Fable 3 Half-Review Part 2 – Freedom: The Final Betrayal

Last Time, On Albion Hills 90210

Those of you who were reading my column last week (and for some reason decided to come back for more) may remember me venting a wee bit of rage at Lionhead Studios and their new game, Fable 3. Some of you thought I was perhaps being a bit harsh. The expressions system that I so vocally excoriated was not, in fact, necessary to complete the game. I can concede this point. I still think it is intensely stupid, but I could probably have skipped the majority of it. Believe it or not, I actually do like it when our readers keep me honest. (Sometimes, I consider it a challenge, but that is beside the point.)

With a newfound sense of peace given to me by our faithful readers, I once again immersed myself in the world of Albion. In both previous Fable games, you could buy property. When I was playing Fable 2, I found it interesting that the rent and/or business profits you collected would accumulate over time, even if you were not playing. You got paid every 5 minutes (or a lump sum when you loaded the game again). I decided to see if this same thing worked in Fable 3, so I bought up a bunch of property. It did not, which was a little disappointing. But it was getting me enough profits that I decided to do it a lot. It beat playing Lute Hero or the other “job” mini-games. Those would have been fun, but the interface would stutter or skip frames (which is, in my opinion, the kiss of death on timing-based games) so I hated playing them. So I went around questing and completing more of the story and buying up properly and having myself a very nice time for a night. My rage died down. Perhaps this game would have a happy ending after all.

Suffice it to say, the opposite of that happened. Actually, there will be no sufficing. Those of you in the first five rows will find a tarp located under your seats. You might want to hold that up so your clothes don’t get messy.

The Glorious Reign Of King Vanir

Soon, it was time to take back the crown from my rampaging dire butthole of a brother. He apparently only had the budget for like 12 guards, which I promptly set on fire. Then I was king! Hooray! I decided to be a very nice king, and to undo all of the horrible things my brother did, and make wise financial choices and make the kingdom prosper. LONG LIVE ME!

Oh, wait. It seems that there’s some Giant Evil coming to kill us in a year, and the reason my brother was being a jerk is because he was trying to raise money for an army to stop it. Yes, I’m sure that’s why you killed my girlfriend because I was insubordinate in the beginning. Jerk. And apparently, there are 6.5 million citizens in Albion, and it just so happens that I need 6,500,000 gold to raise a sufficiently large army to stop the Giant Evil. How tidy. OK, that’s cool. Oh, wait. It seems we start 750,000 gold in the red. Well, I’ll just set smart financial policies, and we’ll fix this right up. So I go into the throne room and prepare to be Excellent to All My Subjects.

Oh, wait. It seems all of my choices revolve around living up to a promise I made to someone else earlier, which always involves me blowing a crapton of gold OR letting the sexually deviant industrialist that tried to kill me earlier in the game at his weird orgy do something tremendously horrible but profitable. (As an aside, whose sexual fetish is balverines? Don’t answer that.)ย  Your choices are things like “let the mountain people hunt again and restore their lands” which costs 200,000 gold for some unknown reason, or let Thrusty McProfitable strip mine the entire thing and use the resulting crater as a high-priced water park to get you a million back. There’s never any boring or sensible choices to be made. You can either A. do the bad thing and you get money so your people will live at the end of the game, or B. do anything else and lose a ton of money and have someone constantly remind you that your people will be happy and very dead at the end of the year. Fantastic. I get it, it’s the “heavy is the head that wears the crown” narrative, and you’re forcing me rather heavy-handedly (crowndedly?) into it.

If I was playing D&D right now, this would be where I’m getting creative. I’m the King, dammit! I get to decide how these things work. So you say either I have to pay 50,000 gold to open a school or earn 1,500,000 gold by opening a brothel on the same property? I say it’s a school during the day and a brothel when the kids go home. You live in an industrialized society. It’s called hide-a-beds, people. And the ladies of the evening could help grade papers in their off-time. Everybody wins! What’s that? We don’t have a way to deal with the sewage problem? We don’t have to ruin the marshlands by diverting everything there. That is a silly idea. There’s a Giant Evil coming. Who needs an army? We’re going all B.A. Barracus on them, and making POOP CANNONS. Don’t f*#k with me, Giant Evil. I’ll cut you.

Better Living Through Real Estate?

Wait! I have a plan! A real, sensible plan! A plan that lets me escape from your stupid narrative! You can contribute gold from your personal funds into the royal treasury – and, as it happens, I have been buying up all the property I can get my Heroic hands on. Since I get paid every 5 minutes, I should surely have enough money by the time a whole year passes. Right?

