Review: Fable III

Publisher: Lionhead Studios
Console: Xbox 360

By Mike Wheeler

Having received my review copy late, I wasn’t ready to do this game any favours. I know, I know, objectivity is the key to any decent review, and any preconceived notions – whether deserved or not – doesn’t do the credibility stakes any good. However, after having calmed down, I was pleasantly surprised with Fable III, with a couple of minor reservations.

Fable III starts 50 years after the last hero’s escapades in Fable II and this time you play the hero’s youngest son (or daughter – you get to choose). The hero’s older brother, Logan, is in charge of the Kingdom of Albion, and for reasons unknown has turned into a tyrant. To cut a long story short, our hero is cast from the kingdom and spends the rest of the game trying to form an army to fight his brother and win back the trust of the people of Albion. You do find out later on that there is a bigger threat than your brother on the horizon, and thus the ‘excuse’ for his behaviour.

Gameplay. This is one of those strange games where I go from hating to loving it over again for various reasons. For example, the graphics.  At times, they’re outstanding, while on other occasions – especially close ups – they are found wanting.  You have to wonder why developer Lionhead Studios spent so much time making an RPG with so much going on around it, that the graphics would have been top-notch all the way.  Also one of my bugbears is the time is takes to go from one place to another. Going from point A to point B can be boring and tiresome. For example, you are set three tasks at the first level, which requires you to go from one town to another three times. This is all fine and dandy to make the game more interesting, but you spend an inordinate amount of time going back and forth. I’m sure the publisher would argue there are little side missions – such as gathering gold – on the way, but please, after the first billion times doing one of these, sometimes you just want to get on the with the game.

As with most games, as you finish a level, you go back to the safe house – in this case a portal that takes you to your room where your man servant Jasper (voiced by Basil Fawlty himself, John Cleese) pampers you by changing clothes, or dying garments, or pointing you towards your next objective on the map. Also, as you finish each level you go through a gate and collect more weaponry, gold or special ability. There is a series of gates that take you closer to the castle as you go through.

One part of the game that I really like is the interactivity and the consequences that around the choices you make as you travel through each level. For example, at the end of one level you are asked by Major Swift to take a soldier’s oath to bring back the old guard if you defeat your brother. As the player you get the choice of whether to do so or not. Your choice will have consequences later on. You can also buy and repair dwelling, reduce the rent for the tenants or sell the property on. If you take the path of righteousness and goodness, you will probably have the population on your side when you decide to revolt. However, there is also a price to pay if that happens, too.

Weaponry includes an array of gear including the obligatory sword and rifle. You can also create whirlwinds and shoot fire shards from your hands. There are also parts where some of these powers are enhanced to a degree that they have more impact and kill foes more quickly.

Be prepared to spend a lot of time on Fable III. I would think if you interacted with everyone and took the longest paths travelled, you could end up in the game for 30 or 40 hours, so you get your money’s worth.

Overall, I liked this game. It does have its faults and if you were super excited about getting it, then your expectations may be curtailed. Still, definitely worth a try.

Pros: Good gameplay, plenty of action, great storyline
Cons: Graphics could be better, takes too long to travel between different points

3.9 shacks out of 5