by wib

With Fable III screenshots and footage appearing I was driven to blow the dust off Fable II and give it another spin. Sadly it turned out that, despite my love of the first game, I just don't like the sequel that much.


Now the original Fable (released back in the savage time of 2004) has always been a favourite of mine. It was one of the few games that I thought made owning an Xbox worthwhile and I completed it more times than I can count. Sure it was kinda short and shallow in places, sure you could break it's traders to the point that you could be wearing the best armour in the game after your first real quest but, in spite of it's problems, the game spoke to me. It's controls were decent, graphically it was pretty good for the time (and I think it's aged pretty well), the story was decent, if a little stock and it had a certain humour threaded underneath it that seemed to amuse the very British part of me. I even got quite a bit of play out of the expanded PC version of 'Fable: The Lost Chapters' although, due to the fact most of the extra content was stapled to the end, it all felt very disconnected from the main story. Personally I'd rather stick with the older version but my 360 stubbornly refuses to admit that it can play the original game without stuttering like a bitch so the PC version it is.


Anyway, when Fable II came around I was exited even though I didn't own a 360 at the time. When I eventually did I could see that a lot of the things I liked were still there but it lacked something, it's just a little, y'know, bland. I don't know, the controls always felt a bit off and the spell system made it awkward to use more than one kind of spell at a time effectively. The graphics, though improved, saw your main character look even blanker than before and due to the drastic cutting down on cutscenes (in favour of giving you control during most dialogue) they rarely see them react to anything so I felt little to no connection with the character. The story is pretty much ripped from the first one too, just change 'The Arena' for 'The Crucible' and 'Bowerstone Jail' for 'The Spire' and you're pretty much there. Oh, also, the finale of the game is wholly unrewarding, even Stephen Fry's voice acting couldn't make it any less disappointing. Now any one of these things I could have forgiven, Hell, I could have forgiven most of them but at the end of the day I am left with one simple fact: I'd rather play Fable than Fable II.


And so we come to Fable III. From what I've heard they are taking a departure from the series' more conventional RPG elements (which I, for one, don't like the sound of) and plan to do something fairly different with the story this time. Apparently, you'll fight towards the toppling of an evil ruler and when you best him you will take control of the land yourself and the second half of the game is based around you ruling. Anything seem a little wrong with that? Of course, that's two different stories, two entirely different narratives that probably shouldn't be in the same game at all. Surely a better place to end it is you taking your seat of power (then you could continue it in Fable IV, possibly with a Mass Effect like 'Import your old character' system). It just sounds as if it will be somewhat disjointed.


Oh, and there's a few gameplay additions as well but I don't think they're even worth talking about here (and anyway. one already has in today's strip), sure you can hold hands with people but who cares?


Obviously, it could turn out that they can make it work and my worry is over nothing and such is the pull of Lionhead's games (and lack of 360 exclusives I actually care about) that I will, undoubtedly, end up with a copy when it comes out. I'll probably play it, complete it, enjoy it but it's unlikely that it'll ever stir up the same feelings that the original did.