‘Fable III’ follows far behind prequel

November 4, 2010

by Taylor Stephens, Managing Editor

As previous “Fables” before it, “Fable III” introduces the main character as the Hero of Albion, but new to the games is the fact that “Fable III” is a sequel to the second, but in many ways, it fails as a new-age video game.

In the first two “Fables,” players begin the game as children, which acts as a prologue of sorts to explain the game mechanics before the player is thrown into action. Do not expect this luxury in “Fable III.” Players might think they understand how to play based on controls from “Fable II,” but they could not be more wrong. An entirely new schematic of controls are introduced, but they are archaic in comparison to the huge strides “Fable II” made to the franchise from the first game.

Conversation was made into a tribal button mashing, where players simply interact with another non-playable character, which took away from the game in terms of community relationships. Whereas in “Fable” and “Fable II,” the player could choose which emotion or gesture he or she wanted to perform, the player must now simply become lucky based on the buttons. Want to dance? Too bad. Want to play patty-cake? Try again later. The game goes backwards in terms of video-game advancement, forcing the player to participate in out-dated, mundane rituals to receive any type of connection or communication with other characters in the game. One of the options was the new ability to hold another character’s hand, if moderately good, or drag un-cooperating citizens, if mostly evil, to a location the player desires.

In previous “Fables,” the ability to marry or be in a relationship was straight forward, simple and relatively inexpensive. While the inexpensive part still tries true for “Fable III,” going into a relationship is anything but simple.

Once establishing who the player wants to spend the rest of his video-game life with, assuming he or she is not planning on killing or divorcing his or her spouse later, a quest must be taken to gain their friendship. After the quest, the player must now take his or her suitor on a date. This date usually consists of grabbing the other player’s hand, going to some dumpy area such as an old park bench or the middle of a broken bridge and sharing a first kiss.

After the quest and the date have been completed, the player may now marry. Of course, that is after the player buys a house and a ring.

Fortunately for returning players, the battle system is similar to “Fable II.” Unfortunately for everyone, the weapons and items system are far inferior to “Fable II.”

While the idea of simply wearing a gauntlet for different magical abilities is exciting, the fact that the only way to get and exchange the gauntlets is to first go to the Sanctuary, which acts the players in-game menu, go to the armory, go to the wall of gauntlets and physically stand next to the gauntlet the player wants causes unwanted, interrupted gameplay.

One thing developers at Lionhead cannot seem to grasp is how to develop a functioning mini-map for players that does more than list quests and act as a real estate brochure, though it was an appealing addition to allow the purchase of real estate and vending areas from the mini-map. A simple arrow stating, “You are here,” with more detailed area maps would do wonders for this franchise in terms of navigation and control.

“Fable III”‘s story starts off strong with a lot of complicated but still relevant information. As the player can guess from the opening sequence, he or she is destined to become the king or queen of Albion and rule over the world with either an iron fist or a gentle touch.

Players of the second game will also remember Theresa, the blind seer who took care of the Hero until he or she was ready to face the problems plaguing the land. While her appearance is unchanged, her demeanor toward good and evil has changed drastically.

When the player becomes innately evil in “Fable II,” Theresa, remarks how the player should not allow him or herself to become corrupted so easily. However in “Fable III,” whether the player finishes the game with a shining halo or demon horns, which is only figurative since these were also removed from the game as a standing avatar accomplishment, Theresa is supportive of the player’s actions.

Though there are a lot of flaws with controls and plot holes throughout the game, they could all be forgiven if the game was not as easy as it is.

Even doing every single quest, unlocking most of the achievements and still completing the game’s main story, it took me little more than 14 hours to finish the game entirely. The game also makes it extremely easy to become rich, which has never been an easy thing to do in a “Fable” game. Once the player earns the ability to own real estate and businesses, the money flows unabashedly.

However, the game is not entirely without praise. One of the greater accomplishments is the ability to control the lives of the world’s population, more so than running around shooting or shanking people.

Rather than the game revolving around ending the greatest evil to ever come to Albion, though that is still a major plotline, the player must make a conscious effort on whether to save the lives of millions or to let them fall.

The greatest thing this game had to offer the players was important aspects of the main story. Well developed and cohesive, the plotline offered great twists and gave emotion where “Fable” games did not succeed before. The voice actors were well-chosen, and as usual, the comedic timing was perfect, though I doubt during the era the game takes place “balls” was a regular term used in frustration or anger as it was by the player’s main companion.

The game constantly reminds the player that he or she is in control of an entire world, and had it not been for the long list of flaws the game has, the ability to control an entire world could have been more exciting than the game allowed.

Before Lionhead attempts another “Fable” game, it would be to their advantage to step back and look at the franchise, look at everything “Fable II” broke out of “Fable” to make it such an amazing game, look at what they dumbed down for what I can only assume as shock value and then, try again.

“Fable III” could have been so much more than a decent game with great graphics, and if the developers want to take another, better shot with a sequel to the third game, I would be willing to keep playing.

E-mail comments to tds026@latech.edu.