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Fable III

 

Fable III

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: RPG
 
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Author:

Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft

Features:

Co-Op: 2 Players Local and 2 Players Online
HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
In-Game Dolby Digital
Leaderboards

A hero has come to Albion again to either save the people from an evil tyrant King or take the place of the monarch to rule with a larger tyrannical hand. Having played the series since the beginning I have always anticipated each release with welcome arms and this title is no different. What changes and improvements have been brought to Fable III? Were they for the best or did they just not work out? Read on to find out what I thought of the latest Fable adventure.

Graphics

Fable III continues its beautiful look, but has no visible changes to the graphics from its predecessor. The graphics are smooth, detailed and full of lush textures and makes excellent use of colours and shading to create an in-depth environment that ranges from bright villages in the countryside to dank sewers below the factory district.

One of the high points of the graphics is the cinematics that tell the bulk of the story and shows off how rich and detailed the environments are to a higher degree, with top notch portrayal of the land of Albion. The storytelling once again switches in between the cut scenes and the actions you take in the third person view as the Prince or Princess of Albion.

Overall, Fable III does a great job of creating great visuals that are entertaining as well as engaging for players. The one criticism I can lodge is that Lionhead Studios didn’t improve much over Fable II which I would have expected from the third installment in the series.

Sound

Fable III features a remarkable voice cast including British comedy legends John Cleese and Stephen Fry. Rounding out the voice cast are Simon Pegg, Ben Kingsley, Bernard Hill, Michael Fassbender and Zoe Wanamaker (returning as Theresa). If you know your British actors you will recognize the majority of these actors and know that this is one of the best voice casts to come to a video game. With that said the chemistry, charm and wit that the actors portray throughout the game is simply amazing and makes the dialogue quite enjoyable.

The rest of the sound department, which includes the music and sound effects, is just as well done with music building up the right amount of tension, excitement and bloodlust. When combined with the sound effects the whole sound presentation brings a theatrical experience that is quite enjoyable.

Gameplay

On the surface there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of changes to the gameplay in Fable III compared to the previous installment. Combat is still split up into three attack types of: Melee (Swords and Hammers), Ranged (Pistols, Rifles) and Magic (Fire, Lightning, Wind, Ice, Force Push, Blades). Combat has also been kept simple with a button for each attack type with flourishes still intact. Of course the longer you hold the button down the more damage your attack will do.

Interacting with other people is performed by choosing from social options that change based on how much the person love/hates you and sometimes will involve your dog, items that you have to find or going on a date if you’re in the mood to have a family. Even your trusty dog returns to help you sniff out treasure chests, buried goodies and will even guide you towards key quest points.

With the core gameplay relatively unchanged on the surface, let’s get into some of the areas of the game that have been changed. First and foremost is The Sanctuary which acts as a central hub for your Armoury, Dressing Room, Treasure Room and Live Room.

The Armoury is where your weapons are stored and where you equip your melee & ranged weapons along with your spell gauntlets. When it comes to your weapons you are able to equip one at a time of each weapon type. Come up with the combination that works best for you; personally I settled on the sword and pistol combination as I like to be speedier than my opponents, rather than packing a lot more punch with a hammer/rifle combination. Finally, the Armoury is where you equip your spell gauntlet, and later on when you Unlock Spell Weaving you are able to equip two spell gauntlets creating a combination of spells. Just like your weapons you can experiment with your spell gauntlets to create a spell that works best for your style of gameplay.

The Dressing Room is pretty much the ultimate walk in closet where all of your clothes, hairstyles, facial hair, makeup and tattoos are on hand to create the personal style of your hero. Extra dressing items can be bought at various stores and are found throughout the game to expand your Dressing Room and as you collect these you can save up to three different styles that you can access quickly on the custom mannequins. I can imagine some players spending quite a bit of time with their Dressing Room, but it was a feature I wish I could access through a more traditional menu.

The Treasure Room does exactly what the name of the room says, it holds your treasure The treasure obviously includes your hordes of gold, but also includes trophies you acquired through the spoils of battle and a wall dedicated to achievements you completed. Who doesn’t like seeing what they have accomplished? This room is a nice touch to stroke your hero’s ego ever so slightly.

Finally, there is the Live Room where you can play Fable III with your friends with either of you being the host. The main improvement here is that you get to use your own hero in the familiar experience that you become accustomed to in solo play. Just remember only the host's progress is saved with the rest of the spoils, which include Guild Seals, gold and other treasures being shared.

