After spending dozens of hours playing “Fallout 3” and “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts,” two titles that can be delightful time traps for the obsessive, I’m using the January new release drought to catch up on fall blockbusters I played only briefly upon release.
My current obsession is Microsoft’s “Fable II” (rated M, $60 for Xbox 360). I’m having a lot of fun training my dog, starting a family and building a real-estate empire in between nibbles of the main quest. While “Fable II’s” post-medieval setting — think “Dungeons & Dragons,” with primitive guns — couldn’t be much more different from that of “Fallout 3’s” post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., I still find myself reverting back to “Fallout 3’s” control scheme, from time to time.
We’ve all been there. I remember firing up “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas” and, more than once, hitting the B button to punch out an opponent like I would in one of the “Halo” games or “Perfect Dark Zero,” only to drop a grenade at my feet and annihilate myself, and occasionally a teammate. (And no, I wasn’t the only person I played with to do this.)
In “Fable II,” my gaffe also relates to the B button, although the results are a little less self-destructive. In “Fallout 3,” the B button is used to bring up your Pip-Boy 3000, the game’s PDA-like oversized wristwatch, which you use to keep track of your stats, inventory and objectives. Try that in “Fable II,” though, and you’ll unleash a magical attack. (The start button is used to access “Fable II’s” stats, inventory and objectives.)
While “Fable II” has a “safety” you can turn on to prevent yourself from frying your friends and family with lightning, the results of a accidentally uncorking your magical abilities are still palpable. See, most people in the world of “Fable II” have never seen anyone use magic, so when a guy pounds the ground an unleashes a bubble of kinetic energy in the middle of a town square, people tend to get scared and run away.
The most unintentionally hilarious such incident for me came in what must have looked like the video game equivalent of an abusive husband trying to win back his baby after an outburst. After waking up one morning, I walked over to check on my wife, Emily, and baby girl, Libby. From there, I intended to head out on a quest, so I hit the B button to bring up the quest menu and see what needed doing and… unleashed magic mere feet from my loved ones, causing my daughter to cry and my wife to scream and flee into the street.
Lucky for me, “Fable II” has no phones, and therefore no 911. I’d have had some explaining to do when the police showed up, and my antics would’ve made for great ratings for “Fable II’s” equivalent of “Cops.”
I had to make it up to my missus, so I tracked her down, danced the little jig that always makes her laugh and gave her a bottle of perfume that I’d taken from her dresser. (She’s not very bright, that Emily.) It’s all good, now. My baby still loves me.
I’ll just have to make sure I have some chocolates on hand in case it happens again.