While I enjoy the heck out of all kinds of video games, and the latest incarnation of Fable isn't an exception, the game really doesn't live up to much of the hype that went around it. With each version of his Fable series the head of Lionhead studios has promised gamers the moon, and while getting part of the way there, more often leaves us part way, gasping for air. One aspect where he has become more insightful (in my estimation) is in his marketing. He got involved in Kinect marketing with Milo last year (the primary demonstration of the systems capabilities...one that has yet to be introduced to the market), and that got him started with his Fable 3 marketing... And getting folks excited by the concept of getting into the Fable system once again and becoming King (precisely where the last game left off) didn't hurt either. The promise of "evolving gameplay" a cool concept that brought a lot of attention to the series... Followed by the novel Fable: The Balverine Order by Peter David just before the games publication to get the series more into the public eye. All great little marketing strategies to keep the game and his publishing company in the public eye.
The game itself is a fun bit of fluff. None of the "remarkable" gameplay that was mentioned in press releases and lauded really made much of a difference. I was hoping to enjoy John Cleese's role as Jasper the butler in the game's version of the pause menu, but after the first couple hours of gameplay his dialogue stopped completely, rendering the "alteration" of the pause from actual menus to a playable space moot. Not to mention MORE time consuming. The "evolving gameplay" that had been discussed while interesting to see, didn't actually see much evolving. I used "hammer" type weapons through the entire game, which traditionally would have made the main character into a more muscular heavy built figure saw no changes in him at all. The experience system for weapons is an interesting distraction, and most only change, when tasks for them are completed, and the fact that the evolution of the hero's weapons (Not the Legendary ones with experience bars) evolve throughout gameplay even without use. I was terribly disappointed that while some of the weapons evolved through use, NONE of the magic system did. The moral choice system throughout the game was actually my greatest disappointment, since the only real benefit to choosing the "evil" or "wicked" options being the accumulation of additional wealth. And while in early game that can be a big asset, anybody who played the previous one, or investing in available real estate (in game) will quickly have more than enough available cash. And that's without trading with pawn brokers throughout the game world. Making the moral choices pretty much moot. The "touch" system was also a big deal in press packets... but didn't really see a lot of effect to the game, just a change in animation. The addition of the "Kingly" gameplay after the revolution in game was something truly new and fun... and would have been fantastic... if there had been more of it or more to do with it AFTER the game's conclusion. All in all it's a decent game, with some great concepts to it that COULD have been great... but falls short at the end. For me the best aspect of the game I found was the excellent packaging and design work on the collectors edition.
Now, that's a lot of material and not a great deal of praise for a very worthwhile effort that will likely speak to the development of a lot of games in future... and hopefully won't rule out a Fable 4 which may take all the best elements from the previous series. Thus far the best element to come out of this series on Fable, was Peter David's book. While it may not have a "pithy maxim" that could express the moral of the story, his book has a terrifically crafted narrative, interesting characters, and paints a more interesting picture of the world the Heroes of Albion inhabited than many of the games. It also had a much more effective "moral lesson" necessary for the name of the series to stay accurate. The book included a weapon for the game as well... but that was more of a marketing ploy... likely an effective one, but I hope that it will introduce some gamers to a great author and suggest that they may want to pick up some more of his work.
So in short... the Fable the novel: Excellent... highly recommended.
Fable 3 the game: For enthusiasts only... otherwise rent or Gamefly it.