I accidentally finished Fable 3 over the weekend. That wasn't my intention. I didn't know I was at the end of the game and had beaten the final boss until the credits started rolling.
I don't think I've ever been so torn on how to rate a game as I am with Fable 3. I don't even know where to start, to be honest, other than to say that it's pretty clear that Fable 4, should there be one, needs to be a complete reboot. The engine, the combat system, the map, the social interaction mechanic, the real estate management system, the pause menu, the controls; these are but a few of the major features that require a complete overhaul if this franchise is to stay relevant.
And that's leaving aside the surprising lack of polish that permeates the experience; the glittering trail that leads you to your destination is broken more often than not, and the mini-map that requires several button presses to access is more of an abstract representation of your current location than an actual, 1:1 reference, making it more or less useless - so if your glittering trail refuses to show up, and you're in a new location - or, indeed, in a location that you already know quite well - you can still get lost.
And yet... I still kinda liked it. I kinda liked enough to want to keep playing even though my campaign is over; and I must begrudgingly admit that, since my wife is out of town this week, I'm tempted to replay the entire campaign as a full-on evil bastard, since one of the few things that the game does remarkably well is adapt to the choices that you make. If you play as a good guy, you'll notice that the world will change; the city of Bowerstone, for example, is a filthy, foggy cesspool when you first enter it, but if you choose to make improvements to the city, it's actually a quite lovely place to stroll through by the time you're done.
And what's more, there are repercussions to being completely good, some of which are quite shocking once you see them in person. We're getting into spoiler territory here, so skip ahead to the next paragraph if you want to avoid them. The game starts with you, as the king's brother, escaping out of the castle and starting to lead a revolution. The revolution occurs at around the game's midpoint, and then you're the King, which means that in addition to your regular quests, you have several crucial decisions that you need to make; you learn that in exactly one year, a huge attack will descend upon your kingdom, and you need to make certain decisions in order to make preparations. Those decisions will also affect your alliances that you've made as you formed the revolution; the promises you made to rebel leaders will affect your ability to properly save up enough money to pay for your kingdom's defense. I was playing as a good guy, which meant that I kept all my promises, and which meant that I drained my kingdom's coffers completely dry in order to give my citizens a good life. I assumed that I'd have enough time to donate my own (rather substantial) stash to make up the shortfall; and, if I'd dillydallied enough, I probably could have. The problem is that the endgame arrived completely without warning; I thought I still had time to make some more money, but instead I suddenly found myself leading the final charge of the final battle. (And the final boss battle... ye gods, what a fucking joke.) Anyway, the point (the repercussions from being completely good) is that I had been a good king, but I didn't raise enough funds to protect my people; and so, after the final battle was over and I could continue playing, I decided to visit some older locations to pick up some loose threads from the campaign, and everywhere I went, nearly everyone was dead. So, obviously, I'm curious to see what happens if you're completely bad. End spoilers.
Can I recommend this game, knowing how many other great games there are right now? It's a very tough call. If you're a fan of the franchise, and you're willing to forgive the game's numerous problems, both technical and philosophical, you'll probably end up having somewhat of an enjoyable time. I know I did; there's just enough good in the game that made me feel like the experience wasn't totally worthless. But if you're unfamiliar with Fable, or if you're trying to shoehorn it in to your already busy gaming schedule, you may want to rent it, and nobody would blame you if you wanted to avoid it altogether. Life is about choice, after all.