Fable III Review

Initially I wasn't considering purchasing Fable III. After being disappointed by no PC version for Fable II and the long delay for a PC version of the original Fable, I figured that Peter Molyneux had well and truly abandoned the PC market (and for all intents and purposes, Lionhead Studios has). However, after being convinced by a friend to give it a shot (thanks Luke!) I decided to purchase it - it was less than $50 anyway for a well established RPG series, so why not?

Sound (4/5)
Voice acting is performed extremely well in the game and you’ve got a long list of famous British actors including John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg and Zoe Wanamaker (to name just a few) lending their talents.

Music (4/5)
Interestingly, the original Fable theme scored by Danny Elfman was given the boot and doesn’t really feature at all in this latest iteration. Maybe it’s to reflect the fact that the world of Albion has moved on into the drab and dreary Industrial era. While the soundtrack isn’t as great as previous Fable games, the music is of a high quality and complements the gameplay well.

Graphics (3/5)
Graphics are kind of blurry and there is excessive use of bloom. There are also some framerate issues at times, which is strange as the engine (or at least the visual style) is very similar to the original Fable. There is a lot of detail however and it’s obvious a lot of effort went into the maps plus there are many items you can interact with.

Plot (4/5)
Fable III is once again set in the world of Albion but during a time where magic is mostly forgotten and the world is going through an Industrial Revolution. You play a prince or princess who is a descendant of the heroes you played in previous games. Once again a terrible evil is going to beset Albion and the task of protecting the kingdom rests in your hands.

Yes the plot is clich├ęd, but credit must be given for creating a world with a rich background history (which granted isn’t too hard since it borrows a lot from the first two games). The game also has some classic British humour in its dialogue which is another plus – a band of mercenary thugs debating existentialism is not out of place in the world of Fable. However, the humour and frivolity is sometimes a weird mix as it’s juxtaposed with serious and dark events occurring in the game, especially towards the end. Performing the Chicken Dance for one of your royal subjects after a recent death of a best friend, seems a bit strange.

I’m also not too big a fan of the ending. Without going into the details, let me say this: It’s good that the game allows you to make some difficult choices but it seems that the consequences of your actions still don’t really matter.

Gameplay (3/5)
For those who’ve played Fable before, you’ll know what this is about. Fable III is an action RPG or RPG-lite. Most of the combat is going to rely on your reflexes and use of a limited number of skills and weapons rather than picking the right spells to memorise for the day as you would in a D&D RPG. The game has several side quests besides the main plot quests but the game is open-ended and you’re pretty much free to do what you want. You can even own property and businesses, play the lute to make some money, or gamble it all away on chicken races. So there’s quite a bit to do here and I managed to clock about 26 hours of gameplay (although I did maybe 90% of the quests).

There are a few drawbacks to this latest iteration of Fable however. Firstly, an old one that crops up time and time again is the fact you’re playing a console port, and it shows. For example, anytime you want to interact with items you have to hold the E key for 5 seconds or so in order to interact with anything. Minor annoyance but considering you’re going to do a LOT of interacting in the game, it seems unnecessary. Also saving the game isn’t a simple matter of opening up a menu screen and hitting “Save”, you actually have to move your character to a Save Game Room (you heard me right - it’s an actual room in the game). This is another way time is wasted for what should be a quick and easy task.

Like the original Fable, you’ll be spending a lot of time rolling around and dodging attacks, which isn’t so bad in small doses but during one particular battle, it felt like I was literally doing 10-15 minutes of dodging which is a bit extreme.

Fable III has a new levelling system which actually gets rid of levels altogether. Instead you unlock abilities and skills on the Road to Rule by spending Guild Seals that are rewarded by completing quests/tasks and killing monsters. While this aspect was touted as controversial, in practice it’s not much different to old RPG levelling systems where you gain experience points to spend on skills and attributes.

Replayability (3/5)
Not really much has changed in the replayability department. You can hunt for achievements (one in particular I like is called “Henry VIII” which is to marry 6 wives as king and kill two of them), play as the opposite sex and make a few different choices that change the storyline but it’s pretty standard RPG fare nowadays. Just like previous Fable games, you cannot choose your appearance either (besides clothes and haircuts of course)

Polish (4/5)
The game is pretty well polished, but this is to be expected for a game that has already been released for awhile on console. One thing that does bug me is the fact you need to login to Games for Windows Live (GFWL) – why do you need to login for a single-player RPG? Argh! So not only are you playing through an online client like Steam, you also have to have GFWL online client running too! Awesome! (NOT). This means you have to wait a couple of extra minutes to login so you can play a single player game – not very choice!

Score - 7/10

More Fable with all its pros and cons.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.