Monday, December 27, 2010

Canon Video Game Review: Fable 3 (XBOX 360)

First of all, Merry Christmas dammit. I hope that everyone out there had a great Christmas filled with merriment and no fruit cake. Today's review is of the recently released XBOX360 game Fable III. Developed by Lionhead Studies and published by Microsoft Studios, Fable III was released in October 2010 and includes voice acting from Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Stephen Fry, and John Cleese, among others. Fable III takes place some fifty years after the events of Fable II, and you, the hero, are the child (you can choose to be either man or woman) of the hero of the previous game. But things aren't so peachy in Albion, as your brother Logan has become a tyrant who rules his kingdom with an iron fist. Eventually, you have enough of Logan's style of rule and rebel against him after a particularly ugly incident in which you must make a choice of grave consequences, and go out into the world, gaining allies and biding your time until you and your cronies can successfully overthrow King Logan. Eventually (SPOILER ALERT), you succeed, and now as ruler of Albion, you are faced with difficult decisions in governing the people. Like the previous two Fable games, you can be as good or as bad as you want to be. Whether you want to be good to the people and give back to the poor, or be evil and slay innocent villagers left and right, Fable III gives you that choice. Here is the cover for Fable III, courtesy of allgame.com:


Some of the positives for Fable III include the graphics, as the team at Lionhead Studios have created a gorgeous and breathtaking virtual world that has many different elaborate designs and features. The various characters in this game actually look like people, and all of the various towns each have their own distinctive charm to them. The audio in this game is also very well done, with the voice acting coming through crystal clear. The music wasn't too annoying, although there wasn't much variety, while the sound effects seemed to fit in well with what was happening at the time.

Combat in Fable III is, shall I say, kind of repetitive. Most of the time you just encounter a horde of enemies like hobbes and hollow men and are able to slash your way through the pile without too much damage. Or you can do a major spell and obliterate your opponents that way. For some reason, the makers of Fable 3 decided to dumb things down a bit by not only reducing the number of available spells from 15 to 6, but also taking away the manual aim on ranged weapons that was present in Fable 2. The latter decision has made sniping enemies from long range without being noticed nearly impossible, as you can't get a one shot kill anymore. Also, it has made shooting ranged weapons in general a lot less effective and frankly, less entertaining. Magic in this game is quite devastating, almost too devastating, and unlike most games, there's no limit on magic energy, so you can just press the B button over and over a few times and kill all your enemies with ease. While the ability to combine spells is interesting, I'm kind of ticked that there isn't nearly as many spells to use and master than in the first two Fable games. I'm also kind of ticked that there is no health bar in the game, as the only indication that you're in peril is when the option to take a potion or some food comes up on the option wheel in the lower left corner of the screen.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the Fable series is interacting with characters by using various expressions and effecting their perceptions of your character in either a positive or negative way, depending on the expression. Well, you can also do that in Fable 3, but it's not quite as enjoyable. On the plus side, there are a variety of new expressions to use, including hugging, tickling (which is kind of weird to do to a random stranger, but whatever), patty cake, and others. However, the expression wheel from Fable 2 is gone, so instead of having multiple expressions to choose from at any time, you are now only left with the two that happen to be presented. Also, instead of being able to interact with multiple people at a time, you can now only perform an expression for one person at a time, making it more time consuming to make friends or enemies. Also, instead of just becoming friends with villagers through expressions, you now have to earn their friendship or love through doing tasks for them. Unfortunately, the tasks are very repetitive and unimaginative, as either you go find something buried in the ground, deliver a package to another person, or you have to buy something for them. If you are pursuing a romantic relationship, you must go on a date with the person, which only consists of holding their hand, taking them to a specific spot, and sharing a kiss. Like the first two Fables, you can eventually marry and have children with the spouse of your choice, or, if you find the right person, you can go out and have premarital sex, although you may also get an STD if you do this without protection. Overall, the villagers are kind of repetitive and dull, and the constant tasks you must do in order to make friends doesn't really seem worth all of the effort.

The game also allows you to buy property like houses and shops with whatever money you earn, and through renting out houses and owning shops, you can accumulate money quite easily. Almost too easily, in fact. Furthermore, since everything like potions and furniture can be bought at a a fairly decent price, there comes a point in the game where money is really no object, so you can just go around and buy whatever you want while your savings are replenished through rent money after every five minutes of game play. As for the story of the game, it felt a bit shorter than the previous two Fable games, and although most of the main characters involved are interesting, and there are some cool side tasks, the main part of the mission is full of similar missions (usually you go somewhere, kill a bunch of enemies, and advance). Even when you become ruler, the choices you make aren't really terribly difficult to decide, as you either do the good thing or the evil thing after a minute long presentation is given by various characters.

If there were two beefs that I had with Fable 3, one is that the game is full of glitches. There are many fits of weirdness, such as getting stuck for no reason at all, having your dog disappear for minutes at a time, losing the trail you are on at the time in the middle of a quest, so you have no idea where you're going before it magically reappears, and so forth. The other thing about Fable 3 that I have beef with is that it is just too easy. Death has no real consequence in the game, as you just get back five seconds later to fight again instead of a more severe penalty such as, say, losing whatever progress you made on your quest. Making money is a cinch after you gain the ability to own property (why you have to gain the ability to own property with experience points is kind of strange, but whatever), so you're never short on cash. Your weapons evolve with each use, so there's no real use in buying newer weapons, and besides, the enemies never evolve too much in difficulty from the beginning to the end of the game, so it doesn't really matter anyway. Heck, even your dog has become easier, as unlike the previous game, it never gets hurt even when surrounded by 25 sword wielding bandits and improving it's skill is basically a matter of finding the right book (instead of evolving by levels, you can now buy a level five treasure seeking book, use it, and poof, your dog's instantly at the highest level, even if he started at level one).

Overall, I may have said a lot of seemingly negative things about Fable 3, and they are all true, but Fable 3 still can be a somewhat enjoyable game experience. That being said, it almost seems like a Triple-A version of Fable 2, as the series seems to have taken a step backwards instead of forwards in quality and innovation. Overall, I'd give Fable 3 a 5.2 out of 10, as it's decent enough, but is overall too repetitive and simple and could have been so much better. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.

4 comments:

  1. Before I bought my XBOX, I was told that Fable was Microsoft's answer to The Legend Of Zelda. I bought Fable II (as requested by a Gamestop employee) for less than 10 bucks and promptly returned it less than a week later. Not because it didn't live up to the 'Zelda' comparison, but because it was so strangely designed. It didn't feel like a cohesive experience, but seemed more like a jumbled collection of features on top of an adventure game. WITH A VERY CLUNKY MENU INTERFACE. It didn't help that I was completely turned off by the art style.

    Thanks for this review!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, FIII was okay, but the total lack of menu and interface ruined it for me. Making friends with the villagers was too annoying to bother with, and being Good was a constant struggle, because all the townspeople made me super angry. I just wanted to turn the safety off, get them all in one place, and then hit them all with a vortex/lightning spell. Ahhh that would have been fun.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, they did get rid of the clunky menu in Fable 2. They didn't improve on it or even sufficiently replace it with a better system, but they did get rid of it. Bottom line, if you didn't like Fable 2, well you definitely won't like Fable 3. Plus, I really don't get the comparison of Fable to the Zelda series. Kind of a strange comparison.

    Also, I did seriously consider turning on Fable 3 and doing just as you described, getting a bunch of villagers in the same place, hit them all with a massive spell, then repeat, because they were certainly annoying. Ultimately, I decided that my time would be spent better by doing something else, although I don't remember what that something else was.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It probably had to do with farting in public.

    ReplyDelete