Developer: Lionhead Studios
Release Date: 10/26/2010
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Oh, Peter Molyneux, you’re such a tease. You always make these simple ideas seem so grand and innovative yet when we play them they don’t seem so. Why does Mr. Molyneux do this? No one may ever know, but it’s probably best for him to keep him striving to make his games better, but Fable III isn’t an amazing game at all, it’s just a good game.
Let’s start with the story. Fable II had an awesome and memorable story, but Fable III tends to fall on a mediocre and typical one. You have to gather allies throughout the land of Albion to rise against your evil brother, but really there’s a stronger force at hand (I won’t say for spoilers). The whole story is generic and the characters aren’t too memorable (except Reaver!), and following a nameless hero is getting old. Other than that it’s decent and has a couple of twists, but it just treads on without doing much new to the series.
Secondly is the combat, that Lionhead keeps changing with every game, is very simple yet there’s a uniqueness to it. Each attack is mapped to one button firearm, melee, and magic. It’s a mixed bag as to which you should use since magic is the deepest of the three. You can equip a different magic gauntlet to each hand and mix attacks, and there are 15 combinations in total. Holding down B will allow you to charge it for an area attack, but they made this weird control scheme where you have to press the analog stick toward the enemy to make anything go that way. This is annoying when using your gun because while you reload you walking toward your enemy so you have to stop pressing forward while you reload. There are some pretty gruesome fatality kills, but otherwise, combat is a bit awkward and simple. On another note, the enemies just swarm on you and don’t really do much else and can lead to cheap deaths (mainly the Balverines), and there isn’t a huge variety of them. Hobbes, humans, Balverines, wolves (early on only), Hollow Men, and pretty much every enemy from Fable II and not many new additions.
As you kill things or do things in the game you can turn good or evil, and each weapon has three different criteria to make it a truly heroic or evil weapon. This will also make it more powerful, but leveling up 50 legendary weapons? Fable III is full of unnecessary mundane things that only the hardest of hardcore will ever complete. The whole good and evil are used well here during the second half of the game when you become ruler. You decide the fate of people, cities, and other things to add money to your treasury (why you do this will spoil the story). It does make you feel powerful and is probably the best part of the story.
The game features something very unique and that’s your central hub. You can press the start button anytime and you will go to a hub with your map and everything else you need such as changing weapons, clothing, makeup, Xbox LIVE Marketplace, Xbox LIVE co-op, the achievement wall, your treasury, etc. It’s very intuitive and unique (and there’s no loading!) On the map, you can fast travel to any city, and all gnomes, keys, and quests are marked so you can keep track of them. You can also buy real estate from the map instead of wandering around everywhere and doing it on foot.
Secondly, Fable is all about exploring and there is more exploring than there are main quests. There are a ton of side quests such as finding 50 gnomes, keys, and 30 Aurorian flowers. These are for opening silver chests, and just getting achievements, but you will need the strategy guide or some online guide because boy it is frustrating to find these things. You can find dive spots, dig spots, and books as well but it seems endless and doesn’t really pay off achievement-wise (except the books).
Another (almost) useless thing that has stuck around is relationships and expressions. Peter insists that these things are unique and innovative, but they really don’t do anything except make it feel like something from The Sims. Expressions can be used to raise the like level of hate level. Go high enough and you can propose to someone. You can also have sex with people and catch STDs, but this only feels like it’s for laughs more than anything useful. Another feature Molyneux pushed was the hand-holding idea. This is not as great as he claims and is useless (and in disguise) of an AI pathfinding replacer. You only really use it to guide people around during certain quests, so don’t get too excited about this.
Lastly, the game features a new way to acquire levels, expressions, jobs, and other items through The Road to Rule. As you complete sections of the game you can purchase chests using Guild Seals that you get from defeating enemies or completing quests. This is an interesting way of upgrading, but you wouldn’t miss it if it were gone. Secondly, the same goes for those stupid jobs that you can do to make money. After you try each one you’ll be done because it’s mundane, and you don’t earn as much gold after you buy up a lot of property.
Overall, Fable III tries too hard instead of starting anew. The game looks the same as Fable II, and in turn, looks outdated with muddy textures, some low-resolution models, and the only thing that looks good are far-off vistas. The game also has a lot of British humor and may not suit everyone, but the voice acting is pretty good. With only a few side quests being memorable, a generic story, and some useless overhyped features Fable III are disappointing, but not as much as you’d think. If you liked Fable II you’ll love this, but haters will still hate it.