Microsoft’s video game triple-play for the holiday season is Halo: Reach, released in September, its Kinect motion controller out this Thursday in the US and the just-launched Fable III.

Exclusive among consoles to the slimmed-down Xbox 360, these could give Microsoft a winning edge over Sony’s PlayStation 3 and its new Move controller and the Nintendo Wii over the Christmas period.

Microsoft reported on an earnings call last week that Halo:Reach recorded $350m in sales in its September quarter. There are no sales numbers for Fable III yet but it is top of the video game charts and has earned a reasonable 81 out of 100 rating on

I am not quite the target audience for Fable III, but my 15-year-old daughter Constance, as an avid player of Fable II, definitely is. Here’s her thoughts on the latest instalment of the role-playing game out of Microsoft’s Lionhead Studios in the UK:

“After months of anticipation, we finally received Fable III, and as the last day of my school week drew to a close, all I could think of on the bus ride home was the Xbox waiting to be played.

My excitement escalated as the opening credits began and a chicken attempted to flee its imminent demise, weaving through the newly industrialised city of Bowerstone, seeking freedom. It made it as far as the kitchens of the castle, before being shot down, a fate that awaited all others who rebelled against the order set in Albion by the new King Logan, son of the late hero of Fable II.

In Fable III, I played the princess, free to do as I wished, until the time came for me to rebel against the reign of my brother. The only other role is to play the brother of King Logan.

The game seemed all too similar to Fable II – completing tasks and quests, defeating mercenaries and evil doers – except now, my goal was to collect followers who would eventually aid me in my rebellion against King Logan.

There was of course the new addition of the sanctuary, in which my weapons, outfits, trophies and promises to those who pledged their allegiance to me were kept.

But after I overthrew the king and finally took the throne, thinking the game was over, I felt like I had played nothing more than a slightly adjusted Fable II.

That was until I discovered there was a whole other chapter in Albion’s story.

Now, I was ruler of Albion in this second phase of the game, and my decisions affected my popularity among the people and the money remaining in my treasury, which would fund my fight against the darkness threatening to destroy my kingdom.

In comparison to Fable II, Fable III has the same characteristic humour, but is even funnier with its jokes and silly quests, from the amusing transition screens to the insulting gnomes, to the mini game narrated by three wizards.

Overall, I preferred Fable III to its predecessor because my character experienced two separate adventures: one is a more carefree experience where you can go where you like and do as you please and the other where you are faced with decisions that could affect many lives and change the course of history within Fable‘s world.

Fable III will satisfy fans of the previous games, but new players unfamiliar with the Fable series may not enjoy it as much.”

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