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My Two Rupees: Fable III and the Importance of Pacing in Video Games

MYtwoRuppees

Jon

Jon

Hey there folks, it’s Jon here with another rant. This one is sort of half rant/half review, and as always, it contains spoilers. If you haven’t played Fable III, or just don’t care about it being spoiled, proceed below!

**SPOILERS**

Fable III

Fable III

**SPOILERS**

I’m not going to lie, I actually like the Fable series. Despite the games never ever living up to their lofty ambitions, and the countless broken promises of Peter Molyneux, or the simplicity of the game play, to me, they hold up. They don’t take themselves super seriously and they’re often light-hearted and a breeze to beat. The first two are great games, albeit with some flaws, but nonetheless were a joy to play. The third? I thought it held up until the end. But why do I hate Fable III so much? Because of the awful pacing and predictable ending.

fable-dlc3_1842720b

I’m no game designer, but having played enough games I know that a combination of things have to come together to really get a great game. For early arcade games it was sliding level scale, replayability/addicting gameplay, and flashing lights/cool sound effects. Most of the old pinball machines have a great and innovative gimmick exclusive to their table. And for most games now, the story, the gameplay, and the pacing (with a sprinkling of suspension of disbelief in there too).

In many ways, the Fable series does this. The stories, while not original by any means, were just enough to keep you going. The battle system is simple and streamlined, no combos to learn or anything of that nature. And the pacing of the first two games. was done well. It wasn’t slow, but it wasn’t fast either. The game was the appropriate length. But Fable III just rushed itself towards the end.

In a good paced game, like Final Fantasy VII, everything flows nicely. You start in Midgar, you’re there for a good amount of time, then you escape go to the adjacent town for a flashback, and then continue all over the world map, combining story and character development with a nice atmosphere without staying in one place too long. Are some parts of the game grating? Yes, but all games have those. Eventually the game culminates with the final battle and you’re rewarded for your investment. Fable III? Not so much.

In Fable III you start off as the younger prince/princess of Albion, whose brother is the King. The King has been acting weird the past few years and rumors of him killing a citizen throws the game’s plot into motion. As punishment for trying to delve into this matter, you’re given the first moral choice: Your brother, Logan, makes you kill the protesters outside the castle, or your childhood sweetheart. If you don’t choose he’ll just kill both. Yeah, your brother is a dick.

So you leave the castle and you begin to gather allies for a revolution. You travel all over Albion and gain them. I know I’m “yada-yada-yadaing” over the plot here, but this is basically the whole game. When you’re about to gain your last ally, you discover that a great evil is coming and if you don’t raise an army to fight this evil, Albion is doomed. This is the reason your brother has been a huge jerk-off.

So what do you do? You lead the revolution anyways and you find out in order to raise the funds you either have to donate it from your personal wealth, or break the promises you made in order to industrialize the land and raise the money that way.

fableIII_B

And herein lies the problem. They tell you that you have six months to until the threat comes. So you make these choices and then boom, six months has gone by and you’re fighting the evil. And if you didn’t raise the money? It kills all the NPCs. The pacing of this last part is so bad, that it ruins the game.

There is no prompt that lets you know you can’t go back. There is no warning throughout the game that you need to amass 13,000,000 gold. They spring this up to you at THE END OF THE GAME. Not to mention that you’re supposed to believe your dick of a brother couldn’t just say “Hey guys, there’s this evil and we really need to raise money and an army soon or else we’re all gonna die”. I’m pretty sure the people would understand then. Not just doing it and never telling them why, ESPECIALLY FOR FOUR FUCKING YEARS. It doesn’t make sense. Couple that with a glitch that if you fall in the shadow pit and it auto saves? Guess what, you’re starting the WHOLE. GAME. OVER.

Fable III wasn’t a great game, but up until the end it was decent. By expediting the end of the game, the developers made the whole quest seem useless. While it seems silly to hate on the game for this, amassing 13,000,000 gold is a lot harder in Fable III than in Fable II. If you were warned way in advance, or the game prompted you and said “Are you sure you wish to continue?”, then it would have been forgivable. But it didn’t. This is why pacing is important.

Without balancing the pace, you end up with a game that feels rushed. Xenogears had an excuse for this, it’s budget was cut. What’s yours, Lionhead Studios?
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