Good Intentions, Bad Execution
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead, read at your own risk.
Fable 3 is a game that starts off well enough. It has been 50 years since the second game in the series and Albion is in the midst of an industrial revolution. Their cities have grown and so has the slums. The class divisions are greater than ever and the people are fed up with the current ruler. With this revolution has come a technological one as well. Weaponry has been greatly improved and a fantastic steam punk aesthetic runs throughout the world. You come in as the prince or princess of Albion. Your father died years ago and your brother, Logan, has taken his place. During his rule he has grown to become a tyrant: having public executions often and even putting the corrupt, greedy bastard that is Reaver at the head of this revolution. The kingdom of Albion is falling into disarray and is crying for a revolution, crying for a new leader, that leader is you.
Following a descent into near madness by your brother, you with the help of your butler and a fatherly figure escape, set to start a revolution. Throughout this first half of the game you'll come across a variety of factions and leaders, all who want to overthrow your brother. But in order for you to gain their trust you must win the people. These leaders are one of the better parts of the game. Each is unique and quirky, backed by the great British dialogue you would expect from a Fable game. And on top of that they are voiced by a outstanding voice cast of some of the best actors England has to offer. Stephen Fry, Ben Kingsley, John Cleese, and Simon Pegg all give stellar performances and bring wit to each of their characters. The missions for them, while quite bland in their nature as most entail killing waves of enemies, are brilliant in their creativity. If anything, the side quests they offer are even better, offering hilarious tasks that often poke fun at some typical RPG tropes. Basically, most of the beginning half is brilliant and would have been great on its own.
Yet that half is bogged down by an absolutely god-awful second half. Following a stint in Aurora, a land they were making out to be great in its scope and variety yet in the end was very small and bland, and the introduction of a half-assed, contrived new villain, you overthrow your brother. This task itself is epic until you actually find your brother at which point he simply gives up. From there the game presents you with a year to prepare your kingdom for this new villain. The totally fucked part with this is that it's not really a year, its instead about 6 or 7 instances that speed through the year. During these parts you make a few choices about your kingdom then move to the next day. And then the ending comes out of nowhere with a absolutely terrible final boss and ending. It astounds me that after a around 8 hour game that is fairly well made, Lionhead could think that a 3 hour second half was completely okay. This later half just comes off as shitty; influenced no doubt by laziness and time restraints.
This is the only absolutely glaring issue thankfully when it comes to the design of the game. Everything else is pretty well off and mostly the same except a few things. The combat is slightly tweaked for the better, making ranged and magic actually good in the game and viable to play with. To build off that the leveling experience is much different now. You now earn seals for completing missions, killing enemies, and interacting with people that are spent in the Road to Rule, essentially a visual representation of your path through the game. The co-op is much better now, allowing for complete camera control for both players and actually being able to bring you hero into another person's world. The UI is greatly improved, making your menu now a sanctuary that has multiple rooms for weapons and such. It's mostly well done with your butler, John Cleese, cleverly commenting on many things and the rooms being well laid out. My only problem with it is that by being built to cater to the casual audience, it makes things more of a pain to get to and makes the new simplified map harder to read. There is also the issue of the crumb trail which glitches far too often, encroaching onto regular occurrence territory.
Besides that though the game play systems of Fable are still the same. You can buy and sell property, start families, and work jobs. The dog returns and does its job yet is not even close to becoming the emotional attachment that it was in the previous game. You can still interact with loads of towns people in various, slightly weird ways. In essence it's still a Fable game.
The game has a brilliant creative vision combining the British fantasy world that they've set up in the past two games with a steam-punk industrial revolution. This vision comes through in the graphics which have had some good improvement, bringing more detail to the environments and making the women look like actual women. The only problem is that basically all of the enemies in the series return with very little additions which is pretty disappointing. It should also be noted that the game struggles often with its frame-rate, dropping on numerous occasions, especially in towns with heavy particle effects or actions happening. The music though is completely stellar, offering stirring pieces coupled with good background pieces.
I really wanted to like this game, I enjoyed Fable 2 a good deal and believed Molyneux could finally make a game that would live up to its promises. From the start it even looked like he had, but because of some reason the game was just let to rush through its second half, lose interest in everything, and disappoint all around. In the end I give this game a 2/5.