Fable III Review
Fable III box art
System: X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Lionhead Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Microsoft Game Studios 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 26, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 (2 Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Despite the iffy combat, though, the first half of the game is a joy to play. The same can’t be said for the second half, which quite frankly feels thrown together. Now that you’re the boss, you have to decide whether to keep the promises you made. The problem is that you have exactly one year to prepare for an attack by an evil force that has been plaguing the nearby land of Aurora, and the only way to raise money to fight the attack is by ignoring the promises.

Fable III screenshot

This could make for a great plot, requiring you to be diplomatic with the factions to which you made promises. But it doesn’t really fit the whole Fable idea of good vs. evil; you’re not deciding whether to be good or bad, but rather how to weigh the promises you made against the threat of impending mass death. And more important, there is no diplomacy here. You can’t reason with the people who come to collect on their promises. You can only accept or reject their proposals.

Also, it’s almost impossible to make sense of the second half on your first playthrough. Protecting Albion without incurring casualties requires a specific amount of gold, which (unless we missed some serious money-making opportunities) means you have to break a certain proportion of your promises. However, the timeline jerks forward many days at a time, and you can never be sure how much money you’ll be able to make or lose with your next decision, so it’s nearly impossible to develop a plan for how to accept and reject proposals. We kept on track for a while (at a third of the way through the year, we had about a third of the money we needed), but soon fell behind, and in the end we were able to save just over half the population.

The game breaks up the monotony of being king by sending you on a few random quests. Unfortunately, it makes absolutely no sense for a king to be confronting robbers or hunting for treasure in faraway caves. The game’s writers could have capitalized on this absurdity with the humor we saw in the first half, but they didn’t, so it just seems weird.

Once you’ve beaten the game (which took us a respectable but decidedly not-epic ten hours), the game world remains open. You’re free to complete the many side quests you probably missed (we had more than twenty available), pick up collectibles, buy land, raise a family, and accumulate sex partners. For many, this will no doubt be the bread and butter of the Fable III experience, as it offers a whole world in which to make your mark without worrying about overthrowing a king or preparing for war. Then again, it’s awfully tempting to start over and play the game a different way to see how everything changes.

Fable III also offers a co-op system that’s much improved over that of its predecessor. You can invite other players into your world, and the two of you split any rewards you earn (except advancing the storyline, which occurs only in the host’s world). You can even marry other players, presuming you’re willing to share your resources and split everything down the middle in the event of a divorce. This allows you to see the worlds that other players created, and to develop your character in co-op instead of playing as someone else, as Fable II required you to do. This feature’s quality will become clearer once massive numbers of people log in, but it worked well in our pre-release experience with it.

When it comes to presentation, Fable III is decent but far from mind-blowing. The graphics can impress, but they often suffer from a lack of detail and various technical problems, most noticeably pop-in. The voiceover work is outstanding, and the music and sound effects befit the game’s eighteenth-century vibe.

Fable III is a good game, and in some ways it’s a great one. But playing it, one can’t help but wonder what it would be with better combat and a more thoughtful second half.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

Fable III presents a big world, and the visuals are sometimes impressive, but there’s too much pop-in and not enough detail.
The melee combat feels clunky, and it’s difficult to aim ranged weapons.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music, sound effects, and excellent voiceover all fit the atmosphere.
Play Value
Each playthrough takes about ten hours, and there’s plenty of replay value, but the combat is uninspiring, and the second half isn’t very good.
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Embark on an epic adventure.
  • Be the hero.
  • Blockbuster action meets adventure.
  • Choice and consequence.

  • Screenshots / Images
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