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Fable III

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Release Date: Oct. 26, 2010

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X360/PC Preview - 'Fable III' - The Next Two Hours

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 10, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Since its inception, the Fable franchise has offered players the opportunity to choose their own destinies as a hero, villain or someone between, where the possibilities are limitless and the consequences can weigh heavily on the path to greatness.

Editor's Note: This is the second half of a two-part preview. Be sure to read part one of our Fable III impressions!

Back to the game, we turned our focus to the second objective: eliminating the mercenaries. Meeting up with Walter in the Brightwall Village pub, he told us that the best way to infiltrate the Mercenary Camp was with a disguise. Thankfully, Walter had just drunk one of them under the table, so we stole the clothes right off the passed-out merc's back.

Clothes alone weren't enough, though. To fully pass, we also needed a beard and tattoo. It was at this point that the game suggested we take up a job to earn money. While many of the other players did just that, we opted for a more expeditious route by going to the pawn broker to sell off some of the items we had found along the way. That resulted in the necessary cash, so we bought the items and went to play dress-up. Because we'd been playing the game as the princess (and yes, for those of you wondering, you can strip her down to a bra and panties in the dressing room), Fable III awarded us a cross-dressing achievement as soon as we put on the full costume.

With our princess in disguise, it was time to begin the infiltration of the Mercenary Camp. Walking past the first few guards was fairly easy, but the burly crew quickly became suspicious of the disguise, and from that point on, it was a fight all the way. Having gotten used to combat in the first part of the quest, we were able to let loose a bit and try out a few fancier maneuvers, such as using the rifle to target exploding barrels instead of enemies. One exploding barrel can easily take out an unsuspecting group of thugs.


Given that the mercenary thugs like to attack in groups, this is also where our loyal pooch started to show his true worth. With you from the first moment, your dog is your best friend as well as a loyal fighter. Never shirking from a fight, your dog is always ready to pounce on a fallen enemy. All you need to do is knock him down, and the pooch will finish him off. It's a great help when fighting a group, as you can use a knockdown attack to divide and conquer.

When you're not busy fighting, the pooch also helps out on side quests. He can sniff out buried items, showing you exactly where to dig and highlighting hidden treasure chests that are tucked away throughout the world. For example, while we were trekking through the Mercenary Camp, our dog suddenly had a treasure chest icon pop up over his head and he wandered off the path. Following him took us around the corner to the goods. He may not seem it at first, but as Fable III progresses, your dog will quickly become your most valuable ally.

Eventually we defeated all of the minions in the camp, and it was time to take on the mercenary leader. This boss fight ended with a character-determining question. If you prefer the evil path, you can eliminate the leader and scare his men into submission. For the do-gooders out there, you can spare his life, and he'll pledge the loyalty of him and his men. No matter which you choose, this completes the quest and marks a return to the Road to Rule for some leveling up.

For the last section of our quest, we needed to raise funds for the Dweller Camp. In order to do that, we needed to assist the people of Brightwall Village. The game offered multiple miniquests to choose from. It wasn't necessary to complete them all, so we choose two of the more intriguing ones. The first had us tracking down a missing gargoyle head for a slightly deranged man. Best described as a "lawn gnome überfan," he used the gargoyle to bring the gnomes to life. This then kicked off an ongoing quest tree, tasking us with retrieving all of the gnomes that ran away. Thankfully, that one didn't have to be finished.


To complete the Brightwall Village quest, we opted to enter a haunted book to reenact scenes from a dead writer's plays. Doing so pleased his ghost and released his final, unreleased masterpiece. The townsfolk performed it, and we had gained their trust.

After giving us the donation to bring to the Dweller Camp, the mayor of Brightwall Village asked us to restore the village library once we took control of the kingdom. This was but the first of a few promises that would be requested. We didn't get far enough to see this section play out, but we were told that these early game promises have an effect on the latter half of the game. Once you become queen (or king), you are judged on how well you stay true to your word.

Back at the Dweller Camp, all three components of the primary quest had been completed. We gained another follower and upgraded our skills once again. Most of the skill upgrades were fairly direct (better melee, more powerful gun, etc.), but one that is worth noting are the magic upgrades. Gaining access to different gauntlets meant we got to experience four different types of magic over the course of the game: fire, electric, ice and wind.

You start with fire, which can shoot targeted fireballs or simply do an area blast. Electricity acts like a magical stun gun and is impressive to see in action. Ice causes damage and slows down your enemies, and wind lifts them up and whips them about. Initially, you can only use one type of magic at a time, but eventually, you unlock the ability to combine them, which makes for even more useful attacks. Of the three weapon types, magic was easily our favorite.


Since the first major quest was over, it was time to move out and continue the quest for more followers. We followed Walter to the monorail station only to see it crash to the cavern floor after being sabotaged. It turns out to be the work of the goblin-like Hobbes. These underground dwellers apparently don't like humans, and they're not afraid to show it.

Adventuring through the underground caverns, this quest line gave us a chance to experience fighting alongside an AI teammate. Walter performed well, holding his own without appearing too powerful. Since we favored magic, we more or less treated Walter as a tank. We got the attacking Hobbes focused on him and then let loose with the electric and ice area-of-effect spells.

Eventually, we came to a miniboss within an arena. This fight played out similarly to the fight with the mercenary leader, though the supporting wizards kept teleporting in more enemies. Winning the fight meant managing the low-level mobs without getting distracted. Too much time spent killing the critters meant the boss monsters went unscathed.


And then it was done. Once we left the caverns, our time with Fable III was up. Even though we spent a great deal of time with the game, it felt as if we had barely scratched the surface. We didn't get the chance to try any jobs, we hadn't bought any property and none of our relationships moved past the "friend" zone. We missed out on falling in love, having sex, getting married and having kids. We hadn't overthrown Logan, so we have no idea how the game plays out when you're ruling the country. Most importantly, we're not sure if that crazy chicken from the intro managed to survive his apparent doom. There's still a lot left for us to do.

As we were leaving Microsoft, what stuck with us the most was the sense of freedom in Fable III. We focused on the main quest for the purposes of this preview, but if we had chosen to wander the countryside doing sidequests, the game would have let us do that. We could have opted to take a job, focus on love, etc. Yes, you need to tackle the main quest tree to progress the story, but you don't need to do so in order to play. Fable III appears to offer quite a bit of freedom to play the way you want to play, which is quite appealing. The flexible gameplay, combined with the diversity in environments, bodes well for machinima fans looking for a change from the world of Halo. After getting a small taste of Fable III, we are eagerly awaiting our return to Albion (unlike a certain chicken).

Editor's Note: This is the second half of a two-part preview. Be sure to read part one of our Fable III impressions!



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