System: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Release Date: October 26, 2010
I wanted to love Fable III. I really did. After all, I greatly enjoyed Fable II, even when others dismissed it as being “too short” and “lacking innovation.” Fable III is similar to its predecessor in many ways, but yet it somehow manages to be significantly worse. All of the loving charm from the second game is missing, and instead we are left with what feels like an empty shell of the Fable franchise.
Lionhead’s latest Action RPG effort is nearly identical to its Xbox 360 brethren in terms of gameplay. This time around you play as the son/daughter of the Hero in Fable II. Your brother is the King of Albion, but he is also a tyrant who is pissing off the citizens of his country. Fed up with his bullshit, you embark on a mission to start a rebellion with the townspeople and take over control of the kingdom. Standard fare, but it works.
Fable III starts off slow, really slow. Seriously, it took me at least a couple of hours to actually get into the game. In the beginning, the game sludges along as you work on mundane tasks while leaving the castle. I nearly gave up on the game then and there, but I held out hope that it would harken back to what I knew and loved before. Unfortunately, while it did improve over time, I noticed so many problems that dragged the game down.
Here are some of the annoyances that bothered me as the game progressed:
– The game is incredibly easy. You cannot actually die; instead, your character is knocked down temporarily. Most gamers will be able to make it through without being incapacitated even once.
– The combat system needs some work. The game offers random execution hits that tend to happen at the most inopportune times. While these attacks often look cool, they leave you prone to being attacked by the enemies and therefore cause more harm than good.
– Communicating with NPCs (non-playable characters) is even worse than before. Now when attempting to converse with an NPC you are presented with pressing A for “good” and B for “evil.” Good options include dancing, hugging, and playing patty cake, but you are never given the option to choose exactly which function you want to do. It’s pretty ridiculous that in order to win over someone’s heart all you have to do is hit “A” twenty times in a row. To top it all off, the expressions have some annoying load times in between that make the whole process tedious.
– The new anti-menu system is bothersome. In lieu of a menu, you are transported to a central hub every time you press the START button. It takes a little bit longer than necessary to access any of the usual functions here, such as navigating a map, changing your wardrobe, and browsing your stats. To top it all off, the portal has a butler who makes redundant quips every time you enter. Sorry Peter Molyneux, but this just didn’t work.
– Fable II’s dog was one of my favorite aspects of the game. While you are given a dog here, unfortunately it is more cumbersome than anything else. This dog is just plain dumb and runs into walls/fences/rocks instead of taking you to the treasure it allegedly found.
– The golden trail that is a staple of the series is back, but it tends to fade in and out. This was one of the biggest issues with me because the trail would just randomly disappear and/or become ridiculously hard to see.
– You are only given one save file. Really? In 2010? Better hope it doesn’t get corrupted, which is something that apparently a lot of people have had trouble with.
Shockingly, despite all of these problems, Fable III is not a *bad* game. It takes a while to get cooking, and it has a surprisingly large number of gameplay annoyances, but it is still enjoyable for the most part. The section where you have to make important decisions for the country is brilliant, as it brings about some terribly challenging questions that show life as King isn’t as easy as you would think. Fable III could have used some more time in the incubator, as it feels like we have received an unpolished version of the final product.
– On a side note, I had some serious issues playing Fable III on my older Xbox model. Apparently the game disc uses new technology that older models have difficulty supporting. The only way I was able to play the game was by playing a different game for a little while then swapping discs. Frustrating to say the least; keep this in mind if you are in the same boat.