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Fable III Review

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I finally beat Fable 3 in its entirety. All weapons with all augments possible, all costumes tattoos hairstyles, all collectibles, east hare eggs, all missions completed, married Elise with 2 kids, and all DLC's completed. :D

For the record, I've beaten the story line 6 times on the PC version with all DLC, mostly to check out the mechanics.


tl;dr: storyline was too short, game includes too much filler, combat sucks, map sucks, moral choices were better than most games but some choices were pointless, Aurora arc was the only thing that saved this game

Gameplay

Combat

The combat is extremely dated. For melee combat, there are only 3 moves available. A quick attack, a charged flourish attack, and a block. The lack of a parry slows down melee combat considerably and compared to older games such as God of War makes melee combat in this game seem much less skill based and very much a chore. The killcam variations are cool, but considering how few enemy types there were, there should have been more.

It can be improved by adding grab attacks, parries, better animations, and more killcam variations. This type of combat would do best if mimicking God of War as much as possible, as its current state is bland and barely a step up from Fable TLC.

For ranged combat, there are two stances the Hero can fight in. In manual aim mode, the camera goes into a over-the-shoulder shooter position, along with a crosshair and zoomed focus. When the fire button is held down, the camera will zoom in. The Hero can move while in this stance, but slowly. In automatic aim mode, the camera is in a third person view allowing for quick controls and automatic aiming. The player does not select a target, instead the focus is on allowing high mobility while targets are automatically selected so the player only focuses on moving and shooting without aiming. Holding down the fire button allows for a charged high damage flourish attack. Flourish attacks cannot be performed in manual aim mode. In automatic aim mode, the lack of a crosshair was a terrible move. What target will be attacked is impossible to determine, as there is no glow around the enemy or crosshair to tell the player which enemy is targetted. To make matters worse, small geographical barriers such as a small change in elevation can cause the automatic aim mode to break entirely, with the hero missing enemies at point blank range. Combat in manual aim mode in combination with rolls is massively more effective than automatic aim mode because of the inaccuracy in automatic aim mode as well as the longer animations in automatic aim mode.

It can be improved by making manual aiming mode's movement speed to regular speed, as well as adding back in the subtargeting system from Fable II for automatic aim mode.

For magic combat, the Hero has two stances: single target and AoE. Magic is unbalanced. Spells are divided into two categories: primary spells and secondary spells. Primary spells are used for direct damage: Fireball, Ice Storm, Lightning, Blades. Secondary spells, force push and vortex, deal little damage are used in spell weaving to add an effect on a primary spell. Ice storm and force push are pointless, as force push DOESN'T PUSH! Ice storm does bad damage and has no side effect, making it worthless compared to the instant damage fire spell, the massive damage blades spell, and the stunlocking lightning spell. The vortex spell's AoE disables non-large enemies and essentially breaks the game.

It can be improved by seriously going back to Fable TLC's magic system. Fable TLC to this day still has one of the best and most varied magic systems in the 3D action-adventure genre. The new magic system was good in some ways, but is considerably worse than Fable TLC's system.

The game has a jarring difficulty curve. Each enemy the Hero defeats drops EXP. Depending on the damage done by each combat type, the Hero will recieve EXP into that combat type, ie: Will exp, Strength exp, Skill exp. Each combat type has 5 levels, and leveling up combat skils adds in a small damage multiplier. Your Hero also has a Hero Level, which is based on your total exp. The higher your Hero Level, the more enemies are spawned and the enemies are gradually replaced by stronger variants. This isn't a big problem as most enemies are easy to dispatch... except balverines. Balverines are tanky, have long distance lunge attacks, attack frequently, block when attacking, and have damage cancel animations. In small numbers its no problem, but when they spawn in large groups, they stunlock too constantly. Still easy, because of the health system, but takes too long. ie. Hero Level 1: 4 wolves; Hero Level 5: 12 wolves; Hero Level 10: 10 balverines, 2 white balverines.

