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Fable III super review

AT A GLANCE
  • Probably the best writing and acting in games right now
  • It's big, funny and clever
  • It will seriously put you through the emotional wringer
  • It's technically a bit shaky in places
  • The story climax feels a little rushed
  • Some less combat-driven quests would have been nice

Those idiosyncrasies all stem from a philosophy of hands-on interaction with everything. There are no menu shortcuts here, outside of a pull-down quest list allowing quick-travel to regions and side-missions. Want to change outfits? Walk up to a costume on a mannequin and choose the items you want. Want to change weapons? Walk into your armoury and browse the racks for the gun and blade of your choice. Even magic is now powered by wearable gauntlets rather than Fable II’s character-inherent Will ability, meaning that everything you do and every change you make to your character is by way of physical interaction with an in-game item or environment.

Above: A quick tour of The Sanctuary's simple but powerful mix-and-match outfit customisation. Spot anyone you recognise?

It feels unnecessary and unwieldy for a while, especially when you have to browse shop items by walking up to and inspecting each one individually on a plinth. Though the lesser emphasis on buying new equipment this time around helps, weapons now gaining buffs via Achievement-style challenges, and with some perseverance, the logic behind it all starts to shine through. By physically interacting with objects, equipment and characters on a one-to-one level, your attachment to Fable III’s world becomes powerfully tangible. And so the Fable franchise’s central conceit of accountable moral decisions really starts to fly like never before.

But the irony at the centre of Fable III is that while on the one hand it strives to make things more real, some of the methods it uses also add an extra degree of gamey artificiality. With customisation menus stripped out in favour of the walk-in wardrobe approach, Fable III provides you with The Sanctuary, a central control room manned by the John Cleese-voiced Jasper, which houses all your gear as well as a quick-travel map. The need to make it constantly accessible requires a suspension of belief as you jab the Start button to warp immediately to and from its safe confines (even in the midst of battle). But just imagine it as a Monty Python-run Star Trek transporter room/loot pile and you’ll be fine.

Similarly, while levelling up still happens, it’s now represented by a physical environment, the metaphorical Road to Rule. Everything you do, from combat, to character interactions, to quest completion earns you Guild Seals, Fable III’s reskinned XP equivalent. After major story missions you’ll be warped to the ethereal road and presented with treasure chests which need to be unlocked with your seals. The chests contain the various combat buffs and character abilities that standard levelling up would generally provide automatically. Again, it at first feels like an overly elaborate reworking of a perfectly good system, but the sense of tangibility it adds to the levelling process, and thus your attachment to your character, justifies its seemingly contrived nature.


Getting personal

Perhaps the most surprising change though, is a simple one. Fable II’s gestural interaction system, which allowed you to shape your relationships with NPCs by way of a selection wheel of multiple social actions, has been vastly scaled back. You can now only interact with one character at a time while locked into an invisible box with them, and your gesture options are limited to a handful of pre-designated, button-mapped options (though your options are expandable via the Road to Rule). Far from the dumbed down remix it seems though, this again succeeds in making all of your actions far more meaningful. Working to make a single person more affectionate, or even loving, if you're in a family-starting mood, feels in practice far more significant than having an entire town of fans mindlessly following you in blind appreciation, Fable II-style.

This strive to emotionally engage isn’t just a means to its own end. It has a very specific purpose. And that purpose is to ensure that you go through an absolute moral meat-grinder upon your elevation to ruler of Albion. With the rebel-rousing quests complete, you’ll take over the throne around three-quarters of the way through the main story. From this point on, you’ll have an in-game year with which to sort out Albion’s socio-political woes. Each main story mission begins with a couple of throne-room-based hearings, during which you’re presented with a decision to make about the country’s future. And while the series has always delighted in tough moral conundrums, at this point Fable III will start absolutely kicking the crap out of you.

More Info

Release date: May 17 2011 - PC (US)
May 17 2011 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Lionhead Studios
Franchise: Fable
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence
PEGI Rating:
16+

62 comments

  • PevMaster - May 7, 2011 8:14 a.m.

    It saddens me to see that Games Radar, one of my favourite sources for videogame reviews, has joined the other reviewers who have fallen into the same trap. Fable 2 was a great game which made me hungry for more; but when I acquired its successor I saw that it was clumsy, short, overrated and above all, a HUGE DISSAPOINTMENT. And to say that this game eclipses Fallout New Vegas? Pure madness.
  • Gilligan - April 9, 2011 5:38 p.m.

    I thought Fable 3 was r8 disappointing.
  • RevolverOshawatt - November 28, 2010 8:03 p.m.

