|Publisher(s)||Microsoft Game Studios|
|Designer(s)||Peter Molyneux, Josh Atkins|
|Platform(s)||Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows|
Fable III is a 2010 action role-playing open world video game, developed by Lionhead Studios and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The third game in the Fable series, the story focuses on the player character's struggle to overthrow the King of Albion, the player character's brother, by forming alliances and building support for a revolution. After a successful revolt, the player becomes the monarch and is tasked with attempting to defend Albion from a great evil. The game includes voice acting by Ben Kingsley (Sabine), Stephen Fry (Reaver), Simon Pegg (Ben Finn), Naomie Harris (Page), Michael Fassbender (Logan), Zoë Wanamaker (Theresa), Bernard Hill (Sir Walter Beck), Nicholas Hoult (Elliot), John Cleese (Jasper), Johnathan Ross (Barry Hatch), Kellie Bright (Hero of Brightwall female), and Louis Tamone (Hero of Brightwall male).
The game was released on 29 October 2010 for Xbox 360 and on 20 May 2011 for PC via both Games for Windows and Steam. The PC version includes a Hardcore mode and 3D functionality not found in the Xbox 360 version.
Fable III is set 50 years after the events of Fable II. The game is set on the fictional continent of Albion, which is entering the age of industry. The Hero of Bowerstone (the player character of Fable II) and ruler of Albion has died and left the Kingdom to their eldest son, Logan, the player's older brother. Some NPCs allude to how Logan has "changed" in the last four years of his rule, becoming excessively tyrannical. The player begins the game investigating rumours that Logan had a citizen of Albion executed, causing a group of citizens to protest. After the player character intervenes, Logan presents the player with the first of the game's numerous moral choices. The player is tasked with deciding whether the group of protesters are executed, or whether the player's love-interest is executed instead. Following the decision, the player escapes Logan's castle along with their mentor, Sir Walter Beck, and their butler, Jasper.
The player then, with the guidance of Theresa, the enigmatic Seeress of the Spire and distant and ancient relative of the Hero player, starts to gather allies to aid in a revolution against the tyrannical King Logan. The allies they gain include Sabine, the leader of the "Dwellers", a nomadic community that lives in the mountains; Major Swift and Ben Finn, soldiers from the Royal Army in command of a remote fort; Page, the leader of the "Bowerstone Resistance"; and Kalin, the leader of Aurora, a desert land across the ocean. During the course of the story the player will be asked by allies for a promise, usually involving righting the wrongs done to them by King Logan's rule once the player has gained control over the kingdom. When attempting to gain the support of Kalin, the hero learns that a creature called the Crawler and the forces of the Darkness, which have already devastated Aurora, intend to exterminate all life in the Kingdom of Albion. It is revealed that Logan's reason for treating his people so harshly is to raise funds for Albion's military to defend against the impending Crawler invasion.
The player then leads a coup d'état and becomes the next Monarch. As ruler the player is presented with numerous choices whether to keep the promises made to those who aided in the revolution, at great expense to the treasury, or betray those promises in order to raise money for the defence of Albion through industrialisation and use of natural resources against the rapidly approaching Crawler invasion. The player is then given a limited amount of time to make choices and come up with enough money to fund the defence. The choices made help decide the hero's fate as a good or evil ruler. The player can also utilise the treasury money for personal purposes, or transfer personal money from the player's own supply to the treasury. Keeping and breaking promises has a tangible impact on future gameplay which are permanent.
The player requires 6,500,000 gold in the treasury at the time of the Crawler attack in order to be able to fully fund the defence of the entire kingdom and thus minimise civilian casualties. With no money in the treasury and thus no army to defend Albion, the civilian casualties inflicted by the Crawler's attack amount to 6,500,000. If this happens, the world will be largely absent of civilians upon completion of the main quest. The player is then, as a ruler, presented with two choices: "good" and "evil" choices.
