Fable III

It’s been two years since we last visited the kingdom of Albion. 2008’s Fable II was a huge hit, garnering several Game of the Year awards. So with us now at the third game in the acclaimed series, is Fable III the jewel in the crown, or the peasant in the sewers?

The Fable series is of a unique brand; it’s an open world adventure game, with significant moral choices needing to be made and a charming british sensibility. These factors, amongst others, are key to not only Fable’s uniquness, but its excellence. Fable III is of a significantly refined quality compared to its predecessors, which is quite the claim given their merits.

Set roughly 50 years after Fable II, you play as the prince of Albion. Your brother is the tyrannical king, taking the throne after his father, the hero from Fable II. The people have grown restless of his reign and it is up to you to fire up a revolution. You scour Albion and nearby lands to gain allegiance of those who’ve been wronged by your brother. The build up to the climax is satisfying, the slight twist in the tail surprising, and the lead up to the second climax thrilling and challenging. Side quests provide great insight into the world and are also great fun (One mission where you are shrunk and used as a Dungeons and Dragons playing piece springs to mind as a personal highlight) The story is well presented, well acted and looks great. In fact, everything looks great. It’s a rare treat nowadays to play a game, never mind an open world game, that is so vibrant, colourful and alive. The kingdom of Albion is beautiful and sensibly varied; you never feel like a location is out of place, but no two places are the same. Character models are gorgeous, and interiors charming and well presented. The game suffers from minor texture pop in and frame rate slow down, but this is rare and overlook-able.

Audibly, the game feels somewhat lacking. Music has been literally unaltered from Fable II. A few new selections have been added, but they don’t have the same feel, or engrossing quality as the carried over music. Also, whilst some of the voice acting features some of the best and brightest of British film and television, the quality elsewhere is left to be desired. For every Stephen Fry and John Cleese, there’s a random villager who appears to own every shop in every village, and has appeared in every game. It can certainly take you out of the game when you hear the same voices all over the kingdom, least not when you recognize certain explicit lines from previous games. Apparently, the sales patter hasn’t changed much in 50 years in Albion.

One thing that has changed, however, is combat. It has been a subtle change, but significant. Instead of collecting orbs from dead enemies in specific disciplines (Melee, Magic and Ranged) it all collects into one big experience pot, which can be used to improve your skills in those areas at your leisure. Weapons also naturally upgrade, depending on decisions and actions made in game. Having your weapon automatically customise itself to your play style is great, and the option to do it manually is not missed. The combat can feel a little cookie cutter at times. Dodge, Dodge, Magic, Sword, Dodge, Gun, repeat. Whilst this is to say combat is not always challenging, it is always fun.

As usual, the decision making aspects of the game are just as important as anything else. Sometimes you are asked to make seemingly meaningless decisions based on no evidence, however the game does pack a few punches when it comes to gut wrenchingly difficut choices. In fact, within the first five minutes of the game you are asked to make a massive decision that had me literally staring at my screen in awe. It speaks a great deal of a game’s storytelling that I was so involved in it in such a short time. These tough decisions come and go, but then return in massive form during the run up to the end of the game.

There is little I can say that is wrong about this game. Occasionally, your path-finding guide doesn’t load or sends you ever so slightly off course. A similar problem exists with your treasure hunting dog, and also human companions, but these are minor niggles. The game provides so much brilliant content during and after the main story that it seems unfair to condemn it for such slight faults.

Over the years we’ve been promised so much with the Fable franchise, and it has mostly delivered. However, this instalment is not to be overlooked, and is not only a highlight of this year, but of this entire generation of gaming.







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