Even though this is a Fable, don’t be evil

One of the defining characteristics of the first two Fable games was a heavy emphasis on moral choices. You were open to make inherently good or evil choices, be it against characters, towns and so forth.

Fable III

Platforms: Xbox 360, PC

Genre: Role-playing

Publisher: Microsoft

ESRB Rating: M, for Mature

Grade: 3.5 (out of 5)

One of the defining characteristics of the first two Fable games was a heavy emphasis on moral choices. You were open to make inherently good or evil choices, be it against characters, towns and so forth.

This decision-making allowed for interesting gameplay experiences and made the whole “be evil” notion rewarding.

Take this away from the franchise, however, and you’re potentially left with just another role-playing game.

Fable III doesn’t completely toss out its famed morality aspect, but it most certainly deals you your own hand before letting you make your choices. In almost every way, the game pushes you into always making the proper and nice choices.

With you exiled from the castle, the goal is to overthrow your tyrant brother, who rules Albion with an iron fist. As you can imagine, leading a rebellion and mustering the goodwill of commoners is rather hard to accomplish if you’re constantly ticking them off or murdering them, so being a do-gooder is almost a requirement.

The game is naturally loaded with side quests and employment opportunities and much more, so you’ll be constantly presented with diversions from the main quest.

These are the most fun since you’ll be interacting with funny townsfolk. Such diversions (from pie-baking to betting on chicken races to playing spoofed versions of Dungeons & Dragons) give Fable III its charm and wit.

Upgrades in weapons, magic and combat are also streamlined this time around, allowing you to focus more on the sights, sounds and oddballs you’ll encounter.

If this is the last in the Fable story, it’s a shame the series didn’t go out on a stronger note. Here’s to hoping more adventures in Albion await.

Gran Turismo 5

Platform: PlayStation 3

Genre: Racing

Publisher: Sony

ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone

Grade: 3.5 stars

The Gran Turismo franchise has long been celebrated as one of the most realistic racing series ever.

Such realism, of sorts, continues in Gran Turismo 5, thanks to solid improvements in handling, tire grip and overall feel. However, many may furrow their brows when noticing that high-speed crashes and wrecks never reveal an ounce of damage.

When it was on the PlayStation 2, the “GT” series was lauded for its photo-realistic settings, racetracks and cars. Now, however, it seems the same visuals have been continued and therefore pale in comparison to other racing titles with higher-quality aesthetics.

Tracks and cars have jagged edges — and it looks like a game marketed years ago instead of a proper 2010 release.

The offline career mode and online race modes are all well done, as should be expected. Leveling up in career mode garners you better-performing rides and opens up special-event races, even some NASCAR events.

The way to find races online is more confusing than need be. But the customization of race types allows you to weed out annoying gamers just looking to stir up trouble, and to focus your group on fun races.

Since fans have seemingly waited forever for a “GT” release on the PS3, it’s certainly disappointing that the game didn’t exceed expectations considering the hype and rabid fan base this series enjoys. Still, it is an exceptional racing game that more people will be able to enjoy.

Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler or email him at game_on_games@mac.com.

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