The first Fable game was an average game that suffered from too much hype, & sadly I lost interest in playing about half way through. Fable II vastly improved on the whole experience, & while not perfect, was an excellent game that survived several playthroughs. But what about Fable III? I’ve actually been sitting on this game for a while. I made it over half way through, but stopped playing to focus on other games. But I finally finished it this weekend. So how does it compare to its excellent predecessor?
Fable 3 is a direct sequel to Fable 2 (unlike 2 to 1, where an undisclosed amount of time has passed). You play as the youngest son or daughter of the Hero from Fable 2, who became King or Queen of Albion. But the Hero has passed away, leaving your older brother Logan as the ruler. However, Logan is a tyrant, & the people are clamoring for a revolution. After Logan forces you to choose between killing your sweetheart or the petition leaders, you escape the castle with your faithful hound, your mentor Walter, & your butler Jasper. You discover that you’re a Hero just like the former ruler, & now it’s your job to unite the land under you as leader of the revolution. You travel through the kingdom, performing services for the people in order to gain their aid, & making promises in return for their support. But capturing the crown is only half the battle.
Gameplay is very similar to previous Fable games. You have three styles of combat: melee, ranged & magic. The Hero gains several Hero Weapons at the start of the game that they can select from (sword, hammer, pistol & rifle), & which change depending on how you play the game. For example, earning a lot of gold through jobs may give your weapon a gold tint. You can also find Legendary Weapons. These weapons don’t change design, but each has three special traits that can be unlocked by performing certain actions (such as killing a certain number of enemies with it). Magic has also changed a bit. As you progress you gain access to different gauntlets. Eventually you can “weave” spells together for a variety of effects (my personal favorite was spamming shock & vortex, which shocks enemies while picking them up so they can’t attack). Blocks, flourishes & ranged zooms are back, but the ability to target in on a specific area of an enemy with your ranged weapon isn’t. Interactions with villagers are also simplified. You can only interact with one villager at a time, & instead of having access to all of your actions, you can only choose three at any given time (one nice, one mean, & one extra). To become friends or more with a villager requires you to perform a short quest, usually retrieving an item or buying them something.
Probably the biggest gameplay change is how you level up. Instead of the Fable 2 method of gaining XP orbs by using a specific skill, all combat & quests give you guild seals. These generic seals are used to unlock chests on the Road to Rule, a new area that shows your path to becoming a true hero. There are five types of chests: improve your skill in combat, unlock new gauntlets, unlock expression packs, unlock dyes, & increase job levels. Speaking of jobs, there are three: blacksmith, lute player & pie maker. Each resemble a simplified version of Guitar Hero. Another major change is that, after a certain point, pressing start doesn’t pause the game but instead sends you to the Sanctuary. Here you can view the map, fast travel, change your outfits & weapon, view your money, & play online.
Narrative: I really enjoyed the story in Fable 3. The characters are interesting & the plot is well-paced. I like that there are two acts. Gaining the crown is just the first half. Not many games have addressed what happens after the revolution is won. However, why does saving the people require gathering a certain amount of money? That’s the one aspect that hampers the story. I get what they’re trying to do. You can either play the tyrant to save your kingdom like Logan, or be benevolent. To take the high path requires that you sacrifice your own money in order to save everyone. On the surface it seems like a moral dilemma, but it’s not. To be good, all you have to do is buy every piece of property, kill some time by not completing the main quests in “Weight of the World,” & then donate the money. So really you just end up being evil for the sake of being evil. That is the only thing that pulls down the excellent plot. Score: 4
Mechanics: Gameplay changes are rather hit or miss. I really like the spell weaving. Certain spells combine better than other, & actually look & act differently (flame & vortex target spell looks quite spectacular). I also like the Sanctuary & Road to Rule. Both are interesting & unique aspects of the game that really add to the experience. The guild seal systems works well enough, though I think I prefer Fable 2’s system. I don’t like the changes to the villager interactions. To make friends takes a long time since you can’t influence multiple people at once. After a few fetch quests, you’ll probably give up all together. But at least kids aren’t chasing me around asking for autographs every time I enter a village. I also don’t like that you can’t horde food items. You can only carry food of the same type, like only apples. This means you have to carry large amounts of potions. Another issue I had was that they took away by ability to zoom in on specific areas on an enemy with a ranged weapon. Shooting mercenaries’ weapons out of their hands & then shooting them in the groin was endlessly amusing. Combat in general can be tedious. Melee is almost useless because enemies block a lot or attack in huge groups. So you’ll probably be spamming the area magic attack. Also, the dog aspect is underutilized. He still functions the same as in Fable 2, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to have him there than just to be there. He isn’t acknowledged during the story, unlike Fable 2 where there seems to be a real bond between the player & the stray. And the jobs you can do are pretty lackluster. So overall the gameplay has some excellent points, but other parts that drag it down. Score: 3
Aesthethics: Average. Graphics aren’t too different from Fable 2. They’re still nice, though. You can actually see the character models, unlike the previous game, in cutscenes that get up close. I can’t recall Fable 2 having cutscenes. I think it was just zooming in, so that’s a nice change. Again, audio is average. Nothing really spectacular. Your character has a voice now, which I like. Although I still can’t figure out why fantasy always has to equal British. Score: 3
Replay Value: Not very high. Short of playing a second time to take the opposite moral path, I don’t see much reason to replay the game. I think a lot of it has to do with how long you have to kill time to raise enough money for the treasury if you’re going for the good path. Score: 3
Overall Score: 3
Final Word: If you enjoyed the previous Fable games, you’ll probably like this one, at least for one playthrough. The story is interesting enough to keep you going through the flaws. Personally, I think Fable 3 has the better story while Fable 2 had better gameplay.
Title: Fable III Console: 360 & PC Rating: M Developer: Lionhead Studios Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Release Date: October 26, 2010