czwartek, 7 lipca 2011

Fable III - or how to make a bad game

                Just to make it clear. I didn’t play Fable II due to Molyneux dissing PC gamers worldwide. So when comparing Fable III to a prequel I will use Fable: The Lost Chapters.

                Fable III is the third second game set in the fictional world of Albion. Peter “genius” Molyneux invites us to become once more the Hero of Albion™. The Guild is no more and the technology advanced from medieval times to industrial revolution. Together with magic, steam exists (reminds me of Arcanum but in childish version), we’ve got powder and in consequence pistols and rifles replaced good old bows and crossbows. Thankfully cold steel is still present. We start as the younger brother/sister of king of Albion. And at the very start I want to thank whoever done the intro to this game. It’s marvellous, funny at times and sad at the very end (Though I’m starting to think that Molyneux has a chicken fixation). The intro was so good that I thought the whole game will be the same. I was wrong.

                Let’s start with the good sides (though there won’t be many). Development of our character’s skills is shown in the road to rule. There we, after having accumulated a number of guild seals can open chests containing upgrades for our melee, ranged and magic weapons, new spells, expressions, dyes (no I’m not joking), and the ability to buy houses, business etc. Every time I gathered a sufficient number of points I would instantly teleport to the road to rule to buy new melee or ranged weapon upgrade because they usually change the looks of a weapon. So the right side of the road is for fighting. The left side is only useful when you want to unlock estate manager. Expressions and dyes? Hell no. Fable III is certainly an RPG. You can kill and fuck almost anyone. A quality for which, RPGs have been known. Moreover, you can buy houses, live in them, rent them, sell, repair, and change the rent. It is almost the same for various businesses (ranging from tattoos parlours to pawnbrokers, you can even buy a fort!) with the difference that you cannot live in them but you are allowed to change prices. Basically you can buy most of the kingdom while leading a rebellious life of a renegade chased by your own brother. And no one will ever take your estates from you! Talk about convenience. Another quality of RPGs is the great number of interaction you can possibly have with other characters. In the first Fable expressions were used but did not wear of so quickly. In Fable III some expression are absurd and stupid. Farting in front of someone’s face, burping and obscene gestures. This game could have worked without them very well. Another thing I would like to praise is the combat. If some of you watched a teaser in which the hero shots left and right without turning around it is true. You can do it all in this game. Changing from melee, to ranged and magic attacks is very quick and intuitive. Thanks to that fights look more epic and dynamic compared to the first game. To top that you have six spells (fireball, shock, ice storm, vortex, force push and blades) which you can throw at one enemy or use their area of effect version. Furthermore, after one special upgrade you can combine their power (I personally used vortex + blades), creating even more fabulous spells. Using swords, hammers, pistols and rifles is also great. Although, finishers aren’t as showy as spells they’re interesting to see. Hammers for example work great on hobbes. Those creatures work well as baseball balls for your bat (hammer). There are many finishers but I think it is better to watch them on youtube:

We are moving on to the weapons section. Each and every one of them you can upgrade three times by doing tasks similar to achievements system. With every change the weapons changes its look and becomes more powerful. I at the end of the game used the mentioned spell combination, “Scythe’s Warhammer” and two pistols for different enemies, “The Bonesmasher” for skeletons and “Chickenbane” for everything else. Voice actors were well-chosen and I enjoyed listening to them and guessing who is who. The music is almost unnoticeable but it plays well in the background. What’s more, I enjoyed the side quests. But not the ones given to you by people who want to be with you on better terms, but the ones listed in your list. Fighting against ghosts, unravelling the truth behind the Sunset Villa, giving birth to a dark cult. Side quests won’t allow you to be bored. I think that those were the good sides of Fable III. Also the locations are beautiful. Sometimes it is good to stop fighting and go sightseeing. Now we will move on to the bad sides of Fable III.

