Fable III is a game with a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand it’s happy with oversimplified game mechanics, hammy voice acting and slapstick humor but then just as you’re about to label it a game for kids, it suddenly delves into more serious issues like political oppression and moral choices. In doing so the game falters with its pacing not really knowing which demographic to appeal to. Hardcore gamers may get put off in the first few hours but if you do stick with it, Fable III is an enjoyable albeit shallow action game.
Fable III takes place approximately 50 years after its predecessor, Fable II. As the son/daughter of the protagonist from the second game, you’re tasked with leading a rebellion against the oppressive ruler of Albion who just so happens to be your brother. To do so you must earn the loyalty of multiple factions, each of which have their own terms and conditions to fulfill. While most of the game requires you to run from pillar to post obliging them, a small part of it will actually deal with the administrative part of things once you do become king.
Feel my sword
It is during this period where the game actually opens up embracing its miniscule RPG roots. You’ll not only have to live up to your promises but will also have to deal with important issues like the safety of the kingdom versus the love of your loyal subjects and so on. Even though this part forms not more than 30% of the game, I personally found it a lot more enjoyable than the mindless quests you’ll have to indulge in for the first few hours.
In case you haven’t played any of the older games in this series, you need to know that Fable III is a highly linear fare. Treat it as an Oblivion or a Fallout and you will be terribly disappointed. You’re free to explore certain cities in Albion but beyond that, it’s loading screens and fairly straight Point A – Point B routes we’re talking about here. You can move off the roads to sniff out treasures courtesy of your trusty mutt but beyond that exploration is non-existent. And like all prior games in this series your character can kick some serious butt in combat but cannot jump. Throughout the entire game. Like ever!
Combat, like pretty much everything else in this game is extremely simple. You have one key mapped to melee, one to ranged and one to magic. Switching between each of them isn’t as fast and natural as it is in a Devil may Cry but combat’s varied enough to make sure you’re always using all three facets. My only major gripe with this system is that is uses the same key for block and attack because of which I rarely blocked in the game (not that I really needed to anyway).
Besides the main plot, you can indulge in a fair amount of side quests that’ll earn you some gold and much needed experience called Guild Seals. Gold is useful in buying physical stuff like smarter clothes, better weapons and so on but experience allows you to level up your character’s attributes. You see being the son of a hero has its perks and one of these perks is access to a snazzy little place called the Road of Rule. This mystical alternate reality of sorts is place is practically littered with chests, each of which contain upgrades for combat, magic, social skills and so on. You can unlock these abilities by spending Guild Seals earned through your adventures. Stick to the story quest and you won’t score too many of these seals so if you want to pimp your character’s stats you’re going to have to work a little harder.
Lord of the uhh water?
Another perk of being a Hero is the ability to navigate the main menu in 3D space. Unlike most games that provide a pretty basic text based menu, the one in Fable III, called The Sanctuary is rendered in full 3D. This means Options, Customization, tracking Stats and various facets of the menu are represented by rooms which players can explore in real time. It’s a neat idea no doubt, but can get a bit cumbersome if you don’t have all the time in the world.
One of the rooms in the Sanctuary will take players into the multiplayer side of things where they can interact with other players in their world. In simple terms, this is the game’s co-operative component introduced in a half assed way in Fable II. Thankfully all the issues have been ironed out but a few technical issues still prevail such as lag and characters floating around instead of walking. Other than that it’s quite an enjoyable addition to this series.
Visually the game has received a massive overhaul and it looks gorgeous. For most of the time it does look like a children’s fairy tale come to life with picturesque locales and happy go lucky characters. Frame rates stay stable for most of the time taking a slight hit when the action gets a bit intense. Voice acting is a bit of a mixed bag as the game’s at its funniest when it is at its most subtle, not assaulting your senses with slapstick, over-the-top humor. Lionhead have left no stone unturned in hiring some pretty famous actors to voice pivotal characters. It’s a pity that I wanted to strangle some of them.
Feeling high yet?
While Fable III gets quite a few things right, it does fall apart at times thanks to its constant need to oversimplify things and appeal to the so called “casual audience”. This manifests itself in the constant mollycoddling of the player be it with annoying bread crumbs that lead you to your objective or jarring messages that never leave your screen unless you fulfill that objective. I understand this game is trying real hard to be accessible but after a point it really feels like it wants to play itself.
Glow words in da house
Your hate or love for Fable III will eventually depend on the kind of gamer you are. Impatient gamers and RPG buffs should stay as far away from it as possible. However if you’re trying to get into the RPG genre, this could be the stepping stone you were looking for. It’s shallow and simple yet enjoyable once you invest enough time into it.
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