Wot I Think: Fable III PC

By Alec Meer on May 17th, 2011 at 6:37 pm.

After having been out on Xbox 360 for approximately 48 years, the PC version of Fable III arrived today. A roleplaying game designed primarily for people who don’t live and breathe roleplaying games, Lionhead’s game has charm in its blood and a tale of revolutionary heroism to shout about. Reception on console was mixed, but improvements and upgrades are promised for the PC version. Did they work? Here we go…

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about how fantastic a name for a roleplaying game the word ‘Fable’ is, but also how much implies. A grand, fantastical tale of great deeds – yet Fable III is built so much upon self-indulgent needs. It is, in theory and in marketing, a tale of overthrowing (or assuming the mantle of) apparent tyranny, of making the world a better (or worse) place through heroic (or horrific) actions and amazing adventures, and strives harder to be so than the previous two Fables.

Yet, despite a raft of Brit-celeb voices and any amount of destiny-chasing, somehow the fable runs only skin deep. Beneath is a game obsessed with money and collection – but one that doesn’t entirely seem to realise it. To define Fable III is a tricky thing indeed, surprisingly so, given how resolutely it attempts to be an accessible, universally appealing game. It’s a pairing of an get-right-in-there action RPG with a resource management title, but the latter’s really just a matter of investing money to make money. Buying houses and shops is the key form of this, but these purchases are rarely an end in and of themselves. Instead, they’re just a route to buying more houses and shops. Renting out a bunch of houses eventually earns you enough to buy a bunch more houses. So you do. And on and on.

Perhaps it’s an appropriate distillation of the real-life property ladder, but in Fable III you probably won’t even bother entering the vast majority of your property. You’ll click the sign to buy it, you’ll just mass-repair everything you own whenever you need to, and the rent money will trickle automatically into your account every five minutes. I was compelled, constantly compelled, to buy every building I could find, but I don’t know if there’s any pleasure in this – it’s purchasing for purchasing’s sake. Nothing is meaningful, nothing is itself satisfying; it’s just there to make you want more.

And yet it’s that I was forever drawn to, despite repeatedly swearing that I was going to try and nail all the main storyline stuff as quickly as possible first in the name of this write-up. Fable III is as compulsive as chilli rice crackers, and that’s probably because it’s no more hunger-satiating either. Right now, tick-tick-tick, the game running in the background is dropping gold into my coffers every few minutes. Maybe I can afford to buy that Blacksmith’s shop now. Maybe a new set of furniture, or a slightly better sword. I want to check. I yearn to check. Saving Albion (or, if I so choose, wreaking selfish havoc upon Albion)? I really don’t care. Yet I feel as though I should, because Lionhead have put clearly passionate effort into making their most fleshed-out and nuanced Fable-world yet, much as the emphasis on comedy Brit-voices means there’s a general air of cheery farce lying over the grim’n'grit.

Albion is not the generally optimistic place tinged with mystical skullduggery that is largely has been before, but instead a Victorian-esque land on its knees thanks to extreme poverty and a cruel King. That King is your brother, and you – for the first time in Fable with a choice of a male or female character – are heavily involved in the resistance against him. Of course, major plot twists and theoretically painful moral decisions abound. Given the game’s been out on Xbox for months, you’re probably well aware of the major change in your character’s circumstances later in the game, but I’ll spare going into it here just in case. The point is that there’s an awful lot of world-building here, the game going out of its way to be so much more than the hub towns strung together by constrained roads which comprise its backbone.

So much world, and yet your interactions with it end up being so much about money-harvesting and NPC-charming minigames. There are deep waters here, but so often you’re stuck on a bridge several feet above them able to admire only the surface. I want to get deeper, not to play with simple systems aimed clearly at casual players in search of quick rewards.

The rough structure of the game is extremely similar to that of the earlier Fable games, but despite intended refinements and expansions to the game’s systems, it’s by far the least ambitious of the series. Fable II never appeared on PC so apologies if you’re unfamiliar with it, but in a lot of ways Fable III plays out like a remix of it. The combat is simplified even further, but then dressed in genuinely meaty-feeling aesthetic pomp which makes it seem a whole lot more in-depth than it actually is. Spells, especially, are huge and explosive to behold, even if the damage they dole out might not entirely match the spectacle. Fighting will make you feel good, split as it is between melee, guns and magic, all of which are broadly on a par in terms of efficacy – so simply do whatever you most enjoy, and you will be rewarded for it.

