reasons those are, surely. But then along came Fable 2, a fantastic fantasy action/adventure RPG. Gone were the traditional customization mechanics of the original Fable game and others like it. In Fable 2, how you looked affected how people reacted to you. It was a really interesting concept that was hampered by crappy character renderings. Okay, so maybe they weren’t that bad, but they weren’t that great either. Everyone, even the women and children all looked rather “masculine” and distorted. Still, there were lots of clothing, hair, and dye options, and I spent tons of time playing Barbie with my hero. It was fun, but it was not the most compelling part of the game.
Enter Fable 3. Released to mixed but somewhat favorable reviews, Fable 3 threw a different and very stylish hat into the ring, one which turned a keen eye toward not only being fashionable but also incorporating fashion. While the characters in Fable and Fable 2 all had a “fantasy” flair to their dress that which one might see in the general crowds at a typical renaissance fair, Fable 3 instituted very distinct fashion senses among its citizenry. The outfits across Fable 3 were still “fantasy” in nature, but they drew more from actual periods, namely the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and they were of a distinctly European flavor, from the peasants to the aristocracy. The clothes were also very complex, with lots of layers and trim, which made sense given that Albion, the central location in the Fable games, had undergone an Industrial Revolution. Conceivably, the creation of the sewing machine had enabled the populace (or at least its child laborers) to easily produce fancier, wearable goods.
But enough with the historical analysis, right? One of the best things about customization in Fable 3 was that you could save up to four full looks, and they could be mixed and matched from whatever outfits, pieces of clothing, hairstyles, and accessories you had collected. I played through the game twice, once as a female and once as a male. And while you might think that I had the most fun playing in the female hero’s closet, in fact, I discovered copious amounts of enjoyment in the male hero’s wardrobe! Stupid chicken suit and the ability to dress your guy as a girl aside, I loved, to a really silly degree, creating and coloring outfits for my masculine hero. Why I just wasn’t that inspired by the female’s wardrobe I don’t know, but the male’s wardrobe! Oh what joy I had altering his clothing! I played that game to the nines to collect each and every article for that man. And each time I played, he got a different look. If I felt like attracting lots of attention, he put on his “date night” waistcoat with a rakish ponytail. If I felt like bashing in lots of skeletons, he donned his warrior gear. If I wanted to scare the living daylights out of people, he went with the dark assassin look with a face tattoo. And if wanted to roam freely and quietly, he put on his unassuming and practical princely attire with a handsome goatee.
But of course, I couldn’t just stop at simply creating four outfits. Over the course of several months, each one changed every time I got something new. Found a new pair of boots — gotta try ’em! Bought a new hairstyle — gotta use it! Some items were obviously more appealing than others (never cared for the game’s mohawk hairstyle or its pajamas…ick); but each time I picked up the controller, and before I even started a mission, I’d cycle through the clothing items to make sure my guy look just right. It’s a problem, I know…I know.
I still haven’t found a customization system that I’ve liked as much as the one in Fable 3. I certainly enjoyed what could be done in the likes of Skyrim, Dragon Age: Origins and the Mass Effect games; but changing facial features (only once, mind you, so you better like what you see) wasn’t that much fun compared to having an entire wardrobe at my disposal, let alone an entire wardrobe focused on fashion and being fashionable. Fable 3 definitely stood out in that regard (even if it fell down in others). Probably at the expense of my own sanity, my male hero was ready for any situation. Okay, so maybe I could have spent a little more time doing actual quests…but why when there was an attractive pair of trousers on the line that I knew would look really fantastic with my “date night” waistcoat?