The perfect (and most blatant) example is the start menu. In most games when you hit the start button it brings to into a series of menus, pausing the action so you can sort through your various objectives, inventory, ect... but in Fable 3 all of these menus are represented by a space called The Sanctuary. Each room in The Sanctuary represents one of these menus. So you have a map room for your maps and quests, an armory for weapon and spell selection, a dressing room to put on your armor. Each of these places is a point within the world where you must move your character and sift through the various items there one at a time. This, on a whole, is an interesting and thought-provoking idea, but in a game like Fable, where you are constantly changing around what you're wearing or what weapon you're using depending on the situation, it seemed like this added an unneeded amount of time to the game. I'd spend five minutes doing in Fable 3 what would have taken less than One to accomplish in any of the previous installments.
Which brings me to my biggest thought about this game and one that sounds rather stupid as I type it. Fable 3 was too different from Fable 2. I know, just look at that sentence... merely typing those words disgusts me on some level. Because I am not the kind of person who is looking for the same game over and over again in my sequels. I want improvement, I want innovation, I want an experience that does everything the first game did, but better (thank you Mass Effect 2). Fable 3 did not improve the groundwork that 2 had laid, it moved to the next town over where the geography is similar but people are all slightly racist.
The skill system from Fable 2 that I loved so much? Gone! Which I don't understand at all. The idea that you become better at something as you do it is something that is so intrinsic to the RPG experience that it has been with us since Final Fantasy 2! But no, that whole concept is scrapped in favor of another space. What is called The Road to Rule - which is a long path that is filled with a succession of boxes which contain the skills you inevitably want to buy (Spells, strength upgrades, job improvements, that sort of thing), but it is all bought by a pool of one type of experience point. Again, I didn't necessarily have a problem with this system of leveling up it was just so un-Fable that it felt like the developers were changing the game for it's own sake rather than actually improving something.
So in the end, what can I say about Fable 3? It was a fun game. It did a lot of things story-wise that were an awesome improvement. There was one spectacular moment in the game that had me so riveted, focused and down right jumpy that I almost elbowed my father in the face when he touched my shoulder. (it was a very "At the Mountains of Madness"-like experience, not to spoil anything) There were plenty of awesome things to be done in 3. Collecting fowl-mouthed gnomes, raising the dead with the norminomicon or simply just kicking around Albion, searching for all the miscellaneous collectibles. The spell-weaving ability was another cool twist to the basic spellslinging powers seen in other RPGs and mixing two absurdly different powers made for some unique results (creating a fire-tornado with Gust and Fireball was pretty cool).
But in retrospect, I'm not sure if it's a game that I'm going to be picking up again any time soon which raises the question, should I sell it to put a dent in my pre-order of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood?
What I'm Listening To As I Write:
- A Recording of a Call of Cthulhu RPG session From Over A Year Ago starring Bryan Gluck, Michael Lissman, Will Gibson and myself as the G.M.