Fable 3 was the newest offering from Lionhead Studios (home to Peter Molyneux) and Microsoft for Xbox 360 last year. This year the long delayed PC version has finally arrived with an assortment of added features and updates to the original including Alienware FX compatibility. The game continues with Lionhead’s saga of making games personal, emotionally involving and accessible to gamers. The game takes place 50 years on from Fable 2 with your character being the child of the hero in the previous game.
The story begins with you making a choice between a male or female hero, upon which the games intro movie starts. You then find your hero being woken up in bed by your butler Jasper who then proceeds to wake your sleeping companion; your loyal dog. You then get up chose your clothes (or stick with your nightwear) and visit your character’s closest friend/love interest (depending on how you decide to interact with them). They walk with you to the castle and leave you with Sir Walter Beck; an old knight and family friend; who teaches you some swordplay. You then end up getting involved in the interests of your tyrannical, elder brother King Logan’s affairs and he gives you an unforgivable moral choice which leaves you hurt beyond belief. That night Sir Walter and Jasper decide it is time to escape the castle for good and bring you to a safe place. You go to collect your late father’s Guild Seal which brings you to the Road to Rule; a series of gates that can be opened after gathering a number of loyal followers in your quest to overthrow Logan’s tyrannical regime. The road is littered with chests full of character upgrades which you can open by spending guild seals. When you return to your followers you go through a cavern before finding the entrance to the Sanctuary of your father. From here you use the map to warp to the Dweller Camp to find your first allies; where you must earn their trust before making a promise to help them in return for their loyalty. From here you quest is to gain sufficient followers to overthrow Logan and take the throne for yourself.
The second half of the game see’s you having freshly become King or Queen and now ruling over Albion. As the reigning monarch you have the responsibility of deciding on matters for the kingdom and making sure that the treasury doesn’t empty. To help with this a treasurer Horace gives advice as Jasper still tends to the Sanctuary. Most of the decisions have a good and an evil choice which will either give gold for the treasury or spend from it with some decisions stemming from promises to followers earlier in the game. You can always donate personal funds to the treasury to fill it up as well. There are also policies to decide upon which let you either keep Logan’s policy, or make it better or worse for the people. The main quests for the second half are essentially treasure hunts where you quest to find a priceless object which ironically gives you funds for your treasury or if you’re feeling particularly evil straight into your personal account. The reason you are collecting gold is to amass an army for an impending battle that takes place one year after your anointment as monarch.
Graphically Fable 3 has been optimised for PC with various settings which can be changed including: tree detail, water reflections, draw-distance among some other options including standard texture options. Most of the options range from low to very high which all look reasonable but certain options obviously take more powerful computers to run so skimping on draw distance will keep things running smooth. The pc version gives the option to remove blur in the awkward way of changing the effects to reasonable which is more of a compromise of other effects so that blur can be removed; unless you can edit the graphics config file to remove blur from the higher settings. Fable 3 is a world full of beautiful, colourful environments; each with its own wildlife and characters. Though there are a fair few character models you will cross similarly dress characters though this is hardly an issue. When you take damage in combat the screen loses colour and has red tints outlining the screen; with more damage the red becomes more prominent and the colour saps even more until it is extremely grey and you are knocked out.
The gameplay differs slightly depending on which control style you choose; I opted for controller over keyboard and mouse so I’ll start there. Each weapon is mapped to a separate button with X being melee, Y being ranged and B as magic. Melee weapons consist of various swords and hammers with the former being faster and lighter damage and the latter having knockback/down and heavier damage. Holding melee allows you to block most attacks and pushing the control stick in a direction will charge attacks for a flourish which will break through blocks and deal significantly higher damage. The ranged weapons are pistols which have more shots before a reload but do less damage and rifles which do more damage and have fewer shots. Ranged weapons can be aimed in third person over the shoulder attacks where you can aim at specific body parts. Magic now comes in the form of gauntlets which eventually become two gauntlets which allow for “weaving” two spells of different types into a single attack. Aiming in a direction with a spell sends a projectile version while standing still while casting gives an Area-of-Affect spell. Charging either of these ways will allow for larger or heavier damage attacks if you have bought the higher magic levels. All spells have a bonus affect which will occur if enough damage is done to a target, lightening shocks, force push pushes, fire burns etc.
Keyboard and mouse has a different control style with WASD for movement scrolling the mouse wheel cycles weapon sets, shift for sprint etc but items are mapped to F1-4 which can be awkward in a hectic fight if you need to use a health potion. This setup does have its advantages though, melee attack is set to left click and block to the right making flurries easier to initiate. Guns can be aimed while moving slowly like most third person shooters. And magic is easier to distinguish between with ranged on the left button and AOE on the right.
Guild seals are the new experience system with seals earned through quests, defeating enemies and various other things like interacting with villagers or opening chests. The Seals can then be spent on the road to rule, where each chest has its own cost. This leaves lots of choice for character building but it does lack options like health increases.
There are two sorts of weapons: hero weapons which grow over the course of the game reactively to how you play the game and legendary weapons which have bonuses that can be unlocked by completing various challenges. Bonuses include extra damage, knockdown, elemental effects etc. Hero weapons on the other hand change appearance to how you behave in the game such as; getting hurt a lot in combat bring the bone handles because you are fragile, gold colour for amassing large sums of gold and plenty more variations should leave players with a different weapon every time.
