Monday, 24 October 2011

Fable III Review

Today's 8-Bit Girl post brings you a look back at last years Fable III. 

Fable III is the latest in the highly successful Fable series. Developed by Peter Molyneux's Lionhead company, the Fable series comprises of an action-adventure rpg, with elements of The Sims added on top. 
By the third game in, the fictional world of Albion has been established for hundreds of years. Fable III takes us half a century after the events in Fable II. You play the son or daughter (depending on if you choose the male or female hero) of the hero in the second game, who is a Prince/Princess who has been given the responsibility of overthrowing the tyrant King Logan, the Prince/Princess' own brother, and restoring Albion to it's former glory.

As fans of Fable II will notice, a lot has changed in Albion by now. The streets are lined with beggars, children are forced to slave away in workhouses, and the landscape has now taken on a sombre, Industrial look. Poverty grips the lower classes, and bordered up houses and shops litter the streets-a sign that the citizens of Albion could not afford the upkeep on their places. Desperate times lie in Albion, and a whisper of a revolution begins to circulate around the people. One man/woman must stand up to Logan, and release his ruthless grip on society. Step forward the Prince/Princess of Albion, Albion's new hero.

For fans of the previous two games, theres not really much new here in terms of gameplay. You will get a choice of three weapons-magic, melee (sword) and ranged (gun), which are assigned to the B, X and Y buttons respectively. Attacking with any of these weapons are rather easy. Your character will automatically target an enemy, and from there you will just have to repeatedly press either B, X or Y (depending on your weapon of choice) until the enemy is dead. OK, so it's a bit of repetitive "button bashing", but it still feels rather satisfying when you finish off each of the horde that are most definitely, swarming around you by now. 

As many RPG lovers may notice, RPG games tend to have a lot of statistic assigning, and levelling up. Fable III has scrapped most of this system, leaving a system called "The Road To Rule" instead. This entails a road filled with chests, which contain different perks to further enhance your gaming experience. These can only be unlocked once you have collected enough "guild seals", which can be acquired by killing enemies, or by completing quests. So essentially, this is an easier and quicker way of levelling up. Spend these guild seals on unlocking the chests, and there you have it-your hero has improved in, for example, their use of magic.

There are three levels of this game. The first sees you gaining the support of the people of Albion, and eventually rising up against the tyrant King, the second will see your hero playing the new King of Albion and making decisions about different aspects of Albion, and the third is the aftermath of something which I am not going to spoil for those who have a great interest in picking up this game. The most interesting, and perhaps refreshing, of the three parts has to be the section of the game where the hero becomes the new King of Albion. Here, you will be presented with a choice of two decisions about different aspects of Albion. You can either choose the good option to enhance the world, or go with the bad to make the landscape of Albion look even more dreary. It is quite interesting to watch the towns change, depending on your ruling. The quests are very entertaining, but sadly it is a sense of it all being over way too quickly. The game can be completed within a few hours, leaving only the odd small quest to complete at the end. The end battle is over before it has even started, which is a shame because it was really building up to something epic. Still, there is a huge sense of satisfaction playing the King or Queen of Albion, and the quests that are available bring a lot of amusement and enjoyment. 

I loved Fable and Fable II, and again, I really enjoyed playing the third in the series, but what stops this getting a glowing review is the amount of bugs, and flaws within the game. Firstly, onto the bugs, which the game is unfortunately, littered with. It seems a little unforgiving that a game that has had so many people working on it for such a long time should come across silly errors such as "clipping bugs", amongst others. The most irritating bug has to be the breadcrumb trail which navigates your character to the chosen quest. Sadly, this trail does not always appear. There is often a time when the trail will suddenly disappear, leaving you wandering around an area, wondering where you are supposed to go, and what you are supposed to do. The same can be said for your dog, which accompanies the hero throughout the game. The dog will occasionally bark to alert you to some nearby treasure or dig-spots. Ah great, here is time to get my hands on some gold, or possibly a brand spanking new weapon! Oh...but it appears that the dog is aimlessly wandering around in circles and not settling on an area for this so-called dig-spot. Looks like I've got to abandon any hope of finding out what this hidden item will be, and carry on my journey.

The second problem is the issue with the navigation and map. Fable III has opted against having a mini-map of any sort, and instead it favours a large map which you can zoom in and out of in the "sanctuary (more on that later). Now this may sound quite novel, but it all honesty it is rather annoying. The map does not display where exactly you are standing, so you are not aware of where you are in a particular place. The fast travel option can also be quite random-you may find you are spawned right next to the destination, or you will spawn outside of the town, resulting in you battling your way through enemies to get to a destination that you could have arrived at within seconds if the map worked correctly. The map also looks slightly different to what the places look like during gameplay. The design is all very vague, and so it does not account for any dead ends, twists or turns. This makes looking for something in particular, that does not even have a fast location spot, even harder. I mean, not even having a "you are here" pointer, is a little lazy, is it not? 

Now, back to the matter of the "Sanctuary." This is a place that the player will access when pressing the start button. Here, the player is able to access the map, check their stats, weaponry, clothing, money, achievements, quest trophies, an option to save your game, and set up an online match, amongst other things. It is the home of all the essentials of setting up your gaming experience. Basically, it is the menu screen of Fable II but simplified, thus splitting up every different aspect into a different room in the sanctuary. 

The ability to set up an online co-op game is a great idea. Your character can go off exploring in Albion, and return to the other hero whenever they want, meaning that you are not fixed to the other person constantly, as it is the case in the offline co-op. You can also form business partnerships online, meaning you earn money together on buying out properties or completing quests, and you can do the usual interactive "expressions"-propose marriage, kiss, dance, etc. For those who are wondering, expressions are reminicent of The Sims. They are actions that allow the character to interact with other people. To start these, you have to walk up to a character and click the "A" button to start interacting. From here, you will get good or evil interactions. Good examples include dancing, pulling the hero pose or kissing, and the bad include farting, pulling a chicken pose, and threatening someone. 

So in summary, Fable III is a great RPG for the Xbox 360. Fans of the previous games in the series will probably really enjoy this. The gameplay is essentially the same, but things have been slightly tweaked. The new role of King rather than ordinary hero does spice things up a little, and brings a bit of refreshing gameplay to what could have been a tired format. Although it is a highly enjoyable game, and RPG fans will probably find a lot to entertain themselves in it, the bugs and the very useless map really let the game down. There is also a sense of it being all over too quickly. You can complete the game in about 6 hours, which for someone who bought the Limited Edition of the game, is a big disappointment. I was expecting so much more. This could have been a 5 star game if the shoddy bugs and useless map were corrected before release, and the game was extended so it took a lot longer to complete. Still, there is plenty here to enjoy. Let's just hope Lionhead learns from it's mistakes on the next instalment.

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