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Fable III Preview

King Wrong

Did you treat your kid well in Fable II? Did you take care of them? Feed them? Clothe them? Give their mother plenty of money for when you're off hunting gargoyles, digging treasure or satisfying the whims of those annoying demon doors? Or did you father multiple sprogs with multiple wenches, kill your demanding other half rather than pay her any maintenance money, then fart in your child's face, laughing heartily as social services took the traumatised toddler off your hands? Er, us neither.

Whatever you did - whatever kind of saintly or devilish hero you were - we hope you're content with your behaviour, because soon Fable III will ask you to live with those consequences.

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As the child of the previous game's hero, you've either spent your childhood loved and mollycoddled - if you played Fable II as a goody-two-shoes - or abandoned, malnourished, horned and bullied for your veiny blue skin. The decisions you made, and the person you became, will be passed onto your offspring, who can then choose whether to live up to your terrible/heroic legacy, or whether to head in completely the opposite direction.

With your burden (or gift) dictating their initial appearance, and thus the reaction they'll elicit from the kingdom's inhabitants, Fable III's new hero has to explore Albion once again - but this time, as a revolutionary. Fable III is split into two halves. The first sees you growing up as an idealist unhappy with the current ruler of Albion, and determined to oust the monarch from the throne. But armies need people, and people need to be convinced if they're going to fight for your cause. And in order to convince them, promises need to be made...

Overthrowing a king is a lot like a general election. People make pledges they aren't going to keep - even if they intended to keep them at the time - as they tour the country, shaking the Great Unwashed by their smelly proletarian hands. The first half of the game has you doing exactly that: going up to Albion's general public and promising to make their lives better when you become king or queen - in return for them lending a hand in the fight to attain it. You'll be able to shake their hands, too, thanks to the game's new touchy feely expression system. But we'll get round to that in just a moment...

In the fifty years since the events of Fable II, Albion has headed further down the path of industrialisation, and the result is a land with a greater rich-poor divide than ever before. The paupers of Bowerstone are forced into ghettos, as the elite settle snugly into their vast mansion homes. Put simply, there is injustice everywhere you cast an eye. In such a politically charged climate, it probably won't be too difficult to find support and gather an army capable of seizing the crown - the hard part comes when you finally have it.

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Fable III's second half charts your reign as king or queen of Albion. Rather than the mock monarch you could be in the second game - if you bought every piece of land in the kingdom, you were rewarded with a crown, robes and a fancy title - Fable III lets you indulge in every kingly/queenly act you can think of, from sending your subjects to prison for no good reason to distributing the crown's wealth as you see fit. You'll still be able to wander round the kingdom, smacking bandits and looking for silver keys, but it's now backed up by a more evolved version of Fable II's sim elements - rather than simply buying everything in sight, you're able to shape the very nature of Albion.

Say your castle is looking a bit grim. You could spend your kingdom's limited resources on sprucing it up, but then you'd have no money left to attend to all the other items left on your royal to-do list - like going to war with other nations, or keeping all those promises you made.

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