                Firstly, Microsoft, Lionhead and Molyneux lied to us about planning to publish the game on the PC as soon as the console version has been published. One year later... I was so happy because I could finally play the awaited game (minimal system requirements met my laptop’s hardware so hurrah). I don’t remember when I played a game so badly optimalized. Textures disappearing, “Alt + Tab” crashes from time to time, game looking worse than many games with the same system requirements (e.g. The Witcher 2), low rate of fps. I played it on 800x600 resolution! Another feature getting on my nerves quite frequently was the interactive and 3D map. But calling it a map would be offensive to mapmakers. It shows landmarks with paths between them though you better buy an official guide where maps are actually precise compared to those badly made imitations. Weapon upgrading system is stupid. Some of the tasks require digging out 30 items. What if you have already done it before acquiring and carrying a weapon with you? Sorry, you must find and dig another thirty. While I don’t care about it before you find a weapon, achievements should be counted if weapons are in your sanctuary. In addition, developers of Fable III decide to make the hero invincible. You cannot die, never. But certainly there must some kind of punishment? Gaining another guild seal is zeroed. A gruesome punishment I’d say. Another ridiculous thing is the almost non-visible interface. You see it when choosing a weapon, gathering guild seals, using potions. But your health is not visible! They’ve probably abandoned the idea to make the game more realistic. Guess what Peter, our vision when dying doesn’t turn red. I preferred the old system of health indicator by numbers or life’s gauge. I’m pretty disappointed with the length of the game. It is too short. When you become the king, your times of reign fly by very fast. And here we have two more stupid solutions served to us by the developers. The morality choices don’t really have any significant after-effects. Even if you don’t keep promise and become the big bad you will still get endgame powerup – angelic or devilish wings when holding attack button. When you become the king of Albion, you have exactly one year before the game ends and during this time you have to rule. It all goes to four to five decisions in every couple of days. I don’t like them because there is simply too few of them for me to be fully satisfied with ruling. In addition, people don’t respect you in a way a king should be respected. They still give you stupid tasks of bringing something for them. I mentioned earlier in the review that you can kill almost anyone. And what is the punishment? Pay a fine good sir and we will release you. I also want to write about expressions in this part. Farting, threatening, insulting etc., don’t have any visible repercussions apart from the ones that people don’t like you. When playing a pen-and-paper RPG doing any of the aforementioned gestures to anyone would normally end with a fight or worse with you being thrown into prison. Another great future of Fable III is your dog. If it wasn’t for the digging and warning me of enemies I could have managed without him. What the beta testers (were there any?) missed are the problems of pathfinding by the dog. He gets lost easily, sometimes isn’t able to overcome little obstacles. Man that’s irritating! What’s more this game doesn’t allow you to open one of the demon doors! I thought it was a single campaign. Once again I was wrong. You must invite somebody to your game and go with him there, perform cuddling and voila! the passage is open. I mentioned it earlier in the Portal 2 review that I hate co-op games. I’m afraid that Fable IV will be all about co-op. You and your friend will have to buy a copy of the game, or else no game for you, you stupid buyer. Let’s talk about the complex plot of Fable III. Got you there! I’m joking of course! You can say many things about the plot but you cannot say it is complex, original, interesting, and long. Two brothers, one is evil, the other is good. Older is the king, younger starts a rebellion, gathers allies. With their help wins the revolution, becomes the king and after a year fights the real enemy. And let me tell you. The final battle is disappointing. Short, not emotional and boring. It looks like the developers didn’t have an idea how to end the story. It is advisable for them to watch how some old games’ outros are long, explanatory and satisfying. The last thing that shows how much PC gamers aren’t respected by Molyneux and etc. is the one year difference in publishing between X360 and PC version but no difference between bugs! They haven’t done anything to make this game better. Arrghhh!!! I’m done.

Lionhead Studios advertising themselves in-game.

                Peter Molyneux and Lionhead Studios have made a harmful game. It’s very frustrating and stressful. I advise anyone out there to not buy this game as it is simply not worth your money. I hope that Molyneux will stop his whining about how he had only two years to make it. I always considered him a great game maker but I’m talking about Populous, Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper, Black and White, and Fable: The Lost Chapters. Fable III should be put into garbage can.

Final Score: 5/10

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