inFocus

“Before we go on there is just one thing I want to say……BALLS!!!!

Game Info
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 10/26/2010
Meta Score
 

I know this review is about a year late, but hey, who doesn’t like to go back and play games that we may have missed?  I for one am a huge Fable fan and couldn’t go on without playing it eventually.  Seeing how we don’t have a review for the game yet, lets put this revolutionary game under the lens and get a glimpse of the future of Albion.

Story: Things have been going downhill for Albion for the past few years.  You brother Logan, the current King, seems to have changed somehow.  You try to disregard the rumors you hear about how your brother has become a tyrant who brings nothing but suffering to the people, but soon you find out just how bad things really are.  After speaking out against Logan’s decision to have some rebels executed, you begin to feel the wrath of the tyrant yourself.  Soon after the dust clears your mentor, Walter, will lead you out of the castle.  It is time for change…it is time for a rebellion.  A true rebel will stand against all odds, but you can’t do it alone.  You must first unite the citizens of Albion, who suffer under Logan’s rule on a daily basis.  Will you be able to lead a revolution, and more importantly will you be able to make good on the promises you make once you take the throne?  Only you can decide the fate of Albion, and make preparations for an even bigger evil that approaches over the horizon.

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Graphics/Presentation:Fable 3 is by no means a graphical masterpiece, nor does it push the 360 to its limits, but the visuals are by no means bad.  In fact they actually look damn good when you consider other games on the market that can push the 360 to its limits.  What makes this game look good though isn’t really the graphics, but the art direction.  Fable 3 has a very colorful and enchanting feel to the visuals and it is this that makes the presentation of the game so good, not the graphical power itself (obviously).  However there are a few flaws to point out.  For the most part the game seems to run very smoothly with little hic-ups throughout.  However there are a few instances where the frame-rate will drop on and off for about thirty seconds before returning to normal.  The odd thing is that these spots happen at random and aren’t actually prone to any specific part of the game.  It doesn’t happen often, but you know it when it does.  Furthermore there is a very noticeable amount of screen-tearing in the game.  It isn’t at a game breaking level, but you will see it and it happens more often than the frame-rate drop I mentioned earlier.  Also keep in mind that this is WITH the game installed to the HDD, so running the game really can’t be made any easier on the system itself.  Overall the visuals are decent with a heavy amount of charm, but will receive an average score due to a few performance bumps.

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Gameplay/Controls:On the game-play side of things, there are some big changes present in the third installment of the series.  For one, skills have all but vanished.  The RPG element is still there as you have to gain guild seals to unlock certain abilities and increase your attributes, but as far as combat goes you really only have three options.  First you can upgrade your melee skills, which will change the appearance of your weapons and make them stronger.  Melee is very basic in Fable 3 as it is basically just three commands made with one button.  You can attack by pressing X, block by holding X, or charge an unblock-able flourish attack by holding X and tilting the control stick in the direction of the enemy.  In addition you will sometimes trigger what seems to be a random instant kill animation that finishes any normal foe in just one hit.  Targeting in Melee is pretty decent and this form of combat is rather smooth, even if watered down by lack of skills.  Next up you have ranged attacks, which upgrade in similar fashion to melee.  This option leaves you with only two options based on the Y button.  A regular attack can be done by pressing Y and a flourish attack can be done by holding Y.  You can go into an over the shoulder type targeting system by holding the left trigger, but the build in auto aim can sometimes get in the way.  Targeting gets a little sketchy here.

Finally we have the magic system.  Now this one has a bit of variety.  You will get a total of six spells that you can use and you can weave any two of these spells together for combined effects in combat.  The problem is that most of the effects are relatively the same and, you guessed it, are all tied to the B button.  You can hold B to charge an area of attack approach or you can hold be and tilt toward the enemy for a focused blast.  The targeting for single foes however is horrible in large groups and it takes a while to charge a decent attack so your probably better off just using area of effect type magic.

The weapon system is rather interesting as your weapons grow and gain attributes based on how you fight.  Your hero weapons will mostly just change in appearance and nothing more.  There are other weapons out there that can gain extra attributes as you use them however.  Each weapon has three possible upgrades and you can view the requirements for these upgrades in the armory.  It is a pretty straightforward and decently implied system, but it does promote a bit of grinding to get them done.  Luckily the game doesn’t become super hard if you don’t want to go that rout so there is no pressure if you want to avoid grinding…from a weapon upgrade standpoint.  There is one rather disappointing grind that takes place at the end of the game if your good, but an evil character will have the funds to do whatever he wants.  I won’t ruin the plot for you but a good character will be very short on cash and will need to have extra means of obtaining it in order to save the kingdom.  The easiest way to do this is invest in real-estate and shops, and raise the hell out of the prices.  Even then it will take time to raise the necessary funds though.  If you are worried about the people hating you for jacking the prices, no worries I have a fix for that too.  Just buy a few small shop stands and set your profits for those stands to lowest.  It doesn’t matter that they are small, they will cancel out the negative uproar from the public and people’s opinion of you will go unharmed.

While we are on the topic of the game’s end, let me warn you of one other thing.  Fable 3 will end suddenly and without warning, so if you don’t have the right funding you are screwed.  You will still get to fight the final boss and all, but nothing good will come to your kingdom.  The first half of the game was really well done, but after you become king it just seems like a rushed mess.  The concept of sacrifice and hard work to be good was a good one, but it was implied all wrong.  I myself ran into what happens when you face the end unprepared, and I can tell you I wasn’t happy.  I did enjoy the game enough to play it again and this time, I know what to expect and my kingdom won’t face the same fate as my first play-through.  Still I must give this category a lower score than I hoped as the later part of the game is a real buzz kill.

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Replay:Even after facing an ending that pissed me off to no end, I still felt the need to play it again.  Part of this might be due to the very well done online feature.  Other heroes can join you in your world and help you complete your quests as well as shop at your stores and explore coop required areas to get certain special items.  What really makes it nice is that everything is given in full credit to both players, so no splitting the pot BS.  When a chest is opened, both players get the item.  When a quest is completed, both players get the seals.  It really does make things more fun and eliminates loot hoarding that you will find in other RPGs with online modes.  Throw that in with the fact that there are two paths to take as you play the game, good or evil, some might feel motivated to see what changes would come to Albion if they had chosen a different route.  Fable 3 won’t be your most played game, but it is a good game to pick up and play more than once.

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Fable 3 was a big title for the 360, but did fall short of expectations.  Yes it is a good game, but there are many flaws that shouldn’t be there (especially for a console exclusive game).  The combat system is watered down and the targeting system is sketchy as a whole at best.  While some of the side quests are both amusing and ridiculous, they are all short and leave you wanting something more.  Furthermore the final part of the game is a rushed mess that will lead many to a rather bad ending if they aren’t careful.  The overall plot was good however and the game is indeed fun for the most part, but without that decent online this game would be sub-par at best.  Regardless of all this however, when you look at everything Fable 3 offers as a whole, this titles still receives a respectable score in the end.

Written by: Jason Roberts