Fable 3 - Xbox 360

Game Description: Of Fable 3: "What would you sacrifice to secure the crown of Albion? " This is the question that players will have to answer as the king or queen of a kingdom in peril in the third installment in the acclaimed Lionhead Studios franchise.
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Fable III Preview

Fable III Preview

By Jem Alexander - Posted Aug 17, 2010

Fable III is a massive game. What better way is there to demonstrate that to a group of journalists than by letting them sit down and play it? For four hours.

The opening cinematic, revealed recently, does a great job of setting the stage with Lionhead's typical brand of quirky, British humor. Albion has grown up and entered an age of industry. A revolution is just around the corner and your role in it will be pivotal. So it's up to you to take a first step and … choose your gender.

So begins the first hour of the game. A well paced introduction, which is more linear and narrative than in Fable II. A lovable Butler named Jasper, immaculately voiced by British comedy legend John Cleese, wakes you, the Prince or Princess of Albion, from your opulent slumber. It's all very whimsical and cheerful as you choose your clothes and explore the castle grounds with your dog at your side.

Fable III

Things start going downhill when you hear that your brother, the King, has executed one of the Royal washers and is planning even more nefarious acts. Without going into too much detail, the player is given a difficult decision, which starts the story off proper. There was no indication of what difference the various choices you make during this section have on the story, but the developers hinted that it would make sense in the full game.

Suddenly you're on the run, along with Jasper and your mentor Walter. You're off to “become your father's son”, your father of course being the “Hero King” and the protagonist of Fable 2. He left you an artefact called the Guild Seal, which allows you to unlock chests on the Road To Rule. This metaphor-turned-literal-road lets you clearly see your progress through the game. As you reach various milestones more gates will be unlocked, allowing access to new chests containing skill upgrades, spells, dyes for clothes and expressions (such as dancing and burping).

Chests cost Guild Seals to open and it's here that one of Fable III's most interesting new features makes itself known. In order to obtain Guild Seals (essentially experience points) and develop your character's skills you will need to defeat enemies and gain followers. While fighting enemies to gain experience is nothing new, attaching an experience mechanic to the pretty powerful interaction/Sim engine is a stroke of genius. Peter Molyneux has championed the need for an emotional connection in games for years and, like the dog in Fable II, this could be a step further to making you feel emotionally invested in the world.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the co-op mode, which has been completely overhauled. Players now take their characters into other players' worlds and it's possible to play through the entire game in co-op. Anything gained in co-op mode is taken back to the single player mode. But it's the relationship system that makes Fable III's co-op so different from any other game. Players can get married and have children and the full expressions system is open for people who play with their spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends. It's these people (and apparently there are a lot of them) who gave Lionhead this idea in the first place.

Fable III

Apparently Guild Seals are tough to get hold of, unless you already have one. Your first is a hand-me-down from your father and Walter and Jasper treat it as if it's a rare, ancient artefact. Ten minutes later you'll be loaded down with ten, twenty, thirty of them as you fight off bats and shake hands with random townsfolk.

Soon you gain access to your father's Sanctuary. This isn't just a cool little hideout, but acts as the menu screen for the game. Jasper decides to hang out here and, as you progress further, will discover more areas of the room/menu. Here you can check out your achievements, change costumes, equip weapons, rename your dog and fast travel around the Albion world map.

Getting to the Sanctuary is as simple as pushing Start. It's clear the developers have been very careful to balance the Sanctuary's ease of use as a menu, whilst still making it fun to explore. You can zip between rooms by using the D pad and return to the game by pressing B, or you can run around and explore at your leisure.

So the revolution begins. Your quest is to gain followers around Albion to cause an uprising and take the throne from your brother. Apparently that's only the half of it, however, and after that the game starts for real. After four hours the castle was still a way ahead on the Road To Rule, so Fable III promises to be a meaty adventure. The world of Albion opens up quite quickly and you'll soon be performing errands for random townsfolk. The map even allows you to zoom into towns and see exactly who has quests for you and how many Guild Seals you can earn off them.

Fable III's combat has been overhauled, with the developers convinced they've come as close to Peter Molyneux's mythic one-button-combat as possible. Stringing together melee, guns and magic is simple and it takes very little effort to pull off some cool looking combos. Magic in particular feels great. Holding the button creates an area effect spell around you, whilst pressing the left stick towards an enemy will aim it in their direction. It's very simple and intuitive.

Fable III

At only two years, Fable III's development cycle is much shorter than Lionhead is used to. Perhaps this is the reason the graphics haven't really been much improved. It looks like Fable II and, as a result, looks a bit dated. It doesn't help that there were a lot of noticeable graphical glitches. Texture pop in was quite frequent and character models don't really stand up to close scrutiny. Whilst talking to Sabine, the leader of a people called the Dwellers, his head seemed to turn inside out during part of the dialogue. Trees in the distance appeared translucent, as if only every other pixel was being rendered.

There were a few audio glitches, too: mostly lines being spoken too quietly, or not at all. After reaching the Sanctuary, Jasper's lines would tend to cut off a second or two from the end. Which is a massive shame, because Jasper's dialogue and acting are some of the best and funniest. With the game due out in October, there's not a lot of time left to get this polished up. It would be surprising if Microsoft delayed one of the few big hitters releasing this Christmas, so don't be too shocked if some of these glitches make it into the final version of the game.

