“Do something for me, and I’ll be your friend.” Musings on Fable III

Fable III

Bored now!

Now that I’m about 20 hours in, and biding my time until the oh-so-obvious ‘battle to defeat my evil King-brother’ which opens up the next half of the game, I have time to pause and admit that there’s something (plural?) off about Fable III.

Full disclosure, I’ve played Fable II to over-completion (yeah yeah I’m missing a few achievements but I have more than most of my friends) and I loved Albion, Theresa, Hammer, my dog, the experience system, my magic, my outfits and their effects on the world, the DLC for Knothole, everything.

But despite hours of frustrating hand-holding, I am NOT even halfway as invested in Fable III. The world is similar, the maps and housing are almost the same, the animations are eerily familiar, but something just isn’t right.

The new and improved ‘friends quests’ left me disinterested in impressing the NPC’s of Albion. In Fable II the ease of reputation building lead to a full-on obsession with being the most popular person in the game. I was narcissistically posing and singing and seducing people in the town square and spent hours making Albion residents my bitches. And whenever I accidentally let a magic spell loose with a finger slip, I would stop whatever quest I was doing to re-up my friendship levels. The new system relies on individual quests that are simple fetching tasks, a tedium that results in hopping through the sanctuary too many times to count. Some are hidden items that require the dog to dig, but considering how little this gets you, I just don’t care. The new system isn’t any harder than the last one, it just takes the fun out of interacting with the NPC’s.

Speaking of things that have had the fun sucked from them, let’s talk about my dog. I was wholly attached to this creature in Fable II; whenever he got hurt aiding me in battle I would rush to his aid with a doggie potion (despite there being no need to) and would play fetch with him constantly. The interaction screen is now rarely seen as there is no need to even pretend or bother to train the dog as the dog training books come out so quickly that my dog was level 5 everything before the halfway mark. He is a shadow of my former best friend. I chose the kill your loved ones option to end Fable II and got all misty about my puppy, but in this game I would chose that option with this dog in an instant and not care since all this dog is useful for is for finding jet and 50g dig spots.

While housing is now easier to buy, the repair option is the most tedious thing ever. Especially since I didn’t realize you could do it via the sanctuary map and was running from HOUSE TO HOUSE, TOWN TO TOWN, for about 10 hours. (This was totally my bad.) I also didn’t know how to teleport to locations in an area like Silverpines and spent a lot of time killing zee hollow men in Mourningwood, the buggers.

In Fable II I was an epic polygamous, you know the song Area Codes by Ludacris? He wrote it about me. But my game came with an extra bonus of danger, it was glitched to high hell so sometimes my spouses would get extra tricky and follow me to another city, watch me woo and wed and then pick a cat-fight with my new spouse. (Not to mention the graphic glitches, I had a forest full of fireballs and a dog who surfed on the terrain for a few hours.) But for this Fable, even my philandering ways are not appeased. I don’t care for the characters, there are few unique NPC’s that you can interact with and whores are few and far between. I did marry my adopted child’s nanny (the adopted child being one I had with an Xbox Live player who gets abandoned when you divorce who I then found IN the orphanage) to see the outcome but all it does is require you to house them and replace them with a NEW nanny. Yawn.

There are a few things I do enjoy. Weapon customization is brilliant in this game. I find myself switching between muskets and pistols and hammers and swords all to level them up for maximum carnage. My favourite weapon for the first few quests was the Slimquick so I could chubb up on pies for healing and have my sword cut the fat. In the second half I’ve favoured Mallet’s Mallet, which has devastating blows that make balvarine killing easier. (They are the only enemy I find much harder in this game! What gives???)

Without giving too much away, up until the Shifting Sands section of the game, nothing is really different and I feel no urgency to advance the plot. I know that you become king and then the rest of the game really begins, Molyneux and crew spilled those beans last year, but I adamently hate doing things because a god figure told me to, so I’m biding my time until I’m so goddamn bored that I HAVE to be king. Sadly at this point I’ve bought all available houses, clothing and weapons, and despite my best efforts, my clothes and outfits don’t REALLY matter (unless I wear a beard) and there isn’t as much variety as there used to be. I’ve got about 8 million dollars and nothing to do with it, yet that is.

I think the most depressing thing about Fable III is that it takes you into the same towns, the same areas you had already cleared and conquered in Fable II and then, within a lifetime, run them down with wear, tear, tyranny and negligence. You are armed with experience from playing almost the exact same game so the learning curve is virtually non existent. The fun is gone, the challenge is gone. Fable III failed the audience by keeping us once again in Albion after we’ve already completely mastered it without introducing any new elements for us to seize. We basically have to take it over…again.

Lionhead needs to spearhead a new game, a new start, Fable III was not what was promised, but what did we expect?

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