    Ahh, I can proudly say I've played the story for the 3rd time around. xD There's a good point made in this, you buy all the property in Albion and let the game run for a few hours while you go about your day. xDD I made a decent 16 Million in two days, so it made life a whole lot easier! xD
  • nickhh96 - November 8, 2010 3:02 a.m.

    i have one thing to say about your comparison of fable 3 world to FONV's... wasteland
  • Carpetbomb - November 2, 2010 3:35 p.m.

    Got it and love it =D, see people saying the hand holding thing is pointless but it really works, it really does make you feel responsible for what happens to them, and it also stops them being left behind or caught and stuck if they walk into rocks etc. because they stick close to you, its a smart addition =] Ive played for abit now and it feels more focussed than fable 2, i hate to use the world linear but thats how it feels at the moment, ime sure once i unlock more areas and towns things will open out and become free'er, but atm its like a really long tutorial, still good fun and getting used to the whole guild hall aspect (ide preffer the hall to be an option from the pause menu rather than being the menu its-self but what ya gonna do) and the "finnisher" combo's are quite spectacular to watch =D Gonna get NV when the price comes down abit but i wouldnt say one was better than the other as they look pretty even, but it really depends on what style of games your into
  • twewy13 - October 31, 2010 7:33 p.m.

    buying it for sure...glad that GR said it was worse than TP though...MUAHAHAHAHAHA NINTENDO WINS AGAIN!
  • RedOutlive10 - October 29, 2010 12:43 p.m.

    @Channel4 Zelda games aren't RPG either, they're more like adventure games, even if they do have some sort of progression with gadgets.
  • elpurplemonkey - October 28, 2010 4:38 a.m.

    I could care less about this game, but after reading your review, it actually seemed interesting. The rise to power- then rule the kingdom mechanic seems pretty damn refreshing.
  • c1nd3rcell - October 28, 2010 4:26 a.m.

    I absolutely LOVED Fable 2 and I'm so exited to pick this one up. I have to pay off my pre-order of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood first, though...
  • Syncmaster - October 27, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    "the story climax feels a little rushed" uh oh.. reminds me o fable 2. hoping to be wrong.
  • MCnooble - October 27, 2010 6:42 p.m.

    gonna have to disagree with u there games radar, i personaly thnk that NV is the better game
  • TruckThunders - October 27, 2010 1:33 p.m.

    Nice to see that this games looks very promising. I'm still sitting on an unopened copy of Fable II and I keep telling myself I'll play it one day. Once I get that done I'm sure I'll finally play Fable III, probably just as Fable IV is released :-/
  • PushesPaperInACircle - October 27, 2010 12:30 p.m.

    Did they fix the "single save" feature. A bug in the last game wiped out one of my characters by not allowing the plot to proceede and I had to start over. Sure Fallout games have bugs to work out and Vegas was rushed, but at least they gave me 100 slots to back up my work...
  • JohnnyMaverik - October 27, 2010 11:23 a.m.

    "Probably the best writing"..."in games right now" I guarantee you're wrong. Planescape Torment has my back and we're not going down with out a fight, Deus Ex, Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines, Mass Effect's Universe and fk it I'm guna throw in Cave Story just cuz I can and it just pop'd into my head, might all turn up later to give you a disapproving look as well.
  • The4X - October 27, 2010 11:22 a.m.

    +1 Don't belive it better than ME2 or FNV...
  • NeelEvil - October 27, 2010 10:46 a.m.

    @ kurtzhair I love the Sanctuary & bizzarely it loads much faster than the inventory menus of Fable 2.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - October 27, 2010 8:59 a.m.

    Spacem0nkey77: That's not a spoiler. That information has been out as a main gameplay feature for nearly as long as Fable III has been known.
  • kurtzhair - October 27, 2010 8:34 a.m.

    So...is anyone else aggravated by the lack of an inventory every time you hit the "start" button and think "Oh, right, I've got to go to this stupid fucking sanctuary to do extremely simple things. I'm glad that that the designers realized that RPGs are generally made more fun by randomly stripping away RPG elements in favor of pointless bottlenecks." That said, Fable III is an incredible game overall as far as I can tell from what I've played of it (four hours of play time;) I'm loving the combat and the experience system...just...some interesting choices, which do sometimes seem to me to be just for the sake of making a change, and occasionally detract from the overall experience, and fairly heavily so.
  • Spybreak8 - October 27, 2010 6:17 a.m.

    I've played about 4 hours today and I had to stop and download RDR Undead Nightmare Collection. I had to because I prob would have rushed through this game so fast. Played previous Fables and this just feels like Fable that we all wanted before. Epic! I also find it rather amusing dancing with everyone with the same animation no matter male or female villagers lol.
  • nikrusty - October 27, 2010 5:50 a.m.

    where's the pc version bitches!! I want...I'am suckulunt

Showing 1-20 of 62 comments

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