You know the fable series of games has to be one of the few list of game titles that I harbor a set of love/hate feeling toward that so far none of the games have managed to quell. Fable 3 is no exception, in fact it only proves the fact that so far instead of taking complaints leveled against the game from the off you know and correcting them, someone at Lionhead thought that it would be only too good an idea to make them more pronounced and all the more apparent, and while they where at it just add more problems to the list just for good measure.
At this point I am even beginning to question Peter Monlyneux status as a industry legend. He should know how to make a game better, but somehow this time he’s made it even worse. How much worse, or indeed why is it a series of games degrading in quality? You may ask. Well I will get to that in a moment but this game has got things that I like about it.
I love the steampunky fantasy industrial revolution setting (seriously it’s not only an important part of UK history and hardly any games go there). The game is caked with humor in that flavor in the same way that a lot of old computer based titles of the 90’s (and mostly the bullfrog ones keeping with tradition), yes I did have a good giggle at quips about chickens and evil and very rude garden gnomes. The voice acting and cast is strong with the likes of Stephen fry, Zoe Wanamaker, John Cleese, Sean Pertwee and Simon Pegg to name but a few. It’s an almost completely all star cast of UK talent and all of whom give performances during the course of the game. Oh and one final thing, as an RPG it’s really easy to understand and get into, which is always a good thing.
However it’s at this point where I start to list off where the game goes wrong, really really wrong, and to be fair I know that I am not the only one that has said these things in fact I am sure at this point I am only adding to the list of people that have already stated that Fable 3 blows goats. Let’s start shall we with Fable 3’s biggest issue, the total lack of challenge, and oh my fucking god did they really drop the ball here. For a start combat is stupid simple, your attacks way too powerful (even early on), and you have the dodge move from the start and you can just spam it to stay invincible. Most of the time too your only attacked by about 10 types of enemy and most of them aren’t really that hard, and even when their numbers start to reach moshpit levels a few good hits with a charged up area effect spell normally thins the herd. Just to illustrate how fucking easy the combat is, it’s the only way to die and I only died ONCE in the entire main storyline, and that was right near the very end as well (and mostly because I couldn’t see the health indicator thanks to the screen effect). Oh and there even feels like less of a penalty from getting killed too, a small drop in XP was all that happened and even that hardly registered, you can continue as normal from there.
Just to shorten the experience and to make things even easier, in fable 2 you had to slowly level up your powers and abilities, and buy each one accordingly, fable 3 throws this concept right out of the window with the road to rule upgrade system. Now combat abilities are just labeled lv1 to 5 for each sword, gun and magic attributes, learning extra flourishes or skills in the gun and swordplay areas have now been removed totally, and the young prince can do all the stuff from fable 2 now off the bat with the exception of extra magic types (and trust me when I say that they aren't worth it).
Where fable 2 had you taking time to get leveled up and spending time in the game to do so, you can get fully charged in less than a few hours of playing, and any danger to the combat how little there was is tottaly sucked out.
Another feature that has gone downhill is the jobs, and it’s not even like they where even very good in fable 2. In fable 2 most of the games where based around hitting A on the joypad at just the right time, but each game had a slight variance to it. In fable 3 each job mini game is the same boring match the colours rhythm game with just a varentcy of colours and timings. No mater what you do it’s all the same thing, it’s still boring as hell, still just to easy to grind for cash, and it’s even made easier since the jobs are always available unlike fable 2 where occasionally they would be closed off. It’s also still not hard to play the property game either by buying up houses and renting them out for profit. Even in the short weekend I had with the game I managed to buy up the entire starting village and a good chunk of everywhere else. However money is still too easy to make or grind up, and even makes the final stage of the game seem rather pointless, oh and speaking of pointless the relationships are back!
