Alright...so having played this game a second time through, I must say that I'm much happier with the ending that I got this time around. Having learned from my first run through that there's never such a thing as having too much gold, I discovered that there is in fact a way to keep all of the promises that you make during the first half of the game while still keeping the majority of your population alive (by the end of the game this time around, I had less than 2 million casualties as opposed to the over 6 million casualties I had by the end of my first play-through)...
As soon as you're able to, buy lots and LOTS of real estate. Now, I don't mean houses, I mean businesses. Why not houses? Because while you do receive rent payments, the payments decrease as the property falls into disrepair, and if you go too long without making any repairs, you don't make any money on the property at all. So in the end, you lose money. Now, by purchasing businesses, you don't have to worry about any repairs at all, and you get a nice, healthy income from all the profits. Naturally, you shouldn't start off big right off the bat. Start off small with the purchase of a few product stalls and gradually work your way up to actual stores. I myself owned every single stall and store throughout Aurora as well as Albion by the time I was crowned Queen, and as a result, I had a few million in gold to replenish my treasury with. Another handy tip is to not play for a few days and thereby allow your wealth to accumulate, or if you play like me and like to explore different areas instead of running through the game to finish things as soon as you can, then this too will work in your favor. By digressing from the main quest line in order to finish all the side-quests available to you, you not only accumulate guild seals, but you also allow your much-needed fortune the chance to grow.
However...that helpful tidbit being said, I am now going to bring up what is probably my biggest pet-peeve in the game...
How is it that in a game in which whoever you choose to have as your avatar's spouse always says "I'd rather wait until we're married" when you try to initiate sex, you still wind up with an STD when you have unprotected sex on your wedding night in order to have a baby?! I'm sorry, but I don't think it's very fair for a virgin to get an STD from having unprotected sex with her husband who was claiming to be chaste and celibate! In fact, I think that completely and totally sucks! I can understand getting an STD if you were playing your avatar fast and loose or having him or her sleep with the prostitutes in the Bowerstone Old Quarter, but to have it happen to your virginal avatar on her wedding night while she's trying to have a baby? That's just wrong on so many levels! That never happened to me in Fable 2, and it only motivates me to make my avatar live the life of a nun when I decide to play the game through again. Luckily for me, this particular game gives the option of adopting orphans, so while my avatar's legs might stay closed, she can at least open her heart and home to some unfortunate children.
Now, all of that being said, do I hate the game?
Will I play it again?
Of course. The graphics are better than those in Fable 2, some of the side quests are just hysterical (i.e., the evil garden gnomes as well as the RPG within the RPG), and the story itself is compelling.
Will it be a game that I obsess over like I do with Dragon Age: Origins?
Not in the slightest. Sorry, but all the evil garden gnomes in the world can't make up for a sexy, elven assassin ;)