If the player chooses to be a "good" ruler, the treasury will be vastly drained and the only way the player can offset this is by transferring several million gold from their personal funds to the treasury. If the player passes lots of time by sleeping, working and increasing the royal treasure income significantly, people will start to return. If the player was a benevolent leader but lost large sums of civilians, many citizens who return will still praise the player. However, if the player raises money to fund the army through exploitation or tom-foolery, then they will be hated regardless of whether the kingdom was saved. It is possible to both raise funds for an army and be a benevolent ruler (in this case the player must donate their personal gold to the treasury until the debt is paid and the amount of 6,500,000 gold is put together), this results in the player monarch being loved by the entire kingdom and no civilian casualties.
If the player chooses to be an "evil" ruler, they are able to escape the bankruptcy caused by fulfilling promises made throughout the game by building factories, logging camps, redirecting sewage instead of shutting down factories, reducing security costs, and so on in order to massively boost the economy and thus be able to fund the defence of Albion. This however would make him out to be a tyrannical leader, virtually the same as the tyrannical leader Logan who was previously ousted by the player. The end result would be an overwhelmingly easy defence of Albion and the defeat of the Crawler invasion at minimal cost to civilian lives. However, civilian reception of the player will be severely damaged as a result, even if the goal and purpose behind the player's actions was to save the population through short-term sacrifices.
At the beginning of the Gamescon announcement of Fable III, Molyneux stated that the game was taking a different theme compared to the others as he believes the third game in a series to be hard to do correctly. "If all the rules have been established and all you offer is a new story and a handful of locations, people will start to lose interest."
In an interview with OXM UK, Molyneux spoke about how Fable was at risk of becoming a generic game where the player started off underpowered and weak but slowly got more powerful after they met the bad guy. After the player killed the bad guy, the credits would roll. Believing that is the formula that applies to many games, he asked why games "end at potentially the most exciting bit?" It was this that formed the basis of Fable III, where the player can overthrow the tyrant before becoming ruler themselves. He stated that it was when the player was ruler that the consequences of "who you are going to be, are you going to be good or evil, cruel or kind" stopped applying only to the player, but affected the entire country.
Molyneux hinted that there may be drawbacks to leaving your castle too often to investigate crimes or fight wars, asking:
Are you going to be a king that is the equivalent to Picard in Star Trek? Quite honestly, if the captain of the ship was going down to planets and getting involved in battles I'd be worried because I think he should stay in his chair. But if he chooses to go down and get involved, that's the freedom we give you as a king.
Talking about the inspiration for Fable III, Molyneux said "if in Fable I the inspiration was folklore and in Fable II the inspiration was King Arthur and Robin Hood, then Fable III is definitely the rebels and monarchs – both modern-day and historic."
What's so interesting about that is you look at it and you realise that "Gee, these people who ruled our land up until very recently were actually very creative with their power and abused it and used it in many evil ways." Take Henry VIII, let's just go through some of the things this guy did. Rather than say, "Hey, this marriage is not working out so well," he just decided to completely kill off his wives. Not only did he do that, but to do the deed he just got rid of religion and replaced it with a new one. He also took five percent of the entire tax income – the equivalent of billions of pounds in today's world – and spent it on his personal wine cellar, while many people within the country were suffering from starvation and plague. This guy definitely wasn't that nice a guy, and if you write that down he sounds really evil. Does history paint him as being really evil? Not really, it paints him as being a bit of a jolly chap who was quite infatuated with six women. That's fascinating inspiration and we really want to give you the power to be that colourful when you're a ruler.
There are also new takes on traditional Fable concepts such as morphing, where the player's weapon change depending on what they do, and their alignment. If the Hero kills large numbers of skeletons their weapon will appear to be made of bones, whereas if they go around killing innocent people their weapon will begin to drip with blood. The weapon will also level throughout the game, making it sharper and more deadly. Another example is the "Extreme Emote" system. For example, if someone angers the Hero, they can show them their true nature, with either demonic or angelic wings sprouting out of their back.
Lionhead Studios associate sound producer Georg Backer announced that Fable III would contain over 47 hours of recorded speech. This rises from 36 hours of recorded speech in Fable II. Backer said that the AI is the "biggest chunk of dialogue". Backer also said that the over 47 hours include "gossip lines" in which the "AI talk to you about what is happening in the game." The "30 or 40" different types of AI characters each have "about 2,000 lines". Three writers wrote the 460,000 recorded words in the game and it took more than 80 actors to voice them. Many lines are ones that previously appeared in Fable II, so how many hours of vocal track are original recordings is unknown.
