Fable III (X360) Review

Author: Lydia Sung
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Monday, November 1st, 2010
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Games/Reviews/fable_3/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Several decades after the events in Fable II with the whole Tattered Spire incident, Albion has entered the age of industry. The well-liked Hero King (or Queen, as the case may be) already passed away some time before Fable III begins, leaving the kingdom in the hands of two offspring.  You take the role of the younger and more likable sibling, either a prince or princess depending on your gender preferences. Your older brother, King Logan, occupies the throne and rules with an iron fist, crushing any who dare voice their discontent. 

Logan proves himself to be a pretty freaking massive jerk early on, forcing our Hero-in-the-making to flee the palace in the dead of night, dragging along mentor Sir Walter Beck and loyal butler Jasper. From there, you must build an army of like-minded allies to take the throne and end Logan’s reign. 

Like its immediate predecessor, Fable III was designed as a highly accessible RPG, doing away with some traditional elements while ironing out the rest into a streamlined, menu-less presentation. Weapons, attire, and game options are organized within a virtual space dubbed “The Sanctuary.”  Character progression is represented by the all-in-one ‘Road to Rule,’ a path of sealed gates and chests located in a pocket dimension of sorts, overseen by one very familiar Blind Seer. Here is where you’ll spend experience points, or ‘Guild Seals,’ earned throughout the game.

The Road can be accessed at any given time, short of scripted events and cutscenes, but each gate unlocks only after you’ve reached certain points in the overarching story. The chests they guard grant access to new skills and upgrades, the most important (and expensive) ones being combat disciplines, which are divided into Will, Strength, and Skill. These disciplines govern your Hero’s efficiency with magic, melee, and ranged attacks, respectively, and haven’t really changed since Fable II, unless you count the addition of spell combos.

Even with the new spell weaving ability, combat feels the same between Fable II and III, something I personally don’t mind, but the simplification might annoy RPG purists. Rest assured it doesn’t detract from the fun factor. Some strategy should still be involved, particularly against tougher adversaries like hollow men and the ever annoying balverine packs. Brutal finishers keep fights interesting, changing between enemies and weapon types and reaffirming your Hero’s status as Albion’s greatest badass. Suplexing balverines from midair and stabbing hobbes through their massive jaws are just a few of my favorites.

The morality system is back, and this time around, Lionhead ups the ante with tougher choices and greater consequences. Everything is relatively straightforward up until you kick Logan’s behind out of the throne room, and then the balance between good and evil begins to blur. All the people who swore their allegiances to your Hero have fulfilled their promises to you and now expect the same in return. Problem is this is when the story springs a surprise by revealing the true enemy is not a power-crazed man, but an evil entity headed toward Albion from across the sea.

The darkness can be repelled, and you’ll need a full treasury to do it. The thing is, keeping your allies and subjects happy requires a ton of gold. See where this is going? Being consistently moral tends to burn a hole in the royal wallet, yet the financially sound decisions will both piss off the masses and lower your moral standing. Luckily, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too, assuming you’re willing to invest a few extra hours. 

Despite the sad state Albion finds itself in, the game maintains an awesome sense of humor. Sure, you can fart all over a villager’s head or run around dressed as a chicken, but I’m talking the stellar writing that defined an entire series.  Big names (even legends) like John Cleese, Stephen Fry, and Simon Pegg appear on the star-studded list of 80 voice performers, and the results are nothing short of hilarious. The sheer amount of work that went into every character is wholly apparent, from their distinctive voices to gorgeous designs. 

Difficulty (or lack thereof) aside, the quests in Fable III are some of the funniest I’ve seen in any role-playing type game, MMOs included. Comical personalities make cameo appearances in some unexpected places, and if you played through the previous game, certain moments are bound to make you laugh out loud. Humor takes many forms, and Fable has the entire spectrum fully covered.

Co-op support was greatly advertised for the latest Fable, and it’s infinitely more enjoyable this time around. Players can now bring their custom Heroes and dogs when visiting a friend, rather than being forced to choose from generic models, and both players can wander off screen within the same region.

For the most part, co-op is a ton of fun, but the bugs that come with it are not. The biggest problem my friend and I had involved zoning issues, as the game wouldn’t always let us pass between regions. Our Heroes fumbled awkwardly into one another while we attempted to trigger the loading screen from one area to the next. Nothing really game breaking though and the fast travel option via the 3D world map acted as a reliable fail-safe. Regardless of technical issues, I recommend trying both single-player and co-op. Each serves up a slightly different experience, similar to how morality and other such factors typically impact gameplay. 

Fable III is basically a Fable II with considerably more polish, the game that we hoped for back in 2008. Albion has never looked more beautiful or felt so robust, with enough distractions to keep you preoccupied for days on end.

Your decisions as monarch can literally reshape the world, for better or worse. Will you betray your allies to save your own people? Is their contentment more important than survival?  And once the smoke clears, will Albion still be standing – or reduced to rubble beneath a ruler’s greed?

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