• Lack of a 2D Interactive menu - A go-to, of sorts, so I can get what I need and get back to the game quickly instead of searching for it as if on a quest to access my own loot.
Now, I understand that Molyneux expressed that he wanted to do away with the standard 2D menu but really he just hid my available options in a 3D environment that I had to search for. Yes, I understand that he wanted to keep the immersion level throughout every aspect of the game even when accessing your inventory but after a while it felt like work. I eventually started using the "hot key" buttons to immediately warp myself throughout my chambers but even then I was still left wondering what the point of all this was.
In retrospect, perhaps having all your available items in a 3D environment wasn't to keep the player immersed after all. I mean, who are we fooling here? What would be the difference between having a magical place where your items are accessible in different chambers or if they were accessible in a categorized format much like the previous two installments, however clunky the menu layout was? I suppose with the latter being implemented there wouldn't be a creative way to consistently try to up-sell the player.... which brings me to my next observation...
• Jasper says, "Sir, There are new items in the sanctuary shop".
I am aware that this has been brought up for discussion on many occasions within small and large gaming enthusiast clusters everywhere but this really took me out of the game on more than one occasion. At first, it didn't seem so bad because there were free items available but then the situation got out of hand when Jasper kept informing me that there were new items every other time I would warp to my chambers. Like a knucklehead, I would go check only to be disappointed to find out that not only were they the same items that were available from the last time I looked but they were items I felt I should earn in-game. Not with Microsoft points.
"What happened to earning your clothing, hair pieces and armor during your adventures?" I said to myself while drinking my boba tea. (Yes, I drink boba tea when reflecting on my gaming experiences.) It's an obvious cash-in approach but I truly feel, since it doesn't really impact the outcome of the game, that it should be something I could purchase through the Live marketplace outside of my in-game experience if I feel so inclined to do so and not given a hard sell by the one character that I have been placed into the position to trust. Also, with items being up on display, much like the all the other pieces of your collected inventory, I found it difficult to discern exactly what they really were, having to rely on the text description to inform me of what it was I was looking at. Based on how I was interacting with the items displayed implementing 2D based menu system would have been much more convenient.
• In-game cut-scenes, character development and story pacing
From the start of the game I instantly saw ghosting and muddy animation when characters would walk and take action during in-game cut-scenes. It was quite distracting and I was surprised this issue made it through game testing. I initially thought it was my TV settings so I turned off all motion and smoothing applications but it had no effect. At the suggestion of an associate I even cleaned out my cache which made no difference whatsoever. I finally just had to deal with it but that's not anything I should have to do when it comes to a game like this.
The character development of the game was very shallow. I never got attached to any characters that died off because there wasn't any opportunity to build a relationship with them on my own through my character. The game established the relationship and after that, fate was decided through the story line. This is where some of the disconnect came from, not just from the supporting characters, but also from my character because my choices really made no difference to the overall outcome therefore my actions never really had a reaction. It was artificial. I felt I was being humored.
Perhaps I was already taken out of the game due to being offered items on a constant basis that were available for purchase every time I went into my chambers. Or, perhaps it was that I felt the story was a cliff notes version of what it was supposed to be. The story moved very fast and while it did its best to establish some history and background to all the characters involved it really just did not draw me in at all. Pacing became an issue once I became king as I had no true idea as to how many days the "darkness" would appear. Sure, it stated I had 365 days at first but once a major decision was made 45 - 60 days disappeared. It was hard to gauge how much time I really had.
My approach to raise money in order to save Albion was to buy up all the real estate and put all the money made into the treasury while choosing all "good" King decisions for the people. That failed miserably. Before I knew it I ended up with somewhere around 3 - 4 million dollars in the hole thus "darkness" took over all of Albion leaving a handful (the cowards too afraid to fight off the blight most likely) of people to enjoy what had now become Tony-ville. Even with all the extra missions and Demon doors to help with the funding it just wasn't enough. I was initially set up for failure. What game does that to one's emotions? This game does.
In the end, the positives I got out of Fable III's gaming experience was that the writing was very clever and funny. That's it. I truly wanted and expected more but was only disappointed because I really wanted to like this game. The series has always had a charm to it that I could appreciate. Apparently, my disappointment was so much so that I had to come out of retirement in order to write a blog about it. In fact, I ended up so disappointed in it that I had a knee-jerk reaction upon hearing a friend of mine had just purchased the Collector's Edition. One that I never thought I would ever say. Ever.
"Take it back."
Has there ever been a game you were really wanting to like and had a similar experience with that just left you disappointed?