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XBox 360 Review: Fable III

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Lionhead Studios’ Fable III is an expansive role playing game set fifty years after the events of Fable II. Your character is the son (or daughter) of the King of Albion.

Before your father died, he bequeathed the Kingdom to your older brother, Logan. Logan has become a tyrannical ruler who ousts you, your mentor, Sir Walter Beck, your Butler, Jaspar, and your dog from the castle. It is up to you go to go out into the world to try to right what Logan has made wrong and eventually become ruler of Albion.

Like its predecessors, Fable III offers many options as to how your character will develop. You can play as a hero and win villagers’ hearts or you can strike fear into them, much like your brother has. It’s totally up to you, which makes the replay value of the game outstanding.

You will meet many people in your travels and you can interact with them in a multitude of ways. As in the other Fable games, you are able to use “expressions” such as “chat,” “whistle,” and even “belch” (which amuses these NPCs more than you’d think) to communicate. Your character can talk or croon, seduce or threaten. What this game has that the others didn’t is something called Dynamic Touch. You can now dance, shake hands, and join hands with your partner to lead them elsewhere, such as a bedroom. Yes, you can have sex in this game, indiscriminately or not, although most of the characters I met wanted to wait until after the knot was tied. And, yes, you can propose marriage (first you’ll need a ring, which you can buy or find, if you’re lucky) and have children. Divorce can happen if you don’t pay enough attention to your family. Something to think about if you’re planning on working on the main quest and being away from home for awhile.

The villagers are extremely needy. Most of them have quests for you and can be extremely impatient about getting results. Even if you have chosen the altruistic path, the urge to throttle a few of these characters is almost irresistible. But impressing them earns you points toward your prizes on the Road To Rule. This is an area which gives you the option to trade in your points for valuable assets such as leveling up your melee skills or becoming more proficient on the lute.

Your butler, Jaspar, who is voiced by the wonderful John Cleese, is informative, snarky, and always entertaining. He is in charge of your Sanctuary, which you can access at any time during the game by pressing the ‘start’ button. Here is where you store your weapons, attire, dye for your clothes and hair, tattoos, and many other items you will need for your game. In the Sanctuary you will also find a 3D map of the world. By accessing the map you will be able to fast travel to the areas necessary to complete your quests.

As you travel, a golden trail will guide you to your next important mission. The missions can be simple, such as finding a book or scroll. Or they can be complex little stories within the main plot. This type of quest is fantastically fun and worth a substantial number of points toward levelling up your gear.

You’ll find that this world is vast and you may want to travel it at your own pace. For this reason, you have the option of leaving the trail. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to find it again when you want to return to your quests.

Your battles will be primarily of the ‘hack and slash’ variety against vicious dogs, hobbes and other beasties you will meet in the wild. If you’d prefer, you can use a rifle or magic. I found the melee weapons work best against the garden variety monsters.

You’ll notice that the more you use your weapon, the stronger it becomes. Its appearance will alter and you will be able to actually see how much more powerful it is. Your appearance will change too, depending how you live your life. Eat more and you will gain weight. Do bad things and you will develop a frightening look, which means people will be less inclined to get into relationships with you.

The challenges on your journeys are many. This is a much more adventurous and streamlined game than its predecessor. I found Fable II to be extremely glitchy but the developers of this game seemed to have worked out the bugs beforehand.

The best thing about Fable III is its accessibility. If you’re a hardcore gamer you might enjoy it for the story and humor. But those who don’t generally play RPGs will enjoy its ease of play and the opportunity to explore.

Highly recommended.

Co-op online play is available with a subscription to XBLA.

Fable III is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for blood, language, sexual content, use of alcohol, violence. This game can also be found on PC.

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About Mindy Peterman