As a lover of RPGs I felt as though I had been waiting for the release of Fable III from Lionhead Studios forever. I wanted to return to Albion and lead the revolution as the Hero, or Heroine in my case. I know that the final product rarely lives up to the hype promised in its advertising, but I hoped that would not be the case here. I decided to settle in with my new Fable controller, which does look great by the way, get comfortable and find out what was waiting for me in this latest version of Albion.
Let's start with the user interface, which has been changed a bit this time around. Even though more commands have been integrated directly into the D-pad, we've been given fewer choices. I miss being able to choose my own expressions when dealing with people. However the options have now been reduced to only: nice, nasty, or silly in many instances. Timing an expression is much easier too as you only have to release the A button when prompted. If you release it early it is not a big deal as you can't fail at it like in the first game. No more soiling your pants or messing up a dance routine. Yes those things could happen in Fable 2, usually to the disgust of the villagers around you. You might ask why a bad dance move is just as appalling as soiling you pants, but it just is.
Moving on to the Sanctuary which is the game's version of a safe-house, where a good bit of time will be spent throughout the game. Only there, where the helpful butler Jasper is waiting, is it possible to make changes to your magical spells. I preferred how I could quickly call up my spells and make changes to them during a fight in Fable 2 depending upon who my enemies were. Now I have to return to the Sanctuary in order to change my spell combinations. The Sanctuary is also where clothes, makeup, tattoos and dyes can be used and combined. *Quick tip: Don't miss out on the easy achievement of dying each article of clothing and hair a different color. The Sanctuary is also where you will find your weapons, gifts from the villagers waiting to be opened, your pile of gold, trophies and achievement wall.
If you want to make changes to your online options the Sanctuary is also the place for this. I chose to play with the option to see the other players' orbs disabled. I felt that it distracted from the experience when some players insist on belting out songs or were constantly begging for items. Yes the general public will have to be faced at some point in order to obtain all of the legendary weapons, but that is something I was easily able to put off until later. You'll also find one way to save your game here. Several people I spoke with had problems saving their game at when they didn't notice the option availabe here. It would be wise to listen to Jasper if you're not going to read the game manual as he'll explain everything available within the Sanctuary.
In the center of the Sanctuary room you'll also find the interactive map. You can use it to fast travel to the different regions of Albion, find any available quests, and how many keys and gnomes are located in an area. But beware, the gnomes are far more obnoxious than the gargoyles from Fable 2 as they force you to hunt them down once their insults start flying. You'll also see properties available for sale and can repair those properties from here. Having to repair properties is a bit tedious but has to be done as long as you want that rent coming in. Once the condition of a house falls too low your tenant will refuse to pay rent. However, after the main quest has been solved you can then go on to be a slum-lord with no real consequences.
This brings me to the main quest which is the meat of any RPG. After fleeing the palace, my princess, has to lead the revolution against her brother. You'll have to prove yourself to various factions before they're willing to become your allies with the quests they offer. These quests turn out to be fairly straightforward. I enjoyed them but I wish they had been longer. You'll spend more time doing fetch and retrieve errands (delivery princess to the rescue) for the villagers in order to gain Guild Seals. These seals are used to open the chests on "The Road to Rule" which contain weapon and job performance upgrades, and you will definitely want those, even the Level 5 lute player chest. Some of the side quests can be fairly time consuming and cannot be finished using the fast travel option, but as in any RPG, time spent exploring does pay off with finds of legendary weapons, gold and other items.
The length of the main quest is my main issue with Fable 3. It felt short in comparison to Fable 2 and left me asking "Really, that's it?" I could have made it last longer if I hadn't bought so much property in the first half of the game but by the time I became Queen I had the money needed for the final objective. Once you become ruler of Albion the game play changes drastically for a while. Time is spent dealing with the promises made earlier to your allies and other royal decrees. This time will really determine if you're a saint and worthy of your wings (which look awesome during a fight scene) or totally evil and a menace to society. The only decree I found myself wanting to go back and change is my decision to make alcohol legal. Your citizens will become quite sloppy for a time once they're finally allowed to over-indulge. Consider this my warning to you!
I thought the final boss fight could have been more challenging, especially with the way the final evil threat to Albion is presented as a total world destroyer. My magic did most of the work and took it down quicker than expected. After spending the money to have the troops I wanted in order to win, I would have liked to have seen more of them involved in the confrontation. I spent millions in gold and wanted my money's worth out of them. Instead I only saw a random few who, based on their shot expertise, had skipped their training and spent their time having picnics instead.
On a special note, being a member of the PMS clan, we like to also discuss how games relate to female gamers and I think Fable 3 is definitely a female friendly game. I can remember the days when all RPGs had only male main characters as your choices. In Fable 3 I can, and did, choose to start as a princess and work my way up to Queen. The game's citizens aren't concerned with your gender, not even when it comes to who you can marry, but only whether you are good or evil and if you will perform their errands. A wide variety of male and female clothing choices are available, although I'll admit to feeling that some of my boot choices were a bit big for my heroine, and were probably using the same models as for the male characters. However, they were a better choice than dainty slippers. Your ability in fights isn't affected by the gender of your character as weapon weight is not a factor. My princess was able to swing a sword just as any male character would. As was the case in Fable 2, my character became very tall in comparison to the rest of the citizens as abilities were developed. It was actually rather comical to see her pick up her man of choice for an overhead lift during a dance, twirl him around in a hug, or sweep him off his feet for a kiss. Women were definitely not portrayed as the weaker sex in this game.
In the end, while the game has its issues, I would still recommend Fable 3. It is a very good looking game with great attention to detail being paid to every region of Albion giving them their own unique look and feel. Certain enemies prefer different regions so you quickly learn what to expect when travelling between regions. The graphics aren't over saturated with color as I thought was the case in Fable 2, which is also an improvement. The water effects were also especially noteworthy. Take a swim and you'll see what I mean! Fights have great finishing moves and flourishes when the weapon or magic spell is charged high enough. I still love seeing a Hobbe fly into the air after he's been kicked in his no longer happy place before he's shot down. There's a little more gore in the deaths but nothing too extreme. Remember to give your dog enough time to catch up to you as he will fall behind and you'll want him around to find those dig spots full of rosy makeup and rubies, and to help finish off some enemies. I found there to be some lag with the glowing trail of light that guides you on quests, so wait a moment and it will reappear. Currently, Lionhead is also working on a patch for some of glitches that have appeared and reported by others. Overall though my experiences with the Fable series have been glitch free thankfully, but I know what it means to restart an RPG, and it's not fun to say the least.
If you are a dedicated player of either the Oblivion or Fallout series than this might not be the game for you as I would consider this more of an "RPG-lite" in comparison. You will still have to make life or death choices throughout and will experience the consequences of those choices. Or you could just sit on the throne in a chicken suit too if that is your desire, so there's plenty of levity in the game as well. I enjoyed Fable 3, and the extras offered with the Collector's Edition, but it left me wanting more with regards to the main story.
Even though it wasn't everything I had hoped for it is a game worth playing and earns a "royal" rating of 8 out of 10 frags.
Written by PMS IslandArts