Fable 3 Review

Posted: November 1, 2010 by ryanlecocq in Reviews

They say the King’s ‘little’ sister is actually a half-giant.

Co-op Fixed!: The first thing you will notice when starting a co-op campaign is that the second player is no longer an invisible evil twin and then a generic henchman.  It does force you to be the opposite gender of player one (only if you both start simultaneously or on the same console) and the two of you look nearly identical, making the logical in game explanation that you are the third royal child, who NPCs acknowledge but nobody really pays much attention.  This is a huge improvement over Fable 2 where the second player might as well have been invisible.  NPCs will refer to the two of you in the plural, or say “Your highness, milady” when you approach.  You have separate morality, so you no longer have to worry about your OCD friends going berserk when you kill one insignificant tattoo salesman for the chuckles.  Everything you do is saved in your file, including clothing you are wearing.  This was hilarious when I started my file and the butler woke me up to find me wearing blue war paint on my face and glowing tattoos all over my body.  The camera is almost completely functional, giving the first player control.  Like most features in Fable games, it finally works one game late.

 

This picture is pretty much everything that happens in the game’s much lauded ‘Revolution.’

Bad News First: The co-op improvements, although necessary, are unfortunately the bulk of the changes from Fable 2.  Just like every Fable game and expansion before, this game takes one small step for man and a giant leap backwards for mankind.  Don’t think for a minute this means I didn’t love this game.  I actually put off finishing Fallout: New Vegas for days to play this game every spare minute and play through it twice.  Sadly it seems like the Lionhead curse to pioneer new ways to have fun with a game while being weighted down by ancient, arbitrary game mechanics and terrible, terrible game engine design.  I am truly sad to report that every design flaw from Fable 2 persists.  Uneven framerate, graphics pop-up, AI glitches and pathfinding logic problems, you name it.  Your dog still wanders about randomly like he has the worst ADD and NPCs will still call the guards on you for walking into the store they have just opened before the buy icon pops up.  I have always been the person defending Fable, even though Lionhead has repeatedly shown they are unable to write code, saying things like “but it’s so much fun” or “what other game can you do this in?”  But considering how much funding and resources Microsoft has given them to produce this game, there is no excuse anymore.  Fool me three times and… well, I have to take the gloves off in my review.

The worst legacy fault is not delivering on the most basic promises made to the fans.  The features most touted by Lionhead are the features that underwhelm the most.  Your actual revolution is extremely brief and feels exactly like the edited down climaxes of previous Fables.  The scene shown in the teaser and on the Xbox dashboard where you confront your brother in the city square and tear down his statue never actually happens in the game! I won’t spoil the scene but I can tell you it’s very limited in scope and scale and contains no boss battle of any kind.  Actually running your kingdom is just a series of A or B questions on an extremely rushed timeline where any sort of feeling of success is impossible unless you have played the game in an unnatural and tedious way.  You are pretty much forced to fail one way or another on your first playthrough.  This makes it feel like your time invested was wasted and makes it very hard to start over.

 

Smirk away asshole, my paradise will not be populated with horrors.  Proposal refused!

And the Very Good: Now that I’ve satisfied my obligation to journalistic integrity and reported on which issues had been fixed and which potentially game-breaking ones remain, let me tell you how much f*cking fun I had with this game.

First of all, you will benefit hugely from playing this game first on someone else’ file or looking up a guide.  Knowing that it will require around 7 million of your personal gold if you want to be any kind of good character is essential to enjoying your first playthrough.  If you’re evil and you don’t care about your subjects, don’t sweat it.  I should warn you though that I found it really hard to be bad.  In Brice’s file I started out as the somewhat troubled third child who was often rebellious or the source of peasant complaints.  I found it hard to do more than shove people and shoot the occasional minstrel (one of my passions for decades in every game).  This game finally makes the citizens feel like your fellow people.  People remember what you do more specifically and often remember a personal insult which clouds any admiration from major deeds.  It isn’t uncommon to hear someone thank you, but then almost fearfully add that it was much nicer than the last time you came to town.  The decision to add depth to NPC emotions changes everything in how you view them.  In Fable 1 and 2 the villagers were often drunk and always completely incompetent and unable to live without your constant pampering.  Now it actually feels like they are just poor normal folk, unfortunate to be born in troubled times.  When I have to wreck part of a city to win a battle for my cause, I actually feel like I owe it to the people to rebuild it, because I bought that gun at Francis’ shop that saved my life many times.  Hilda gave me a discount on a haircut I needed to infiltrate a bandit camp.  These are my people and they deserve a better life.

