Published on July 11th, 2010 | by prime1
Fable 3 – Preview
Peter Molyneux is an ideas man. We’ve known that forever, but his spark and fire haven’t dulled in the 20 years he’s been passionately addressing the media. What has changed though is his ‘off switch’. The pie-in-the-sky Molyneux that promised the earth and delivered the moon has been replaced by a more measured, considered chap, and we think his games are all the better for it.
Still, for Fable III, that creative mind is still beavering away, and the big ideas here are Touch, Sanctuary and one that doesn’t have its own name, leadership. You’re the son or daughter of a Monarch, and you will inherit the throne. Not that Fable III is turning into a God sim straight away, as there’s still plenty of adventuring to be done.
Quests and battles and triumphs and dismays are all played out in a strikingly similar way to Fable II, with its simple button configuration, ‘can’t really die’ deaths and, of course, the dog. Here though, the HUD has been completely stripped back, leaving only your brave adventurer, with nothing else cluttering up the screen.
This brings us on to The Sanctuary, which is Fable III’s pause menu. It’s not often we’ll talk up a pause screen, but Mr. Molyneux is excited about it, and when he gets excited, the rest of the world does too. Hitting the Start button on the controller brings up The Sanctuary, a room that you can move around in three dimensions, complete with a wardrobe, armory, lovely 3D map and your very own butler.
Not just any old butler, either. No, it’s John Cleese, with – according to Molyneux – hundreds of thousands of lines of dialogue (although you’d be wise to take that with a fairly hefty pinch of salt). Needless to say, he’s a fantastically funny addition to the Fable III story, though, always reacting to your latest endeavors and adding levity when it’s needed.
The other major innovation that has Molyneux’s knickers in a twist is Touch, which is as simple as it sounds. You can grab, press, hold hands and generally interact with other people in the world, which in itself is a minor feature, but Molyneux and the Lionhead team are designing specific emotional responses around players’ abilities to physically involve themselves with the inhabitants of Albion. For example, holding hands while you walk across the bridge in Bowerstone, or actually hurling a ne’er-do-well into a jail cell. It’s all very interesting stuff indeed.
There are other customization options that go beyond what we had in Fable II, too. Weapons now change depending on how you use them, so they will evolve and mutate to suit your personality. You can even trade weapons online, as the effects are not only cosmetic but actually change the statistical values of the weapons. In fact, the online modes have been ramped up considerably. The co-operative play that was so vaunted in the last game will actually work this time, allowing players to properly inhabit the worlds of other players, and cause irreparable damage therein – if you do so wish to. Again, Fable acts like a role-playing game, but hides it behind its curtain of customization and lightweight British humor.
That really is the appeal of Fable, too, beyond the solidity of its mechanics and the relative simplicity of its controls. The Harry Potter-cum-Monty Python humor and warmth that glows from every inch of Fable III’s gloriously Anglican universe is what sucks people in. With the cream-of-the-crop of British development and acting talent working in tandem once again, Fable III is shaping up to deliver another slice of lovable madcap role-playing. In a game full of big ideas, it’s only one that really matters: FUN.