Will Preston

It’s a tale of two games, well more 80/20 than 50/50

by on Nov.09, 2010, under Review, Video Games

Me and Mr Molyneux have had a very weird relationship so far. Every time a new game is in the works at Lionhead Studios, he promises me the world and more as he playfully kisses my finger. Wanting all his promises to be true, I give a girlish giggle, blush and say that of course I’ll get excited about the new release. But by the time the game comes out, he never fulfilled all his promises. He’s already buggered off to work on the next project before I’ve had a chance to nag his ear off. But that’s the world of mainstream gaming for you. A lot of highly decorated disappointment. Not to say that he produces bad games. He produces fantastic games, but games not nearing their full potential.

Which brings us to Fable 3.

Clean cut prince

As you would remember, I was bloody excited about the new features you can do in the new Fable. Well, mainly the fact you can be a king, but we’ll get on to that later. A lot has changed in the gameplay since the last one. There is now no list style start menu (well there is one when pausing during a cut scene), instead you are transported to a sanctuary where all pause menu decisions are made by you moving your man around a few rooms. It’s brilliant. Mid battle, I pause, go into my sanctuary, move to the weapons rooms and browse my spell rack and other tid bits in a nicely decorated armoury. It’s a lot more fun than menu scrolling, but a bit off putting for first time users.

Also, there’s a lot of streamlining going on. The various different weapons have been mostly replaced with one type of sword/hammer/pistol//rifle. The idea behind this is that the weapon changes as you go through the game. It does, but the money and time spent buying and upgrading weapons has now gone. Something I rather enjoyed doing. Ah well. But the biggest change was one that really intrigued me; the main character and story. Previously, you were always a little gutter snipe enjoying life until something broke your equilibrium. Then you had to train to fight and vanquish a great evil blah blah blah. OK, the great evil is still there, but you’re now a prince. A prince who you can play as and can talk (a first in the series!). Your brother is an evil tyrant (Played by the Englishman from Inglorious Basterds) who is ruling Albion with dickish fist during the industrial age.

A steam punk subway station

That was another thing that appealed to me; the age of industry. Instead of always sticking the medieval set up, the series has moved nicely through different ages of England’s past. From running around peasant villages, I’m now running through built up smoggy factory towns. Brilliant. But back to the dickhead king. After a few alterations, you run away from the castle with your Butler (John Cleese) and your trainer, Sir Walter Beck (that king from Lord Of The Rings). It’s time for a revolution. It’s supposed to be a game of two halves, but the first half takes so much time, the second looks slightly tacked on at the last minute. It’s the usual Fable affair. Go through quests doing good or bad, do things on the side, buy property, build your skills, make pies. It’s up to you. The experience is now on one meter instead of four and you can only equip one spell at a time, but once you get a second spell gauntlet, you can cast combination spells. Another first for the series.

There’s nothing much else to say except that it’s business as usual from here on. There are some great side quests and the fighting has taken a few tips from Batman: Arkham Asylum. After discovering the new country of Aurora (a desert dwelling country), you are then shown your mission for the second halve of the game, but first, you need to vanquish your brother. You get to stage a revolution that has you fighting through the city streets until you claim the throne. Now this was the part that got me excited. Mr Molyneux made a few promises about city management, keeping the public happy, the consequences of leaving your place on the throne too much and family members being greedy. All lies.

But it’s still a good concept, just deflated. You have to prepare your country for war and are given 365 days to raise enough funds to keep Albion safe. But you’ve made promises to be a nice king at this point, so you constantly have to make money making decisions or decision that please your people and keep your promises. I decided to be a bloody nice king, but try to raise the funds; by property owning and pie making. Yes, I was such a skilled pie maker at this point that I was preparing crusts to fund the treasury . I couldn’t depend on the property income system of giving me money when the Xbox is turned off, so I had to work this time around.

Outrageous 'tash's aplenty in this game!

It kind of got me thinking that this would be funny in a real life situation; David Cameron doing manual labour or cooking in order to get the economy back on it’s knees. Maybe that’s where democracy is going wrong? But in the end, I decided to get as much property in and all the income went to the city treasury. By this point the year was nearly up and I had made mostly nice decision: not turning an orphanage in a brothel. Not cutting down trees for industry. Making sure people were safe. But I broke a few for money. It then made me realise that this is Mr Molynuex’s slightly disguised attempt to make the player understand all the difficult decisions he had to choose when making the game. In the end, the war came and I lost about 90% of my population; the remaining were very angry at me. That was the ending. What a cop out. It’s like spending 3 years in education then having a graduation ceremony behind the bike sheds.

Saying that though, I’m now going through the game again being as evil as I can. I can’t win can I? It’s a good game, but you will enjoy the experience more of you put your fingers in your ears every time Mr Molyneux starts talking about the plans he had for it. Because the man is a liar. A charming, intelligent, good game-making liar.

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