Gold as always is the main currency, being used to buy everything from houses to weapons but the catch is that you can’t get gold from questing or by defeating enemies. You earn gold by renting out houses, buying shops and stalls, finding it in chests or by doing a job. Jobs are just quicktime minigames where you will either be a blacksmith, a pie maker or a lute player. They are easy enough and by buying the higher levels of the jobs through Road to Rule you will soon be able to afford houses to get an income so you never have to work again.
Your faithful dog returns as your companion who helps with finding hidden treasures, chests and dig spots; as well as that he can help you charm NPC’s, finish downed enemies and react to how you as a person have changed becoming more evil or good. You can also name your dog and change its breed.
NPC interaction is back and lets you scare, befriend, annoy and participate in different actions such as sex and marriage. Befriending NPC’s will give you rewards in the form of gifts accessible via the Sanctuary. Marriage and all the responsibility that comes with it has you buying a family home for your spouse and maybe children to live (including adopted children and nannies if you have no spouse).
The Sanctuary is the hub from which all options can be changed. It takes the place of the standard pause menu and allows you to access you weaponry, world map, clothes and various options and statistics. The weaponry room holds 3 sets of racks for melee, ranged and magic where you can cycle the rack to show your equipment and name, inspect and equip it. The clothes room holds all the dyes, clothes, make-up etc in the same fashion as the weaponry room. The online room holds info and options for starting and competing in the online elements of the game. The shop room contains all the free and paid DLC that you can purchase as well as holding all you achievements and trophies so you can gawp at them when you please. Lastly is the map room which is the hub for the map, dog, options, promises made, statistics and gifts (which include DLC items).
Co-op returns from Fable 2 slightly more fleshed out. You can enter someone’s game as a mercenary where you can earn gold and help on quests in their world. Equally they can join your world and they can help you out on your quests. You have to stay in the same area as the other person but apart from that you can stay as far apart or as close as you wish.
New to the PC version is the difficulty settings Normal and Challenging. The games AI is already been improved and is more reactive to the player but for players itching for another dose of difficulty will take on challenging mode. The only difference between challenging mode and normal is that in challenging your health doesn’t just automatically regenerate. Meaning that you must stock up on food and health potions as well as any other potions you may want constantly else you will be knocked out repeatedly.
The audio boasts one of the slickest line-ups of well-known actors-come voice actors in any game so far. It has Fable 2 favourites Steven Fry and Zoe Wanamaker reprising their roles as the Shady businessman Reaver and the blind seer Theresa. New to the list you can add: John Cleese as Jasper, Michael Fassbender as Logan, Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Sean Pertwee and Jason Manford among many others. Most of the voices are heavily charged with emotion and feel real but a couple of the minor characters and peasants feel somewhat lacking by comparison. The lip sync may be a bit off but it becomes barely noticeable after you get used to it. The music is a standard affair of light and charming atmosphere to harsher tones for combat and more darkly themed areas. The music itself complements the visuals and really absorbs you into the world but the music does seem to disappear from time to time which jerks you from the game.
The story is engaging and well written but does take some time to get into the flow of things. There are quite a few side quests ranging from clichéd to inspired but the overall story and dialogue is both charming and witty; though not all the jokes are that good. Either way you can’t miss side quests as you need the followers or else you’ll be left underpowered throughout the game.
The game world is truly gorgeous but the more damage you take the less you can see and appreciate the world; which is a particular problem on the challenging difficulty where you’ll spent a lot of time damaged especially late game. Some people will hate the blur and turn it down with all the other affects but a confident gamer will remove the blur in the game files. Apart from that the options offer a wide variety of graphic fidelity.
A cast of voice actors truly fit for a King or Queen with the likes of John Cleese, Zoe Wannamaker, Ben Kingsley and many more which range from very good to ok but most hit the mark just right. The lip-sync is a little off but is likely to fit multiple languages better and it isn’t particularly off-putting. The music is charming but does disappear at points leaving you wondering or fighting in silence.
Keyboard and mouse is a bit fiddly at times but offers more flexibility in combat. Controller is at home as it was brought from the Xbox 360 and keeps the same configuration which is easy to get to grips with but can be clumsy as it lacks the flexibility of the keyboard and mouse. The combat becomes more of a chore towards the end of the game as enemies take more damage or higher level enemies infest the lower level areas. It becomes less troublesome with better combat abilities and weapons but still makes for an awkward mid/early-late game. The levelling system is a far cry from standard RPG format and is either a streamlining or a dumbing down depending on your views.
The game is literally jam packed with various collectibles and side quests along with the main story it should take quite a while to get through with playthroughs looking into 10 hours if you blast through the game and many more if you decide to become a property magnate or just want to explore and kill stuff (evil villains or innocent people which ever tickles your fancy). If you’re feeling particularly lonely then try doing co-op online as a henchman to earn some gold for your character by aiding someone online in their kingdom.
Fable 3 is an odd sort of RPG where it is more akin to an action adventure game with light elements from RPG’s thrown in. The game is deep and involving if you bother to look but can come across as shallow in some areas. Altogether a brilliant game that’s maybe stepping too far from its predecessors in order to gain accessibility.
Fable 3 started off with a lack of pace but soon enough I had plenty to delve into with a large amount of customisation and deep and engaging quest lines to follow. I took the route of a saint and put all my combat effort into magic which I very rewarding to play with after finding melee a little awkward. All in all I found the combat to get repetitive towards the end with difficult or annoying baddies being a chore to dispatch of. I recommend Fable to anyone who like action adventures or any RPG enthusiast that’s got an open mind for lack of stats but a great appeal in character and customization. If you are more of a casual gamer I would suggest the Xbox 360 version above this as the difficulty on pc will be harder to get accustomed to.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.