The part of the game that should be the best, sadly isn’t.  Being King or Queen is a brief part of the game and largely consists of you making decisions that will either drain the treasury but improve life, or create revenue at the expense of the people’s love.  Since I played through with Brice first, I saw how much it ruined his first playthrough when he had to choose between two kinds of failure, both equally bad, though he had played the game flawlessly to this point.  When starting my game partially powered up and with a decent nestegg of gold, I did what I do in every Fable game, I bought the entire economy.  Every house, every store, every property that is completely useless.  I made sure I controlled every single gold piece in the game world.  Then I raised the rent and the prices worldwide and saved every penny.  Although it took about 2-3 hours of tedious extra playtime in the game’s roughly 12-15 hour plot, it was worth it.

When I became Queen I put about 10 million in the treasury and then I more than made up for every single penny I had extorted from the population.  I reduced rent and prices to almost nothing and sold most of my personal effects to get the economy started.  Then when people were living a life of ease and plenty, I repaired every building in Albion at the Crown’s expense, manipulated the economy to get prices down and sold the people back their land at unheard of prices.  So basically I had to play in a way that political theorists claim is impossible.  I controlled the economy and the state completely, perfected it and then gave it back to the people.  All of this before I even left the royal bedchambers on my first day as regent.  While manipulating the nation on an almost Illuminati scale  in order to save it, I had some great times.  The good old Fable adventuring hasn’t lost a step and some great quests and overall streamlining of combat make the lead up to revolution the best part of the game.

When I did finally take the throne and begin governing the realm, I had the power, resources and support to truly rule.  The King/Queen part of the game basically boils down to a number of either/or situations with Reaver (yes, that same ol’ Reaver who killed my father’s first friend and greatest supporter, Barnum the merchant) offering corrupt options to finance a war vs. the citizens asking me to keep my promises.  With my immense personal fortune I was able to give the people a world without strife, with the most liberal ideals balanced by a strong economy and minimal crime.  I kept every promise and delighted in telling Reaver off every time in favor of the poor and the downtrodden.  When the credits finally rolled I was hailed as the greatest ruler in history.  The rewards were pretty much the same peasant admiration and useless gifts, but I didn’t feel like I had missed anything or been denied.

As a final verdict I would say that Fable 3 is much like the previous games in the series.  It under-delivers on every promise but still ends up as the most fun you can have in the action/adventure genre.  For every time you will be frustrated by poor design, there are a dozen moments that can’t be found in any other game.  The co-op finally works as it should and the game’s control and menus have been streamlined into a very playable form.  This still isn’t the game where Lionhead shows they aren’t all talk, but they are inching closer.

EDIT 11/16:  I totally forgot to mention the “living weapons” as they aren’t that exciting.  I was asked though, so here’s the deal.  Your original weapon changes visually each time you progress in the “road to rule” based on your actions since the last time it changed.  These provide pretty much zero useful effect though, so I always used a weapon I bought or found.  Such weapons each have 3 abilities that are unlocked by completing a challenge ie: Kill 200 Hollow Men, or get 20 villagers to like you.  That’s it.  2 players that are both good and focus on melee will have pretty much the exact same Hero Sword besides minor color and inlay differences.  Like most everything else in Fable games it’s just a lot of talk amounting to very little.

