Fable 3 Review

Though Lionhead studios weren’t the first to make the “choose good or evil” game, they have arguably been the best. Black and White on the PC was a turning point in gaming and answered the ancient question, “Why does god let such terrible things happen to people?” With, “Well, maybe because smiting villagers is pretty damn funny.” Lionhead’s Fable franchise has also been given high praise, numerous accolades, but the most importantly: a large number of fans willing to spend money on sequels without question (author is guilty). The first two Fable titles introduced us to the large and beautiful world of Albion while giving players a degree of choice they had never before experienced. Though reception was all around positive, many criticized the games for not having lived up to the promises made before release. Does Fable 3 break this habit… no. But that doesn’t hinder the greatness of this truly fun game.
Fable 3 is set about fifty years after the second game. The Albion industrial revolution is in full swing, with all the filth, disease, and poverty that goes along with it. You are the youngest son or daughter of the hero from the previous game. Your older brother is the crowned king of Albion and has recently turned into a dangerous tyrannical fascist, and the kingdom is suffering greatly. It’s up to you to Luke Skywalker this tale by mastering previously unbeknownst powers; uniting the oppressed peoples of the kingdom into a revolutionary army, and possibly hooking up with someone you’ll later regret (with all the kids I had running around Fable 2, at least one of these NPC’s are going to be a relative.) Through quest favors, interaction with the citizens, and wise real estate purchases you gain the trust of the people of Albion to help you take your place as king.
Following in line with most action RPG’s nowadays, the RPG elements are almost nonexistent. Some gamers will love not having as much junk to manage, while others will be annoyed and feel like they’re being cheated out of a certain degree of control. This is understandable, since the inventory only allows you to have one type of food OR drink at a time. In reality, most of your management in this adventure will come from the exciting world of being a landlord/CEO of the various properties and businesses that you own. What’s particularly different in this game is the pause menu. Pressing the pause button will instantly whisk you away to your “sanctuary” with your very own butler waiting to assist you (Somewhat similar to Alfred Pennyworth, though instead of Austin Power Fajha, John Cleese is present.) Once there, all map selection, weapon, apparel, and ability changes will be done by you physically walking to the appropriate room and selecting the displayed item. Lazier players will get annoyed by a tedious process, but this change isn’t too terribly annoying and it makes menu management a little more interesting. The only real glitches I experienced when playing was the golden breadcrumb trail. Selecting a quest or location on the map presents a shimmering line that showed the easiest way to get to your objective. This made navigation simple while allowing you the freedom to go off the beaten path while not having to worry about losing your way. Though many times the trail wouldn’t show up for a few minutes after I selected my next objective, leaving me to contemplate which of the thirty paths out of the mountains I should take.
Though your character doesn’t really level in the traditional sense, the look of your character to weapons will evolve from generic to downright awesome depending on your choices you make. The beauty is complimented by the combat in Fable 3. It’s fluid, simple, and beautiful. Switching between guns, melee, and magic is quick, easy, and extremely effective. It feels like a ballet of death, but not the lame nutcracker, your blunderbuss will perform the timeless nutblaster. Acquired combos and abilities are few, but your character will occasionally perform slow-motion kills that are so epic they need to be in the next Zach Snyder movie. Snapping an opponent’s neck as they vault over you or throwing your sword straight through their chest are some of the most satisfying parts of kicking ass in Albion. The only downfall of combat in Fable 3 is many of the weapons require you to perform tasks to gain additional features for them. Many of the tasks will feel like normal achievements, but a large part of them involve killing a certain amount of a certain type of enemy. This wouldn’t be a problem except that you need to use that specific weapon for your victories to count towards the goal. Trying to make sure the player doesn’t frontload their character’s strengths and retaining the roughness in “grinding” is understandable. But having to face down a legion of enemies using only your pistol takes the fun out of the free flow combat that is such a great strength to this experience.
The best part of Fable 3, by a mile, is experiencing the world and citizens of Albion. The art direction is generally breathtaking. From the beautiful and majestic mountains, to dark and murky swamps, to the dingy and depressing city, the environments portray both the epic scale and the emotional impact this game embodies as a whole. The voice acting is top notch for a video game. Although Americans usually think English accents are equivalent to good acting. But even with the stupidity of the average American gamer, the writing behind these characters greatly adds to both the fun and the impact of Fable 3. The obviously British humor here makes you feel like you’re part of a Monty Python movie at times (not just because you hear from John Cleese every couple minutes.) In fact, once while I was walking around town as the king I heard a Cockney accent in the distance yell, “’Ey! You’re the guy who farted on me!” Being a Messiah for the poor and downtrodden is rewarding, but being a sadistic bully is fun as well. Although you don’t have exact control over what you’re doing when you talk to someone. There are buttons that have generally kind, mean, and funny responses, while the exact action on these buttons are set randomly. Interacting with each of the characters ranges from hilarious to heartbreaking; depending on what kind of leader you aspire to be. I won’t lie; the decisions in this game are some of the toughest I’ve experienced in gaming. This is where Fable 3 really stands above the other games in the series and other games in general. Becoming a king or queen is just the first half of this experience, leading a nation and serving its people become almost a new game in itself. I won’t give away the ending, but your choices can line the streets with dead citizens. Serving as a constant reminder of the consequences of choices made as a leader.
Fable 3 is a very fun game that comes just short of real greatness. Many times the player will feel close to true freedom within the bounds of a great narrative; but will be held back by a glitch, annoyance, or a desire to do more within Albion. Combine this with multiplayer that feels pretty useless and tacked on, and you have a game a bit short of what we were expecting after Fable 2. If you are a fan of open world games and/or action RPG’s, this is one that you’re going to have a lot of fun with. If you’re also a completionist, you’ll be able to get 30+ solid hours out of this. If you’re a more casual gamer, or hardcore to the point of spending most of your time in online multiplayer matches, you’ll probably have more luck pouring your dollars and time into something else. If you have any sense of humor, you need to play enough of this to at least punt a chicken or use the fart button on a constable… It’s science.

JP

http://www.nerdlocker.com

I'm a true child of the 80s from a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. My all time favorite topics are Star Wars, slasher films and Cleveland sports (despite the misery it causes). I narrowly avoided law school, instead choosing film school. I have been accused of being a walking IMDB, but I take it as a compliment!

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