MG’s Take: Fable III (360)
Author :        Date : 21-Apr-11

Having been a fan of the first two installments in the series, I was thoroughly pumped to dive right into this latest release.  In Fable III, your Hero is once again pitted against the throes of evil, but this time you are tasked with both saving your beloved kingdom of Albion as well as becoming its competent ruler.

Sure, this sounds compelling but will this just be another example of Lionhead’s propensity to overpromise and under deliver?  Let’s dive right into the details and find out first hand.


In previous tales in this series, I was always disappointed that I couldn’t soldier on once I became the ultimate Hero.  Sure, I could do left some over side quests and the like, but I never got to fully employ my newly gained power as ruler of the land.  Without giving away any spoilers, Fable III allows the gamer to explore this avenue, albeit with some extremely poor results.

Our Hero’s plight is the epitome of the hold-your-hand adventure.  From the very onset of this adventure, you are basically playing the equivalent of a RPG rail shooter.  You can venture off and knock out a side quest here and there, but make no mistake in thinking that this is an open ended game play experience.  You basically have only one choice in this entire game – is your Hero good or evil.

Moral dilemmas once again influence how the story unfolds, but this has also been considerably dumbed down.  Though your choices played little part in shaping the world of Albion in past episodes, there was at least a tiny bit of grey area in your decision making.  Unfortunately, in Fable III my 5 year old niece could easily differentiate between the presented options.  The side quests on the other hand are quite enjoyable and offer a good deal
of variety.

Other extracurricular activities are available for your indulgence, including rhythm-based mini games, raising a family, landlord duties, Kingly responsibilities, etc.  Unfortunately, these all share one common trait – they are BORING.  In all honesty, I pay my virtual kid zero attention just to hear him spit out some great one-liners as I brush past him on my way through town ("All of the other kids get toys… How come you don’t give me anything?").


Your journey will take you through a myriad of locales, each with its own distinct personality.  The quaint, medieval towns of this mystical world are absolutely bristling with life, all featuring high resolution textures and rich, vibrant colors.  On the other hand, the more sinister locations feature gritty earth tones to effectively communicate an impending sense of doom.  Hero and NPC animations are superbly detailed and appropriately enhance the overall feeling that you are actually a part of a ‘living’ world.  Overall, Fable III is definitely some serious eye candy.

From a technical standpoint, this game is afflicted with frame rate issues and glitches galore.  I’m usually OK with the occasional slowdown in areas where there is a huge amount of activity, but in Fable III these occurrences are frequent and could occur with my Hero standing alone in field with absolutely no one around him!  In addition, quest markers (‘golden crumb trail’) randomly disappear for some unknown reason.

Audio \ Sound Effects

As you would expect, each region features its own musical theme, none of which are truly memorable but are entirely fitting for their respective
environment.  Ambient sounds are plentiful, but not overly done to the point of being irritating.  An extremely strong ensemble delivers superb voice acting featuring that dry, sometimes provocative sense of humor that has become a staple of the Fable triad ("If you want quality, I’m afraid you going to have to pay for it" – random female NPC to my Hero).  Most NPC dialog is random and does not become overly repetitive.  The same cannot be said for your personal butler on this journey, Jasper.

Though expertly voiced by the acclaimed British actor John Cleese, this NPC quickly becomes so annoying that you will find yourself searching for a "Mute" option in the main menu (to no avail).  To top that off, if you are online he will keep pestering you to purchase new DLC items (all of which are crap).  I don’t know about you, but in-game pimping is definitely a big turn off for this gamer.

Game Play

The controls are tight and actions are well mapped to the Xbox 360 controller.  The menu system has been revamped and is now known as the Sanctuary.  This new interface takes a little getting used to, but overall it is effective.

Navigating throughout the various towns and regions is effortless, but conspicuously absent is the local mini-map.  You have the option to purchase a great many homes and buildings throughout Albion, but maintaining these assets is a chore.  You must drill down to a menu for each unit and select to fix it, which is tedious and boring.  Why the developers didn’t include a "Repair All Buildings" option is beyond me.

Combat is rather repetitious and nothing more than mashing your primary attack action (magic, ranged, melee).  You can switch the method of your assault on the fly using quick action keys, but there is a noticeable pause when doing so, leaving your Hero wide open to getting his butt kicked.  Magic is EXTREMELY over powered in this installment, and coupled with the fact that your magical fuel (Mana) never runs out, you will find yourself spamming this all day long.

Regarding NPC interaction, Fable III has replaced the expression system used in the two first games in this series in favor of performance based
animations.  Basically, you choose to perform either an amiable or evil action and then the game takes over and randomly picks some stupid animation based upon your selection (i.e. Dance with the NPC.).  My guess is that the intent of this change was to heighten NPC attachment, but in the end all it did was to make me not want to go anywhere near any of those dolts.  Unfortunately, this same aversion applies to my furry sidekick in this adventure.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of liked the introduction of my canine companion in Fable II, but this Lass is nothing more than a shaggy treasure detector (and a bad one at that).  Your pup never gets injured, but then again he never ventures into any battles as he is supposed to.  He will run right by many treasures, that is when he isn’t stuck behind some invisible dog fence.  Let me just say that your computer controlled mutt is riddled with so many technical issues that the programmers should be heavily fined by PETA for the unethical treatment of a virtual animal.


Overall, I was quite disappointed in this latest chapter of Fable.  The graphical presentation and voice acting is top notch and the game does have its moments where it shines brightly.  In the end the many technical issues that plague this title are truly unforgivable.  Wait until this game hits the bargain bin before picking up this turkey.

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