 

8/10

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Comments
  1. Kate says:

    I finneshed the game had all my people love me. I killed elliot, but all of my people ended up dying,and im not very good at saving money in the game what do you suggest?

    • ryanlecocq says:

      If you’ve already finished the game, it is unfortunately too late to go back and save Albion. The people will gradually reappear, but will hate you for some reason even though you made the ‘good’ decisions.

      The best course if you want the best ending is to start over and buy stores and houses as early as possible. As long as you constantly buy as many buildings as you can afford, the rent will make you rich by the end of the game. This is easy since you can buy houses, fix them and adjust rent from the map in the sanctuary.

  2. ianbockmon says:

    Reaver is the greatest.

  3. Me says:

    Very good review, I too held off Vegas to play this game..Sad thing is though.After beating the oh so easy corrupt version of the game and the more satisfying hood version..There wasn’t much else to do. I find Fallout 2 had a lot more in the form of questing after the game was complete.

    Fallout Vegas is awesome though, still playing in the massive world.

    And lol at the shitty comment above mine.

  4. Kathria Alexandria says:

    Good review. I actually agree on a lot of the things you said in here.
    Though, I’ve completely excused the lack of satisfaction after beating the game, because even though they DID under-deliver on some promises, there was still a lot that they improved on, which seemed to be their main focus for Fable 3. (EX: Graphics, interaction system, co-op, the weapons, etc.)

    And I completely agree with ianobockmon; Reaver is awesome. He may be one of the most annoying, homicidal-thought inducing characters in video game history, but there is something about him that makes him epic. Maybe it’s because Stephen Fry voices him, I really don’t know.

    P.S, I also put off New Vegas for this game. Still am, too. I’m waiting ’till I beat Fable 3 for the fourth time.

    • ryanlecocq says:

      It’s funny, I used to hate Reaver ever since he killed Barnum in Fable 2. Barnum was my character’s first friend and supporter in that game and it really bothered me that my character just watched him do it. After Fable 3 though, I started to love to hate him. He’s just SO dastardly, and he knows it. It’s refreshing to see an unabashed villain who doesn’t even attempt to appear good. Stephen Fry really makes the role memorable.

  5. lagunawsu2 says:

    *cracks knuckles*

    And now, I lay into Peter Molyneux. Damn his eyes.

    *takes a deep breath* Fable 3, for me, was like one of those chocolates that LOOKS really awesome. In fact, even after you taste the first bite (which didn’t really impress you) it’s not that bad. But then, you take the second bite, and you realize that this flavor has something…off to it. Not at all to your liking suddenly. Then you just have to put the candy down, or in my case run off to the toilet.

    You see, in Peter’s attempt to create the greatest game ever, he has taken a shotgun to the whole fable concept, and then blown it up on a massive level. But, and its a big but, I still have to follow this damn golden trail around. It’s necessary, in fact, because the only map they give you is more a property management tool rather than one used for navigation. Also, the lack of ability to customize what property’s your weapon can have is truly fail. If you want to have any kind of good ending (and who doesn’t?) it will end up with mostly Landlord attributes. That isn’t customization.

    The combat is really the only thing that kept me going, and I didn’t go long at that. Honestly if Fable 3 was a simpler game lacking the silly (and utterly unoriginal) plot line, and just a dungeon crawler where how you played ACTUALLY affected your weapons meaningfully, I’d still be playing it to this day.

    TL;DR Fable 3 would be way cooler if it was more crawler less silly epic king property sim.

    • ryanlecocq says:

      It makes me so sad that most of Fable’s love/hates are hates for you. It sucks to love a game that you also have to defend. Not that I disagree on any points. Fable is just one of those games where if the bad doesn’t bother you, you’ll love the good, but there’s always bad.

      • lagunawsu2 says:

        To be fair, I did enjoy what the game was offering for the first six hours, its just when it started getting a little heavy handed with the choice and combat seemed more like an afterthought (your revolution image shows that very well) than an actual component of the game.

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