|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Lionhead Studios|
|Release: March 1, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mature for Blood, Language, Sexual Content, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
It must be tough to be the king. Especially if you've just gone on an adventure, saved the country, fought monsters, and generally led a fairly productive life until this point. How does one adjust to sitting on a throne all day, discussing census numbers and water treatment plans? Well, if you live in Albion, you don't! You hop right back on the horse and go a-questing. Though the previous DLC was a little underwhelming in terms of scope and relevance to the overall narrative, Traitor's Keep is a whole other beast, and features plenty of content that will keep those who have a craving for a bit more Fable quite happy. In fact, they might enjoy the DLC more than the core game experience!
But first things first, if you haven't finished Fable III yet, read no further. You must be done with the main story quest to even begin Traitor's Keep, and I can't guarantee that this review will be spoiler-free, so just run along until you are ready to move on. Still here? Excellent. So, after you save Albion, it turns out that there are some people who still don't like you. Apparently your evil brother had his fingers in all sorts of different pies, and some ultra-dangerous traitors have been held in a super-secret island prison that you haven't heard of until now.
Naturally, being a good king (as well as the adventuring sort), you decide to go poking around the Traitor's Keep, and of course, things go incredibly wrong. From there, you'll be treated to between three and four hours of story-rich gameplay that helps you re-discover why you liked the Fable franchise to begin with. Unlike the whole of Fable III, Traitor's Keep is focused, engaging, and just bursting at the seams with personality. One of the many issues I had with Fable III on the whole was the fact that it became so derivative at times; some of the gameplay felt like it was there just for its own sake, without any specific purpose in mind other than to extend the experience and add hours to the play value. The Understone DLC underscored this issue, and just felt like a soulless tack-on that players could use to get more gold after a few hours. However, Traitor's Keep has real, focused narrative value, and is really worth your time if you want an experience that not only gives you more time in Albion, but feels really relevant to the Fable III universe as well.
Though I was most impressed with the narrative in Traitor's Keep, I have to say that the new areas in the game were also impressive. In addition to the titular Keep, there are several new areas that are unlocked with this DLC. These areas vary wildly from a spooky haunted-mansion type area with singing fish and indoor graveyards to a steampunk-inspired theme park area that looks like EPCOT, if it were populated by robots and left to sit for a few decades. The latter even has robot tour guides! Though the new areas are largely linear with little room to explore off the beaten path, you'll definitely have a blast running through them, and I definitely appreciated the care that went into making the new settings unique within the Fable universe.
Production values in Traitor's Keep are up to par, and the game looks and sounds the same as you would expect. The voiceovers for the new characters are done expertly and help make the narrative as memorable as it is. Though the visuals struggle in places, those who have completed Fable III know this is par for the course, and you can't really knock the expansion for problems introduced by the game at-large. However, if you were expecting some type of upgrade included in the DLC to help fix these issues, you will be sorely disappointed. Still, the design of the new areas help make up for any visual hiccups you might encounter.
I was very impressed with Traitor's Keep. Even though this expansion didn't take all that long to power through, the narrative was satisfying and the new locations were full of personality. If all of Fable III's missions had as much personality as this expansion, I think Fable III would have turned out to be a much better game. As it is though, Traitor's Keep is an expansion well worth your $7. Whether you want just one more experience in the world of Albion, or are looking for an above-average Fable III experience, Traitor's Keep fits the bill nicely. Would I go as far as to say that I enjoyed Traitor's Keep more than I enjoyed the core story experience in Fable III? With a superior story, unforgettable locations, and great pacing, it would be hard not to.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Senior Contributing Writer