Game: Fable III
System: PC & Xbox 360
Release: October 2010
Fable is a franchise I love to hate. The first game featured a brilliant blend of Zelda action/adventure with casual The Sims like NPC encounters. Magic was plentiful, moral systems were excitingly new, and customization was greatly encouraged. Go ahead hero. Be the money grub'n, lady lov'n, real estate kingpin you've always wanted to be.
Fable II was disappointing. The game went less RPG and more causal adventure. The Sims aspect was greatly expanded at the cost of magic and combat. Co-op was a joke, and the DLC support seemed extremely lack luster compared to the competition aka Bioware.
Now there is Fable III. A game where you lead a revolution to become king or queen. After which you must rule your kingdom and prepare for an on-coming invasion. I'd be lying if I said the game wasn't fun. I played through it twice on each moral path. Both times presented hours of entertainment. I simply have to get over the fact that Fable is not a RPG. It is an action adventure game.
Lionhead, like other studios, consistently produce games with the same bugs. Characters and backgrounds consistently lose their detail. The frame rate dips frequently, and certain animations look horrible. A new hand holding system is a neat idea, but companions are often hung up on various environmental hazards like crates or corners. Finally the menu system is still ridiculously tedious. How many menus must I go through to repair houses or change clothes? Sure the Sanctuary and butler were a nice touch. Changing gear in a dressing room makes sense, but it doesn't cut down on my time spent in the pause menus. If the studio streamed lined combat and magic, then they can stream line the time spent managing the little things.
Fortunately Fable III also continues the series strong points. The Sims aspect is once again greatly enhanced. Each NPC can give the player a relationship quest. This is how you woo a potential spouse, or set fear into the hearts of your subjects. The real estate game is once again vital to collecting wealth, and a ton of fun. Families, whores, and chickens. What else could you want from Fable?
Combat and leveling up is dumb down to the lowest possible level. No more stats to manage. Players go to the Road to Rule and unlock magical chests. They contain combat moves (magic, melee, range) and NPC interactions (including buying homes and businesses). Chests are unlocked by spending Guild Seals earned from quests and combat.
Melee and Range attacks are pretty much the same as Fable II. The legendary weapons do have an interesting upgrade system. The player must perform specific tasks to power up the weapons. These range from dragging people to work, to getting a certain amount of kills during the day. The upgrades also provide incentive to mix the combat up, which is a good thing for this franchise.
Magic spells have once again been diminished. You can no longer cast a spell to summon creatures or slow time--you use potions. There is no longer a confusion spell nor is there any new magic to the series. What little witchcraft you know can be mixed with a new feature called Weaving. The combination are very fun, but I found myself sticking with lightening powered fire balls during both play throughs. This game really could have used some more magic not less.
So what makes Fable III different from Fable II? The plot. Taking over a kingdom and ruling the land is a ton of fun. The story is corny cookie cutter crap, but I enjoyed it. The action was well paced, and the game didn't suddenly end. The connection with the previous title also strengthens Fable III. Playing as the offspring of the hero from Fable II was a great idea. The presence of your father was a neat touch while exploring the lands of Albion. Finally the character development for allies was well done. I truly wanted to help these interesting stereotypes out.
Fable III is a fun game. It has all the cheers and jeers you would expect from the franchise. Not much has changed in Albion, but what there have been some improvements. Snerts Snazzy Score is GameFly!--rent it, play it, forget about it. The game almost made it to the rank of On Sale!, but failed to deliver that extra magical something.