- buying and fixing up properties,
- making money by trading in goods,
- making choices that affected how my character looked,
- interacting with npcs
The Two-Item Store
I have never seen a video game regress as much as this did with its stores. They went from stores with inventories that you could buy and sell items of a particular type, to stores with 2 or 3 items on pedestals that you walk up and buy or not. You can only sell things at pawn shops. Why? Was this designed for use on tiny phone screens? Are people so simple that they had trouble buying things from a list? I had a fun time buying low from one merchant and selling high to another in the last game. This game, I didn't even bother buying things for my own use.
You Are What You Do
I liked that you would change appearance if you did evil or lazy things, if you ate a lot of meat pies, or if you used big hammers in combat. I made choices to avoid looking certain ways in the last game. This is a very good way to make players care about choices. This was pretty much neutered in Fable III. Sure, your avatar changes, but minimally. I maxed out magic-use and by the end of the game the only difference I could tell was that it looked like I had bad makeup on.
But more than that, the last game let you make choices as you went up in level about what to get better at. This game dumbs that down as much as they did stores. At certain points in the plot you go to the "Road To Rule." In that location are a certain number of chests you can open to give you better abilities. But that means you open a chest for better melee, no choice of melee moves. It also means you can't buy properties, businesses or have kids until certain levels. Its hard for me to put into words all the things I didn't like about this set up. I'll try:
- I could only guess at when I would "go up in level." This meant if I wanted one of the abilities (like, hello, buying businesses) I had to plow on into the plot rather than exploring the world at my own pace.
- When I did go up in level-- well, you didn't really go up in abilities unless you'd earned enough XP (guild badges) so you probably won't get all the abilities unlocked that first try. Why? Did I go up in level or not? If you don't want me to get melee level 5 when I hit that level of the Road to Rule, why are you linking them? Why not let me level up like the last game?
- Some things like the emotes, should have been available far sooner in the game (it actually didn't matter much because they broke the emote system so badly).
There are other regressions-- why can't I tell the how clothing or food will affect my appearance, why were the job mini-games all boringly homogenized- but I'll move on to my biggest disappointment.
NPCs Make the Imagined World Go Round
One of the things I liked most about Fable II was that NPCs had a few simple character traits that, added together as a system, lent the world a sense of verisimilitude. Want to get to know the blacksmith so you get cheaper weapons? Don't joke around with him because he's a serious dude. Want to start a family with that attractive vendor? She likes the lake and chocolate. So, take her out to the lake and then give her the chocolate as a gift for the best results. And, when you start a new game, the NPCs are randomly generated. You may have one game where everyone in town is trying to jump your bones (men and women) and the next game everyone's a prude. Is there any other game that has anything even close to this? Because they killed it in Fable III.
In Fable III you can't emote. You can only interact with an NPC and then you are given a random choice of emote to do or not. (I keep wondering if I've made a mistake, the new system is so utterly stupid that it can't be intended. Is there a way to emote and I missed it?) What that means is that I was doing sexy tangos and playing pattycake with all the men in the world. Look, I like that the game allows for same sex relationships and crossdressing, I think it's cool, but do I have to sexy tango with every man? Did anyone play test this? Is this supposed to be funny and I'm missing it?
|So many difficult choices, if only I could just dance with everyone!|
I don't think the change had to do with having more cities and thus more NPCs, because the emote engine is still there, you just can't choose how to use them. So I can only hypothesize that this change was meant to simplify the game in order to reach a wider audience-- but the old system wasn't difficult to begin with.
Unless . . . that bane of my existence, multiplayer mode has something to do with it. I have no desire to play video games on my console online with random strangers, hell, even with friends. If I want to play with friends give me a coop mode where we can be in the same room and play together. But it seems I am in the minority in this. Designers and players seem to want capture the flag modes with every freakin' game that comes out. Is that why the NPC interaction system was regressed? Because of problems with online multiplayer or coop play?
My recommendation is, if you liked Fable II for any of the reasons I mentioned, skip this game and play that one again.