That is fine and proper, and I enjoy it plenty. I feel like the Hero I’m so often told I am, rather than a wretch slowly building towards being somebody. What rings rather hollow is the upgrade system, which is intended to distance itself from the statistics and gauges of so many other RPGs in the name of keeping everything conceivably within the game world, but actually ends up more abstracted. The Road To Rule is a sub-screen from which you spend experience points (‘Guild Seals’) on all manner of upgrades – weapon power and new spells, but also key non-combative features such as the option to purchase shops or woo NPCs into marriage. I admire the intent, but can’t help but feel as though it goes to far – everything compartmentalised, turned so rigidly into something you must unlock rather than something you organically play toward. A game of needs, not of deeds – forever trying to accumulate the right amounts of something in order to acquire the next tier of something else.

That there’s an extra layer of that, wherein Games For Windows Live offers further, real-money purchase options, only hammers home the shallow hunger on which the game seems so built. It’s disappointing and it’s thin, but it isn’t horrible. I do want it; I want to own all the houses in Bowerstone, I want to add damage to my pistol by killing 150 Hollow Men, I want to have the hot pink dye for my clothes. It’d be easy to call Fable III cynical, but I don’t think it would correct. It really, truly feels well-intentioned, born of a desire to interact with its player’s constant desire for more and better and bigger. I could lose myself to indulging that desire for days, and I’d absolutely enjoy myself even if the lack of actual consequence might nag at me afterwards. But the real concern is that all this busywork stuff interferes with and distracts from the game itself. Even Fable staples, like marriage and sex and the pride of decorating a house or cladding your character in the kind of garb that even folk in Camden Town at 3am would frown at, seems so marginalised by the ambient pressure to get, get, get, buy, buy, buy. There is pleasure to this, to being such a magnate and to owning so much, in stark contrast to the lone, cash-strapped adventurer so common to RPGs. You’re a big deal for sure and that’s a precious thing, but how it plays out can feel hollow.

You’re not at all required to do any of micromanagement, it must be observed. The stepping back from statistics into Just Have Fun combat means you can easily carve through the core game without buying anything, although there are effects on the narrative consequences. But once you pop… well, you know how that goes. The key missions, well-written and visually varied as they were, just felt in the way of my endless tycoon hunger.

If you followed any of the reviews of Fable III on Xbox, suffice to say it remains Fable III on PC and perhaps I’m simply repeating ancient concerns. But let’s talk about it as a PC. As promised, Lionhead have done the work – I never felt like as though this was an Xbox game with the menu text changed. It looks lovely, if undermined slightly by a tendency to pursue washed-out pseudo-grit rather than the dayglo vibrancy that would surely suit it better. The combat controls are fully keyboard and mouse affairs, with basic attack on LMB and defend, aim or area spell on RMB. There really isn’t much to it – no combos as such, but instead hammering for quick attacks or holding down for a longer one – but it feels natural and tactile and as mentioned earlier the visual pay-off is splendid. The additional difficulty setting makes a world of difference from the tediously risk-free fighting of standard mode too – health must managed, death is not that infrequent, even if the consequences of death (instant respawn at the cost of progress towards the next Guild Seal, which you’ll earn back in minutes) remain tiny and pointless. As a fighting game, it’s thrilling if pretty button-mashy, and the net result is good times.

It’s out of combat that things go wrong, and that’s because of the nature of Fable III rather than because Lionhead haven’t done the PC translation properly. It seems so needy, so worried that players might do something wrong or without fully understanding it. Opening a door requires oh-god-so-irritatingly holding down E for a few seconds while a little spinner spins, accepting a quest-completion trophy involves pressing E to say you want it then LMB to say you absolutely, definitely want it. Even finding gold or a health potion requires active acceptance – as though somewhere there’s a player who’s thinking “no! Keep your gold! Keep your health! I need not such fundamental RPG trinkets. How dare you, sir.” Then there’s the Sanctuary, which is essentially your inventory reimagined as a headquarters – and while again it’s making the systems part of the game world, its implementation means equipping or even browsing the stats and abilities of your slim selection weapons is phenomenally time-consuming. You’re not even offered the option to immediately equip a new item as soon as you pick it up, but instead must dive back to the Sanctuary, go the right room, then wander up to the specific item you’re after, sometimes have to then manually selection which category of item beyond that you’re after, and only then can you eqiup it by pressing E and then 1 (or a mouse-click) to confirm it. It’s so phenomenally long-winded, and while it may simply be a matter of messy design there’s also that sense that the game doesn’t want to let go of your hand even in the menus. All the mannequins and weapon racks and what not are very thought-out in terms of how they relate to the Fable world, but once the initial ‘coo, look at all this stuff!’ has worn off it just gets in my way.

Then there’s the long animations for stuff like digging up treasure or trying to charm/terrify a civilian NPC, and the largely unskippable dialogue that’s rich in writing and performance but always seems to go on just that bit too long. Fable 3 for some reason needs you to see everything at length, and often repeatedly. Once more, it’s that disconnect between the world it wants to build and show off, and the undying hunger for moremoremore as quickly as possible. I don’t want to watch the 10 second sexy dance animation for the 315th time. I just want the Guild Seal that I’ll get as a result from doing it. In this, Fable III doesn’t seem to understand just what it’s done to itself; it’s like it believes it’s the still the cheerfully slow-paced meandering and exploring Fable used to be.

