My relationship with Fable is a mostly satisfactory experience. When I first bought my Xbox 360, the first game I actually purchased on the backwards compatible list was Fable: The Lost Chapters. Delighted by the gameplay and fantastic story, I quickly pre-ordered a limited edition copy of Fable 2 which in turn became my favorite game ever on the Xbox 360. Now, with the third one released, I decided to follow the same itinerary by purchasing a LE copy. It’s time to lead a revolution.
The video for this game is widescreen and capable of 1080p resolution. If you have played Fable II, you will notice a lot of similarities in the video presentation. Colors are lush here and there is a whole lot going on whether you are in the woods or in the thick of the city. Scenery really will catch you by surprise and even though a quest might lead you one way, you could find yourself easily going off the beaten path.
When it comes to people and objects, the game still stays strong except in the field of the fairer sex. Women in this game often can be mistaken for men if they didn’t wear dresses and spoke in a high voice. Sometimes, it even goes as far waiting for the nameplate to come up to see if it is indeed a female. It’s a small complaint I admit, but if I’m trying to woo one of these ladies, one would appreciate that some of them would be a bit shapelier.
The audio in this experience is 5.1 English Dolby Digital Sound. The Fables have always had a bevy of beautiful music and this one is no exception. The sound fills the game and makes it alive. Even though the game has progressed on the timeline to the industrial revolution, it still feels like a wondrous fantasy due large in part to the music around it. I really wish they would have included the soundtrack in the LE package (but they sell it separately).
Dialog is fairly well represented as well. One will find a lot of proper English accents but that is nothing new. Thankfully, most of them are spoken with a heavy dose of clarity and are easy to pick up, especially when you hear a couple of lines. Sound effects use the surround speakers effectively and give this fairy tale a lot of bite. Subtitles are decent, better than a lot of efforts but you might still squint on occasion if your eyesight isn’t perfect.
Story has always been one of Fable’s strongest suits. The story in Fable III is no different. It’s been fifty years since the hero in Fable II has changed the world of Albion. The hero has died and left the kingdom to his brother Logan. The problem is in recent years, Logan has become extremely tyrannical. He rules with an iron fist and executes anybody who stands in his way.
Depending on your choice of sex, you start off the game as a Prince or a Princess. (We’ll assume Prince for the remainder of this review, choices might slightly different if you select a female but the basic story is still the same). As Prince, you wake up to face another day and are greeted by your butler, Jasper (voiced by John Cleese). He also greets your bedroom companion, your faithful dog. The Prince has to prepare for the day ahead and select an outfit to meet your childhood sweetheart, Elise.
The two talk about the state of the kingdom before embracing tenderly. After taking each other’s hand, they go to the castle’s kitchen to give the workers there some words of encouragement. At this point, the hero meets his right hand man, Sir Walter. Walter takes you through a few rooms where you are greeted by a person holding a petition to sign. From there, Walter takes you to the practice room where one learns some fighting as well how to block and flourish with swords. With some practice, the Prince is able to break Walter’s sword.
However, there is a situation brewing in the throne room. Walter, Elise and the Prince run to check it out. Walter decides to go inside and talk to the king, Logan. Meanwhile, the Prince and Elise spy through the keyhole. It appears that locals are angry over how the king is treating his peasants and demand something to be done about it. The king’s solution? Execute them.
The Prince barges in at this point. Logan gets upset with the both of them and forces the Prince into a no-win situation. The Prince makes his grim choice and is ordered to stay in his room. Later that night, Jasper and Walter rescue the young Prince and wish to take him away. They feel that he is the hero the world needs, and the world needs a revolution. The Prince and his two allies journey into the catacombs underneath the castle. Once out of the catacombs they must find followers and start a revolution to overthrow the king.
If you have played Fable II at all, you will notice a lot of familiar settings that have returned to Fable 3. The three attack buttons, one for your weapon (sword, hammer), one for your firearm (pistol, rifle) and one for your magic attack. They all work fairly well, however you will notice that there is no magic meter this time around meaning you can spam magic at will. As a result, you will find yourself using magic attacks and your firearm more than your trusty sword. Occasionally, you will find that enemies like to surround you at will, so a good game of keep away will be your best strategy.
One also has their dog to help them in their battle but he doesn’t do too much and you have to play with him a lot to keep him happy so that he doesn’t get lost somewhere. Of course, your dog also will find treasure and dig spots that will reveal trinkets and other assorted things that might or might not be useful (if they aren’t particularly useful you can sell them to a pawn shop). Since you do have to play with your dog a bit to keep him friendly, you might be curious how interactions are handled.
Here is where it gets a bit dicey, interactions are a bit different from Fable II. If you remember, in the last game you had a wheel where you could select a slew of interactions and attract quite a crowd by posing a lot. In fact, it was quite comical at times but very cool as your valor and renown became world known. But here? Here, we get a lot of one on one interaction. At the beginning, one gets to shake more hands than most politicians to gain favor. As time goes on, more interactions open up such as dancing or hugging or even pat-a-cake.