And onto Health. The Hero has 1000 health, and a 100 health reservoir. Once the Hero loses 1000 health, that's when the screen gets the red corners and 100 hp is left. This means that the Hero cannot be one hit killed, and can live forever as long as they gobble down potions. Most people say that the instant respawn system takes away the tension, and I agree. Fable TLC had the same problem with the Revival Potions, as you had 9 lives which takes away almost all the tension.

To improve on this, simply add in back the health bars and mana bars. Make the game systems AS TRANSPARENT AS POSSIBLE. Gamers want to know their stats. They want to know how much exp they have, how much health they have, etc. etc. Magic is meant to be strong, but its reliance on mana make it expensive to use, so adding mana back in is to offset that. Allow the Hero to carry a few expensive Revival Potions, such as just 2. More importantly, EXPLAIN ALL THE GAME MECHANICS IN GAME. So many game mechanics are just simply unexplained, its pathetic. Either the devs were purposely being as vague as possible to add "mystery" to the game, or they simply ran out of time so fast they couldn't even make the tutorials on time.

Equipment

The crossdressing is good. There needs to be more costume sets. The dye system should never be DLC, and should be unlocked from the start. The morphing system is AWESOME.

However, the Legendary weapons should be FEW AND UNIQUE. Having a billion different Legendary weapons makes each and every one of them a lot less special. They should look unique, limited, and require some puzzle to obtain. And you should be able to get them all in one singleplayer game. Just like Fable TLC. The morphing system was excellent for Hero Weapons. Either make living weapons that change during use, or give the player a Hero Weapon set that has swappable parts. Three major faults.

1. Legendary weapons are no longer special and players will ultimately only want the highest dps hammer, sword, pistol, rifle

2. The Hero weapons are generated using RANDOM. RANDOM IS EVIL. FREEDOM IS GOOD. GIVE THE PLAYER FREEDOM.

3. The upgrade system was a good idea, BUT IT WAS TOO GRINDY! 150 mercenaries?!! Make it 5 next time.

Navigation

Overall the ingame navigation only needs minor adjustments. The big thing, IS THE INSANELY INACCURATE MAP! There is no minimap, the world map bares no resemblance to the actual levels they represent, it does not show where you are on the map, and the maps lack any accuracy at all. Quest markers on the map are randomly placed, forcing the player on complete reliance on the breadcrumb trail. And the breadcrumb trail I found reliable except during one of the missions where you have to return to the sewer HQ, as the breadcrumb led into the middle of the harbor in the water. Easily, the two worst aspects of this game is the terrible ingame map, and the ENDLESS LOADING SCREENS. A new loading screen every 5 seconds. This would be ok, EXCEPT FOR THE MASSIVE AMOUNT OF FETCH QUESTS THERE ARE IN THE GAME THAT REQUIRE YOU TO CHANGE MAPS.

This needs massive improvements, as the navigation is a major fault of the game. Vaulting over fences should be automatic. There are several places where jump points should be added.A MINIMAP IS A MUST IN ANY EXPLORATION GAME. A real accurate map instead of the crap they put in this game. NO MORE LOADING SCREENS OR NO MORE FETCH QUESTS. Loading screens are only tolerable if they are relatively rare. If you have to load 4 to 5 times for a single damn mission, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!

World Interaction

The property management system is barebones.  The NPC's are useless. The NPC interaction GUI is stupid. There is NO BENEFIT to becoming friends with someone AT ALL. There is no store discount, and the only thing that changes is how they say hi. A move in the right direction was the new bounty system. Your bounty now actually builds up infinitely, so the larger your crime, the game could be instantly tedious to enter a city until the main questline is done. It lets the player feel unwanted and evil if they do unwanted and evil things.

Improvements. Allow a Sims-esque house building system. Get rid of like 90% of the NPC's. Make them all unique, with things to say, quests to give. Don't add them in as cannon fodder and nothing else. They aren't interesting at all. Make them interesting, and make them important. Go back to the old interaction system. Randomness sucks. Randomness is evil. Randomness only belongs in Dungeons and Dragons type games and nowhere else. Give the character the most freedom as possible. Let them customize their villagers, change their appearance, change their clothes, rename them. You couldn't change your kids' clothes. You can't change your spouse's clothes. You couldn't appoint a King or Queen to rule as your official royal spouse.

