In Fable III, that range returns in the service of a plot that charges you with fomenting a revolution against your brother, the demented inheritor of the kingdom earned by the hero of Fable II. The twist is that late in the game you will be king and then play through the consequences of the promises you made during your rise to power.
Ideal Player Gamers who want an adventure in a world they can manipulate, where choice and opportunity feels abundant. Also, players who want to see one of 2010's most unusual game design experiments and won't mind its hobbled execution.
Why You Should Care Fable III is from the stable led by Peter Molyneux, a veteran designer whose ambitions for each of his games make them un-missable experiments , important chemistry sets that test possible game design futures.
We're talking about a role-playing game, right? How much of an RPG is this game? Fable III is thick with linear story. The main tale is simple yet surprisingly compelling. The hero, the exiled prince or princess (depending on the player's choice) of Albion must travel through forests, villages and snowy peaks to meet colorful characters who require the completion of a simple quests to win their membership in the swelling rebellion. The quests often bottleneck just when you want to explore. Clearly, the game's creators were determined to get you on the throne as king so you could see the back part of the game.
Retreat? Did Lionhead backpedal from some of their more ambitious accomplishments? It appears they have. Fable had been touted as a role-playing game series that hid its statistics, veiling the dice roles dictating its laws and physics. My hero became slender in a Fable because he used a gun and not a mace, for example. In Fable III your fighting style still determines your physique, but you improve your proficiency with guns by actively opening the treasure chest marked with the next gun skill level. You actively unlock the option to marry, the option to steal from people's homes, the option to buy houses and, later, the option to buy shops. This system may better explain this kind of game to newcomers, but for a return player it makes what had felt like a magical array of opportunity a less clever mechanism of levers.
But what really happens once you're king (or queen)? Well, one choice you must make as king requires you to choose between opening a homeless shelter and opening a brothel. Another involves whether to allow child labor. Arguing for the dark side is a man who once tried to murder you. While it is certain that the people at Lionhead Studios are quite bright, the version of kingly rule they let us play posits a world in which rulers have the choice to do obvious good or to cackle while committing evil. Absent from Fable III's worldview is the idea that a ruler, be they George W. Bush or Barack Obama, does what they do out of the assumption their decisions are made for good. Evil is obvious. Its advocates are snakes. Fable III's simplistic morality in this king phase is a crushing disappointment. How frustrating given that the game's first moral choice, made in its first quarter-hour is a stomach-knotter.
Write off the king stuff as an interesting failed experiment, and what do you have? All of the game prior to the king-phase — and all that can follow, since the vast lands of Albion remain open for questing after the main storyline ends — is a solid remix of the gameplay experiences seen in Fable II. That's a strong formula of action-packed adventure and it's still good. I could enjoy a good Fable III quest, running around with my evolving pistol and my two-handed magic, chasing bad guys while my dog gets distracted by treasure.
And with other people is the core Fable stuff better? The active and passive online and/or single-system offline multiplayer in this game is a franchise improvement. As you play, you'll be flagged with statistical comparisons, showing that you've just opened more chests or killed more Balverines than your friend. Visiting each other's worlds — as your own character and not some minion, this time — is easy, as is marrying them and having kids. It's a fun lark, not a main attraction.
Isn't there something with a butler in this game? Yes, the best addition to Fable III is one so daring I'm shocked it works. In most video games, you can press pause and access maps and text menus of items and attributes. In Fable III, you press pause and zap eye-blink fast into a sanctuary staffed by John Cleese. How walking into a map room to spot your quests or into a weapon room to change your load-out is an improvement is mind-boggling, but it is. Access to the sanctuary is lightning fast, visually charming, orderly, and technologically stunning. They got this very right.