Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Fable III

Review: Fable III

9:37 PM on 10.25.2010 // Jim Sterling
  @JimSterling

If there's one word that categorically defines the Fable series, it has to be "promise." Fable has always been a franchise with promise, made by people who do nothing but promise. Each game is always pretty fun, but consistently falls short of its own goals, and always carries with it the glimmer of that unfulfilled promise. 

Perhaps one day, the Fable series will finally strike the chord it's been grasping at for all these years. Today, however, is not that day.

If there's one word that categorically defines the Fable series, it has to be "promise." Fable has always been a franchise with promise, made by people who do nothing but promise. Each game is always pretty fun, but consistently falls short of its own goals, and always carries with it the glimmer of that unfulfilled promise. 

Perhaps one day, the Fable series will finally strike the chord it's been grasping at for all these years. Today, however, is not that day.{{page_break}}

Fable III (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PC)
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Released: October 26, 2010
MSRP: $59.99
 
Fable has always been about telling an epic tale of humble beginnings and grand conclusions, and while the beginning is less than humble this time around, the conclusion aims to be grander than ever. Fable III casts players in the role of a prince of the realm who finds himself starting a revolution to depose his tyrannical brother and, ultimately, become king. 

It should have been the ultimate realization of everything the franchise has built towards, as players finally get a taste of true power. So what went wrong? Why is it that Fable III, in its attempt to be bigger and more powerful than ever, is actually the least significant and weakest entry in the series yet?

First of all, Fable III does absolutely nothing to expand on its own formula. Even though you're royalty, you'll still spend most of your time farting at people to win their approval and performing mind-numbing QTE minigames in order to earn cash. In fact, once players do finally become king, the game devolves even further, becoming a glorified choose-your-own-adventure book as you sit listening to a "Good" and "Evil" proposal and decide what to do, with only the occasional short quest to break things up. That's as much as I can say without providing spoilers, but suffice it to say, it's not good to be the king.

Perhaps Lionhead was trying to make a statement with that, but if it was, it's a clever statement that was nonetheless made at the expense of player enjoyment. 

Even worse, the game hasn't bothered to fix any of the previous game's problems. The glowing trail one uses to find important locations is still broken, freaking out whenever a player switches direction or just randomly disappearing altogether. Your faithful dog still has zero intelligence whatsoever, and will often jerk around in spastic circles instead of leading you to the treasure it insists is there. In fact, AI all around is completely worthless, with enemies that provide no challenge and NPCs that will constantly get in your way. These were very apparent problems in Fable II and the fact that nobody thought to fix them is really unacceptable. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, Fable III suffers from some unbelievably poor design choices that take the previous game's ideas and makes them more awkward and tedious. For a start, there are no real menus in the game. Instead of going to a menu screen to equip items, select quests, and check character progress, pressing Start now takes you to a "Sanctuary" full of rooms that you must manually enter in order to do anything. If you want to equip a hat, for example, you have to load the Sanctuary, enter the clothing room, walk to the mannequins, find the right mannequin, select the mannequin, select the hat, and then finally wear the hat. Apparently it was too convenient to just hit Start, select the clothing option, and put on the damn hat. 

You have to do this for quests as well, visiting the Sanctuary and then activating the map before finally getting access to the various quests. You know, there is a reason why we've had menus in games for over twenty years. They work. It boggles the mind why Lionhead eschewed them, as a studio that routinely streamlines its games to make them more fluid and easy to use. This arcane system totally goes against that philosophy. 

Similarly cumbersome changes have been made to the socializing system. In previous games, you could emote in various ways and the surrounding NPCs would react to you. In Fable III, you can only emote to villagers one at a time, performing the same tedious animations for them until they like you. You also need to perform a stupid fetch-and-carry quest for every single person you want to befriend. The old system wasn't very realistic, but it was quicker and far more respectful of one's time than this. There was no reason to change it, and the change has only been for the worse.

It seems Lionhead "fixed" things that didn't need fixing, and refused to touch anything that was legitimately broken. The rest of the game is just Fable II, but far less epic in scale. Fable II felt like a real adventure across all of Albion, while Fable III feels incredibly limited. You visit only a few places, and fight only a fraction of the types of enemies that Fable is known for. Even the final battle is a short and dull hack-n'-slash section followed by an unimpressive boss fight. So unimpressive, in fact, that it feels no different at all from any of the other fights in the game. 

Even the leveling and item system has been scaled down. Your leveling system is now governed by Guild Seals that are earned by fighting enemies, finishing quests and interacting with people. They essentially equate to a form of currency that is used to open up treasure chests on the "Road to Rule." This road contains chests for clothing colors, social interactions, combat stats and minigame enhancement. In short, everything has been bundled into one place, leaving nothing to discover in Albion itself. 

This lack of focus on being in Albion permeates the entire game. Much less emphasis has been put on buying property, starting families, or even exploring. The number of stores and blacksmiths has been reduced, and there's far less to do overall. The Albion of Fable III is less compelling, less rewarding and less interesting in every way possible.

That is not to say that the game doesn't have its moments. The emphasis on choice and asking whether the end justifies the means is impressively done, and while the game offers very clear "Good" and "Bad" moral choices, the reasons behind those choices run far deeper than before. There is an intelligent narrative buried in Fable III that borders on political commentary, but never gets preachy or overbearing. 

