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Fable III review
Meh
by Ben C

While I respect, and in many ways support, Lionheads decision to steer Fable III in a more story-focused direction. It unfortunately comes at the expense of an overall severe dumbing down and lack of the little details that set Fable I and II out from the RPG crowd. The most devastating to me personally obviously being the fun, witty flavour texts that adorn every item and house in the game. Although this doesn’t mean I am saying the writing is bad, because it is in fact rather good. Hell I’d easily admit that Fable III has some of my favourite characterisation of the whole series. Walter, Jasper, Sabine, Swift, Ben, Page, and of course the returning Reaver are all superbly written and acted and a lot more interesting personality-wise than anything this series has offered beforehand. It’s a shame that the much hyped Voiced Protagonist leaves a lot to be desired to the point where most of the time I even forgot the protagonist was voiced.

 One of the major problems that plagues this game is seemingly its insistence in trying to streamline itself as much as possible to set itself out from its predecessors, gone are the standard systems of progression, replaced by a ‘Road to Rule’ system that feels more akin to buying levels than earning them. Gone is a standard inventory system, replaced by a ‘Sanctuary’ hub that although loads fast unless you like swapping weapons constantly, still feels like it was put in just to be another pretty fad or gimmick (this includes the hilariously inaccurate map). Perhaps the most egregious to returning fans though is the complete removal of shop inventory, now replaced by interactive pedestals and mannequins that although look neat, means a shop now only stocks 2-4 items. This is of course also a consequence of streamlining the experience by removing all gradual inclinations of item quality, now instead of 1 star or 2 star health potions, there is now only one all-encompassing health potion that you will never use because Lionhead somehow found a way to dumb the combat down even further than in Fable II. Elaborating on that, while also building off the inanity of the progression system, is the weapon system specifically. Gone are literally ever standard tier of weapons, replaced completely by a host of legendary weapons that completely break the feel of progression as you will most likely nab the first legendary you find and use it through the rest of the game as they all do similar damage, just with different augmentations, this was done in an attempt to encourage co-op play and “player trading” as if weapon damage really matters here. Although I do think the augment system here is a nice way to build up your weapon in a non-conventional way by completing challenges, its just a shame even the starting ‘Hero’ weapons are more than enough to carry you through the pointlessly simple combat sequences.

 The customisation system is bad, terrible even if you compare it to its predecessors. I swear theres like 4 hairstyles and 4 types of facial hair. Even the facial morphing is nearly nullified compared to the previous entries. The hand-holding replacement for the follow command also feels rather pointless but does act as a great microcosm for how this game relates to II.

 That being said I do love the world Lionhead has crafted here, industrial/fantasy is hugely untapped niche and it’s really committed to here, offering the dull, dreary stone walls of a factory juxtaposed with a countryside that feels ripped from a fairytale. The game just looks great, and even though theres not nearly enough of them, every outfit is intricately designed and really pops. The story itself too is something I found myself really enjoying, at least the Revolution half of the story anyhow. Now don’t get me wrong, as Mel Brooks says “its good to be the king” (especially after the cocktease of Fable II) I just found the first half to be an interesting (although slightly rushed) building up of resources and support reminiscent of Bioware’s style. It’s a shame the narrative takes a nose-dive towards the end as a new, mysterious villain is introduced just a bit too late into the story to make a noticeable impact on the experience. Although it is a step up from Logan, its Jack-of-Blades-esque malevolence and taunting just seems old hat. And it also doesn’t help the late game Royal Decisions slow the game down to a crawl. To me it just feels like a tired, last-minute plot device to attempt and spice the ending up, which it doesn’t really because the final battle is only like 5 minutes long if you rush. At least the side-quests largely seem to benefit from the more dialogue-focused direction as they are some of my favourite of the series. I enjoy how they attempted to make money meaningful here, but the rate at which you get it at of you buy enough real-estate only causes the problem to loop back on itself totally as before long you will still have more money than you could ever possible spend, even if you constantly repair every house one-by-one in what is probably one of the stupidest additions to the game.

 The DLCs are okay, Understone and the Winter House add-on are both duds but the Traitor’s Keep DLC is at least and imaginative adventure through some interesting locales with semi-unique enemies.

 All-in-all pretty adequate although a massive step-down from the previous entries in everything except maybe story.

Other reviews2

It’s an interesting game with unique elements that differ it much from other RPGs. I personally like the combat system that is just fantastic, add a solid story, a bit of humor, nice interface and the lovely atmosphere.