As it happens, these last few weeks were an RPG extravaganza. I started lightly with Demon War, as a warm up for the long awaited “monsters”: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and Fable III. Basically, I played both at once, which means an unavoidable comparison, each of them having pros and cons. But since we are talking about Fable III, I’ll finish the comparison by saying that while this game comes with remarkable artistic values, in every other respect it appeals to 14 year olds.
Actually, it’s not right to accuse Fable III of being “kinder like”, since the whole series has this light approach, not too much depth story wise or NPCs’ relationships wise. Moreover, Fable II never made it on the PC, so it’s just a reading opinion about that one. The third installment continues its story somewhat, since one of the hero-king’s offspring rules Albion now. Unfortunately, Logan isn’t the ideal leader, but a cold hearted tyrant: his industrialized country (a mirror of the real 19th century) puts kids to work, throws waste into lakes, there are no schools or libraries, poverty and hunger are common, while outlaws and organized crime rule the cities.
This is the critical moment for you to step in, the prince (or princess, the choice is just an esthetic one, with no impact on the game) sick of your brother’s attitude. From the start, you get to make a choice (where someone dies regardless) and leave together with two faithful servants, declaring high and mighty that a revolution will make you king (or queen). There’s also a mysterious character showing up, a guide and a guardian along the road to the throne: you can be the protective angel of your people or 10 times more evil than your brother, obsessed only with filling your own bank account.
Quests… no more quests
Like in any RPG, no matter how perched to action, you must fulfill missions in order to pass the gates of destiny and become king. In order to have a successful revolution, you must convince the people by talk and action: promises fly all around, handshakes galore, giving money to the poor and all the other activities of a real election campaign. Funny thing is, you are in a kingdom, and the rightful ruler, who should hunt you down as a traitor, just ignores you all up to the point where it’s too late for him to do anything.
That’s actually one of the biggest issues: the world doesn’t react to your doing. You can kill an entire city population, you’ll be notified that you did something immoral and that’s it. Life goes on, so do the missions, the peasants will still trust you. But such approach won’t stimulate experimentation to see the consequences… since there are no consequences: you can be a devil at the end of the game, but you will get there (unlike the Witcher 2, which is much more unforgiving in this regard). The game also tends to favor the good side, since you at least have to promise to help all the people in need in order to get them to work with you. Fortunately, the story isn’t over once you become king, because it still has an ace up its sleeve (finish the game, I’m not about to tell!) and you have the chance to be good, bad or whatever in between.
Since nothing around you really impacts the gameplay, your immersion is close to zero too. At first, faced with a harsh decision, I thought I’ll be all the more impressed as I played along. Neah. The same goes for the interactions with the townsfolk. At first, you shake hands, give them money and maybe fart in their face; as you move further, you can unlock more gestures and actions, from dancing and tickling to playing patty-cake.
If you act nicely, all will love you, but the gesture areas have been shrunk to predefined sets for a certain individual, so your choice is limited; I don’t find it normal to play patty-cake, whistle or tickle my wife and consider that love. It’s hard to care for your so-called soul mate, so I didn’t even feel the need to marry or have kids. And you don’t even care about your dog, because he never gets hurt in battles, so he’s more of a furry metal detector, not a real lovable pet.