Well, the first thing I learned about being the King of Albion is that 30 days passes in the blink of an eye once you make your rulings for the day. And apparently, I need to fire the Royal Real Estate Lawyer because he completely missed the clause that lets all my tenants go rent-free when I black out for a month. OK, that is infuriatingly stupid, but I can still win this thing. It’s become clear to me at this point that Real Time and Time Before The Giant Evil Kills Anybody are two separate things, and my personal coffers are filling up nicely, so I decide to buy everything in sight and jack up the rent just a little bit (with the full intention of making it ridiculously low after, you know, we’re not all going to die). And it’s working great. I’m questing, I’m raising my skills, I’m occasionally making some rulings and letting a month go by, and the money keeps rolling in. Before I know it, I’ve got 2 million gold, and another 2.5 million in real estate I can sell. It wouldn’t be long now. I would beat this stupid game at its stupid game. I’ve got almost 90 days left, and the clock on my living room wall read about midnight, so I decided to make one more set of rulings before I went to bed.

It was the worst decision I could have possibly made. Aside from, you know, purchasing Fable 3.

The Facepalm Of The Gods

At this point, I wish I had heeded the advice of my readers, as one of them warned me of something very important. I ignored his comment after reading the first few words, not wanting to ruin the experience. What a horrible idea.

Turns out when you make a ruling, it’s not always a month that passes. Actually, there’s no consistent amount of time that passes. In this particular case, with 90 days left, I had just made the very last set of rulings before the Giant Evil shows up. Guess what? I wake up, it’s suddenly the one-year anniversary of my taking the throne, I’ve got a crapton of gold sitting in my personal treasure room that hasn’t been used for buying an army, and everyone in Albion is dead. Better yet: the game thoughtfully autosaved for me after I made my rulings, so there was no going back. A week of gameplay, wasted. Hours of careful planning and managing real estate, wasted. Remember Fable 2? When you were going to go to a critical part in the story, and it puts up a message that says in big bold letters “HEY THERE IS NO GOING BACK AFTER THIS! ARE YOU SURE? NO, SERIOUSLY.ARE YOU SURE?” Did that not test well with the focus groups this time around? Maybe they did tell me, but it was through expressions? I knew I should have paid attention to that copiously-farting businessman back in Bowerstone Market!

So, after the whole total annihilation of millions of people bit, me and the four guys I was hiding in the castle with went to go fight the Giant Evil, handily gave it a good thrashing, and took its Evil Lunch Money. I kind of wish we’d done that, you know, before it killed everybody. You know. Advanced battle tactics and all. Anyway, I rush back to the castle to find my wife. She is waiting there in the Royal Bedroom, as she always is, to greet me. Somehow her “approval rating” meter is well into “Happy”, but clearly something is amiss because she decides to divorce me right there on the spot. That’s right, everyone. If you accidentally get everyone in the kingdom killed through no fault of your own, your wife is programmed to automatically divorce you. A final twist of the knife. I loved you, Freedom the Eco Warrior. Even if you never bathed.

The Final Analysis

This is why, dear reader, I am compelled to give Fable 3 the worst review any game has ever received.

I genuinely believe Fable 3 to be a threat to our very way of life. If you give this to your children for Christmas, you should be thrown in prison. If you buy this game for your significant other, you should probably start hunting for an apartment now. If you bought this game for yourself, do not remove the shrink wrap from the game box, lest some of it gets on you and causes you lifelong depression and anger management issues, and that is IF you do not suffer an explosive aneurism that levels everything in a 2 mile radius. I will never be the same. I am a broken man. My pants will never be the same, and neither will what used to be my guest bedroom. I will approach every game I play, every experience in life, every breath I take with the fear that it will be as bad as Fable 3. There are proven links to the spread of Restless Leg Syndrome across the world and the development of Fable 3. The Black Plague that ravaged Europe in the 1300’s was actually caused by Fable 3 sucking so badly that it travelled backwards in time, where a bunch of rats played it. All of these things are 100% true and backed by SCIENCE.

Don’t do it. Don’t hurt yourselves or the ones you love. Don’t play Fable 3. Really, don’t do it.

Also, it will make you mad because stupid things happen in a lot of very critical parts of the game. I don’t recommend it. But mostly, never play Fable 3.

Photo credit. Please do not blame the photographer for this awful game.

Comments

  1. Chris Sims says:

    So you clearly hate the rubbish, high-level moral choices you must make in Fable 3, which is surprising to me, because such choices in every Fable have always been black-and-white rubbish. Further, in Fable 2, you are nor allowed to do some things you could if you had real choices. such as kill that sumbitch Reaver.

    I have a feeling I’m a lot like you in my desire for meaningful story and choices, but I have to ask something. Despite the frustrations with the choices and story, how was the gameplay? You’ve touched on the fact that the expression system is goofy, and said clearly the gameplay doesn’t redeem the crushing weight of the storyline’s awfulness, but taken out of that context, is playing the game fun?

