Fable 3's magic gets the biggest combat overhaul of all. Spells are now associated with specific gauntlets, and even though you've got two arms, you can only cast one spell at a time. Eventually, you'll earn the ability to spellweave two spells together, and while no-one can deny that throwing lightning-wrapped fireballs is extremely cool, it's still just one spell. You'll gain access to all of the spells you knew from Fable 2, but Slow Time and Summon Creatures are now potions instead of cast magic. The result of all this streamlining is much faster, easier to use magic, but some players are undoubtedly going to feel constricted by the changes.
One of the biggest changes to the game is the Sanctuary, which is all of the information you used to access from the pause menu made into a physical space. You can review your weapons in the armory, change your appearance or your outfit in your dressing room, admire your accomplishments in the trophy room, or check your dog's stats by looking at him sleeping in his basket. It's an elegant and simple way to cram a lot of information into one place, and while I did miss the ability to review my items in a list (how many pearls do I have, again?), the ease with which I could do everything else was well worth giving it up.
Fable 3's gripping story keeps you charging forward, eager to find out what happens next, while its cheeky sense of humor takes the edge off the coming storm. Its voice acting and stunning imagery create an Albion that feels like a real place, with real people.
And then one of the game's many bugs slaps you in the face and ruins everything.
The glittering breadcrumb trail leading you to your next destination will disappear or point you in the wrong direction. Sound drops out. Characters will get stuck, disappear, or just completely stop, sometimes making it impossible to keep playing. Many of these are the same problems that plagued Fable 2, and Lionhead's failure to fix them is pretty damn inexcusable. Yes, I know the game is bigger and better but that's exactly why they should have worked extra hard to make it work. Take away the technical issues and Fable 3 is brilliant. Leave them in and it's just another pretty good game that may or may not piss you off, depending on how it decides to break that moment.
Co-operative play has been a promise that the Fable games have yet been unable to keep. It was pulled from Fable at the last minute and the co-op in Fable 2 was pointless and clunky. So how is the co-op in Fable 3, which is supposed to let us not only adventure, but also co-own business, get married, and have children with our Live friends? I have no idea. Though Microsoft promises that it'll be "fully optimized" by the time you read this, it hadn't launched yet when I was playing the game to review. We'll give it a try and update our review as soon as we can.
Bottom Line: Fable 3 is the best Fable yet. It's mature and thought provoking, with a final act that will genuinely surprise and confound you. It could've been a masterpiece, but its many technical problems bring it down.
Recommendation: It's frustrating, but play it anyway, if only for the wonderfully quirky quests and the way your choices genuinely pull at your conscience. Or just to kick the chickens, whatever.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Susan Arendt just might kick Peter Molyneux in the shins the next time she sees him.
Game: Fable 3
Genre: Action Adventure
Release Date: October 26th, 2010
Platform: Xbox 360
Available from: Amazon