However, it still feels really stilted. Furthermore, if you want them to be friends with you (or more) you have to do a fetch quest which means traveling back and forth a lot to get an obscure item or play messenger. But becoming friends with people and doing quests is how you gain guild seals. Guild seals lead you to more upgrades from the Road to Rule which is a magical place that not shows allies you gained from your travels and battles but it is hosted by an old friend, Theresa.
Yes, that puzzling ageless prophet who has appeared in all of the games. Speaking of interesting places to visit, that brings me another old favorite: Sanctuary. Sanctuary can be brought at almost any point by pressing your start button. It is hosted by your butler, Jasper and will be your doorway to all of your earthly possessions. Want to change clothes? There is a room for that. Want to change your weapon, firearm or magical spell? There is a room for that. Want to walk into a room where you can see your awards and your money in a vault as if you were Scrooge McDuck? There is a room for that too.
We’ll ignore the shameless room that will let you spend Xbox Live points to get gear, tattoos and other odds and ends. There is also a lot of game help in the front room of Sanctuary too such as a map where you can fast travel to cities and quests and places to pick up gifts you might receive. It is really the best thing possibly about Fable III and you can access it even in the middle of a battle (which is great in case your current method of attack just isn’t working).
Moving on from Sanctuary and Road to Rule, there are a lot of villages and towns to visit where you can shop for items and talk to various people. One can also buy real estate which is a great way to make money. A bit of advice, save early and save often. Once you get comfortable with your game, gold will really stack up. But try not to go gang busters in spending the money unless it is towards something with an equal return. One will need millions to get through certain spots and it isn’t like Fable 2 where you can turn it off and come back in a week to a ton of money.
The game however is not particularly difficult. It has really been reduced to the point where you might not even call it a role playing game if it weren’t for the questing and personal interaction. It is an adventure game with role playing elements. There is a ton to do if one really takes the time, but nothing that you could consider taxing. Perseverance, reading your quest and the willingness to try will get you through almost everything here.
Fable III will take you a little bit of time to complete and does have the potential to keep you interested enough to play it as a different alignment the second time around. There are plenty of quests and other activities to keep you interested. One of the more interesting things is that the multiplayer this time around actually lets you knock boots with another Live player and possibly resulting in a marriage and/or children. One can even enter into a business relationship to earn additional monies away from the session.
Achievements are also available for gamerscore fiends. Speaking from personal experience, I was able to earn a ton of achievements from Fable II and it looks like this game is no different. There are 50 achievements to make up the 1000 gamerscore. As with the previous game, there are a lot of colorful achievements. Dye Hippie Dye requires to dye each piece of your outfit a different color and have long hair. There is also Coronation Chicken which gets one to perform a royal judgment while wearing a chicken costume.
The nice thing about the achievement system this time around is that the game does track and update on the progress. For example, Touched by a Hero will pop the progress every time you shake somebody’s hand. In addition, certain feats will automatically track themselves with your friends who are playing the game as well (even if they aren’t online at the time). However, you might not want to be known as the person among your friends who spent the most on your wardrobe.
Limited Edition Contents
If one is curious about the contents of the Limited Edition package, they include:
- DLC : A new Quest (that takes you to Silverpine to earn the legendary weapon: Wolfsbane), new region (ideal for settling down with a family and to acquire treasure), and a new dog breed, the loyal Boxer.
- Fable III Playing Cards: Playing cards that show all characters from the game, heroes, villains, and more. Really nice set, but I would be afraid to play with it.
- Guild Seal Coin: Another nice show piece, it depicts good and evil on opposite sides of the coin. If you can’t make a particularly tough decision, this will help the process along.
- Box: The Box looks fantastic. It is shaped like a large leatherbound book and if you find the secret compartment, it will reveal a panel that will slide out with the playing cards and the Guild Seal Coin inside. Very awesome stuff.
Before I continue to my Final Thoughts, I would like to share one interesting quest I had. It actually involved my wife, or rather a virtual representation of her I created with the Village Maker tool that was available if you pre-ordered the game. I was looking for a house in Brightwall and right in front of the house I was interested in was Sarah teh Noms. She wished for me to kill someone so she could take his job. Needless to say, I went there and did the deed. My dear Sarah, causing trouble in the middle of a game. I guess I’ll have to marry that chick (in game).
Anyhow, Fable III is a fun experience. It doesn’t have the same versatility as Fable II and will feel a lot more stilted when it comes to expressions and role playing elements but it should still pack a punch. There is a lot to do and an awesome story to unfold as you try to start a rebellion and eventually become ruler of Albion. Even after you become a ruler, there will be deeds to perform and a destiny that needs to be fulfilled.
The game has great video and audio also which will cause you to stop and wander at random items as you wonder if there isn’t something more to the gorgeous scenery. The LE packaging is actually worthy of the Limited Edition moniker and might be the best LE I’ve seen to date for a Xbox 360 game. This game really is an easy recommendation. It isn’t quite as great as Fable 2, but it will stay in your console for many hours to come.