Yes once again you can fall in love with anyone start a family, and fucking NO none of it matters, just like none of mattered in fable 2. All the NPC characters are all cardboard cutouts who frankly are all the same anyway. Why should I give a shit about marrying someone with all the personality of a fucking cornflake? Why should I have sex with them (which is pointless as well seeing how it’s all blanked out anyway)? Why should I give a shit about the small little cornflake children that should come from such a soulless relationship? Like fable 2 it’s a touted feature that is again utterly pointless.
Then there is the story, which to be honest isn’t that bad to start with, you actually get a fair whack of well written stuff as you feel from your brother the king and start to build up your army’s to bring the fucker down. Though I did find it odd that it took so long for the prince to realize that his brother had turned into such a dillweed. From then on it’s questing your merry heart out as you build an army and followers to take back the kingdom, oh and just before you do there is a dark twist that turns the game on its head a little.
Yeah, you take back the kingdom and your brother pretty much just gives you the dammed crown only to state that the evil black blobs that you met in a previous quest are coming to kill everyone in your kingdom, and that you have two options give everything to your followers that you promised them or fill your coffers for cash to raise an army to fight the black goo. If you don’t fill the bank account then people will die at the end of the year when the blob comes, so yes it’s a case of give your people nice things and be a good guy but watch them get blobbed to death at the end of the year, or be a totally royal dick cheeze raise a ton of cash on hardship and eco disasters, but everyone makes it past next christmas.
Oh and try as you might to find middle ground you can’t, you can donate your own money to the cause but it’s still piddling in the wind. I manage to make most of the good choices and dumped in about 75,000 of my own gold, but even then I was woefully short of making the 6.5 million required to save all of albion. Yes there despite there being a lot of choices here there is one of two ways that the final stage of the game can pan out, be a saint or be a total cunt, there is NO middle ground. Again despite the high stakes and the grey sounding nature of the final third of the game it’s still oh so binary in the morality stakes.
Oh and did I detect a sense of political commentary during this section of the game concerning conservatism Vs Socialism? Yeah thanks for that in my video game escapism, your not hiding things much with a Joke about the bank bailouts either.
Then finally there are the technical issues that plague this game. I got the PC version of the game on the reasoning that people claimed that it was much better than the 360 version due to the extra time in development that it had. Personally what where these people smoking? Fable 3 on PC has to be one of the sloppiest ports of a console title that I’ve ever seen, and it’s an utter disgrace seeing that it’s come from a company that once held the PC in such high regard.
It took me an age to find the detail settings, and they didn’t or weren't brought up during the games first run, preferring to rely on a auto detect that didn’t auto detect (like all auto detects) so I was shoved onto the games lowest settings from the off. Even when I sorted things out and upped the settings to max the game hardly looked any different (just less muddy) as a good chunk of the textures where so flat and lifeless and even character models lacking in detail, depth and even polygon count.
Oh and we shouldn’t forget the many glaring moments of graphical corruption, and glitches that are way too easy to spot, and even slowdown. It’s like all the other bugs also still present like your dog getting stuck in the scenery, or people falling through it.
Fuck this game, and fuck the Fable franchise! I am only listing off some of my moans at this game, but in short it can be summed up by the fact that it’s too easy, too short and way too messy despite having the taints of a AAA masterpiece.
Oh and as for Peter Monlyneux, I am sure that the guy is trying to be the George Lucas of the gaming world. A man who once made things we loved and all time classics is now turning out shite and obsessively trying to shove things that we don’t care about.
Very easy to pick up and play.
Fairly well written dialog.
AAA UK voice cast.
Likable and original fantasy setting.
Quite funny in places.
Still too easy to make too much cash.
Poor plot in the third half.
Everything that was wrong with Fable 2 is now worse!
The totally simplified and shallow upgrade system
The minigames that are all the same thing.
The vapid features (marriage NPC interaction).
Being king is all binary crap.
Some unwanted political satire.
Combat is still too simple and you are way too powerful at the start.
Very ugly graphics for a PC game.
And much much more!
2 Rude garden gnomes out of 5