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Fable III 360 Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 9.0
Sound 8.8
Value 8.5
Distributor: Microsoft
Review Date:
November 2010
Andrew Bistak


Fable III

It's been far too long since I walked the paths of Albion as I completed quests, chose between order and chaos but more importantly, walked these paths with my loyal canine friend. These were good times, more particularly, good RPG times in this accessible title which can be played by all gamers. Still confused? Obviously you've been hiding out in a Buddhist Temple, working on an Amish farm or cowering in a snake hole in Iraq for the last 2 years, because you've missed out on a totally unique RPG experience on the XBox 360. As opposed to traditional Dungeon & Dragon RPG's or Japanese RPG's like Final Fantasy, Fable concentrated more on the world that you were playing in as opposed to your actions. Sure, it had action, suspense and adventure but it also had drama, crime and love.

However, actions does play an integral part of the Fable series and whether your actions are good or evil, this ultimately effects  your journey in Albion and generally does it better than some other games of yesterday. The other good thing about Albion is the world itself. The world of Albion is quite colourful as are the denizens that populate this virtual universe which make it such a compelling and realistic experience. But when it comes to the crunch, Fable III is still a role-playing game but it's one of the better ones available from the simplistic yet addictive gameplay, the allowances given to the player and the gaming engine which looks like eye candy.

Fable III  begins with an interesting opening sequence that follows the life of a chicken as it attempts to fly high above his captures but just like life, there are some dangerous obstacles. Once the player has control, it requires you to make a decision of either saving the leaders of the rebellion or girlfriend or boyfriend, depending on your sex and from there, the journey begins as you attempt to build an army to take down your brother, King Logan. Thankfully to assist you from the start, you have Jasper, the royal butler and Sir Walter but as you progress, you will make more alliances until you are finally ready to turn the tides against Logan. But in the process, you might get married, start a business or become a budding entrepreneur if that tickles your fancy.

Like all Fable games, you began as a humble inexperienced person and it's up to the gamer to point them in the right or wrong direction. Since I began this review, I've been hinting on balance. This is where the player can tip the scale in the game as it allows you to be either good, evil or somewhere in between. For the majority of the game, you'll be walking and interacting with the diverse population of Albion, engaging them in conversation in order to get quests and tasks which must be completed for you to progress. The other highlight of the game is your canine companion and if you pamper your dog with love, he will become quite loyal but if your mean towards him, he will be reluctant  and weary of you.

If you do get stuck on a quest, the game will give you a subtle hint (e.g. try a new fighting tactic) and a golden bread crumb trail which will point you to where your next objective is. As you do progress through the game and by completing quests, talking to citizens of Albion and defeating enemies, you are given points which are used in the area called “Road to Rule”. These seals can then be used to upgrade your powers or purchase additional skills and actions. The management system of Fable III has been tweaked as well which more easily allows you to purchase businesses and properties. But unlike the previous game, money can only be made while you are playing. It was sad to this feature go but in the grand scheme of things, it keeps the game more honest. The game also feels like it has been split because the first half of the game is building up your rebellion with the second half, running the Kingdom which can be trickly. Whether your assisting the poor or building Albion's first whorehouse, there is so much you can do in this game that sometimes it's not funny!

In terms of story and those who played Fable II, the hero of that game became the new King of Albion. In this time of prosperity, he had two children who are now adults. The older child has now become the King of Albion but unfortunately for the citizens of this world, he is a tyrant. His other child which can either be a boy or girl (player choice), they have exiled themselves from his rule in order to bring together an army to overthrow this monarch through rebellion. This does pose a little problem with the alignment functionality of the game because the story is more biased towards noble actions but even so, you can still become an utter prick who is reminiscent of Black Adder. The good thing about your actions, whether noble or nefarious is that it does affect certain parts of the game which is a cool thing if you want to play this game again.

The interface of Fable III is more convoluted than the previous game that makes the game more fiddly because the menu system is actually a hub which allows you change weapons, save the game etc. There is also a map room here which allows you to instantaneously transport to any part of the world of Albion.  Combat is more connected to the game which once again makes it more fluid as you take on a variety of enemies and even though it's been simplified, some battles are still challenges. You can't die either as you only lose points which makes levelling more difficult. Thankfully the game doesn't throw you in the deep end straight away as it allows for you to build up your character from the start until you're a true heroic or villainous powerhouse.

In terms of play, the first hour of the game is a tutorial which teaches you the controls, combat and how to interact with puzzles. Apart from melee weapons like swords or hammers, the player has access to more powerful weaponry such as guns and my personal favourite, magic spells, thanks to the gauntlet inherited from your character’s father. As the game contains a set number of weapons, the more you use them, the more powerful they become and just like your magic, if you hold down the power button, the damage doubles and even quadruples. The good thing about the controls with combat is that with the analog stick, it gives you total freedom of which direction you want to hit that is ideal when you are surrounded by enemies. Apart from exploring and fighting, there are a variety of mini-games to keep things fresh and interesting with most of these being timing games but they are fun. Just like pie making!

Graphically, the title is a little more impressive than Fable II and to do the game justice, a full HD TV is definitely needed. The game has this really interesting cartoon atmosphere and the developers have ensured that there is so much attention to detail that it's like visiting a strange new world that I'm sure some Hollywood directors would be impressed. As you progress, the landscape changes as does the weather and the times during the day. The character designs are great as is the realistic movement of all people in Albion and the best description for this game is a fairy tale come to life.

To match this fairy tale, you have a very magically sounding soundtrack (imagine Disney meets Tim Burton's favourite composer Danny Elfman) and some great voice acting that suits this story book world of good versus evil or if you want, evil versus evil.  It’s also fun how each section has its own music such as visiting the gypsy village or when the battles heat up, so does the music. Add in a variety of sound effects from the breezes of the wind to the fights of swords clashing on shields and this game comes together quite well. The only downside to the graphics is that there is some occasion slowdown here which is a little annoying but given the detailed nature of the game, one can understand some of the issues the developers had in creating this world due to its size.

Although the game can easily be completed in under 20 hours, if you engage in all the side quests in Fable, you could easily stretch it out to 25 hours or more, depending on your micro-management skills. If you enjoyed the original games, you will enjoy the latest title in the trilogy and fortunately newcomers can jump straight into it. There are some glitches in terms of graphics and of course the convoluted menu system but thankfully because the game is so fun to play, this should pose no issues to the majority of gamers. It would have been nice if you could explore your dark side more in Fable III but let’s face it, most games generally target the good and Fable III is no exception to the rule. With a fun and over the top story that is oozing with comedy, this is the perfect game to get lost in for a few weeks. Recommended!


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