Success and failure
Like the previous instalments in the Fable series, Fable III has many good and bad points; it’s just a shame that the bad sometimes overshadow the good. Lionhead has received its fair share of complaints and scorn from unfulfilled fans, especially the legendary head of the force, Peter Molyneux. Molyneux has been known as the man who makes promises that he doesn’t keep. Although his enthusiasm has no bounds and he does try his very best (aw bless him), he always falls short.
Fable III is not a bad game; in fact it is a great game, the best in the franchise. But at times it feels like it has taken a few steps back and lost what made the previous two titles so great. Fable fans are used to both enjoyment and disappointment when it comes to this franchise, but can still find it an interesting adventure that, at its heart, is still Fable. Newcomers to the series however, could find it an exciting, cinematic experience in a fantastically created world that has clearly had A LOT of time and effort put into its creation. And a beautifully created world it is, with such detail and character in the world of Albion itself that really captures the personality of the game.
Albion needs a hero
In Fable III players will take on the role of either the son (the prince) or daughter (the princess) of the hero from Fable II, who ended up becoming the King of Albion. Daddy passed away and older brother Logan is now King. He is a tyrant who sucks the people dry, makes children work, oppresses the weak and “makes examples of traitors”. Albion has evolved much in the fifty years between the second and third game. The people have now entered the industrial age. Bowerstone, the once small and peaceful town, now boasts an entire dirty, poverty stricken sector of industrial factories, which pollutes the city and brings sadness and despair to all who live there.
One day the King goes too far and royally peeves off younger bro or sis, who then leaves the castle with some trusted friends (the dog included – yes s/he’s back) in order to start a rebellion. Players then spend some time doing favours for people in order to gather them to their cause and recruit them as part of an army. Along the way the hero will meet all sorts of whacky and typical Fable-ish characters that pledge themselves to the cause. It is no big surprise that the revolution is successful and King Logan is overthrown, making the player the new King or Queen. That is where the game takes a twist. Players have to decide on a way to rule over Albion. Molyneux said that the first half of Fable III sees players building a revolution while the second half sees them as ruler. In reality, the second promised half is more like the last quarter of the game.
The story is rich and well scripted; feeling much more focused and better told than the tales of the earlier games. At times though the storytelling feels a bit snappy, quickly moving from one scene to the next and ending before the drama really builds. That aside, the voice acting is superb and makes the drama that is there feel real and characterised. With some brilliant choices in casting that include John Cleese, Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Stephen Fry and Zoe Wanamaker as the mysterious Theresa, there is a strong British cast with typical Monty Python humour touched with a dark streak.
Unlike the previous Fable games where the hero remained silent, Fable III introduces the first voiced hero in the series. The addition of a protagonist with a voice adds to the drama and interaction between the characters, which is a welcomed change to the strong silent types that dominated the originals. For the majority of the game the hero remains silent in most cases, still allowing players to really feel like it is them. The balance is perfect and reflects the whole Master Chief sort of talks, but doesn’t talk thing.
The road to heaven or hell
Morality has always played a big role in the Fable games and the hero’s attributes were determined by the player’s decisions. Fable III is slightly different. Players still have the option to be good or bad, to shake people’s hands or fart in their face. Likewise, they can want to become King or Queen in order to make a difference to the world or just for plain revenge. However, in the previous games it felt like your actions had more of a moral impact.
There are points in Fable III that will make players stop and think, ‘shite, what do I do?’ These moments make you question your moral judgement as there isn’t always a right or wrong answer or a black and white world. By the end of the game players will realise everything is grey with bits of black and white at the sides. This gives the morality system a real step up and links in perfectly with the troubling and hard decisions that a ruler has to make. These tough choices are there right from the start and will shock most players at how quickly they strike and how important they are.
A fun, entertaining, innovative move for the RPG series, with some beautiful moments, great story and brilliant voice acting.
Did not live up to its hype. Can be buggy, frustrating at times and everything that’s good seems to have a bad point.