Fable 3 is the sequel to Fable 2, which is, in turn, the sequel to Fable. Clearly leading the surge on creative titles, this franchise is a healthy combination of innovation, core gameplay elements, and the inevitable Molyneux lie. The Fable series is as critically acclaimed as it is critically ashamed. With promised elements missing from the first installment to the completely absent mechanics of the second, Fable 3 was promised to be one of the most involved role-playing games to date. As the saying goes, the third time’s a charm… right?
The story of Fable 3 revolves around you, an evil Prince who will stop at nothing to have massive orgies, marry as many women as possible, have as many illegitimate children as Wilt Chamberlain, and wants nothing more than to dye his clothes green to emulate his favorite Hero of all-time, Link.
Okay, so maybe that’s not the real story to the game, but that’s certainly how my story panned out.
Just in time for the mid-term elections, Fable 3 lets you take control of a Prince, or Princess, who’s older brother, the King, is running the kingdom into the ground. A tyrannical leader who will stop at nothing to promote his own agenda (or so you’re lead to believe), it is your duty to win over the hearts of the kingdom so that one day you will rule the land.
You will set out on some of the most random quests to persuade the leader of a said faction that you are indeed the best candidate. Quests ranging from shrinking small enough to be part of a board game, to helping ghost brothers find their way, to capturing all the mischievous lawn gnomes make up the girth of the story. After completing certain quests, you will be forced to give a promise to the ruler of the land that when you become King, you will fix the problems at hand. Remember, this is Fable after all, so much like Molyneux himself, you don’t have to actually fulfill a said promise.
Fable 3 in terms of gameplay mechanics feels exactly like it’s predecessors. The one-button combat system makes its return, with a button being mapped to a Melee Weapon (sword or axe), a Ranged Weapon (pistol or rifle), and Magic (known as a Gauntlet). While the game will tell you that a weapon changes as you use it during the game, it’s not as simple as it sounds. Each Legendary Weapon has 3 Legendary Bonuses that can be attained by completing certain requirements. An example would be that if you have the Swinging Sword equipped, you can increase a specific stat by having an orgy with 4 or more people, sleeping with 15 men, and sleeping with 15 women. Each category that you fulfill grants the Swinging Sword a specific stat boost and also changes the weapon’s appearance. This goes for the Ranged Weapons as well.
Using Magic in this game feels much more like it felt in the first Fable. By that, I mean incredibly overpowered and straight badass. You can combine magic powers together by equipping the appropriate “Gauntlet” to each hand, allowing you the ability to use two different types of magic at once. Think that using Blades and Lightning in a combination sounds awesome? Do it. Want to try out Force Push and Fire? Well, you can. My favorite, on the other hand, is Fire and Lightning. Watching your enemy being electrocuted, unable to move while your fireball burns the flesh off their bones never gets old.
One major difference is the menu system. Rather than having the standard menu open up with text and boring sh** like that, Fable 3 created what they call “The Sanctuary”. Every time you press Start, your character will be transported to a section of the castle where you can access the World Map, Wardrobe, Armory, Stats, Game Settings, Gifts, Online, and a lot more. While I admit I hated this at first, it eventually grew on me and is something I hope more games use from here forward.
I have put over 100 hours in Fable 3, and I still haven’t gotten all the Achievements. I have collected every Silver and Gold Key, every Gnome, every Rare Book, every Auroran Flower, found every Dig Spot and Treasure Chest, satisfied the ridiculous demands of all the Demon Doors, had sex over 150 times (while remaining STD-free), beaten every quest, and can still see myself putting in another 100 hours. After all, I still haven’t played through the game as a “Good” character (not to mention playing as an evil, seductress sounds oh-so-amazing).
I wish that I could write that Fable 3 is as good a game as I’ve played all year. In terms of sheer creativity within your individual character’s story, it certainly is. Unfortunately, it seems as if Lionhead Studios was so focused on the whole being “innovative” thing, that they missed some of the smaller, more important details. The one glaring issue that I have to tell you about is the complete lack of a mini-map. Each city can be accessed through a giant World Map in your “Sanctuary” (aka the Start button). By simply pressing “X”, you can Fast Travel to said location. The problem is, once you are in this town you will have no idea where you are going (unless you are on a Quest, and can just follow the glitchy glowing trail). This becomes a major concern when you are trying to find a specific house, or on a collectible hunt. To make matters worse, the World Map doesn’t show where you are located in the city itself. It would be like being placed in the Mall of America, and when you go to look at the Directory, the “You are Here” arrow isn’t there.
To add to the mini-map frustration, the glowing trail leading you to your destination has returned and is just as glitchy as before. There were more than a few times when the trail would simply disappear or would follow behind me rather than show me the way. This wouldn’t be a big deal if we had a mini-map to show us where we were. I’m not sure if it was left out to make the world seem larger than it really is, or if it’s being held captive until a $9.99 DLC, but it’s a huge miss.
The only portion to Fable 3 is one of my favorite pieces to the game. All you need to do is be plugged into Xbox Live to play with your friends. You can play solo and still see them running around the map (in the form of a floating badge), or hop into their game and help them complete quests or find collectibles. The entire game is completely accessible online, making for a seamless, enjoyable experience. Nothing quite like walking around town and suddenly being interrupted by a prompt that says, “Whats-His-Face wants to have unprotected sex with you. Do you Accept?”.
Fable 3 is far from perfect. I could write a list of grievances that would make your head spin. The thing is, anyone could do that with any game. At the end of the day, it honestly comes down to one thing: is it entertaining. The last time I have played a game this much was Grand Theft Auto IV. It’s amazing how a game can have the same storyline console to console, yet each player has their own separate story. For example, my legacy is defined by the following scenario:
I marry one woman the entire game, propose to her and have the most expensive wedding possible. Following the path of the light, I upheld my promise to her, eventually having a beautiful child. Being forced to leave on a quest for quite some time, I tried my best to visit when possible. That is until I came home one afternoon only to find that I had a Black child (which is impossible, considering neither myself nor my wife, are Black). Understanding now that she is nothing more than a dirty, cheating whore of a wife, I divorced her, sold the house, followed her out into the woods and watched my Fireball spell burn her to the ground. After that, I placed my child up for adoption, and have since then tried to sleep with every woman I can find. I have also become more evil than the Devil himself, and kill any citizen who doesn’t quiver in fear.
Redefining the “open world” role-playing game, Fable 3 is a must play for sure.