Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Race for the Crown Has Begun!

Fable 3, Lionhead Studio's third installment to the Fable franchise. The game takes place 50 years from the events of Fable 2. In the years that followed, the Hero of Fable 2 united Albion and formed it in to a industrial aged kingdom. When the Hero passed away the throne was bestowed to the eldest of his two children, Logan. Over time Logan became a tyrant and his rule seemed to be cruel and unreasonable. This is where your story begins. "Live the epic adventure of a revolutionary leader, fighting alongside your people to seize the crown. Through out your journey, the actions you take will change the world around you, for good or ill. Who will you become? The tyrant you rebelled against, or the greatest ruler to ever live?"

So if you read my previous post you will know that I have been a fan of the Fable series for quite a while. Although I was not pleased with the outcome of Fable 2. I felt the story line was weak, the co-op camera was horrific to use which ruined the experience, and for the most part the game took a step back in progress from the original Fable. I am glad to say that is the exact opposite about Fable 3. The story line was interesting and a great improvement compared to Fable 2, the revised co-op camera and feature was greatly improved which made the playing experience two times better, the newly added weapon morphing feature was amusing and for the most part it took a step forward from Fable 2. Lionhead's mission was to make Fable 3 everything Fable 2 was and better and that's what they did.

Some of the things I didn't like in Fable 3 was the new progression/experience feature. Instead of gaining experience for the three separate categories of strength, skill, and magic you now gain experience by collecting general experience orbs after completing a quest killing an enemy, or developing relationships with villagers. These orbs accumulate towards earning a guild seal. With so many guild seals you can unlock abilities and upgrades such as combat proficiencies, magic spells, expressions, and job skills on the "Road to Rule." The "Road to Rule" is basically a progression mark. For every follower you gain, a new gate is unlocked on the "Road to Rule." Each gate contains chests which holds unlock-ables and upgrades. It really isn't that bad of a new feature I just find it a bit cliche, unpractical, and I prefer the original Fable experience progression feature better. Another thing I didn't like was the not so great graphics and the bugs/glitches. During the game there was two types of cut scenes. The first type is what I like to call "In game cut scenes." This is where the not so great graphics really showed. The characters were rough and their texture and such was like plastic almost like a doll. Then there was "movie cut scenes." Character texture looked smooth and almost realistic which made them looked totally different from in game (a good example is Logan). But over all the graphics were not that bad to view during game play. As for bugs/glitches, for the most part the only time I experienced them was during co-op play and when it did happen it didn't really affect game play. Although a bug that I found to affect game play was during the job mini games. As you completed each round, increasing your gold multiplier the game would start to lag to the point where you would break the multiplier and start from one all over again. I found this to be highly irritating. Perhaps downloading the game to the hard drive would make this run better. In addition even though the weapon morphing feature creates a vast amount of weapons with different abilities there is still a lack of types of weapons(i.e. no cleavers, axes, katanas, cutlasses, and such). Also because of the morphing feature they removed the attachable augmentation feature . Finally one last dislike about the game was the sudden and unexpected ending during the second part of the game. Without giving an spoilers away let me just advise you that it would be wise to not rush through the game (so make time to complete a moderate amount of side quests) and to build a very large fortune (especially if you plan to be good and meet with the promises made.) Also it seems once the entire story is complete you can no longer make royal decrees like raising or lowering taxes again or make ordinary judgments.

Besides those dislikes (and don't let them discourage you) Fable 3 was an admirable game. There were many things I enjoyed about it. To start off Fable 3's story line was a nice improvement, definitely not a disappointment unlike Fable 2. Something that I was glad to see was the return of boss battles. Although not quite as grand as the original Fable boss battles, the several boss battles in Fable 3 were still entertaining. On a separate note once again Fable 3 lacked a little on the final boss aspect. The story line has about 24 hours or more of game play (twice as much as Fable 2). Of course assuming you take your time, complete all side quests, build up a large fortune to aid yourself in the game (which you'll need to do), unlock all the achievements, find all the demon doors (which sadly there is only 6), find all the silver and gold keys to unlock all the key chests, find all the legendary weapons (which some of them you'll need to trade with others to get), hunt down all the gnomes (the equivalent to gargoyles in Fable 2) and play the game from both evil and good perspectives. In Fable 3 Lionhead removed practically all the hassle of menus and HUD in the game which I found really unique and amazing. Not only did it remove the clutter on the screen but it gave the game a nice atmosphere. To access your weapons, stats, clothing, spells, game management, the map and the multilayer feature you press start on the controller which teleports you to the sanctuary which is the equivalent to your own personal lair. From there you can access the armory, the treasure room, the Live room, and the dressing room. Additionally the spell gauntlets was an interesting new feature because instead of using spells from a menu, you equip on spell gauntlets. With the spell weaving feature (unlocked after the 4th gate) you can equip two different spell gauntlets at a time to create a combination of your choosing (for example fire and shock). Furthermore the new improved interaction feature with NPC's is something to note. The only problem is because they removed all menus and HUD when you choose to interact and you don't like the expressions for that interaction session (represented by floating corresponding buttons) you have to cancel out and try again for a new set of expressions. Also a counter part of the new interaction feature is the dynamic touch feature which allows you to press the left trigger to hold a villagers hand. With this feature you can lead a villager on to a date or drag a beggar off the streets and lead him or her to a factory. Also the revised co-op multiplayer feature is a major improvement compared to Fable 2. No longer are both players tied to one screen. When a player joins your game he or she brings in his/her hero character along with everything he/she owns including the dog. Although unlike Fable 2 you can't decided what percentage of the gold and what percentage of experience you both get, everything is divided by the game itself. A new feature in co-op is that you can form a business partnership with your co-op guest which allows players to split the costs of purchasing items and real estate as well as split the profits gained by it while playing. You can also marry your co-op guest and have children whether your the same sex or not. With the new co-op feature the Fable 3 experience was really enjoyable to play with a friend or guest.

In conclusion, Fable 3 was a great addition to the Fable franchise and it definitely redeemed its unpleasant predecessor. The major cons of the game was the sketchy graphics, the lack of different types of weapons, clothing, and hair styles, as well as the abrupt ending. The major pros of the game was the greatly enhanced/revised multiplayer co-op feature, the interesting and enjoyable story line, the extended game play, the weapon morphing feature, the new interaction feature, and finally the removed menu and HUD feature. If you enjoyed both Fable and Fable 2 without a doubt you'll enjoy Fable 3. If you enjoyed the original Fable but not Fable 2 give Fable 3 a try it honestly wasn't that bad of a game. For those who are new to the series I do recommend Fable 3 but perhaps you should check out Fable and Fable 2 first to get a better appreciation. My final verdict of Fable 3 is a 7.5 / 8 out of 10. The game did have some potential that Lionhead Studios just didn't meet up with.