Obviously it is best to play with some friends online, however, if you don’t have any friends playing at the time you do have the option of Quick Match where you are matched up with another player at random. This is definitely a nice way to make some new friends with similar tastes in games.

Local multiplayer is available as well where both heroes appear on the same screen and battle through Albion. The second player can either start a new hero or use a hero associated with their gamertag to work along with each other. The local co-op is a nice feature for friends to pop in and give the game a try as local co-op is drop-in/drop-out style, but Fable III is definitely best played solo, or at least through Xbox Live.

The last aspect of multiplayer is the Partnerships that you can form with other players, which are Business and Marriage. A business partnership splits the cost of everything down the middle from purchasing weapons, homes and businesses. On the opposite end of the spectrum you also split all of the profits you gain from any revenue you gain. Keep in mind that the costs and profits are only split when both Heroes are playing together.

Marriage on the other hand is a business partnership with the benefits of marriage, which means having a family be it through adoption or the more common way of procreation. Heroes don’t have to worry about deciding who stays home to raise the family as a nanny will take care of the family while you’re off saving the world.

Finally the last portion of the Live Room is the Online Store which is a virtual representation of the Xbox Live Marketplace. Keep an eye out for some new content and deals to add a bit more to your Fable III experience.
Another key item in the Sanctuary is the Map Table, which allows you to see Albion, as well as some other far off places, and see where quests are available. It allows you to fast travel to these locations rather than walk the whole trip. If you place your magnifying glass over a destination you can also see your stats for items that you need to collect like Silver Keys, Gold Keys, Books and Gnomes. The map will tell you how many you have collected so far, and how many you have to go. This really helps if you are trying to complete these quests and need a little indicator about where you should narrow your search. The Map Table will also allow you to zoom in for a closer look at the area and let you purchase homes and shops right on the map rather than having to personally approach each building to purchase.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy the Sanctuary all that much as I found too much effort & time was required to equip weapons and change my clothes. However, I do love the fact that I can look up all my quests, real estate and collection items from the Map Table. It is also quite handy to be able to Fast Travel from place to place so that I can focus on playing the game rather than running from place to place. The Sanctuary could have been much better if it was combined with a traditional menu system that players can choose between or combine both for their preferred playing experience.

The Real Estate market returns allowing you to rent out homes, own shops and even flip homes if you like by decorating & furnishing your homes. One major change that I think is for the better when it comes to Real Estate is that you can only earn gold while playing the game. In the previous Fable you could earn gold when your console was turned off which lead to a broken economy in the game and some players changing the date on their consoles to bankroll their game with ease.

Lastly another difference from the previous installment of Fable is the way your hero grows as a character by earning Guild Seals which in turn are used to unlock chests on The Road to Rule. The Road to Rule is a mystical representation of your progress through the game as well as where a good portion of storyline takes place. However, the main job of The Road to Rule is to allow you to spend your Guild Seals on new combat proficiencies, magical spells, expressions and job skills. Each chest will have a Guild Seal value and you get to pick and choose what you want to spend your seals on to improve your Hero.

This is definitely an interesting and unique way of leveling your character, but it is something I felt hurt the game. Like the Sanctuary it was a bit of time wasted to go to the Road to Rule only to level up my character. This could have been done from a more traditional menu system as well to speed up the course of the game and make it a bit more easy and familiar to the player. Kudos to the developers for trying something new, however I feel it was more of a failure than a success.

With all Role Playing Games there is a story that is followed and Fable III has a typical story of a tyrant King that needs action taken against him, and it comes down to the younger sibling to rise up and lead a revolution. This story is definitely not new as it has happened through history be it a sibling or a political rival that leads the revolution, which made the overall story a bit mundane and without its own unique flair.

The Hero has to make many choices during their revolution and these decisions affect the citizens of Albion as well as friends and families. However, these decisions feel weightless in the consequences and at one point in the game you can make all the good decisions in the world and if you have enough money you can dig yourself out of the hole and still come out on top. Ultimately the decisions made didn’t make me go “Oh my god, what did I just do!” There was no sense of loss and unfortunately very little sense of accomplishment. When I completed the game I didn’t feel that I accomplished a whole lot and was more excited about the 80 achievement points I received. The pro/con relationship of decisions needed to be more opposite in spectrum in a lot of cases to make you as a player and hero make those hard decisions that leaders have to take.

The simplified combat of Fable III kept me interested in the game enough that I completed it, and the improved multiplayer options are a great touch to the game. However, the innovations to the rest of the gameplay didn’t intrigue me at all, along with the lack reward/consequences for any decisions I made, had me wishing that the developers took more of a traditional approach.


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