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Quark’s Corner: Is The Fable Series Really That Bad?

Welcome to another rousing entry in Quark’s Corner, where I take a sometimes controversial look at the world of video games and beyond.

Of all of Microsoft’s IP’s, the most controversial has to be the Fable franchise. The franchise created by LionHead  back in 2004 with Fable now has six games under it’s belt with a seventh titled Fable Legends coming to the Xbox One. However, the games have always been divisive among gamers for never delivering on promises spewed out by series creator Peter Molyneux. The most notorious claim came from Fable 1 when Molyneux said the player could plant an acorn and watch it grow. As time goes on, it seems that more and more people look back at the series in disdain. Even Molyneux recently went on record and said:

“I think [simpleazon-link asin=”B002I0JGDM” locale=”us”]Fable III[/simpleazon-link] was a train wreck. It was built to be much bigger than what it was constrained to be and eventually ended up as. If I had my time again, I’d take the advances we made from Fable 1 to Fable II, I’d make the same advances from Fable II to Fable III and spend another entire year working on Fable III.”

While I feel Fable III is the weakest of the trilogy, I wouldn’t call it a train wreck.  Molyneux claimed that he will never make his perfect game, but Fable 3 was never going to be that, nor were the previous two games in the series. Fable III was never meant to be “that perfect game” because that was never Microsoft’s intentions. It was meant to be a game where practically anyone can play. I’ve heard people call it a “my first role-playing game” however Fable III isn’t even a role-playing game at this point, it’s more of an adventure game. Sure there upgrades to unlock and you can change your character and go on quests…but a game series like Assassin's Creed has all of these as well, yet I’ve never heard someone refer to that series as being a role-playing game.

The Fable franchise, like the characters in the games and the industry as a whole, have evolved since the very first game. The first was definitely action RPG, the second an action adventure RPG, and the third being simply action adventure. Sure they stripped out the role-playing in favor of action, but so did the Mass Effect series (and there are still complaints about that.) Game series' sometimes need to do this for very particular and conscious decisions. There are different trends in what people what and don’t want and sometimes they aren’t obvious. Who would have known a simple game like Flappy Bird would become one of the most infamous games in recent memory? In one way, the Fable series is a time capsule on what gaming was at the time and what LionHead thought gamers wanted at the time.

What people feel to realize is that Fable is owned by Microsoft and like every other company, they are out to make money. Microsoft didn’t exactly get into video games for the artistic integrity. If Microsoft realized that Fable III would sell more if it dropped the RPG elements, then so be it. Is it a train wreck though? Not at all. The world has changed since the days of Fable. For the same reasons that Final Fantasy is much more action-heavy as opposed to turn based is the same reason the Fable series has made the change.

Furthermore, Microsoft doesn’t exactly has the most IPs to work with, so if they want to make a 4 player beat'em up or a Kinect based game using the Fable license, who cares? Risking the integrity of the Fable franchise is a lot safer to do than that of Halo or Gears of War or any other property. If the world was given their “perfect” Fable game, it would never see the light of day. There will always detractors who want a game that was “just like the original”, but it will never happen. Instead, we have a great first game with inferior but still highly enjoyable sequels. That’s the great thing about Fable, the sense of choice, just like it is in real life. So you can choose to play the games and appreciate them for how they have changed along with the industry and trends, or avoid them and live in the past…and play Fable Anniversary.