I played the hell out of the original Fable, both on the Xbox and PC. In fact, my originalFable review was the first ever for e-AAGH.net. Fable 2 didn’t strike the same chord, unfortunately. I just couldn’t get into the game in any way, shape or form. Now, having put many, many hours into Fable 3, we’re going to find out which predecessor it veers closer to.
Fable 3 starts in an atypical way for a Fable game. You’re not a child this time, but a grown adult (male or female, that’s your choice), the younger sibling of the King of Albion. Your elder brother comes off a quite a jerk and slightly crazy so you spend the first half of the game building a revolution to overthrow him. During this time you venture overseas and come across a terrible evil – one that you will find is on it’s way to Albion. This leaves you in a moral dilemma as you finally overthrow your brother at the midway point of the game and assume the throne yourself. This, to me, is where the game hits a major snag.
You spend the first half of the game making promises to various factions to win their support, and naturally they come calling once you are the new ruler. They want you to follow through on your promises, but money is a huge hurdle. If you don’t have enough money in the royal treasury to pay for whatever they want, you have to turn them away. Does your newly anointed king or queen spin their rejection to sound palatable? Hell no, they respond in the most inflammatory way possible. I found myself cursing my avatar for his choice of words time and again. The worst part is that there’s no middle ground. You either take the ‘good’ route and put out money to the people you made promises to, or support the maniacal Reaver (my personal nemesis) in his insane ventures to make gold. It’s usually that simple. Reaver’s option is ‘evil’ and makes money, while everyone else’s options are ‘good’ and cost money. It’s just too black and white.
Graphically the game is simple and somewhat charming (if you ignore the fact that everyone’s hair is apparently made out of rigid plastic), while the sounds are bland. The game is frequently humorous, such as the husband and wife argument over chickens (Lionhead Studios has a truly unhealthy love to chickens) that you are asked to resolve. Do you let the chickens live, where – as the wife puts it – they may create cities and great works of art? Or do you side with the husband who thinks the chickens are crafty and evil? I sided with the husband (on the grounds that the wife was the crazier of the two) and the chickens were put to death. The game posited that I did something evil – apparently chickens need their artistic freedom. Who knew?
There’s a multiplayer mode, both online and off. Beta and I played a good bit of local co-op and the camera would often go haywire on us. On the positive side, you don’t just pick a generic hero for multiplayer as in Fable 2. Instead, you pull your single player hero over into your friend’s game and everything you do and find counts towards your single player mode.
All in all this is a decent, if not outstanding game. I think Fable fans will like it but it’s not going to convert those who didn’t like the last two. In fact, it may turn off some who did like the originals around the time you take the throne. If there was more freedom once you became king or queen it may have scored higher. As it stands though, it turns out that it’s not quite so good to be the King. Alphasim out.