Fable 3 Review
|Publisher:||Microsoft Game Studios|
|Release Date:||Ocotber 29th, 2010 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
I'm used to being disappointed by Peter Molyneux. As developers go, while he's undoubtedly a genius, he's also known for... stretching the truth somewhat. He did it with Fable, he did it again in Fable 2, and unfortunately he's done it with Fable 3 as well.
While a decent game, Fable 3 falls short of greatness.
Set some 50 years after the disappointing end of Fable 2, Fable 3 plants the gamer in the boots of a prince or princess of Albion - an Albion which is rapidly entering the industrial age, as high-rise factories and heavy industry clog the streets with smog.
Your brother, King Logan, keeps the populace in line with an iron fist, a huge army and a dream of an Albion of his own devising. Albion needs nothing less than a revolution and this is where the gamer comes in.
Kicking off in the ruling regent's castle, Fable 3 quickly turfs you out on the street, tasking you with assembling an army of supporters and disgruntled tearaways as you begin your revolution.
The quest takes you from the peak of the mountains to the green fields of middle-Albion, as you win support by completing quests and running errands - and occasionally dance with a city guard before kissing a shopkeeper and forcing an innocent child to smell your farts. Yes, it's just as kooky as ever.
Once you've got your army (and at the half-way point of the game) you overthrow Logan and take your rightful place as regent of Albion - be that for good, or for your nefarious ends. It's at this point the game really takes off, as the new regent is forced to make decisions of life and death - and whether to stick to the promises you made on the campaign trail, or ignore them completely.
Of course before the brilliance of the second act you've got hours of exploration, battles, farting, decision-marking, clothes dying, farting, making friends, making pies, making enemies, farting, belching and farting to do.
Sounds like fun, right? Shame the developers decided to 'simplify' the experience, and half-killed it in one unwieldy move. To state the depth of this error, here's the first thing that got right up my nose: I understand this is supposedly an action RPG, but there's no inventory.
Take a moment and process that.
No inventory - no stats screen you can access from anywhere in Albion, no easy way of changing your clothing on the go or swapping weapons mid fire-fight. No, instead you have to head back to your hero's 'sanctuary' to do anything at all.
This special area is instantly accessible from anywhere in Albion, and contains a cloakroom, armoury, bank, interactive world map and John Cleese as your dry, sardonic butler Jasper and - while it's nice to have somewhere to store all your stuff - It's a pain in the rear having to teleport back and forth to do anything with your hero.
The same situation is rife in Albion's many shops, pubs and bazaars. Rather than a menu showing you what's on offer, each stall shows their various products on separate manikins, tabletops or counters, forcing you to walk around to each one to purchase your products - which you then have to go back to the sanctuary to put on or use. It's clunky and irritating.
The same 'simplified' approach has also sucked the life out of the combat.
There are no combos, magical powers have to be selected prior to the battle - by teleporting to the sanctuary to put on 'spell gauntlets, no less' - and most battles can be won simply by button mashing the ranged, spell and melee commands with little or no thought.
While the fancy 'flourish' moves allow for some cool slow-motion kills, the combat is stilted and lacking - and it's pretty much the same as Fable 2 at the same time.
The quests the game sends you on are nice and varied, however. Winning support from the various disparate groups of Albion is a long, fulfilling task, and a huge selection of side quests will keep you enthralled for hours, and ranges from standard go-here-find-that missions to a meeting with a man who had a serious gnome fetish.
The world of Albion is as diverse and spectacular as ever. From the smog-clouded streets of Bowerstone to the high mountains of the north, the world is at your fingertips from the off, and the environments are beautifully rendered and great to look at.
However, the 'glowing trail' which guides you to your next objective is still problematic, and often gets confused or vanishes entirely.
The characters inhabiting the world are also as diverse and funny as they come, and the dry wit that runs through the game is a constant delight. Cleese is a particular stand-out in the voice acting department, his famously sarcastic delivery adding a brilliant sardonic edge to the often bizarre proceedings, but the rest of the world's NPCs are just as funny, and despite the limited options available for interacting with them (which are often, dance, fart or kiss), exploring the varied environs of Albion is fun in itself.
Making money is easily done by investing in businesses, buying houses and charging rent to tenants, or you can take on a job to earn some extra dosh - a system Fable 2 fans will be all too familiar with, but thankfully stacking the cash is an easy task once you've got a regular paycheck coming in.
If you need a little help in-game you can have a friend along once again, offline or online. It's great fun to dive into a quest with another gun close by, and the streamlined interface makes having a friend along a heck of a lot easier than Fable 2's clunky system - you can even marry and... erm... mate your online friend - if that's what you're into.
If, on the other hand, you'd rather have a wife in every port and a crowd of blood and adopted children demanding your time and money, you can do that too.
Overall, Fable 3 is not as big a step forward as fans were hoping for. The story is a lot more central this time around. Gathering your revolutionaries, while long and tedious, is a decent build up to the brilliant second act, when you have the fate of Albion in your hands.
The graphics are decent and the voice acting and score are excellent, but this is sadly countered by the lacklustre combat system and general similarities to Fable 2. Add to this the dumbing down of the game's RPG roots, and you get an experience that, while fulfilling and fun, doesn't really advance the genre any further and is ultimately a little hollow as a result.
- Exciting world to explore
- Road to the throne is thrilling and deep
- Excellent online and offline co-op
Not so good stuff
- Not very groundbreaking
- Dumbed down RPG elements
- Buggy path-finding
- Stilted combat
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