A Decent Fable

I have to recant some language I used a few posts back to describe Peter Molyneux and his desire to create games. I said he wanted to basically make the player God in that our choice produces our world. That is to an extent true, but not necessarily accurate to the games he's making. I think he's learned over time that he wants to make games about choice, and not about ideas, and that crossroad is where Fable III sits.

I like this game, I want to love it, but it stops me from loving it. The slight issues with framerate, the missing expression wheel, the annoying character types, all work together to detract from my experience.

For a game made mostly (some would say only) for the X360, there really is no excuse for some really bad framerates at unexplainable times. Considering how much they recycled from Fable II, there should have been more improvement. It's not all bad though, the animations, when working are really smooth, and the levels are open and beautiful, showing just how much Albion has evolved in the last 50 years. Plus this game looks great at 1080p, which is something it's predecessor can't lay claim to.

The toughest part to get around though is the lack of the expression wheel, which is arguably one of the best expressions of choice in the series. The wheel let you choose exactly how you wanted to interact with someone, basically controlling the conversation. Now you only have wheel like options of good, bad and silly (neutral). I actually miss having to pay attention to someone's personality to figure out how best to get them to like you. It's a feature that should have stayed and unfortunately got pulled. In it's place is the much over-hyped hand holding. Lionhead really missed a chance to improve on the past, since touch would add so much to the potential of the old expression wheel (i.e. different options based off how they feel if you touch them, or how they respond), but instead it gets relegated to simply dragging them along. No one is stronger than you either, so expect to win all your tug of wars as well. Mainly touch gets relegated to escort quests, which helps them not get stuck on the scenery, but becomes annoying when you have to literally drag them by the hand to go anywhere.

This game though, like all the others has a passable story, with some very obvious overtones. Expect to have to make some decisions, but nothing as groundshaking as they're hyped up to be. One thing I actually enjoyed about Fable II was that you chose who lived or died with the ending. The choices here have similar merit, but don't expect the overall arch to be as grand as it's predecessor setup. Of course, your dog comes back and helps you treasure hunt and you'll meet a "variety" of supporting cast. Reaver from Fable II makes a reappearance and essentially goest back to being a flamboyantly bad guy, but I can't guaratee it supposed to be the same person, since this is 50 years later and BloodStone seems to be no more.

The rest of you supporting cast all only show up to riot, and you won't spend alot of time getting to know them or even doing missions for them. It's a shame really, because again the game missed an opportunity to have you have to decide between keeping promises you made to allies. Instead everyone is generically opposed to your brother, and ultimately everything he did was evil. There was alot of potential to have opposing viewpoints and decisions that shape your world, but the game focuses more on good or evil choices, with no real gray area or for that matter, no real voice of the people.

Overall, though this game is slightly less of the same. The world map is huge and I hope leaving room for tons of new DLC, and the actual cities are few and far between. It was nice to see how Bowerstone and Albion have changed going into the Industrial Age, but the game as a whole will leave you wanting a bit more. At about 20 hours it's managed to cut out a little bit more of the RPG and slimmed this series more into the Adventure category. If you liked Fable II, this is probably on your list, and despite the missed potential, you should keep it on there.

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