Darcy “Editor in Chief” Selke
Continuing our March foray into the worst games we’ve played, I wanted to look at one that wasn’t “bad” as much as it was “disappointing”. Disappointing was like that one word my parents always said which was worse than any punishment.
“We’re not mad, we’re just disappointed” these words encapsulate how I feel about Fable 3.
After both 1 and 2 built some solid foundations of a franchise, 3 came down and totalled it like a bully knocking down a sandcastle.
This is perhaps the defining failure of the game. Fable games have never compared to the likes of Bioware games or the Uncharted series but they did a good job of creating a world you could run around and have some fun in. The first game had the whole “Hero Academy”-thing and the second actually had a pretty compelling revenge plot.
The third game starts out not bad. There’s another revenge plot mixed in with a revolution as your character leads a rebellion against your brother, the King.
This all stems from your brother being basically a giant Knob and Tyrant and abducting people, shutting down orphanages and basically just being a cartoon villain.
Then it’s all revealed that he was only being an ass to try to protect the citizens! To raise funds against a mysterious darkness that wants to kill everything on Albion. For some reason your Brother doesn’t mention this to ANYONE except himself.
So now it’s your job to make the “tough” decisions except again the game acts like A) You’re making these decisions for fun and B) The citizens will hate you for them
As an example: one of the “tough decisions” is that to fund your defence you have to destroy the pretty lake the people like to cottage next to so that you can mine it for resources. The game acts like in any way you should be expected to NOT destroy the lake.
Put simply the game struggles with it’s own internal logic, you’re making these decisions based on trying to save more lives down the road except characters like Reaver come along and act like they’re doing it for fun.
It’s almost not even worth it but here goes:
Your brother LOOKS evil, I know that shouldn’t matter but the guy has a hooked nose, a sneering grin and looks like a childhood story villain. He’s a super big jerk to you and almost kills your romantic interest for no other reason than because he could. The game wants you to change your opinion of the guy but there’s a difference between a ruler making decisions that are unpopular but necessary and a guy who just likes being a dick.
Your side-kick is your old Butler, played by the wonderful John Cleese (of Monty Python fame). Funny story, my Dad LOVES John Cleese so when he heard his voice while I was playing the game he actually sat and watched for a bit only to be severely disappointed with how boring a game it was.
The villain is a blob of darkness that wants to kill everyone. It’s pretty stupid that in a game that’s trying to say “hey you never know why bad people are bad” they just have this one dimensional villain with no end goal. Jack of Blades and Lucien were both good enough villains for the franchise, this is like when Spider-man went from Green Goblin and Doc Ock to Sandman…yuck.
Like most Fable games, it feels overly concerned with new mechanics. There’s the “Good Decision/Bad Decision” thing which is so binary that Bioware looked over and said, “hey guys maybe add some Grey once in a while.”
The idea of a game with a ticking clock element is sort of neat. You have to raise this much money in this amount of time in order to defend your people but again it sort of boils everything down to money. Like, sure people don’t like to pay taxes in the real world but when you can show them what you’re spending it on they’re at least a little less angry.
The Combat is simplistic, just like every other Fable game but that’s not a bad thing. I think the mix of sword and pistol allows for some neat fight scenes but there’s not much more to say about it.
Everything in this game can be fixed by characters explaining things. It’s like when you watch old Mystery movies and EVERYTHING can be fixed in five minutes if they had a cell phone. Except in this case the “cell phone” has been arbitrarily taken away to give you a moral dilemma.
Fable games have never been super complex but I think this was the final nail in the coffin. The franchise never really got back on track and seemed to just double down on getting rid of story, characters or anything else you expect to find in single player games.
-Having a dog in a game is always nice
-Reaver is almost a completely different character in this one. I always had a soft spot for him because he was an evil jerk but like he looked cool. Now he’s some sort of weird Elton John knockoff?
-Look up Peter Molyneux’s view of Henry VIII, according to Peter, history doesn’t see Henry as that evil an guy, just a jolly chap who was quite infatuated with six women. Maybe they see him that way in England but I know we all looked down on Henry here.
-Lionhead has always been pushing the boundaries and trying new stuff, but Fable 3 was the first time the game hinted that I shouldn’t be doing side quests. I know the point they’re trying to make, “Real Monarch’s don’t go adventuring blah blah blah” but I’m playing a game I want to actually play it.
-I want to thank Zack for his article last week. He actually touched on a few serious issues like LGBTQ representation in games. Replay Value has so far been sort of silent on bigger issues like that or even Racism in gaming. I’d like to talk about this stuff more but as a white straight guy I think my voice isn’t really the one we need to hear from.
-Thanks again for reading and come back next week for our final instalment of March Malady (a name I just came up with).