18 November 2010 | bob the moo
An enjoyable and amusing RPG-lite but has a lot of missed potential and problems that annoy and frustrate
I'm not a big RPG fan because I tend to game in short bursts of an hour each day, so getting into collecting things and doing longer games is not as easy as playing COD for a few ten-minute games, however I enjoyed Fable 2 a lot and was looking forward to this second sequel. I quickly got into it since it is essentially the same as Fable 2. In terms of the game play and locations they most will ring bells and there is not a lot different here. On one hand this is a good thing because it means that if you liked 2 then you'll like this. Problem is that it is not the same, but the changes they have made tend not to be particularly good. Much was made of the "new" expression system but in reality you only have a couple of choices each time compared to being able to pick from your entire range. Not sure why forcing me to dance with every stranger I meet is an "improvement" but it didn't bug me too much as the game didn't force me to do it much – apart from the "hold hands" idea which is buggy and annoying.
The menus of the last game are replaced with The Sanctuary, which is a great idea and makes the game very easy in terms of picking inventory (most of it anyway) and moving around the world rapidly. However, I have played for over 15 hours and still have no idea where gifts go when you buy them – or why if I have 15 carrots and buy 1 apple that it means I only have 1 apple now – again, no improvement there. The main selling point for the game was that the game doesn't end when you take the throne, and that the moral choices in the "second half" of the game will become more important and more meaningful in terms of shaping the world. Sadly this is baloney. I enjoying being King and did love the idea but it isn't anywhere near as clever as advertised. Firstly it is very short. I took my time going down the Road to Rule as I was having fun playing around on the jobs, buying property and so on – I had glitched money in the last game and regretted it so I was enjoying the challenge of investing and growing. Even still – I found myself becoming at the point of no return very quickly and unable to delay the rebellion.
Once the rebellion occurs the game can be as long as you want it but essentially you are King for 5 "days" before the event you are preparing for. Oh and for some reason the last "day" is "165 days before event" and then suddenly "day of the event" – again, annoying. Problem for me was that I had easily already amassed about 5 million just playing. So to get to 6.5 simply meant playing the game while my property rolled in the last bit. This meant that the choices (which are very black or white and lacking any finesse or subtly) were not very hard. Be evil to save 100k? Why? I earn that from property every 5 minutes of play time! This meant it was easy to be King – very easy. I played it slow and didn't rush through my days though but I could have done and this "second half" of the game would have been a few hours at most.
Once the "story" is finished there are still plenty of things to do. I like to do the achievements so will do the gnomes but maybe not the books – while trading clothes on Xbox live is of no interest to me. Sadly I did run out of proper quests quite quickly and soon only had the "find 50 things" ones and also the "go there get that and bring it back" ones to make people like me. The ruling aspect was good in concept but it desperately needed more to it; I could accept the fact that the world didn't particularly change when I made my decisions (like they said it would) but I would have liked more decisions. Why not have an ongoing "court" when I can sit in minor judgements over moral issues where the answers are hard, even if they only affect my character and the individuals? This would have extended the fun of being king.
As with Fable 2, combat is "so so". Just keep rolling and mashing buttons without a lot of skill or involvement – I thought the "finish game without being knocked out" achievement would be hard....it wasn't, even without a health meter it was easy to stay alive from start to finish. Also, as is the norm, the frame rate is horrible – it frequently lags and struggles to process everything, meaning I regularly felt like I was moving through syrup! Fortunately though the basic gameplay and good humour of the game is enough to overcome this. The stars doing voice work were all good – from the comedy of Fry and Ross to the wonderful tone of Harris. Kingsley, Pegg and others just adds to it.
So I have sounded negative on this game but I did still enjoy it in the same way I enjoyed Fable 2. It is still a good game – just not the great one it should have been. Changes from 2 to 3 seem to be for the worse, while the expansion of the story and "moral choices" is very simplistic and straightforward. The game is easy to complete and when it is like that then it needs to have depth, layers and plenty of side quests to make it long and prevent you putting it back in the box after two weeks – sadly, for all its fun, Fable 3 doesn't progress and badly needed more time.