In an announcement that comes as no surprise at all, Lionhead Studios Creative Director Peter Molyneaux confirmed that Fable III will be compatible with the Microsoft motion sensor technology currently known only as Project Natal. It has been rumored that Natal will be ready to go some time in 2010, but it’s doubtful that this third chapter in the beloved Fable franchise will require the sure-to-be-pricey addition to your Xbox 360 system.
No details were included as to how the system would apply if you play Fable III using it, but it could be really good and it could be really bad. When Natal was shown off at this year’s past E3 Expo (Click to read about E3 & watch the Project Natal demos), the demonstrations blew minds (for the most part), with Lionhead and Molyneaux’s introduction of the boy Milo as the real jaw-dropping moment. Natal was also promoted as the future of gaming, where people will be able to play all of their games with no controllers at all, using only their body and movement. In these two things is where we find the possible pros and cons.
As I’ve said before, the thing they could do that would really make the new Fable something special, would be if I could pick up my controller and play as I do now, but when I communicate with other characters, THAT is where Natal comes in. Imagine the video of Milo, and pretend that it’s like that with every conversation in Fable III — speaking out to your TV and talking with them as they react to you. That would be an amazing thing. But then the question of controller-less gaming comes in to the question.
I strongly believe that gaming without controls would fail. I may be alone, but having all of the power in my hands, having to move the sticks and push the buttons, and feeling that dual shock vibration at the proper moments help make the game what it is. If you take that away, I would be bored. If they find a way to replace that, even if it’s similar to the Wii where you wield a sword or something to implicate realism, then it’d be fine; but if I’m standing in the middle of my living room flailing my arms around like a drunken jackass, then you lose me completely. Obviously, the point of Natal is not only to interact with game characters and have conversations, but to introduce motion sensor gaming to Xbox users. So what do they do to find a happy middle for the players who love the idea of dancing around without a controller and those like me who like holding the device?
Molyneaux apparently made another announcement, as well, and it’s not quite as exciting. It’s reported that he talked about a new in-game “microtransaction” system, which would allow players to buy items like swords and other things while playing the game but for a few dollars of actual in-your-pocket money. The system is said to be like Xbox Live’s Marketplace where you buy clothes for your avatar and other small things. This would also be a hated feature, depending on how it’s used.
I’ve always loathed having to buy anything that should just be part of the game when you drop $60 on it, but can understand having extra stuff on there like the avatar clothes, icons, backgrounds and all that jazz. If these items in Fable III are just specialty items and not crucial to the game, I can swallow the blatant attempt at whoring more money out of us, but if not, I may be so inclined to just play Oblivion again.
What do you, my favoritest geeks in the world think? Would you be OK with controller-less gaming? Would you accept them charging real money to buy a video game sword?