If there’s one statement that perfectly sums up my love-hate relationship with Fable III it’s: Peter Molyneux needs to shut the fuck up.
Extreme? Perhaps a tad. But so are Molyneux’s claims about what Fable III achieves in comparison to what the end result was. Contrary to what he’d have you believe, Fable III is not the be-all, end-all in RPG morality-sims — as if that were a genre to begin with, but hey, we have KotOR 1 and 2, don’t we? In fact, it’s a travesty of lost opportunities, redundancies, and tedium. Part of me would like to imagine an awkward silence in a bar as the graphics team and gameplay team warily eye each other, someone very quietly reaching towards a bottle of beer to slam against a nearby stool. Point being: this game is too pretty for what it is.
Fable III is gorgeous in comparison to Fable II, and Theresa knows the load times are a lot better, but the actually gameplay is some of the most repetitive gameplay to have existed. And I say this as someone who happily played one-fourth of a Pokemon game last year and liked it. Battles are easily won — shoot, shoot, shoot, spell, spell, hit — with the same enemies to defeat over and over again. No, seriously, I’d like another wolf, balverine — are you fucking kidding me, LionHead? — and tiny little hobbe with steampunk jetpacks to shoot at, please. The last 1,200 simply weren’t enough. As for the relationships, well, the sex is certainly more entertaining but getting laid and even just becoming friends seems to take forever with everyone and their mother asking for you to deliver, fetch, or find something for them. As this point, I’m the fucking queen and some asshole maid in the castle is asking me to deliver a letter for her if I’m to get into her pants. Honestly? First edict should have been to found some sort of national postal service. Fuuuuck meeee.
If you can get past all of that, which is um, 80 percent of the game, you are treated to interesting little sidequest diversions every so often. The problem is that Fable III seems to be a game in love with its own writing. Tired of what that tertiary character, who isn’t even important, has to say? Well, fuck you, he has two more minutes of lines. Nowhere is this more apparent than the meta D&D/RPG mocking sidequest in which magicians criticize the decision to make you talk to every NPC within their game within the game — and yet you still are stuck talking to cardboard cutouts for uncomfortably long durations. It’s not that the writing is bad — it’s actually quite good, quite sharp, and very well-acted — but I didn’t buy Fable III to listen to a book on tape or watch a movie; I bought it so that I could pretend to be a badass warrior magician woman — even though I admittedly am one in real life.
Good stuff? Well, the weapons that grow and mutate to reflect how you play and live your Fable-III life are quite awesome, though I think it’s rather mean that my sword now has a “venemous glow” because of two STDs that I picked up from my wife. Also, and slightly off-topic, why did my white child from my white husband and white character suddenly become black when he became a toddler? I still love him, but my Theresa, it makes a person ask questions when she returns home from a war and her child is an entirely different race. And even more off-topic, why do my two adopted children now hate me after I put them in an awesome house with the best manny ever? Whatever. Back to the orphanage.
It seems that I’ve somehow wondered from the point in this half-assed, impromptu review, and that’s exactly how you’ll feel about the plot — ZING! While Fable II was rich with lore, Fable III is rich with the grocery lists of what it takes to be a king/queen and hero. In between repairing each and every one of your properties so that your renters won’t withhold payments, and completing your 20th fetch quests to win the love of a random NPC, you’ll begin to wonder what Fable III did to the “R” in the “RPG.”
It shot it in the face behind the Sandgoose and buried it deep in a dig spot.
Cross-posted at I Went There.