Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

My Curious Interest in Fable III

My interest in Fable III was really low when it came out. I didn’t really enjoy the first game in the series and this one had quite low review scores all across the board. So I decided to skip it and kept that decision up until the last weekend when the game was on sale on Steam. I was sick at the time and couldn’t really play games that required any form of time commitment in front of the computer, so a single player game was exactly what I needed. My expectations weren’t high, and at first my distrust was confirmed. All I saw was a shoddy console port with lame mini-games and what might just be the worst NPC-relationship system ever invented. I kept playing though and now I’m … intrigued.

Be warned: This post contains a few spoilers for Fable III. Read on at your own peril.

The first positive thing that comes to mind is the world of Albion. While there clearly are fantasy elements in it, it also has enjoyable steampunk influences and, maybe most importantly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.   The game manages to literally make me laugh out loud from time to time without drifting into goofy or slapstick territory. At the same time it mixes industrial revolution, oppression of the working class, and magic fireballs into one believable world – not a small feat.

During the first part of the game you will run around gathering followers for your revolution against your brother, the king. These followers not only need some convincing before they join you, but also require you to make political promises for the time when you become king instead of the king. It turns out though, that keeping such promises is much, much harder (read: expensive) than making them and kingdom finances turn into the major issues in the second part of the game. My capitol’s orphanage required some major construction work, for example, which of course would be expensive. I had the choice to spend money on that or turn the whole thing into a brothel, gaining me a neat sum of money for the treasury instead.

Being a truly benevolent ruler is, as it turns out, impossible unless you are willing to use your own funds to fuel your empire. Obviously, I decided to do pretty much anything I could for my subjects and invest my own fortune into the real estate market (surely a fool proof investment?) By now I own ever house and shop in my Kingdom providing me with a sizeable income every five minutes. Acquiring such a fortune was surprisingly fun.

While the money game as well as the unlocking of new abilities on my weapons are the kind of fun that we all know from progression games (including MMOs), Fable III also has some deeply immersive moments. In one case I was shipwrecked in a desert and happened upon some sort of evil darkness dwelling underground. During this episode the darkness would slowly drive my companion insane and drain all power from my character until I collapsed in the middle of the desert; darkness all around me even though the desert sun shone mercilessly.  This part of the game was a rather well written piece of entertainment – linear, but without feeling as if control had been taken from me, and simply believable.

I still wouldn’t call Fable III a good game. It makes a lot of elementary mistakes and the console port is really just awful. Still, I absolutely don’t regret spending those 13 Euros on the game, will continue playing it for a bit, and will surely have at least one more post inspired by it.

 

  • I was never too interested in the Fable games, but I found Fable 3 fairly enjoyable. As you said, it’s quite funny at times and Albion is a fun place to explore. I especially liked gathering followers in the first part of the game.

    Unfortunately, I never finished the game (though I’m right at the end) because it did something that made me so mad I never wanted to see it again. I have a bit of a warning for you (sort of a spoiler, but I’m trying to make it as unspoilery as possbile). You’ll get to a point where you have a year to prepare for something. If you want to do as much as you can for your subjects, don’t delay! The game unexpectedly took me to the point of no return (then autosaved) and I was unable to end the game in the way I wanted to. I was very disappointed.
    Jasyla´s last blog post ..Keep Yourself Alive

  • “I was sick at the time and couldn’t really play games that required any form of time commitment in front of the computer, so a single player game was exactly what I needed.”

    do you mind explaining this? i ask because this sounds like the comments a friend of mine makes when i attempt to get him to play mmos. he’s under the impression that mmos somehow shackle you to a chair. is it the option to pause gameplay you refer to? i can’t think of too many situations in an mmo outside of group content that force you to remain in front of the monitor. the freedom to go afk at will is one of the reasons i continue to play mmos even though my time is limited and/or frequently interrupted.

  • That really depends on what you are doing in an MMO (and how sudden the interruptions will be.) I couldn’t, for example, play in dungeons, raids, or any other group content without risking to leave people hanging. (Which I’m not willing to do.) That would leave single player content in MMOs, which is rather forgiving where sudden breaks are concerned. Even then though there are many situations in which going AFK means dying and having to redo a big stretch of content (or being punished in some other way.) A pause function makes such events much less problematic.

    Then there are non-MMO multiplayer games, which suffer from the same issues as group content in MMOs. I wouldn’t want to go AFK during a match of Starcraft or League of Legends due to the repercussions that has on other people in my team, my opponents, and potentially some in-game metric. (Say, my ranking on the Starcraft ladder.)

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