Preview: Fable 3

Susan Arendt | 3 Sep 2010 13:00
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It all starts with the Hero's Sanctuary, a 3D representation of all the information you used to access from the pause menu. The Sanctuary is a suite of rooms, each with a different purpose - head down one hallway to browse through all of the weapons in your armory, or enter another hallway to peruse the trophies you've mounted on the walls. This shelf holds the gifts you've received from affectionate townsfolk, that room contains the clothes, hairdos, tattoos, and dyes you've collected so far. Check one wall for your stats, or another for your achievements. Paging through written descriptions of all your swords is a perfectly adequate way to choose one, but it's not nearly as intuitive or enjoyable as gazing longingly at the swords themselves.

At the center of the Sancturary lies your map, yet another clever way to communicate dozens of bits of information without forcing you to flip through menus. Looking down on the map, you can see all of the locations you've visited, and, more importantly, just by glancing at them you can determine how many quests are left to complete, how many keys you've found, if any sales are going on, or where you need to head to continue the story. You can fast travel to any location on your map, select quests, even zoom in and see townspeople walking around, if you're feeling particularly voyeuristic. It's nothing you couldn't do simply by navigating the proper menus in the last game, but because it communicates so much visually, the absorption of information feels effortless and swift.

As ingenious as your Sanctuary is, in true Fable fashion, it has a few quirks that prevent its perfection. When switching costumes, one item of clothing will swap out for one in the same spot, but if the new outfit doesn't have a replacement, the original piece stays put, forcing you to run from the mannequins with your clothes over to the "undressing" area to take it off. (Unless you really want to wear the head from the chicken costume with your royal gown. It's certainly a bold look.) It's a bothersome bump in an otherwise smooth interface, but John Cleese's Jasper, the omnipresent butler of the Sanctuary, should be able to put a smile back on your face. When you're done mucking about in the Sanctuary, you can zap right back into the game exactly where you left off.

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