What a torrent of complaint, and yet I’ve had broadly a happy time in Fable III. It needs more (or at least different) meat on its bones, but they are strong bones, being as they are Fable bones. It teems with locations and vignettes overflowing with cheer and cleverness, always seeking a way to make you smile even if your interaction with them is limited. I’ve always enjoyed this series, while being wholly aware that they’re some of the most lightweight entires in the RPG pantheon. Like Fable 1 and 2, this game is so dead set on entertaining you, on charming you. I am charmed, but I’m also worried by the game’s clear identity crisis.

Its PC version launching on the same day as the Witcher 2 (a game which my experiences so far suggest it firmly understands what it is and what it wants to achieve) does Fable III no favours and quite possibly even dooms it commercially – at least if comparative social network chatter is anything to go on. That is a genuine shame, because I’m extremely glad to have the series back on PC, while the new difficulty setting suggests Lionhead have a firmer grasp on what Fable needs to be even if it’s too late to entirely get this one back on track. The weakest of the series this might be, but certainly not to the extent that I’ve lost my strong affection for that series. Welcome back, old chap – but perhaps don’t take so much on and focus on making the basics better next time, please.

Fable III is available from Steam, Games For Windows Live and at retail in the US today, and in Europe on May 20.

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89 Comments »

  1. applecup says:

    Something of a minor nitpick, but you could choose between a male and female hero in Fable II. Which, yes, I realise, has never been available on the PC.

  2. CMaster says:

    I really enjoyed Fable: The Lost Chapters, even if the whole marriage thing and so on seemed really pointless. (Literally – I think I married someone, but it made no difference at all to how I could interact with them). Based on that though, I’m not sure if this one would work for me. Is it still a good game if you just want to fight, explore and get swept up in the vageely ridiculous story?

    • nimnio says:

      I really enjoyed Fable: The Lost Chapters, even if the whole marriage thing and so on seemed really pointless. (Literally – I think I married someone, but it made no difference at all to how I could interact with them).

      That sounds about right, but if you listen closely, they’re probably complaining more.

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      drewski says:

      Apart from reliving any Henry VIII fantasies you have, there’s no reason to get married in Fable III.

  3. Pijama says:

    Once again, the meh factor wins.

    Fable I was a neat thing (all expectations properly balanced and considered). However, I feel that after that game, Lionhead became utterly terrified of doing anything grand again; these last games seem rather… Shallow.

    Molyneux, grow your spine back and do something crazy awesome again please?

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I actually think he was sort of dumbfounded by minecraft and it’s success, the sort of game he really wanted to make, but was always too chained down to do so. :s

    • Maktaka says:

      Whoa, easy there. Molyneaux has an annoying tendency to sacrifice gameplay for the sake of a “brilliant idea” he’s had about UI design, and then just plows ahead with it full force without really checking to see if it works well or not. 6 hours in on Fable 3 and the following comes to mind:
      1) The “menu” system. Yeah, it’s pretty, but I don’t want to walk around my menu when all I want to do is swap my weapons real quick or turn on the quest glow trail (since the quest logs don’t provide enough info to complete quests without it sometimes).
      2) No menus in-game, ever, for “immersiveness” (but apparently button prompts for every action like any other console game are okay). Only present the information needed to complete the current task. Want to check your money or inventory? Too bad, go find a pawn shop and check what you can sell to find that out.
      3) Map system is lousy. Finicky focusing on objects, incomplete information on the zoomed in view, impossible to tell what is or is not a fast-travel target. But it sure is nifty and immersive, isn’t it? At least it exists though, that’s a step up from Fable 1.
      4) Holding down the button to perform an action instead of just tapping it. Yeah, it adds “weight” and “time to consider your actions”, but do I really need that when I’m opening a door or chatting up a plebian? You’ve just turned a one step process of tapping the button into a three step timed press-hold-release process.
      5) The dog. Dog says he found buried treasure. There is one patch of dirt within fifty feet of me. The treasure is obviously there, but I can’t dig until the dog stops getting caught on rocks and walls and starts poking at the ground himself.
      I don’t want to give the wrong impression, the game IS quite fun (kept me up until 3 AM on a worknight, I think that counts), but you have to go into it knowing that Molyneaux created it, and so it’s chock full of these little “why are you wasting time on THAT?” moments.
      Molyneaux would be a fantastic person to have at a place like Valve where they thrive on trying as many crazy ideas as possible for every release, but everything that’s suggested gets tested a million times over and nothing gets held above the gameplay experience itself.

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      yhancik says:

      Who’s that Molyneaux person you’re talking about?