Shortly before Gamescom 2009, images of famous revolutionaries and quotations appeared on Lionhead's website, causing discussion about what the next game Lionhead was developing. During the press conference of Gamescom, where Fable III was announced by Peter Molyneux, Lionhead had decorated the walls with medieval shields and banners.
Lionhead announced in August 2010 that there would be a companion game to Fable III. Peter Molyneux was quick to say that it would not be like Pub Games for Fable 2 and hinted that it would utilise a mobile-phone. The official reveal was made on 28 September 2010 for a smart-phone application titled "Kingmaker" The game consists of players marking real-world locations for the two factions in the game, the Royals or the Rebels. The game earns players power-ups and gold to use in Fable III. The game was announced for use in the United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden.
Various downloadable content has been announced by Microsoft, ranging from dyes and extra hairstyles to new quests.
The Xbox 360 standard and limited edition was released on 29 October 2010, with the PC version released in May 2011. Xbox games that were preordered (both standard and limited editions) in participating stores, were given a code for a special weapon, a code for tattoos, and a code to transfer the villager created from the Villager Maker to the game on the release date.
- Xbox 360 - The Standard Edition available on Xbox 360 contains the standard game disk, a game manual and standard plastic casing. Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux announced as well, that Fable III will also (like Fable II) be released in episodes on Xbox Live Marketplace, some time after the retail version will hit the market. The first episode will be available free of charge.
- PC Both a retail version and a downloadable release (via Games for Windows Live) was available.
- Xbox 360 - The "Limited Collector's Edition" contains a standard game disk, a game manual, a new in-game quest, limited edition Fable III playing cards, a "Guild Seal Coin" with good and evil sides to aid the player in making moral decisions, a new "Boxer" dog breed and two new outfits; one for male, one female, a faux book and a new region with a family and a new weapon.
- PC - All Standard Editions of Fable III on PC have contents of the Limited Collector's Edition included for free in the game.
Lionhead also released a Fable III limited edition wireless controller for Xbox 360 on 5 October 2010. The controller came with a code to unlock a unique tattoo for the game.
Fable: Coin Golf
A mini-game called Fable: Coin Golf developed by Ideaworks Game Studio, in close conjunction with Lionhead, was released for Windows Phone 7 on 30 March 2011. Played from an overhead perspective, the quest is to rid the land of evil and conquer each area by getting the Hero Puck into the Pillar of Light in as few shots as possible. Gold earned on the phone can be transferred to Fable III on Xbox 360 or PC and completion of each of the three chapters unlocks a unique weapon in Fable III.
Three books titled Fable: The Balverine Order, Fable: Edge of the World, and Fable: Blood Ties were released in North America and Europe in October 2010 and October 2011 respectively. The books came with DLC codes. The Balverine Order had a code for a unique weapon called the Shardborne sword while Blood Ties had a code for an exclusive Dye Pack. Both of these items were for Fable III.
Fable III received a generally positive critical reception. IGN gave the Xbox 360 version an 8.5/10, praising the final segment of the game involving the player's role as a monarch, but criticising its slow beginning and a lack of innovation. GameSpot gave the game a 7.5/10, saying "This gorgeous world is brimming with humor and personality" but felt "a bevy of technical problems and oversimplified gameplay distract from the fun." Official Xbox Magazine said "Fable III is most memorable not because it makes you laugh, but because it also makes you care. If a spouse gets carved up in your absence, you'll feel pangs of guilt. When your dog saves your bacon during a fight, you'll feel pride."
The PC version of Fable III received more mixed reviews. IGN gave Fable III a 6/10, calling it "a royal disappointment" with "interface not well tailored to the PC platform", "uneven story and pacing", "dull combat" and "repetitive quests". GameSpot gave it a score of 7/10, saying "It lands on the PC with graphical enhancements and tougher combat" but criticised the "simplified gameplay" which "still distract from the fun." Most negative responses came from the fans who pointed out the bugs that never got fixed in a patch, or that the child of the hero is generated randomly depending on the location of its parents; a design flaw in Fable III where the ethnicities of the biological children do not match those of the player characters or their spouses.
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