Fable 3 Review
This Game Seems To Be A Slap In The Face To Many Of The Fans Of The Franchise Who Have Loyally Stuck By The Games For Their Fun Script And Wonderful Characters, Only To Be Rewarded By Minimal Content And Lazy Game-Play.
Developer: Lionhead Studios
In October 2010, Lionhead Studios and Microsoft Game Studios released the third instalment in the Fable series. Set 50 years after Fable 2, you follow the adventures of your previous character’s son (or daughter) and their faithful dog as they fight for the crown of Albion. You play as the prince (or princess) as they attempt to depose their tyrannical brother, Logan (voiced by Michael Fassbender). Whether you choose to do this for moral reasons or simply to gain the crown for yourself is up to you.
The initial game-play centres around you gaining allies and support for a revolution, though this is quite a quick process. Throughout this time you meet an impressive host of vocal talent including Simon Pegg, John Cleese, Ben Kingsley, Stephen Fry and Bernard Hill. Once you have deposed your brother, the fun can begin as you are sent on various missions for the monarchy and begin to shape and build your kingdom around your unique moral standing. You are also introduced to ‘The Crawler’, an evil shadow creature which threatens your realm and treats you to some of the scariest game content the Fable series has seen.
The artwork of this game is gorgeous and quirky with wonderful Steampunk elements and atmospheric music. The direction of the cut-scenes is also notable with cinematic camera angles and at least one wonderfully directed scene which owes much to the horror genre and adds great suspense to the gaming experience.
The creation of a fully interactive ‘pause screen’ is a brilliant touch and allows you to immerse yourself in the character, especially when you find certain areas of it inaccessible during the more dramatic points of the story. The levelling-up system is also fully interactive with the introduction of the Road to Rule; though this seems a slightly patronizing way to gain power-ups and level up when the menu system of Fable 2 seemed simple enough to navigate.
Those of you who are familiar with the Fable series will be happy to know that there are still the collection side quests (similar to the gargoyles of Fable 2) and many of the creatures and lore is expanded upon. Once again you have the ability to marry villagers and NPCs and have children, buy a house etc... but for those of you who actually play this game for the action, you may be disappointed.
The health system has been eradicated and it seems that it is now in fact impossible to die. Instead, you are knocked unconscious for a small amount of time and your XP from that particular fight is reset. As there is no health bar, you are warned of your imminent ‘inconvenience’ by the D pad flashing red followed by the screen going red. This eliminates any pressure or stress which the original Fable had in bucket loads. The battle system itself is also laughable, forcing you to block and attack with the same button. Lionhead seem to have focussed more on the social interaction system than the fighting, which has always been the downfall of this franchise.
Fable 3 holds much of the British charm and wit of its predecessors; with such a wealth of vocal talent this is unsurprising. The script is funny and at times poignant, connecting you to characters wonderfully. However, the game itself is extremely short and disappointing. For those of you who played Fable 2 and were excited to be privy to the spoilers regarding Fable 3 upon completing the game, such an anticlimax to high anticipation is unforgivable.
Lionhead have responded to negative comments since the game’s release by revealing that they will be releasing a number of ‘chapters’ in the form of DLC. But since its release we have received only two pieces of the promised content, both of which have been short themselves.
With emphasis falling on the clothing, colour and animal DLC it is evident that Fable is falling victim to the ‘Custom Content Monger’ market of Sims fans and ‘girl gamers’. While this is opening up the action/RPG market to a young female audience who tend to enjoy customising characters more than their male counterparts; it is also cheapening an otherwise fantastic gaming franchise for favour of a stereotyped market. It is possible to hold a captive audience of female gamers without resorting to cute dogs, hair dye and costumes; they enjoy kicking ass too.
Alongside the importance of social interaction and emphasis around marriage, children and home-owning in the game it would seem that Fable is losing its way. What used to be quirky elements in Fable 1 and 2 have now become essential, with some quests even centring around getting married. The clothes one collects have lost all of their relevance; whereas in Fable 2 what you wore would effect how others perceived you, this seems to have been glossed over for players to simply collect clothes to ‘look cool’.
This game seems to be a slap in the face to many of the fans of the franchise who have loyally stuck by the games for their fun script and wonderful characters, only to be rewarded by minimal content and lazy game-play. Whilst Fable 3 is a very fun game with a brilliant script; and it is always refreshing to see a game that is well written with well-rounded characters; it is losing what is essential to being a video game: the challenge.
Anastasia is a Freelance Illustrator, Writer and Actress based in Wales, UK.
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