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Game review: Fable III

01 Oct 2010

LOUISE MURRAY, LIONHEAD STUDIOS’ head of the Fable franchise, was in town recently to show off Fable III. Game Console was lucky enough to attend, play around on the most recent build since GamesCom in August and have Murray on hand to answer any pressing questions.

Fable III is set roughly 50 years after its predecessor and, as specifi ed in the glorious opening cinematic (it’s really quite something!), the age of industry has fi nally come to the kingdom of Albion. For the fi rst time in a Fable game, the player can now choose to play as a male or a female character. This dictates your role as either the son or daughter – prince or princess – of the last hero of Albion (your character from Fable II). Things start off cosy enough, with your character enjoying the benefi ts of a royal upbringing. But it’s not long before the player encounters a turning point and is forced to make an extremely diffi cult choice that will no doubt affect the wider game world.

“Fable III is really a revolution,” explains Murray. “Your brother Logan has really become a bit of a tyrant.” Rumours have surfaced that Logan is beginning to rule Albion malevolently with an iron fi st. And so the player is tasked with gaining the trust of the people of Albion in order to instigate a revolution to overthrow him.

Murray contends that Fable III really attempts to remove the “complexity” of traditional RPG titles while still offering a full role-playing experience. In particular, a concerted effort has been made so that traditional text-based, 2D menus have been completely removed from the equation. “We never have you leaving the game world,” says Murray. For instance, rather than taking you to a pause-game menu, pressing ‘Start’ takes the player to ‘The Sanctuary’: a 3D environment in which the player can examine or change their outfi t, their weaponry and more. Your butler Jasper (voiced by John Cleese) assists you throughout this process and will comment on your chosen attire and weaponry in an often humorous fashion. Speaking of weaponry, your weapons will alter in appearance and function depending on how you use them in combat. According to Murray, such factors as “who you kill, how you use it, where you use it” will ultimately affect the metamorphosis of your weapon; even your Gamerscore has a hand in its transformation. These things will affect the colour, shape, size and many more features of your weapon. “There will be thousands of permutations,” says Murray. Your weapon is as unique as you are.”

Although the pedantic stat allocation of traditional RPGs has been removed from Fable III, players can still tailor the skills and abilities of their character to their preferences in a new mechanic. “We really love the idea of leveling up and building your own character [so] we’ve developed this new way of leveling up,” adds Murray. The Road to Rule is a pathway that features a number of treasure chests along the way. By spending Guild Seals (accumulated throughout your adventure) on these chests, you can gain new abilities – the choice is yours as to how you invest in them. Early in the game you can only access parts of the Road to Rule, with the remaining portions unlocked as you gain more followers.

The game’s combat continues the accessible one-button system of Fable II, although Murray advises that it’s been tweaked and is “much more fl uid”. A good thing, as she also claims that FableIII is “defi nitely a little bit harder than the previous two”.

Of course, if you’re fi nding things a bit tough on your own, you could always ring in one of your buddies to help out via Xbox LIVE. Thankfully, Fable III’s co-op aspect has received much more love following Fable II’s heavily criticised offering. First of all, your camera is independent of your partner’s, allowing you to move freely. Any followers, gold and items gained while in a partner’s session will be taken with you when you return to your game world. And it also transpires that assisting a friend over Xbox LIVE is “one of the best-paying jobs in the game”. But perhaps the single-biggest change to the Fable III co-op experience is the new ways in which you can, er… ‘interact’ with your co-op partner. You can now marry your co-op partner and even procreate with them! But be warned: just like in real life, you must be careful who you choose to wed lest they stand to make a healthy profi t from a divorce settlement…

The expressions you’ve come to love are back, and reportedly there are far more of them. There’s a new ‘touch’ mechanic that allows you to shake hands or even lead NPCs by the hand to escort them to certain areas. You can also hug your dog (yes, you have a canine companion once again) at any time you choose. And there are plenty of the jobs and side quests that serve as welcome temporary diversions from the main plot. In one instance I got to don a chicken suit in order to lure nine lost chickens scattered www.lionhead.com/fable/fableiii PLATFORM WEBSITE around a village back to their owner! It seems that many of Fable II’s shortcomings have been given particular love in the third instalment. It will be interesting to see how the game plays once you become King or Queen, where the player is given complete control over the game’s world (we weren’t shown this latter part of the game). Be sure to check back soon for our full review!