The game's vocal cast steals the show, with the likes of Stephen Fry, Simon Pegg, John Cleese and Bernard Hill, among many others, putting in a surprising amount of effort and making one feel proud to be British. Sadly, the game's sense of humor doesn't do the great performances justice, still focusing as it does on fart jokes and appropriated Monty Python quotes. Much of the dialog is far below the talent of the people performing it, making it even more impressive that each actor does his very best.

As for the rest of the game, it copies the Fable II mold without apology. The single-button combat system is still in place, with one button each ascribed to melee, ranged and magic attacks. It's still a lot of fun to customize your character and make them look as impressive or silly as you like, and the general atmosphere of Fable has remained intact. The very bones of Fable are in place, unchanged, and still as average as ever. 

Co-op makes a return, and while it is currently offline at the time of writing, it appears to work in very much the same way. Players can now own properties together, get married, have kids, and help each other in combat, but again, the total lack of anything fun to do in Albion makes it a far less compelling option. I stress that I have not had access to this option yet and if it makes a significant difference to the game, you shall know. But given that there really isn't very much to do for one player, let alone two, the chances of it impacting the adventure aren't favorable.

Fable III isn't a bad game; it's just very disappointing. Lacking the sense of adventure of the previous games and making the most simple of elements more awkward and overdrawn, it feels like a step back for the franchise. It's a shame, because its narrative goals are truly outstanding and there's still a lot of simplistic role-playing fun to be had. These positives are outweighed, however, by a downsized sense of scale, cumbersome attempts at innovation, and a total neglect when it comes to fixing some important problems. 

Not only has Fable once again failed to live up to its promise, it's gotten further away from it than before, and that's an incredibly frustrating shame. 



THE VERDICT

5.5

Fable III - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Average - Like a meal of lukewarm water with white bread. It filled my time and my belly, but lacks any discernible flavor or nutritional value. A game that left me no different than it found me. Just passing through.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Fable III


  Jun 10

Fable III is free on Xbox Live Games on Demand

All that mediocrity for the price of nothing!


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Narrative Mistakes: Mass Effect's Reapers As Primary Villains

Journey to Become a Jedi Knight - Jedi Outcast

Waifu Wars - The End

Hindsight Part II: Unreleased Games of the Past

Robbing Kirby of his Greatest Asset

The meaning of The Witness (Part 3 of 3)

Friday Night Fights: War Never Changes Edition

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Review (Vita)

Waifu Wars: Loyalty-Tier

The Wii U's fate is not (entirely) Nintendo's fault

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth has cat-maids. It has cat-maids. Have I sold you yet? Cat. Maids. GOTY 2016.
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
Just a quick update, that you all should go Greenlight Hustle Cat, the magical cat dating simulator that is being released soon. Work in a cat cafe, date magical cats, be whatever gender you want - there is no downside! Also I'm alive, That's importa
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
What a damned good song. I'm very excited about Mick Gordon composing for DOOM =D
trippytip avatartrippytip
War not waifu lovers~ Must there only be one waifu? Why not have all the waifu? I enjoy my waifu like Lou Bega here.
Jinx 01 avatarJinx 01
So is the plural of waifu "waifus" or just "waifu"? I want to make sure I have it right when referring to my harem.
Sr Churros avatarSr Churros
*Someday last week* Oh, so Toby Fox also made music for Homestuck. I guess I should read it *Today* Fuck it is 3:30 AM I have to wake up early tomorrow why I'm still reading this it is already chapter five someone help me please
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Holy shit, App Store. The copyright infringement is real. I didn't buy it, because I'm scared it'll make my iPhone explode and because the comments say the game's a generic zombie title with fake and misleading screenshots.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Pretty much in a nutshell
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Image of Myxococcus colony rising up after being submerged. I love bacteria so damn much you guys.
Nick R P Green avatarNick R P Green
Made a quick REACTion video to some of today's news storys. Hope nobody REACTs to it with a lawsuit.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
Playing Halo 5: Guardians, got REALLY invested in this one match. It was intense from beginning to end and I was using A LOT of Power Weapons because it was so fun. We were literally seconds away from victory when the internet cut off. So disappointed. :(
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Streaming Civ V with a few of my friends. Twitch.tv/amnaumen
Retrofraction avatarRetrofraction
I must be in a weird mood, want to buy SMS games :3
KingSigy avatarKingSigy
How the fuck does Link tie his scarf? I really want to wear mine that way.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
As I recently mentioned I picked up Madworld, I also have acquired Pikmin, Red Steel and DJ Hero2 for Wii. For DS Feel the Magic XY/XX, N+ (shitty port I might add) Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, and Some Suda51 I already misplaced :/
ooktar avatarooktar
Bought Firewatch this morning, played about 2 hours and started to get really invested into the story until I hit a bug that won't allow me to progress. :(
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Fuck it. Fuck Blighttown. Fuck it's poison blow dart campers. Fuck the mosquito freaks. Fuck the fire-breathing bitches. Fuck the lack of visibility. Fuck it's pitfalls. Fuck the fact that I'm going back after 5 minutes of self-loathing.
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
You know what the weirdest part about having selective hemophobia is? Getting freaked out by an anime like Elfen Lied but being 100% fine with shit like this.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Nobody told me the boxed version of Revelations 2 lagged to shit. I was lucky to exchange it for Xbox money.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Objectively the best part of Heat.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -