Lionhead have decided to think a bit outside the usual box with their Fable III. Instead of being an orphaned, underprivileged and dirty sewer rat - which is the usual starting point for any good heroic tale - you get to taste the sweeter things in life when deciding what kind of character you're going to be. You're a daughter, or son, to the hero of Fable II, but since you're the younger sibling you're not the one that gets to inherit the throne.
The hero of Fable II had the really bad taste of getting you an older brother. Logan might be a clever regent, but while he's good at seeing the whole picture he has for a long time missed the smaller details; Albion's poor and weak. Now the people are angry, the treasury is running thin and the injustices many. And the land is screaming for a new hero.
But when the only one at your side is a dog, how do you start a revolution? That's the kind of thoughts that spins through my head as I'm lead through the sewers by my mother's old servant, Walter. Walter says he knows exactly how things should be done. Gaining the trust of the people need to come first. Walter seems to know what he's talking about and shows me the way to the first stop on my long journey towards taking the crown for myself, the first inhabitants that I need to convince before I can even dream about putting an end to my brother's rule.
Fable III is a game about alliances. To help others in the hope that they will help you when you need it. As you travel around Albion there are many ways to convince its people that you are the one that should be on the throne. Albion's rebels are scattered, but they will happily unite for a common goal. Especially if that goal is to dethrone Logan. By doing favors for them you can show them that you have bigger balls than your older brother, and convince them that you have what it takes.
Agreeing to the demands of the different rebels is one way to find the troops you need, but also the little people can help. But helping the common folk, you can get a boost on your way towards the throne. To do these smaller sidequests are not only a lot of fun, but also changes Albion in different ways. The humor is charming, and in Fable III it feels as if Lionhead have been able to be a bit more Brittish in their humor. It doesn't matter if I'm helping to rebuild Brightwood's academic library by finding their lost books, hunt down escaped garden gnomes or have to deal with the necrofanatics Sam and Max and their nagging mother - the humor and warmth always shine through. Even if Fable III can be a rather dark and sad tale at times.
The design in the Fable III does not wander far from what it was in the previous games, and technically it hasn't come that far from Fable II even if the lighting effects have been polished a bit. The character models look like if they've been taken out of a fairy tale or a comic, and thanks to them and the wonderful voice acting I really enjoy my life in Albion. John Cleese, Ben Kingsley and Simon Pegg all help to make the world come alive in a phenomenal way, and both Stephen Fry and Zoë Wanamaker make their return.
The cities of Albion have become bigger, both in size and the amount of people that live in them. Bowerstone, for example, is now a royal capital worth its name, and the signs of the industrialisation is everywhere. Orphans work in the many factories, beggars and the homeless flock around the slums, both male and female prostitutes hang around in dark alleys. And just a stone throw away from the misery there are beautiful gardens and snobby suburbs, with the rich walking around in their powdered wigs. Albion is larger and more alive than ever, and the graphical designers have done a great work making that happen.
Something I always appreciated in Fable II was how the emote system worked. Of course I could say everything I wanted with farts or kisses, but all the emotes are context based in Fable III. I can no longer choose exactly what I want to say or do to the character I'm talking to, instead the game gives me three alternatives to choose from. If I keep up the discussion, I get to pick from new emotes. If I've decided to flirt with that cute guy in the clothes store, and he's become my best friend, I can then start giving him a hug or sneak him a kiss on the cheek. In the same way I can't tell my dog to do cute tricks for me, he does whatever he feels like most of the time.
In other words, Fable III plays itself a bit more than the older games did. Similar to Mass Effect 2, Lionhead have taken away my list of things I've found or bought. Healing potions and other consumables are automatically mapped to the D-pad, while other things are put in the interactive - and quite functional - pause screen. From here you change clothes or weapons and see what missions you've excepted and it works as your private and secret base of operations. You can also teleport to places you've already visited from the map that can be found here.
After about seven hours I led my revolution against Logan. Finally I got the chance to create the kind of Albion our mother would have loved. I had friends in all corners of the land, friends that kept their promises. I was crowned the queen of Albion, but the game was far from over. Because with great power comes great responsibility, and as my allies came to cash in on the things I had promised them, I had to think carefully about my next step. To live up to your word is not always easy, especially not with the whole kingdom to think about. Is it more important to do right than to do good? Shall I sacrifice the well-being of the few to help build a future for the whole kingdom?
That is another story. Most importantly, that's your story to experience on your own.