    • Xercies says:

      Moleneux is that type of person who needs someone else to rein him in a little, he’s good at the fantastic ideas and all that but really he needs someone to show him it implemented and say it doesn’t work and say think of something a bit different. Then he will be great!

      Also he is to much up Microsoft’s ass now…its a little bit of a shame he’s kind of shackled to a certain thing he can do that will make money.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Molyneaux is easily one of the best PC game developers of the 20th century. He needs to get his ass back to the computer market and start doing what he does best, innovation!

      I would love to see him start his own company and just make whatever games he wants without the restraints of Microsoft. The resurrection of Bullfrog, anyone?

  4. SilverSilence says:

    Kill it with fire.

  5. Pew pew LAZORS says:

    “Fable III is available from Steam”
    Not for all of us :(

    • Linfosoma says:

      @ Pew pew LAZORS:

      Yeah, Im kind of annoyed with GFWL’s new tendency to block games, I dont care about Fable but I really wanted Dirt 3 :(

  6. KillahMate says:

    You haven’t really addressed most of the complaints directed towards the game. Do you still use the Sanctuary for anything and everything? Is there still that moment towards the end of the game when you think you still have time but it turns out you don’t have any time at all? Etc.

    I must say this review struck me as very lightweight. In keeping with the game, I suppose.

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      P7uen says:

      I have no idea what the sanctuary is and have never played a Fable game, but I can tell you the answer to your question is yes, because I read the WIT above.

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      Lars Westergren says:

      The WIT has approximately 150 words on the topic of Sanctuary, which is more than twice the word count of your whole post. And the article most certainly brings up both positives and negatives. As for “the most common criticisms of the game”, what are those? Maybe Alec was more concerned with playing the game and forming his own opinions than browsing forums for angry-internet-men comments?

      As for me, with this WIT I’ve gone from a definite “no-buy” (mainly because of GFWL) to a “probably-buy, but only in a year or so on a sale”.

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      drewski says:

      Spoiler free advice – make sure you have your ducks in a row before making any royal decisions.

  7. DeepSleeper says:

    I really quite liked the first Fable.
    The second one, however, was great in everything that wasn’t the main storyline, and then the main storyline was like being kicked by a long, snaking line of writers, all of whom personally hated the concept of joy and freedom.
    Then, as I was as low as I could get, they introduced Reaver, who was the anthropomorphic personification of “Game developers crapping into your hat”. All I want from Fable 3 is the ability to murder Reaver.
    Are you allowed to do this?

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      drewski says:

      If there’s one thing I almost admire in the latter two Fable games, it’s how utterly detestable Reaver is.

      He would never had made it to Fable III if I’d actually been in control of my Hero in Fable II. “Thanks buddy, oh I seem to have cut your head off. Oops!”

      He does, for the record, not have any form of personality change for FIII.

  8. PFlute says:

    Lovely, and it touches on a problem I had with Fable II: The game itself was confused about what it was to the point of deceiving the player, and despite Molyneux blowing his horn all along, I found the game built up all its own hype, actually.

    The thing started off by presenting you with so many sub-systems and possibilities. A world full of people to interact with, a property game to have a bit of fun with, a comprehensive game of hero-dress-up, and a flavorful fantasy world. It even had a damn smart moment (the Tower Prison?).

    But then it turned out all the trajectories set in motion were outright fabrications. The stock NPCs are never interesting. You owned all the property for miles much too easily, and the money was utterly meaningless (and you never do anything interesting with those properties). The clothing options and the world itself dried up just as things were getting interesting; It was enough to leave a hero rather bitter.

    And it looks like Fable 3 is quite a bit more of the same. Maybe the most painful thing about the second game is that it was enjoyable before the cardboard veneer peeled away. Maybe I’ll give it a try.

  9. drakkheim says:

    I really enjoyed Fable II.. up until the point the game started rewarding me for not playing.
    Once you start earning money from your shops even though you’re not playing it was all too easy to switch off and think ‘oh I’ll go play something else for a day or two and I’ll come back and be able to buy the best gear and more shops”

    Somewhere my save game is still sitting there making me the wealthiest absentee citizen of Albion, and when I run out of other games to play I’ll load it back up …maybe.

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      Diziet Sma says:

      I think you might be disappointed then as that never worked on the XBox for me…. I found that you had to be playing and interacting with the game. I eventually used a rubber band on the joypad and left my character wandering in circles whilst I did something vastly more satisfying. .

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      drewski says:

      Fable 3 has addressed that particular design flaw by only giving you rent when you’re actively playing it in the game world.

  10. Peggle20 says:

    No qualms about a WIT for this one before it gets a patch or two?

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      AndrewC says:

      What was the stated reason for not WiTing Witcher 2 yet? Go on you can do it, you know the answer!

