Fable III

9.0 Overall Score

Written by on November 18, 2010 in

I know I may not look like much on the outside, but in Albion, I’m quite the talk of the town.

I’ve spent the last few weeks leading a revolution, overthrowing my tyrant of a brother, traversing sewers, deserts, and mountains, wielding fire, and making pies. I got married, had a baby, bought and renovated several houses, and opened my share of businesses.  I became queen and am ruling a country now.  I’ve been quite swamped.

These are just a few things that you, too, will be able to do, should you choose to pick up Fable III.

I had been anticipating this game for quite some time before it released on October 26th.   Fable II was the first game I played that really sparked a love for gaming in me, and I couldn’t wait to have a game that was truly “mine.”  That’s a topic for a Vicarious Gamer piece though, so I won’t delve too much into Fable III being “my” game.  You can imagine my excitement when, on release day, I was given the copy to review.

I knew I would need to carve out a decent amount of time to play this game in order to really be immersed in the experience; this is something I would definitely recommend any gamer do.  In order to really enjoy all of the sights, sounds, and experiences Fable III has to offer, give yourself an hour to two hours per sitting of game play. There is so much to do and see, both in and out of the main story campaign; you won’t want to sell yourself short by saying you’ll play for “just half an hour.”

The premise is fairly simple:  Picking up where Fable II left off, Albion has fallen into disarray since the last Hero to rule in the 50 years previous passed away. Your older brother, Logan, has ruled Albion with an iron fist, and although the age of industrialization has come, it has hardly been an age of prosperity. Children labor in the factories in Bowerstone Industrial, the Dwellers in the Mistpeak Mountains starve and are attacked by mercenaries frequently and without warning, beggars line the streets in each town. Everyone is feeling the oppression of industry and tyranny when you, the younger sibling of the crown, are called upon to act.

The first portion of the main storyline is spent building up the forces to create the manpower behind the pockets of rebellion scattered throughout Albion. Everyone wants this change to come, but you most prove yourself a worthy leader. You do this by creating alliances with key characters and then making promises to them. You find treasure your mother once possessed, beat up the mercenaries that have been giving grief to the Dwellers in the Mistpeak Mountains, help disgruntled villagers round up their chickens or gnomes, get divorced from their spouses, search for ancient books and plays, and give your word that you will restore safety, sanity, and freedom to each town and its leaders once Logan is overthrown.

When you complete these quests, you accumulate Guild Seals, which allow you to unlock chests on the Road To Rule. Instead of using gold or experience orbs to upgrade your weapons, magical abilities, or finding books to unlock expressions as in Fable II, you spend the Guild Seals from your feats to become more well-rounded, powerful, and established. As you progress in the story, more chests become unlockable, and you can see at the gates who has been added to your flock of followers. I enjoyed this feature of the game, mostly for its poetic symbolism and visual representation of how “leveled up” you have become.

After winning the allegiance of the rebels, you will battle to defeat Logan. By this point in the game, your character has walked through all the gates in the Road To Rule, even if you haven’t unlocked all of the chests yet. I liked that I didn’t have to unlock each chest before progressing, simply because I was too excited and just wanted to keep trucking on through the story. Now that I’ve finished the game, I see that it may have been beneficial for me to do more quests that felt necessary at the time, because some of my abilities and wage-earning potential weren’t fully mastered by the time it came for me to take the throne and progress into what is without a doubt the hardest part about this game: becoming ruler.

I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible in this review, because I truly believe this is a game that deserves to be experienced personally. The nature of the Fable series has always been slated around the decisions you make, the kind of morality you uphold or deface, and how people think about you. This rings incredibly true in Fable III after you overthrow Logan. There is no question whether or not you will take the throne; it is inevitable. And once you do take the seat as ruler, there is no turning back. There is no one there to tell you whether or not you should press A and do the “good” thing, or press X and do what’s “bad.” The line between good and bad gets blurred as you become ruler. Logan informs you that there’s quite a great showdown that’s coming in a year’s time, and you’ve got to do something to stop it. He was doing his best before you came along, but you’re obviously the chosen one, so it’s all in your hands now. You can save the people, but at the cost of them liking you, or you can win their favor and give them hope, running the risk of their eventual demise once the great stand-down is upon you.

This part of the game was agonizing.  Day after day, I was being presented with arguments by Reaver, the former right hand man of Logan’s empire, who often had a more fiscally-minded opinion, against many of the characters I had met earlier in the story and had promised to protect. While I knew which decision was “good,” I couldn’t help but wonder if by choosing “good” I was choosing right. There really is a difference. It’s not so cut and dry as I wanted it to be. I played the whole ruling portion of the story in one sitting; I couldn’t break way from the decisions I was being forced to make but I can’t say I was thrilled in being the ruler. I found myself thinking, “Why did I think I could do this? Who am I anyway? I can’t be everything to everyone.”

That’s what makes Fable III such an enigmatic game. The line between good and evil isn’t so clear anymore. And even if it is on screen, it certainly isn’t in my gut.

I could go on and on about the changes in the inventory screen, and how your magic is now wielded through gauntlets you wear on your hands so now you can combine fire and ice spells, or how nice it is that if you haven’t upgraded Lute Hero but decide you want Level 5, you can get all preceding levels by unlocking the Level 5 chest. I could talk at length about how it’s cool that you can hold hands with other players now, and can get married to them, and raise a family together. Yes, I spent some time playing co-op, and I really enjoyed it. It was nice to have my fully functional Heroine, nice to not have to navigate that ridiculous expression wheel, and nice to be able to feel equal to my husband when I played. Yes, the mechanics of this game are better. No, it’s not perfect still. There isn’t a health bar during your combat, and that’s quite an oversight. But instead of getting caught up on all the little details, I got swept up in the story.  And I think Fable III delivers a captivating tale.

That brings me to my one wish about this game: when the story portion ended, I was sad to see it go. It was tied up too quickly, and I was disappointed to find that I could no longer interact or even find the characters that had been such an integral part of my ascendance to the throne. That’s my one issue with this game.  If it was so important for me to make these allies, why can’t they stay with me as I’m ruling? I would love more than anything to spend my time, now that I’ve survived the final stand-down, helping Page, the leader of the rebellion in Bowerstone Industrial build a proper headquarters, or assisting Ben Finn with a reconnaissance mission. Sure there are plenty of things for me to do now that the campaign is over, but they seem to pale in comparison with the intense humanity I experienced with these aforementioned characters and others.

So, as you embark on your own Road to Rule, what will be important to you? Who will you meet that will stick in your mind, even after the story is over? What will you spend your time doing now that you are the King or Queen? I would encourage you to overcome the details and allow yourself to be immersed.  Don’t sit idly by or nitpick the things that don’t matter.  It’s a revolution.  Are you in or out?

A copy of Fable III was provided to TMG for the purpose of evaluation and review.


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Author: Lauren Mae View all posts by

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