Fable III

Fable III
Fable III Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, Windows
Genre Hacked there, slashed that
MtAMinutes to Action 18
Keep Playing? No
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I wasn’t much of a fan of Fable II, so I’ll be honest to say that Fable III has a lot to prove to get me to play past the first hour. The gameplay needed a lot of improvement to start, and the overall presentation of Fable II just felt stuttering and lazy. I do have some hopes that developers can learn from their mistakes, however.

Released in October of last year, Fable III received good scores from major review outlets and had sold over two million copies by the end of the year. A respectable number, though creator Peter Molyneux says it needs to sell about five million copies for the series to continue. I’m not an industry analyst but this seems like a long way to go now that the holiday season is over.

While I may not like the finished product much, I will probably continue to play the first hour of Molyneux’s games though as he can just be so fiendishly over the top with his ambition and pride. Will Fable III be able to succeed where its predecessor faltered? Or will its first hour lock me in? Let’s find out.

Minute by Minute

00 - I press Start and the game detects that I’ve never started a new game before and kicks the first hour of Fable III right off. The same female narrator from Fable II asks who will lead the rebellion: male or female? I think I’ll actually go with a girl for once. “Of course, the princess. It is time you saw what your kingdom was truly like.”

01 - The loading music sounds like the exact same oohs and aahs from Fable II. Hopefully the gameplay has improved... The opening movie starts, showing how the age of industry has begun in Albion. We’re apparently following a chicken this time.

02 - Our chicken escapes from its cage and makes a dash for it, getting kicked by marching soldiers and comically(?) landing on the head of a guy about to be killed by an execution squad. Then he flutters into some sort of refinery and is almost melted down.

03 - Aww, sad child laborers accidentally make him into a tea pot, which gets shipped to a chef... who then shoots the poor chicken. Kind of a downer of an opening.

04 - The chef is shown walking back into a large castle and the Fable III title screen appears. The butler, voiced by John Cleese, wakes up our princess. Hey, she’s actually speaking! I don’t think the hero has ever spoken before in a Fable game? Maybe I just pushed it out of my mind.

05 - After a bit of banter I gain control of our heroine and have the option of the practical outfit or the elegant outfit. What? Can’t I just stay in my pajamas? The butler actually comments on this and thinks it would send the wrong message to my suitor, Elliot.

07 - Ah, there’s the magical golden, sparkly trail telling me exactly where to go. I pan the camera over the courtyard and there’s some awful pop-in.

08 - I approach a man and the game says press A to interact, this is a bit different than Fable II... the screen changes and some buttons float over the man’s head telling me what actions I can perform instead of the usual D-pad options in the corner.

09 - If I shake 20 hands I get an achievement? Wow, they’re really pushing my skills to the max.

10 - We find Elliot and my dog runs up and hugs him. He seems like a friendly chap so I make out with him for a moment. I like this princess’ attitude.

Fable 3 Prince Girlfriend

12 - Elliot tells me that the citizens of Albion aren’t happy with my brother, workers are being executed and such. Elliot and I walk hand in hand back to the castle.

13 - I just beat one of my Xbox Live friend’s record in holding hands by walking 157 yards. This is bizarre, to say the least.

14 - The princess can now give either an encouraging or harsh speech to the staff, I go with encouraging, of course. Some guy in Walter is going to give me training in something, I follow him and his golden trail. The soldiers acknowledge me as we walk.

16 - A bunch of petitioners are here to see the king, my brother. One guy wants me to sign his note about feeding the hungry and I do it.

17 - We’re in the combat room and I grab a sword.

18 - I spam the X button to attack, not much different than Fable II. I break his sword with a super attack and then Elliot rushes into the room and tells us to come quickly. “This is not good,” Walter replies. Oh oh, there’s a “crowd” of about two dozen people in the courtyard!

Fable 3 Evil King Logan

21 - Elliot and the princess spy on my brother Logan, the king, and Walter who are having an argument about what to do with the rioters outside. The princess breaks in and defends the people.

22 - Logan is obviously evil, he has a spiked goatee, greasy hair, and a scar. He grabs Elliot and me and orders us into the throne room. Logan says he’s been betrayed, man, all she did was want to save the “traitors.”

23 - He gives me a decision, either punish the leaders of the riot or Elliot, the punishment is death. The controller vibrates with my heartbeat, well, not mine, I don’t really care.

24 - Elliot seems like a nice guy, kill the random folk! Logan orders them out and then the scene switches to the evening. Walter is going to help the princess escape so she can be like her father, the hero from Fable II. Walter says Elliot is safe, so it’s just the dog, the butler, fat Auron - I mean Walter, and me leaving.