    • DAdvocate says:

      “No qualms about a WIT for this one before it gets a patch or two?”

      The reason is very simple, they want the WIT to reflect the game we gamers will play, not the pre-release version (Fable 3 did not have a day 0 patch). Do you want to read a review focusing on bugs which were already fixed by the time the game was available to us?

      I’m utterly perplexed at your attitude; the Witcher 2 was only just released today so how could you be so offended by it that you start spouting such irrational hatred?

    • Vinraith says:

      The reason is very simple, they want the WIT to reflect the game we gamers will play, not the pre-release version

      The reason is simpler than that. As Jim stated outright in the Witcher 2 thread, he’s not done playing the game yet.

    • mondomau says:

      @Peggle20 : not sure if you’re trolling, or just being a prat. Either way, pack it in eh?
      Fable III: released intact
      Witcher 2: released to public with additional patch not yet Played by RPS.

      Simples!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Peggle20: You’ve been told the facts of the matter. Jim can’t review a game he’s only just got. Stop.

      (The corruption argument is particularly ill considered when your main grudge is about Dragon Age II. We had lots of advertising from DA2, and it didn’t stop John roasting it a little. Why would it be any different now?)

      I’ve just read through every post you’ve ever done, and 90% of them are about some grudge you have with the Witcher. I’m deleting posts which are hysterical and – frankly – slanderous from now on in, and that’s me giving you the benefit of the doubt. Dial it back, or we’ll just delete your account.

      KG

    • Berzee says:

      And then you’ll have to be Peggle21.

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      Chaz says:

      Thanks Berzee, you just brightened up my day with a good chuckle.

  11. Paul says:

    Bought two games today.

    Witcher 2 GOG and Witcher 2 CE.

    • Kolchak says:

      Yeah I’d love to know what Microsoft was thinking when they put Fable 3′s release date on the same day as The Witcher 2. On the Steam Top Sellers Witcher 2 is number 1 while Fable 3 is at 8th place. Beating Fable 3 includes indie game Terraria and Dirt 3. Very very poor decision. I think it would have been wiser to release the game in July during the Summer Drought.

    • lethu says:

      Dual brains? Or perhaps Quad hands? Must be an incredible experience playing these two at the same time.

    • Dao Jones says:

      “Beating Fable 3 includes indie game Terraria and Dirt 3.”

      I flew over to Steam thinking I missed out on Dirt 3 but it seems it is just the pre-orders. Curses!

    • MadTinkerer says:

      To be fair, I’m still waiting for a WIT on Terraria, but I really don’t blame people who look at it and say “Minecraft isn’t available on Steam yet… Hey wait, this is just like Minecraft but 2D and guns and hookshots and BUY IT NOW.”

      So Terraria beating Fable 3 might not be Fable 3′s fault.

    • MrMud says:

      My steam says Fable 3 isnt out until Thursday (and I certainly cant play the game I bought). That might also be a reason why it is low on the sales chart.

    • dadioflex says:

      Go look at pretty much any Terraria video – it IS Minecraft in 2D but it’s also an awful lot more and it plays VERY differently. Oh, and it’s about a fifth of the price of Fable III.

  12. Hunam says:

    My biggest gripe with the 360 version (aside from the performance and metric ton of bugs) was the main story pacing. Like it’s as if a few of those fancy CG cutscenes went missing along the way. But before the two biggest events of the game you basically talk to someone and then are plonked right into the chaos. You never see the event unfold, it just happens off screen and you are now sitting at the last fork of it. The game tries to tell you how important all of this is yet doesn’t feel the need to do much about than let you see a quick summary at the end. The final boss is a bit of a bum note too because it’s not all that dangerous.

    As for the property buying thing. I found that good, because Fable is one of the few games where I think they leave you enough space to clearly define your character. In Fable 2 I was a hero by circumstance. I was wronged, I was angry and I wanted to kill my aggressor. It turns out I had to save the world to do most of that and I sided on the side of good because it aided me the most, but when it didn’t, I took the evil option. Not for personal gain, but because it removed the obstacles. I did good because doing evil meant allowing others power and influence.

    Fable 3 allowed me to be the royal I wanted, I bought all the property in the game not for financial gain (also for financial gain) because I devised it as a way of securing the rights of the people of Albion, I was their landlord and their cushion, if they could not pay, I thought to my self, then I would find out why they couldn’t pay and help them out, because I’m the fucking (insert title here) of Albion! OK, that never turned up in the game but they left me with enough wiggle room to devise my own reasons for doing things, and most RPG’s tend not to allow that. For that, the game should be admired.

  13. Mark says:

    I think all my complaints about this game roughly come to: that Peter Molyneux, he sure could use an editor. Good to hear it’s a decent PC adaption, though.

