Reviewed: Fable III XBox 360


10 Nov 2010

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I’ve never been one for hype, it ultimately leads to disappointment. Like when all of your friends tell you Napoleon Dynamite is the funniest film ever, when you finally get around to seeing it you feel as though it would have been more enjoyable if you hadn’t been promised the sun, the moon and the stars. This is why Peter Molyneux perplexes me.

Let me start by saying I have massive respect for Peter Molyneux. In fact it’s fair to say Peter Molyneux had joint custody over my childhood gaming, along with Tim Schafer. Theme Park was probably the first game in which I could sit for hours on end at my PC out of pure enjoyment. But those were simpler times, times in which a game could gather its own momentum for being good, rather than hype generated from one too many press releases.

Plot

Fable III does take a new direction from its predecessors in that the game doesn’t start with the main character as a small child who has terrible misfortune bestowed upon them and then sets out seeking revenge. Fable III is set 50 years after the events of Fable II, you play the hero (conveniently named “The Hero”) who is the offspring of Fable II’s triumphant leader. Your main objective this time around is to overthrow your tyrannous brother.

To do this, you will have to gain the support of the oppressed people of Albion, which will require a number of quests done for each faction. During one of these quests you encounter “The Crawler”, an evil, dark being who intends to exterminate human life. From this point onwards the story seems to split into two, first you overthrow your brother, then you prepare for the oncoming crawler attack. Unfortunately, once the first part of this has been complete, a nice bombshell (which I won’t spoil for you) is dropped and you have little time to rectify it. In fact, most of the game play after is determined for you, meaning you get to do little outside of the structured path.

Game play

The Fable trilogy is classed as an Action RPG and while the RPG elements are strong, the action is a bit lacking. The game is rife with “unskippable” cut scenes and even the parts that require user interactions are little more than simple “Press A to continue” scenarios. Or if the game is feeling arduous, “Press and hold A to continue”, and a lot of the time there’s no other way to continue. It’s like watching a movie and the DVD player every now and again pauses the film and makes you press play on the remote.

Once the fight sequences do get going, though, they are, for want of a better word, awesome. As with Fable II the player has three types of attack: melee, range weapons and magic. However, this edition of Fable falls into the same pit as the others in the trilogy. Magic has ridiculous range and power and once a user has fully upgraded their cast ability the game ceases to be challenging. The last number of battles were simply won by casting never-ending streams of fireballs and lightning, leaving my enemies carved up like a Christmas Day turkey while I figuratively sat and drank martinis with my thumb clasped tightly on the B button.

Look and feel

Normally, I would split this into graphics and sound, but I don’t think it would do the game justice to separate the two. The graphics in Fable III are jaw-dropping and the sound only complements it. Action scenes have dramatic music building the tension, walking through placid areas have a calming feel and explosions have ground-shaking sound effects. I don’t normally get this excited about these sorts of things, but it just works so well together.

Open world

I can’t let a review of Fable go by without mentioning the massive open world aspect. While in previous Fable games, the open world aspect was good but every place felt the same. The same voice actors playing the same role and spouting the same lines of dialogue in every place. Fortunately, for Fable III, the all-star voice actors are in their dozens and each character feels different and has their own personality.

With such a large character list one would think each interaction would be short and samey but let me tell you they are incredibly engaging and in part wonderfully hilarious, featuring extreme British humour and Monty Python-style slap-stick comedy (particular side quest highlights being the Gnomes and The Game – spoiler alerts!) In fact, I fully intend going back to play the game again just to interact with the other side quest characters.

Verdict

As I said in the beginning of this review, I’m not one for hype. Fable III was sold, like the rest of the trilogy, on the back of in-game choices. “The choices you make change the world around you” proudly proclaims the game statement from Lionhead Studios. However, you only really have two choices with everything in the early stages, the good choice or the evil choice, and as the game withers on it’s boiled down to one choice. If you’ve spent the entire game choosing the good option you don’t want to ruin your work by selecting the evil option in the latter part of the game.

But overall I enjoyed Fable III massively, in the latter half of the game it finally starts to feel like your choices have consequences beyond getting the good or the bad ending. The support characters finally have a degree of uniqueness to them and are genuinely likable, unlike previous instalments and now the prospect of owning property and working jobs has meaning rather than being pointless grinds. Now if they can iron out the glitches and cut down on the press releases, this trilogy will be a massive step in the right direction for Action RPG perfection.

Rating: A solid 8.5/10

Adam Renardson

Comments: @ARenardson

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