This week the revolution begins as I expose the power struggle within the kingdom of Albion in Peter Molyneux’s latest fable… Fable 3
I’ve been a fan of the Fable since it’s humble beginnings. Back in the days when Microsoft were the new kids to the console wars one of it’s later exclusive titles was Fable. A game where you ran around Rural Medieval killing things and farting in public. It was like The Sims meets Elders Scroll. It’s game play ws unique and even if the story was a bit weak (Given the name of the series you’d think it’d be all about the story, guess that kinda got lost in translation somewhere along the way) it was still a good game that I still play to this day.
Then the 360 came out and thus Fable 2 soon followed which was in essence the same but with minor tweaks and upgrades. Then a few years later came Fable 3, where in someone decided that the formula needed mixing up a little, the old saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” comes to mind. It’s a game that wreaks of improvements that the series really didn’t need. For example, in the first 2 Fable’s the was to level up was done but using a melee weapon to given you melee experience, use a ranged weapon to gain ranged experience, use magic to gain magic experience and gain general experience by killing things and you levelled up different skills depending on the amount of experience points you have, sounds ok. Fable 3 however does things differently, you gain experience by doing almost anything but it killing things, making friends, making pies, buying houses, completing quests… To which it can all be used to open chests giving you upgrades in all manor of things. It just means that someone could become a master swordsman just by making lots of friends.
The story is simplistic, basically you are the younger brother/sister of the current king who is a tyrant and it’s up to you to overthrow him and bring power back to the suffering masses of Albion (which has now transcended into the Victorian era). So must gain allies and build support for a revolution. It’s enough of a story to drive the plot but not something that’s going to stick with you for years to come. After you amass your army of rebels and overthrow your brother you’re then suddenly informed of an impending doom that will invade Albion in a years time, so for an in game year you must either keep the promises you made to your companions along the way and have the country decimated by the evil blob or amass the huge amounts of gold needed to fund an army big enough to allow everyone to survive. Sounds intriguing yes, but some of the choices I have to make still have the air of one extreme or another. One choice in particular that sticks out is to abolish child labour and refurbish one of my mills into a school or I could Force child labour and have them man the mill. Why can’t I abolish child labour but keep the mill? That would make sense. Also why do I loose money if I lift prohibition on alcohol? The game has it’s own train of thought at times that is completely alien to common sense.
The combat is the same as in any Fable game where you have an arsenal of melee, ranged or magic. Although in Fable 3 instead of having to buy better weapons, you can upgrade the ones you already have by levelling up or completing certain achievements (e.g. kill 100 enemies at night, etc.). Although there are several weapons available it’s easy enough to go through the whole game with the starting weapons.
I have always enjoyed the dialogue in the Fable series, it rarely seems forced and has that quaint hint of British humour about it.Compared to the likes of the Elders Scroll series where the dialogue always seems monotone and dull. Alot of big British names also appear to do cameos for the game, the biggest probably being Stephen Fry who’s character is one of few returning character from Fable 2. Also new names to the line up include John Cleese, Jonathan Ross, Simon Pegg & Michael Fassbender.
Peter Molyneux has always been very big on mentioning with each Fable game that the player will have total freedom to do what they like during the game. Although this sounds hopeful, all 3 games have been lacking in that department. What Peter refers to as freedom I would say is nothing more than time wasting. Anything outside of the quests feels like wasted effort, sure I could marry a NPC, have a couple of kids and live in a nice house, sure I may get gifts now and again but there is no real reward for it. Although it was similar in earlier Fable games it gets worse in the 3rd instalment because it’s even more hard work to get somebody to like you. First of all you have to impress them with whistling and dancing, then run a small quest and you’re friends, repeat and you’re in love, go on a few dates, get married, take to bed, have kids… In all honesty I got bored at whistling. Sure it’s more realistic but I (as well as alot of people) don’t play games to emulate real life. I have real life to do that for me thank you very much.
Overall Fable 3 is definitely the worst game of the series. It would have been so much better if people decided not to dick about with the formula that made people fans of the first two games. Upon watching it again. During Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s video review of Fable 2 he comes out with the phrase “You can, but why would you want to?”. This speaks even truer in the 3rd instalment since it takes about three times the effort to do anything and bares about a tenth of the reward. To end, play Fable 3 if you wish, just don’t blame me if you also feel empty and unfulfilled afterwards.