Narrative

Interwoven Storyline

As Yahtzee mentions frequently, a good game is where good gameplay is interwoven with good story, with neither intruding in the other. One end of the spectrum is a game with great gameplay, but the story is minimal and the aspects of the story that exist are completely negligable to gameplay and the mechanics of the story don't even make sense with the gameplay mechanics causing a disconnect between story and gameplay. 2 massive examples of this are Gears of War and Final Fantasy VII. In Gears of War, the storyline is different in tone than the gameplay, and is simply best ignored. In FFVII, the story has characters killed off by small things, while they can eat meteors in battle. Both cause a desync from gameplay and storyline. The problem is that Fable III has mediocre to downright bad gameplay, and the storyline doesn't carry. The Saker arc, Fort Mourningwood, 'The Game' mission, Understone, Traitor's Keep, and especially the Aurora arc do this extremely well. However, the other 2/3rds of the story (Brightwall guild seal farming and Bowerstone guild seal farming) was absolutely terrible. Having to press a button to sign a promise THAT WAS MANDATORY was completely pointless. It wouldn't be so bad except you had to do it 5 times. Your decisions in game should reflect the world around you. This is one thing that is a Fable series STAPLE GAMEPLAY MECHANIC. The endgame decisions are awesome in this regard. The problem is, there simply should have been more decisions. Spare Saker? He never shows up again! His mercenaries don't join your cause. They stay your enemies! Why is there no decisions to be made at the other half of the game?

What this game needs to improve is its characters. Make them have moderate length questlines to make them interesting, to add an attachment to them. They did a good job with Walter, and to an extent Samuel. Ben Finn's narrative was good as well. Page, Sabine, and Kalin could have been very interesting characters, but they simply didn't have enough screen time. There is no perspective in being a Dweller. There is no perspective in being an Auroran. There needs to be a stronger narrative. Let the Hero suffer with the Dwellers, let the Hero suffer with the Aurorans. Overall, the revolution felt like it took 3 days to rise an army of 15 men, and you only needed yourself and Sabine. Major characters deserve their own questlines.

Presentation

Good looking game, few graphical errors. Excellent art style, fantastic level design. Easily one of the best looking games of its genre. Aurora and the Darkness segments were jawdropping. What this game suffers though, is its terrible GUI. The floating orbs suck, the fact that you simultaneously have useless GUI interface things and lack useful ones is what this game suffers from. Nobody needs to see the potions on screen all the time, but no health bar. If there is minimal on screen elements to improve the interactivity of the game, DO IT ALL THE WAY. If not, let the player have their minimaps and clocks! Especially since both have gameplay aspects!



The Aurora arc is how  you do things right. It is fantastic. In the end, what does Fable do better than other RPGs? What makes Fable unique? It's reputation system, it's decision making system, and the morphing system. The first two need massive improvements however, while the rest of the gameplay is a generation of gaming behind the competition. The game is mediocre, and is saved only by its shortness and fantastic ending with the Aurora arc. The biggest faults of this game (navigation, fetch quests, multiple gamebreaking bugs) force the score way down.

3/10


Understone

Minigames should have been included in base game. Mission took 7 minutes to finish and had a game breaking bug. Story was good. Nothing to do afterwards.

Could be improved if there were things to do after the mission was done. Because there wasn't, Understone was ignored completely for the remainder of the game.

2/10

Traitor's Keep

The twist can be seen a mile away. Excellent maps, stuff do to on all the islands, engaging storyline, interesting boss fights. However your choices don't have any world impact. Included a game breaking bug.

6/10





End Stats

260 Quests completed

201 Weapon upgrades

12,184 kills

1112 crimes committed

1.4 billion made

241 dig spots (all dig spots in game)

14 dive spots (all dive spots in game)

Total Playtime: 2 d 16 h 43 m

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