  14. mouton says:

    I played the first Fable on PC and while it wasn’t terrible most of the time, I would have no problem with that franchise staying on consoles where it obviously belongs.

    Practically every other RPG out there is more interesting/fun than those games.

  15. jucheidea says:

    how many hours did it take to complete the game?

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      P7uen says:

      It took me 3.5 minutes on ‘Bastard’ difficulty including loading times, and I wasn’t even trying.

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      drewski says:

      You can churn through it in about 15-20 hours I guess, with a more realistic time probably being 30 hours and around 40 for the obsessive compulsives.

  16. MythArcana says:

    “A roleplaying game designed primarily for people who don’t live and breathe roleplaying games…”

    Well, that pretty much encapsulates everything then, doesn’t it? Bullfrog used to be one of my favorite developers spanning all the way back to Populous, but this whole Lionhead console crusade I find incredibly difficult to stand behind. If only they left the console crap alone and got back to PC god games…but I guess those Sony and Microsoft contracts are too lucrative to care about complexity these days.

    • Stupoider says:

      He’s not the man he once was.

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/06/30/the-making-of-molyneux/

      “I look at that and again a little bit too complex I think” – Molyneux on Dungeon Keeper.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Actually, I’d agree with him on DK. Though it depends on which parts specifically he thinks are too complicated. The interface and overall means of dungeon management in DK could use a bit more testing/iteration (and is why I prefer DK2 over DK1), but the gameplay/AI is pretty much perfect.

      Dwarfs!? is a very interesting & fun take on the dungeon management game and greatly simplifies things, but it’s not DK at all. It’s not trying to be, though. It’s trying to be Lemmings more than anything else, and as a Lemmings take on dungeon management it’s fine. But I definitely would NOT want DK3 to be like Dwarfs!?

  17. Jumwa says:

    It sounds right up my alley, despite any issues listed.

    Although my main area of interest was one not addressed even in the slightest: how is the co-op?

    It’s aggravatingly hard finding out the exact nature and details of co-op modes in most games. Is it fully integrated co-op? Can I play the entirety of the main story hand in hand with my significant other? When we play together will it only save the progress of one player? How well does it work? Are there technical issues? Is it a few simple clicks to hop into a friends game? Is it some bizarre little off-shoot mode that bears little resemblance to the actual game but was forced in so they could claim the game had co-op anyhow? etc., etc..

    • Hunam says:

      I’ve not played the PC version, but I’d imagine it’s the same as the 360. So, you can invite or jump into another hero’s world and complete the entire game with them (and be immortalised on their road to rule) Your comment about hand in hand can actually be taken literally, as you can run around holding each others hands if you want. You can marry another player and have kids with them, enter a partnership to buy businesses etc and split the proceeds. You can give each other gifts too. Though the progress is only saved to the host world, though I think you still earn guild seals.

    • Jumwa says:

      Well lovely! Thanks for that. Sounds sickeningly adorable and right up our alley.

    • Wilson says:

      Huh. That suddenly makes the game interesting to me.

  18. Rath says:

    I’m still more entertained by the original with The Lost Chapters than by anything that has come after in this series. Jack Of Blades is almost as good as Sovereign from ME1 for speaker-rattling villain voice.

    • Hunam says:

      Fable 3 does seem to ignore a lot of the really good lore in the original. It feels like a Brotherhood style off shoot than a full continuation to be honest.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      That was my question, since Fable 3 would be my introduction into the series, do we suffer any by not having experienced any of the lore in the first two console titles or does it stand alone in terms of plot and player experience (aka: lets assume the player knows nothing about Fable).

    • Rath says:

      You could do far worse than pick up a copy of the original. It’s about a tenner on Amazon. The PC version was like a director’s cut of the original Xbox version, with improved visuals and sound, not to mention a ton more areas and quests and the ability to import your own tattoo designs. It’s not without flaws (the aging system – what the fuck were they thinking…), but when so much of it is absolutely fantastic the complaints become negligible.

    • terry says:

      It’s also on GFWL, if you like pain.

  19. Snargelfargen says:

    I’ve got to say this WiT didn;t make much sense, but maybe this is because you are assuming most people have already seen/read about fable 3 and 2 on consoles.
    Saying that “the combat is simplified even further” doesn’t really help. I also don’t know what the story is. Since I played Fable 1, I’m imagining that this is the same, except you can buy everything. Is that right?

    • Hunam says:

      Fable 3 is set about 550 years after Fable 1. So same place… but not at all.

  20. Olivaw says:

    I’d love to hear more of Wot You Think after you’ve beaten the game and gotten to the part that everyone seems to hate and sours them on the whole experience.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I liked that bit. In fact, that bit, plus some of the more interesting hiddenish quests, were probably what left me with overall good impressions.

  21. fallingmagpie says:

    Sounds like only eleventy-four high-fives out of a chest bump.

