family gamer review
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Fable 3 extends Fable 2 with more action and deeper relationships. Set years later, we play the son of our Fable 2 hero. This time round though, the challenge is focused on the juxtaposition of making and fulfilling promises.
It's an experience that at first seems like any old videogame but, as we've explained in our family gamer review, those who get beyond the first few hours will find an interesting and engaging experience.
Action adventure games are enjoyed for two reasons. They provide a variety of fast action encounters where you are fighting, fleeing or evading some enemy. They also provide a large world in which to explore and adventure. This exploration is usually driven by some particular plot-tension introduced early in the game that you must resolve.
As you adventure through the world, you encounter the action sequences through encounters with enemies and general hazards. Success in these encounters opens up more of the world to explore and provide new equipment.
"The kingdom of Albion is changing, that land needs a ruler" speaks the Tolkien-like narrator. The novelty in Fable 3 is that it focuses the experience after final bosses have been defeated. Rather than ending at that point, the player takes ownership of ruling Albion and must now make good on promises they made on the way up. They have the difficult task of judging right from wrong, and see the wheels of power turn painfully from the inside.
This takes the strong adventuring appeal of Fable 2 but then makes players ask fresh questions about the commitments they are making. Consequence was central in Fable 2 as your decisions affected not only the story but how you looked and what sort of place Albion was. Fable 3 turns this sense of consequence back on the player as they must consider which commitments they will keep and which they are unable to service.
As in Fable 2, some will choose to try and do 'the right' thing, whilst others will enjoy playing the villain. Here though their choices not only result in different outcomes but also form different bonds of commitment to the inhabitants of Albion. Commitments that will become all the more pressing when they take the crown.
The game visuals and mechanics have been enhanced since Fable 2 as well. Not only is there the process of judging your subjects when you are king, but throughout there is a new sense of touch. Much as you can accept or deny promises, you can equally embrace or standoff physical interactions in Albion too.
Players are drawn to Fable because of the tangible cause and effect of its world. Presented with a simple choice, players will deliberate over which the right path may be. From the off, should they allow the town drunk to have back his booze? Will this lead to his downfall? But then, maybe a friendly drunk is just what they will need later on. Weave these moral choices in amongst the excellent single button combat and beautiful cut scenes and only the most stone hearted of gamers will be able to resist.
Adventure games are notoriously heavy on the time required to play them. But, like reading a good book, once you are hooked into the story this is not a problem - in fact quite the reverse. As before, Fable 3 promises to grab the player's attention from the off and keep them playing for long sessions of two hours or more. Although it is possible to dip in and out as time permits, to get the most out of the story you really need to set aside a whole evening.
Fable 3 will likely follow Fable 2's 15 rating that reflects its grown up approach to storytelling and themes that young players may find unsettling. The game hinges around real time combat that is by nature violent. It also includes adults abusing their power over children, and the implications therein. While these are likely to be negative for youngsters, those a little older (particularly if they can play with a parent) will find an engaging experience that raises many interesting questions.
Intermediate players should be well catered for. The greater focus on action and honing of combat controls should enable a wider audience to enjoy it. Narratively, again the game plays more like a novel, with writing that is easily grown up enough to appeal to the wider casual audience.
Expert players have long espoused the virtues of the Fable series will want to prepare their Fable 2 characters ready for the new game. Many will have two or three heroes ready to import - good, evil and neutral.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: