The story of the Fable series is incredibly interesting- it is a tale of crushing disappointment, bitter resentment, and unfulfilled promise on the one hand, and a charm that appeals to everybody, a satisfaction with what one has, and a fairy tale allure on the other. Funnily enough, the adjectives used above could be used to describe not only the overarching plots of the Fable games, but also about their general perception amongst the gaming public.
From famed game designer Peter Molyneux, the Fable games have always been ambitious, striving for concepts that are almost always ahead of their times, and which almost always never make it into the final game, or, if they do, are heavily truncated and stripped down. The result is that he Fable games- which are extraordinarily good in every conceivable way- are always marked down, because the final product is never equivalent to the ambition that conceived it.
Twice now, gamers have burnt their fingers, thanks to Molyneux’s hype machine. Twice now, they’ve got less than they were promised, way less than what they bargained for. Will they fall for what appears to be the same routine the third time? Or is there an underlying grain if truth to it all this time around?
Will Fable III be the game it is being pumped up to be? In other words, will it be the game the first one should have been, nearly a decade ago now?
Even the most hardened cynic will accept that the Fable games have a certain charm to them. Also, beneath all that hype, you can find always the seed of those ideas that should elevate the games to the level of greatness, but that somehow almost always are buried unde what looks to be generally shoddy execution and an overall feeling that the game was rushed.
What can be the reason for this? Can we assume that Molyneux simply isn’t talented enough a game developer to realize his artistry? Or are we to understand that Microsoft always rushes the games to the market?
As I would believe, it is none of them. Have a look at the following:
Does any of that look like the work of a developer who lacks talent, or who was rushed into his job?
It is my opinion, and I may be very wrong here, that the Fable games are always done in by their ambition- Molyneux has some great ideas, which are unfortunately limited by the constraints placed on him by the technology of the day. His ideas- including a Morality system which actually has some consequence, assigning a particular outcome to every interaction and deed you perform in the game, building up not only your character’s stats, but his life in general, with attention paid to his family life, infidelity, and even any diseases that he may contract, to his overall appearance, which is affected even by the kind of food you have, and the frequency with which you have it- all of these, if made good upon properly, should make the game in question the greatest ever created.
The problem however is, as has already been mentioned numerous times in this preview, that that never happens. Because of the fact that Molyneux’s ideas are almost always ahead of the curve, they are bound by the parameters of present day technology, and are therefore never quite implemented properly. This makes his games a shadow of what they potentially should have been.
With Fable III, however, things look different. Here, have a look:
You see, all of the problems that have plagued the past Fable games- shallow combat, juvenile character development and interaction, lack of finesse and polish to the game’s graphics, morality systems that have no lasting effect on how your character truly turns out- they’ve all been addressed to some degree. Molyneux, it seems, has taken all the complaints to heart, and he seems determined to get it right the third time.
And he very well might. You see, after two games of laying the groundwork, we can expect Molyneux to have spent all his time on perfecting and refining what already exists. Indeed, Fable III feels fundamentally different from past titles in the series simply because of how much more polished it seems from the get go. After two games of striving for something that was then out of reach, for the third installment, Molyneux seems to be perfecting what he has, to make his game as polished as it can, so that it actually comes off as a high quality title for once.
Is that necessarily a good thing, or a bad thing? Or is it both?
Being a Fable game means that the game bears the baggage of the past two games in the series having ‘failed,’ and yet, it also means that it has to appease a huge, rabid fanbase of the series. There may be many out there who might be fearing that Molyneux might be trying to make his games like The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, or Dragon Age: Origins, two games that did get concepts like morality with consequences and branching character interactions correct. However, the problem with those wo games, great as they were, was that they lacked Fable’s fairy tale charm.
Well, never fear. Molyneux’s signature touch is still there, as noticeable as ever, in his latest:
So what do we have here? We have a game that not only might just live up to its ambition for one, but we also have the humor and the charm that many would argue was the series’ only redeeming quality so far, and something that truly differentiates these games from the others on the market, who just appear to take themselves too seriously. If done right, Fable might even become Microsoft’s very own Legend of Zelda. And Fable III looks to be the first step towards that end direction.
Fable III wouldn’t be much of a game, though, if all it did was get stuff right it should have gotten right the first time around- stuff that other games have already done pretty well already by now. No, there needs to be a catch, Fable III’s very own draw, you might say.
As Molyneux explains, most games end at the ‘happily ever after’ scenario. They never actually get into the details of what actually happened in that ‘ever after’ period. Fable III changes all that by allowing you to be king of the kingdom you sought to liberate, and by letting you rule it as you should see fit. An RTS element enters the fray here, as you must not only concentrate on military conquests, but also on your nation’s economy, infrastructure, and on the people’s general perception of you as a king, lest you face rebellion.
The point is, more likely than not, this particular element might be botched up in Fable III- maybe it’ll be too simplistic to actually simulate something as complex as being king of a kingdom, or maybe it’ll be too unbalanced. However, even if it is messed up, in conjunction with the other features o this game, which Lionhead appears to have got right this time, we’re sure the game will definitely be worth playing, even by the series’ detractors. Maybe this time, Molyneux might even get it right the first time. Who knows?
The story of Fable has always centered around loads of promises, which were never fulfilled. Will Fable III actually live up to the hype for once? We have just about a month before we find out. As always, you can expect to find a conclusive review on the game here on GamingBolt.