  22. vandinz says:

    Not out until Friday for me. :( Oh well, I’ll have to carry on with The Witcher 2. YAY!

  23. Freud says:

    I quit through the first one five hours in or so. It didn’t resonate with me on any level. The gameplay and the story left me cold. Since I am a RPG junkie, it is extremely rare that I abandon a RPG.

    The experience with the first Fable, GFWL and everything I heard about this game makes me pass this one up.

  24. Eddy9000 says:

    Yeah, this kind of sounds like Fable 1 to me. You can choose haircuts that people will copy, build a reputation that spreads from person to person, marry, buy property, trade, steal, bribe the guards etc. etc.

    But none of it matters because the core experience is of a shallow block and hit combat game. What’s the point of having a trading and property renting system, no matter how complex, if you get enough money 1 hour in not to need to use it? Or choosing between magic, archery and swords if it doesn’t change the game play from block, hit and dodge?

    Fable 1 was the most shallow complicated game I ever played.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Block? In a Fable game? Surely you jest, sir.

      Combat in Fable games is about shocking everyone so they stand still and then shooting them dead.

  25. sonofajoiner says:

    Just a small point but you could choose gender in Fable II as well. Not that us PC gamers would know that what with the PC being overlooked like the unloved middle child of gaming formats.

  26. TsunamiWombat says:

    I ran into an amusing bug that forced me to reinstall right off the bat.

    I loaded up the game- no menu screen. of course. Drops you right into the game. OK< so I wait to get into the game to change my settings and download DLC. But while the game is minimized for GFWL market place, it locks up. SO natch, I Ctrl alt Delete it and restart.

    Now because my game is saved at a spot the game never intended for itself to be saved at, but it won't let me select NEW GAME… perma loading screen.

    Admittedly this could've also been a GFWL bug relating to installing the DLC. Either way, I had to reinstall, and now, i'm running steams 6 hr install again.

    • Kaira- says:

      From what I googled and experienced on the X360, there’s no menu screen in that version either. Why? I don’t know, but incredibly stupid.

    • Doesntmeananything says:

      Why couldn’t you just delete the save file?

    • Grot_Punter says:

      I’m similarly stuck in a game breaking glitch, only for me the map table thingy won’t load, so I can’t select any destinations post-prologue. Huzzah……..

      Hopefully verifying file integrity will fix this issue. Otherwise I’m just going to be running through the intro-cavern forever, immolating bats.

  27. anduin1 says:

    what does WIT/WiT mean? I keep seeing people write it but have no clue what it stands for.

  28. bill says:

    I rather liked Yahtzee’s take on this one. It sounded like the good/evil system was totally messed up.
    (spoilers: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/2652-Fable-3)

  29. Anonymediscret says:

    No special mention about Games For Windows Live ?
    Was it not a bother ?

    That would be a first…

  30. Gothnak says:

    It is always strange when the website you come to every day gets around to reviewing your game isn’t it?

    It’s a refreshing change that RPS has almost no childish vitriol in the threads aimed at Lionhead and Peter compared to pretty much anywhere else on the web… Good work chaps..

    I was referred to as ‘a clown’ on a Eurogamer thread about my non-PR filled interview the other day, that was amusing :p.

    • subedii says:

      Like most popular comments section, Eurogamer gets filled with Angry Internet Mans pretty fast.

      Although to be honest, it’s not like the RPS comments section is really immune to that phenomenon either.

      Either way, there’s still places on the net you can go for a decent discussion on things. Personally I tend to hang around the Penny-Arcade forums, but from what I’ve seen of NeoGaf, those aren’t usually too bad either. In both cases it probably helps a lot that there are devs from various companies that post there regularly.

      Likewise again with the RPS comments section. This is probably one of the few major gaming blogs where I frequently see developers drop by to comment on an article relating to their games.

  31. sneetch says:

    I coulda got it on ye olde Xbox for a bear-skin back at the dawn of the world but decided to see how long they’d take to port it to PC and at some stage during the time between then and me sitting on my hyper-chair in the future, dressed all in silver foil, reading this WIT I got incredibly irritated at Lionhead’s inability to produce even a vague date or provide any information other than “when we have information we’ll have information” and I gave up on it.

    That said, I think I’ll pick this up at some stage in the future when it’s on sale, I liked the first two. That’s despite the ludicrous concept of the walk-in inventory system. I mean seriously, who thought that lame duck was a good idea? Who thought that gamers would think improved the game in any way? How is that busy work supposed to be fun? Didn’t someone from quality ever just say “this is so boring!”? It’s truly baffling stuff. I suppose someone saw the trophy/armoury rooms in Assassin’s Creed II and misunderstood why that was a cool feature.

    Anyway: Computer! Switch “rant” mode to “off”.

