Video Game Review: Fable 3
(Note: This was originally going to be a short review; I even titled it that way. I took the “Short” out after I reached 800 words.)
The best thing about writing reviews for sequels is that I can just assume you know everything there is to know about the preceding one. That’s probably the exact opposite approach that I should take, but I think it’s good enough.
Fable 3: It’s a lot like Fable 2, but with better guns.
Too short? OK. You play the child of your character from Fable 2, the younger one, since your brother is King, but he’s a jerk, and people are oppressed, and blah blah blah who cares. It’s a fun game with some bugs that ultimately become enraging; more in a bit on that.
Like Fable 2, you can interact with people throughout Albion and make them fall in love or fear you or whatever, but instead of the wheel where you could choose the Expression you wanted to use (and would affect everyone witnessing it as well), in this game you get 3 random ones to choose from. Each of the 3 comes from either the Friendly type (although meeting a stranger who then grabs you and immediately begins dancing with you is a little over the line in my opinion), the Funny type, and the I’m A Complete Asshole type. This is annoying. Not only are there less Expressions, which means you’ll be doing the same tired things over and over, you can’t even choose the one you want. One of the Friendlies, for example is Chat, which does nothing – doesn’t make them like you more – except make you wait 15 seconds to choose another one. It’s a stupid pointless change that actually makes the game less fun. I wonder who the hell comes up with those ideas in meetings. (Actually, A Very Important Game Designer told me that this is classic Molyneux – he apparently can’t design something without turning around and breaking it the next time, just because)
The voice acting is good and cool. Your butler Jeeves is John Cleese, one of the NPCs you occasionally fight beside is Simon Pegg, and (my favorite by far) Jonathon Ross takes a turn as an evil henchman, and he gets by far the best lines.
The game is good. I enjoyed it, even if the path felt a little too black and white. See, you make a bunch of promises in the game to get people on your side, and once you become ruler you have to decide whether or not to honor those promises. It would have been fun if it was real weight-of-the-crown stuff, you know, difficult decisions where two equally desirous paths lay before you, when necessity might force your hand and make you break your word for the greater good. That mechanic, in my opinion, doesn’t really exist. Instead, it’s a choice between Reasonable Human Being or Total Dickish Asshole. TDA might be fun for some people, but not me, so it ends up being choices of little consequence. I compare it to Mass Effect, when you have the choice to kill the Rachni Queen and doom the race to extinction, or let her live along with her race of potentially murderous aliens that had already caused a galaxy-wide war of horrible damage and destruction. Now THAT is a difficult moral choice. It makes Fable 3’s decision making process into little more than a farce.
Then there is the bugs.
Lady Aravan encountered the first. Early on, she was looking for a quest person. She knew right where he was located, only he wasn’t there. Nowhere to be found. Then she discovered another one was missing. Restarting the console did nothing. The next day, still no luck. She looked for hours. Then she checked online: there is a bug that makes quest NPCs disappear. Now, these were side quests, not necessary to finish the game, but Achievements were involved. The only fix is to START A NEW GAME. Now, she wasn’t far into it, and so she did, but it was irksome. The next bug – your spouse or children might suddenly no longer be able to be interacted with. Their happiness with you slowly drips away as you stand there, unable to do anything at all to them, or you get caught in a loop where they constantly just ask for gifts that you need to go buy for them, over and over. It’s annoying, especially since the game will pop up a little heart to tell you there is something going on with the family you can no longer interact with.
The combat is better than Fable 2, with cool little occasional animations when fighting with a specific weapon against a specific enemy. For example, a mercenary will flip you off when you have a pistol, and you proceed to shoot off his finger, then shoot him in the foot, then the shoulder, then the gut, or when fighting a Hobbe with a sword you’ll point behind them, they dutifully turn around, and you cut them open from behind. Very cool little touches that were very enjoyable.
All in all, it’s a very good game. I enjoyed the time I spent playing it. I was able to pop into Lady Aravan’s game, marry her and have a child with her (of course, let’s just say that the resemblance between the child and us was, uh, less than perfect), fight alongside her as myself making a wage and collecting treasure. So multiplayer is improved.
Problem is, I “finished” the game’s main storyline: became King, saved the world, blah blah. The cool thing is, there are new quests that appear after that, so you can continue on. I did a couple, then went to start the last 2 remaining quests. I couldn’t find the NPCs. I searched and searched and slowly realized that they were gone, and weren’t coming back unless I RESTARTED THE FRIGGING GAME COMPLETELY. It was a bitter last taste before I left Albion for good. I had originally planned on playing through again as an Evil person; I might, but that last kick to the jimmy left me a little reluctant to do so.
Overall, I’d say that if you liked Fable 2, then play Fable 3. If not, don’t. If you didn’t play Fable 2, you might like this game. Just wait ’til the patch comes out.