  2. I briefly touched on this in the first half of this review last week, but I actually really enjoyed all the parts of this game that weren’t galactically stupid.

    This makes the fact that the stupid parts ruined everything 10x worse for me. If the rest of the game were horrible, I probably could have stopped at about a thousand venomous words instead of cruising up into the 3500’s. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And yes, if I’d been given the choice, Reaver would have been ground up and fed to his sex-balverines. It’s what he would have wanted.

  3. Ugh, my sympathies, Vanir.

    I was so scared of 120 days disappearing at a whack after that post I intentionally avoided the throne room at all costs. I focused instead on running around doing side quests, collecting books, keys, roving dungeons. Much funner than the bullshit choices.

    In my case, after being so disappointed that I couldn’t kill that lick-spittle Reaver, or even nationalize his company (what, am I not the King? Am I Not Merciful!?) and basically realizing that any chance to do good as the king meant that my treasury was going to suck wind and that all my people would die, I pulled a dirty trick.

    I plugged in my controller, found an unpopulated corner of Bowerstone Market, and rubber banded my right stick to constantly spin my POV, thus ensuring a constant feed of input and no shut down.

    Then I went to bed.

    In the morning I had 7 million gold.

    Do I have remorse? Not in the least. The choices are so craptastic that I feel no shame in exploiting the system. Now, a word of advice to all you tycoons out there, buy shops, not houses. Shops never need maintenance, and will always contribute a steady income.

    Now then, as to the rest of the game and its deep meaningful choices? Heh. Well it appears that if I ever slip too much a 1 mil donation to the treasury makes me a goody two shoes, no matter how much of a bastard I’ve been. Very soon I will be embarking on the Henry VIII achievement/trophy, wherein as ruler one must marry six times and then murder two of your spouses. Again, the craptastic nature of the emote system and the complete lack of emotional depth in this latest game means that I feel NO connection to ANY of the NPCs except the core rebels I lured to my side.

    All that aside? The gameplay is awesome. I love the magic, the guns, the swords and hammers. I love the environments… I guess I shouldn’t be suprised that 90% of the level design was outsourced, while the emote system was all Lionhead. Huh.

  4. I had almost the exact same experience with the last 120 days. I wake up, I’ve got 6 mil in my bank account and I say, “holy crap! why is it suddenly d-day?” I had the presence of mind to RUN to the ledger and dump all my money into the account while Mr. Grandpants blathered on for a few minutes. phew.

  5. Reminds me of the ending of Fable 2. The choices given were so . . . so designed to be total and utter bullcrap. Hell, if you take your time deciding the fate of the final foe (incredibly anticlimactic end, btw), Reaver actually kills him for you! (Making it even more anticlimactic).

    I really do get what Lionhead was trying to do. I really do. But the problem is that everything about the plot is so incredibly arbitrary, and the choices aren’t real moral quandrys because none of the options are any good. Sad to hear Fable 3 has the same crap.

  6. I’m laughing and crying, because I was actually talking about Reaver in the Fable 2. To hear that Fable 3 gives you similar non-choices regarding another Reaver makes me sad.

  7. Now that I think of it . . . if you could kill Reaver I’d probably forgive Fable 3 of all of it’s sins. I’m going to go ahead and assume you can’t?

  8. monocle lad says:

    Reaver was one of the few characters I liked from fable 2. He was an ass, sure, but he was the best written character in the game by far. Him being back in fable 3 was the only reason I would want to get it to be honest. He was an ass, but he was the best developed character in fable 2. The best acted as well. I always wished you had found him first and hammer last if only so that I didn’t have to listen to hammer speak as much. ugh.

    If I had to be immortal in a world surrounded with the idiots that exist in the fable universe I’d probably start acting a lot like reaver.

  9. Good ol’ Peter Molyneux. I haven’t trusted him since the original Fable.

  10. @monocle lad
    I agree with you in that Reaver’s voice acting was fantastic, and in many ways he was an enjoyable character. It’s just that Reaver’s entire purpose seems to show off how Lionhead are really the guys pulling the strings, not you. “We’re going to create a villainous character who will harm you, steal your kills, and literally steal years of your life . . . and he has a happier ending than you”.

    My issue isn’t so much with Reaver (he’d make a WONDERFUL villain), it’s with the way you’re forced to interact with him.

  11. So what the hell are you suppose to do to transfer that gold into the public trough? I tried at the ledger to transfer the money and the only option I had was to steal more from the depleted treasury.

  12. IIRC one of your choices is to switch the view between Treasury and Personal. You can do this in the place in the castle OR in your Sanctuary. Once you’re in the personal (which should show rent income, family upkeep costs, etc.) then there is a button to dump money into the treasury.

    To be safe, have all your money in when you help the rich patron. It wraps up the last 252 days VERY fast.