    I just hope the Witcher 2 arrives from Amazon today.

  32. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    I literally agree with everything in this review.

    The one addition is that whilst the leveling up system might seem like it’s just because the world wants you to be “immersed” or whatever, it’s actually just a not very subtle way of keeping you nerfed until you get to the bits at the end when the game is harder. Felt cheap to me.

    And oh God, the Sanctuary. 10/10 for effort, but minus several million for being SO SLOW AND ANNOYING.

    But despite all the little things that really, really irked me I still finished the game and spent an extra few hours after the main quest was done making sure I’d crossed my i’s and dotted my t’s, so I guess it can’t be too bad. Just…I wish it were better. Less forced, less rigid.

  33. WhatKateDoes says:

    Whats the multiplayer like? I’d love to play the game co-op with a mate. How much of the game is playable co-op?

  34. terry says:

    I really don’t know what to make of this game. The WIT makes it sound to me somewhat like the RPG equivalent of Black and White, too much style stretching over too little gameplay, with the added bonus of some grindy-sounding economic elements and collect/unlockathons. I only recently played the original Fable and found it had a lot of interesting ideas which seemed to be thrown together with little regard for how not-very-fun the core game was. It was disappointing to me not because it was bland but because it seemed half-baked in some places and overdeveloped in others.

    Perhaps it’s because I have a huge amount of respect for Molyneux and his games for Bullfrog that I feel this way. It seems he is at his best when he’s tinkering with ideas creatively, and experimenting with systems that you might not expect in mainstream gaming with an open mind, but having an enormous AAA team and AAA expectations on him seems anathema to what he’s about :-(

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      You don’t really have to do any of the grind. It makes some aspects of the game more flexible if you’ve done it, that’s all.

    • terry says:

      Thanks for clarifying. I was thinking it was more the Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood deal, where I more or less mindlessly bought every business because it seemed tied to certain prosperity requirements.

  35. yams says:

    The worst part about this is that while it is a fairly solid port in terms of functionality and performance, there’s a comical amount of bugs STILL left from the xbox version, including several potential gamebreakers and massive annoyances.

    A quick google result for ‘fable 3 time glitch’ turns up a bunch of things and it seems to be a fairly common coinsurance. Time has simply come to a complete standstill in my game and my friends game. It doesn’t move unless you sleep or manually walk between areas. It’s frozen on the hour, exact. This has existed for probably a year+ going by google and it’s stupid that stuff like this was never fixed there.

    Well, here’s a new release, with same old bugs. I understand that patches cost $$$ on xbox to deploy, so what are the odds of this shit actually getting fixed here? It’s pretty dumb that such a massive bug as time simply ceasing to work is so common and yet doesn’t get a fix. It kills a pretty large aspect of the gameplay.

    What the heck Lionhead, guguhguhg yea we’re gonna do PC gamers right and do this port justice ~* not fix massive glitches that are widely known since 360 version *~ oh ok. I’m beginning to wonder why I buy before trying.

  36. _Jackalope_ says:

    MASSIVE SPOILERS!!! I really disliked the property aspect. It wasn’t something I was interested in and so it went ignored. Then when I got to be Queen, it turns out the only way to be a goody goody is if I invested early in the game and keep boosting the coffers with my own dosh. The big flaw with the game is that it is very linear but attempts to give me a false sense of freedom of choice. In this respect I much prefer the original Fable on the Xbox. I got choices over silly cosmetic things which is very nice but everything else was all set and it just got on with it. It worked fine. Combat was more varied in the first game as I could quickly switch between sword/bow or magic. In Fable 3 I found I didn’t really need to switch and when I wanted to, it didn’t work as fast as I felt it should. I did like the different kill animations though, my favorourite being the snapping their necks with my legs move! Where the game worked best is the story telling aspect. The voicework, art, music etc was sublime. My favourite part of the whole game was getting shipwrecked on Aurora. The dark caves and encountering the enemy for the first time was incredible. I found myself wishing that the whole game could’ve been been much smaller in scope but bigger in story. Instead of lots of quests, why not just one big sprawling quest with a smallish band of interesting characters all looking for the shining diamond of wanting and then give me lots of great moments like that? After escaping and going back to the Albion, nothing really lived up to it, and the final invasion was a bit wet and hardly as much as a challenge. It sounds like I dislike the game, but there was a hell of a lot to like. Lionhead just need to realise they are good at making interesting worlds but they don’t have to try and reinvent the wheel each time.

  37. zeekthegeek says:

    This game is really, really not a good port and I am shocked that I’m seeing reviewers saying it is. No bug fixes from the 360 launch? Check. Lazy keyboard layout? Check. Massive performance issues? Check.

  38. Theodoric says:

    I liked it. ‘Twas fun. It amused me. Even got a few laughs from it.
    That doesn’t happen often these days.