However, don't let that put you off what promises to be the most refined Fable experience yet. It sounds like there's an interesting twist in the gameplay once you reach the castle, too, so there will be plenty more to discover once the game releases.

Want more Fable III? Check out our new photo gallery with screenshots from the press preview event!

Comments are Closed

  • UnDeD_n1nJ4

    I played Fable on the Xbox years ago and enjoyed it but I don't think I'll buy a 360 to play this one...

    Posted: August 22, 2010 9:08 PM
  • scortez945

    Cant wait for this game. Hope Lion head doesn't do a half assed job.

    Posted: August 22, 2010 9:18 AM
  • AoO-Dirty

    ONE thing that bothers me is....They took the FINAL FANTASY Series from Playstation, and brought it to the damn XBOX, now they need to take that P.O.S. FABLE Game and Cave it's XBox Fan base. As far as I'm concerned they need to release it on Playstation.

    Posted: August 21, 2010 11:25 PM
  • Sdps4life

    WTF is this dec 31 release date??? i thought it was oct 26

    Posted: August 20, 2010 4:44 PM
  • Fantasy Heart63

    its going to be one of the best story lines ever made in gameing and more realistik thin others cant what for the game and all the time and effort of makeing this great game

    Posted: August 19, 2010 11:52 AM
  • Owaah

    I'm looking forward to this game. I loved Fable 1 and 2. The graphics don't bother me one bit. I actually liked Fable 2's graphics. Why ruin a good thing?

    Posted: August 18, 2010 5:53 PM
  • wiggum

    I hope you can contract STD's like you could in Fable 2!

    Posted: August 18, 2010 4:35 PM
  • soren7550

    I can't wait! I pre-ordered the Collector's Ed. yesterday, and I'm thinking of getting the Fable book as well. This is making the wait harder!

    Posted: August 18, 2010 2:42 PM
  • AssAssIn0009

    enough talking i wanna see real gameplay videos

    Posted: August 18, 2010 1:53 PM
  • Madbagofhorses

    The skimp in content on the later stages of production in Fable 2 angered me enough that this one will have to be blowing minds for me to even consider it.

    Most likely be skipping this piece of rubbish and not looking back.

    Posted: August 18, 2010 11:41 AM
  • Rmoney777

    this is just a question, but how is the main character a hero if he has to wear gauntlets? im just asking dont hate me for it. but yea i love fable and gonna buy it as soon as it hits the stores.

    Posted: August 18, 2010 9:38 AM
  • Babaloo264

    shame about the glitches but they still have a little bit of time to fix them. Either way this game seems like its going to be awesome =)

    Posted: August 18, 2010 9:24 AM
  • EliteBAMF

    Hope these glitches don't ruin the game. Also I'd like to know the extent of the player cuztomization options, most notably for women. I date a girl long distance who plays videogames with me and this seems like it'd be fun to play with her but it'd be lame if the options are shallow.

    Posted: August 18, 2010 7:39 AM
  • keeganhagen13

    i have every game but my perints say its to interpropreut all becuse you can have sex so thay sold my favert game just for money man i hate then for that:(

    Posted: August 18, 2010 6:43 AM
  • bretthoof

    I hope they delay Fable 3. I don't care if it takes them an extra year, I don't want to have a game as glitchy as Fable 2.

    And I hope the dog actually helps you in combat this time around, like some of the interviews before Fable 2 was released has said he would.

    ...being able to choose your race would be nice too. I mean, I know Lionhead is British, but it's not like they don't know what a black guy looks like.

    Posted: August 17, 2010 10:21 PM
  • Variand

    Great preview article. Thanks Jem!

    It seems like Lionhead is working towards the right end goal. I like that they are trying to get us truly immersed and invested in the games. Glitches will always break that immersion if they come in great numbers. Not to mention the previous Fables seem to have this way of just bringing about a bunch of childish tomfoolery. It's fun, but it detracts from the game's overall immersive experience.

    Fable 3 does look like it's found a good balancing point between its life-themed, satirical humor and the seriousness of the story (which can ALWAYS drive those emotions Lionhead and PM have always sought).

    Looking forward to see how Fable 3 stands up!

    Posted: August 17, 2010 10:10 PM
  • Malapropism

    i feel it's odd how fable 1 was the best so far, i really liked the lost chronicles, or chapters?
    i just think the only difference between fable 1 and fable 2 was less weapons and you can buy houses instead of having to kill the owner,

    and that makes me sad to hear that the magic is going to be charge oriented again, fable 1 magic was so much better, at least make it so i can charge it and save it before i use it

    Posted: August 17, 2010 8:33 PM
  • Connor53

    I'm still pissed that they never brought fable 2 to the PC. They are missing out on a lot of money there. I know for a fact that it was easier to play fable 1 on the pc than the xbox.

    Posted: August 17, 2010 7:52 PM
  • gambitjuggalo

    what im looking foward to is if i have a friend join my game. they can bring in their dog and still be able to craft their own weapon all while taking the gold and experience they earn back with them.

    the biggest issue was the other player being tied to you on the same screen all the time. so add in some free roam with the other player able to buy things from shops and talk with people and i will be happy

    Posted: August 17, 2010 7:04 PM
  • wigoff91

    Its gonna be glitchy again...crap, but Im still looking forward to it.

    Posted: August 17, 2010 6:16 PM