27 - We head down into the Catacombs, Walter promised my father he would bring me down here one day. Some secret switches are pressed a guild seal is revealed. Am I supposed to know what this is?

29 - Achievement unlocked for picking up an item! Oooh, the princess is transported to some foggy place and Theresa appears. I’m getting annoyed with this omniscient woman. She’s obviously just around for another information dump.

Fable 3 Pirate Mage Fireball

30 - I pass through a gate and receive the fireball spell along with a magical gauntlet that let’s me actually use magic. I need more followers to unlock the next gate.

32 - Back in the real world, I press the B button to cast a spell, though I didn’t see any fire. The floor opened up though so it “bloody worked.” Just realized I don’t have that sword anymore, just the fire to defend myself.

33 - We’re in some large cave system under the castle or city now. Yeah, this is a really big escape route. Our trio is in pretty much constant conversation which makes this walk through the cave a little bit interesting.

35 - Some bats appear and I spam the B button to kill them all. She’s pretty good at tossing fireballs if she can hit flying bats.

37 - Apparently you don’t have to hold R in Fable III to perform the classic Onimusha soul-sucking maneuver. Everything gets pulled in automatically.

38 - I have now killed over 100 bats, what is this, a JRPG? I find some gate thinger and we’re all transported to a fancy looking room that Walter says was my father’s sanctuary. In the middle of the room is a map of Albion with a book on top of it. The Book of Heroes. Dang, I can’t cast fire in here.

Fable 3 Guard 8 Barrel Shotgun

40 - The map is used to travel around the world, I’m sure I can’t go wherever I want though. First stop is the Dweller Camp in Mistpeak Mountains.

41 - We teleport without Jasper the butler, but Walter is still leading the way. We head to the center of the camp but Walter says he’ll talk to this important person without me. My regal street clothes might put him off.

44 - The golden trail leads me to the wagon selling warm-looking clothes, I buy the set and Jasper tells me to press start to return to the sanctuary. I head into the dressing room wing and try on my new outfit. Pressing Start brings me back to the real world again.

46 - Walter also advised me to give out the rest of my money, let’s figure that out.

47 - I shake hands with a few folks and then press RB to give them 10 gold each.

48 - The princess seems to be gaining followers with every shake of a hand. It doesn’t look like kids can be counted as followers, lame.

Fable 3 Hammer of Justice

52 - After I hit 20 followers I head over to Walter, seems like a successful run.

53 - Here’s Sabin, the local bearded leader. He wants proof that I’m actually a hero. I need to go to some chamber that my father built and bring back a relic. Then I need to kill some mercenaries, and finally, convince the town next door to share their food with the dwellers. Geez, that’s it?

55 - Walter and I finally split up, and I’m off to meet some librarian, what an epic first quest!

56 - Some wolves attack my dog and me as we travel through the snowy mountains, but they never even get close with my super fast fire launching.

58 - I enter Brightwall Village, my third freaking town in one hour.

60 - The princess shakes her 20th hand and we receive the Touched by a Hero achievement. Seems like a swell place to stop. Now, how the heck do I save my game?

Fable 3 Skeleton gun

First Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 18

What I loved: It seems like all the input lag from Fable II is gone, which is wonderful. No more interacting actions being performed three seconds late and even the fighting seems pretty smooth.

What I liked: Considering how bad the menu system was in Fable II, the interactive menu in Fable III seems like a great improvement. While it seems a bit excessive if you just want to change your outfit or something, I can see it being a great home base you can access any time.

Hearing the main character speak was also a joy as there was none of that sort of feedback in Fable II. Plus, I’m playing Dragon Age: Origins right now and I miss having my avatar actually talk.

What I didn’t like: I enjoyed the revamped people interaction... to an extent. It seems like everything is one-on-one now, so it was apparent to me how to influence an entire group of people at one time. Also, whenever you approach someone, the screen goes black as it frames you and your target together. Then after you perform your hand-shake or whatever, the screen goes black again to reset itself. It’s very jarring and will waste a ton of time throughout the game.

Fighting in the first hour was a bore, just press the B button over and over again to shoot fire. You don’t even get a sword or range weapon outside the 30 second training sequence. Plus shooting balls of fire at tiny, barely visible bats seemed way out of place. There was no sense of me actually hitting them.

Would I Keep Playing? No.

While there's definitely improvement here over Fable II, it doesn't feel significant enough and some of the choices actually seem like a few steps back. Plus it took dangerously long for me to actually swing a sword instead of shake hands, and the overall amount of action in Fable III's first hour is pretty low. While I can expect plot plodding from some games, this was not one of them.