Fable Review


October 18, 2004 by

Fable Image

During its extremely long development life, Fable has managed to rack up enough hype to make it possibly the most hyped RPG game ever created, challenging the hype that has built up around fellow Xbox exclusive title Halo 2. Plenty of rumours have appeared throughout almost every gaming publication imaginable. Now, after this extremely lengthy period of waiting, Fable has finally been released. Although it doesnt include all features that were expected, what Fable does include could make it one of the best RPG games ever created.

RPGs require an intriguing, captivating storyline. Although Fables storyline is certainly nothing amazing, the storyline is engrossing enough to keep the gameplay interesting and refreshing. You play as a young boy, who seeks revenge after his village is raided by bandits, burning the buildings and killing almost all of its inhabitants. Your father is murdered and your mother and sister kidnapped.

Fable is different to most other RPGs in many ways. The main quests are varied and require you to do a range of things, from saving a farm barn from being attacked by a group of bandits, to finding a lost boy or competing in a large colosseum where you face highly-creative creatures from the world of Albion. Although the main quests arent quite as long as many other RPGs available on the market, the huge number of side quests and activities that are available are staggering. 20 hours of gameplay could easily be spent simply participating in the extra activities that are on offer. You can quickly complete the main quests in Fable within a week, or, you can take you time and participate in the huge number of side quests and extra activities, which could keep you playing this game for months.

Between each town and city, a large amount of countryside is available to be explored. Each area throughout the game is unique, featuring different enemies, people, buildings and vegetation. Teleportation makes it easier to move from one place to another, however travelling by foot often proves to be the better choice, as you are bound to encounter surprising time-sensitive events, hidden areas and unique weapons.

The characters throughout the world of Albion often have small quests that you can participate in. There are also plenty of secrets to unveil throughout the game, and time-sensitive events will only occur at certain points in time throughout the game. There are also plenty of other, smaller features in Fable. As in real life, your character ages as time passes through the game.

What you do in Fable not only effects what people think of you, but also how you look. Siting around eating food and drinking alcohol will result in your character become an overweight, unfit warrior. Cutting down on your food and alcohol and exercising regularly will help you beat the bulge and remain in tip-top shape. Want to change your appearance? Go to the local hairdressers and get a new hairstyle, beared or moustache.

You also have the ability to flirt with the townsfolk, and even marry if you wish. You also have the ability to change your name whenever you wish. Going to a name-changer will allow you to choose from a selection of already-available names, which range from Chicken Chaser to Gladiator.

No two games are the same. You will find that your friends character, quest and stats will be very much different to yours. Fable allows the player to do as they wish; thieve whenever you want, destroy property or participate in any number of side quests at any time. What you do will effect how you look, perform and the respect that you receive. The number of variations available in the game makes it almost impossible for any two games of Fable to be identical, ensuring that there are plenty of reasons to play through the game multiple times.

Fable heavily focuses on the good/bad abilities. Randomly killing innocent people, stealing or destroying property will result in people around you hating and fearing you, often running away when you approach them. Doing so will also attract the attention of the guards. Helping people when in need will reward you with respect and friendship throughout the towns and villages in Albion. If you do a good deed, you will be rewarded with good points. Do a bad thing, and you will receive bad points. For example, saving a villager from a group of bandits will reward you with some good points, whilst killing the villager will obviously result in you receiving more bad points.

From manhood, you basically have the ability to travel wherever you want in the world of Albion. Fable features a huge map that boasts a large number of towns and villages, each completely unique, complete with shops, purchasable property and plenty of townsfolk to interact with. Shop owners will trade anything from weapons, clothing, potions and even wedding rings.

As with many other fighting-orientated RPGs, Fable requires the player to gain experience points by battling enemies. You are then able to spend your experience points to better your abilities. Strength, for example, allows you to use heavier weapons and perform melee attacks during combat. Skill allows you to perform more combat moves, gain better bargaining skills and so on. Finally, Will increases your ability to use magic abilities for longer and more frequent periods.

The fighting mechanics in Fable are generally solid and easily controlled. Battles range greatly depending upon the circumstances and the type of enemy that you are battling. Although most battles are generally straight forward, you are occasionally required to strategically beat the opponent, which mostly occur during the less common boss-like battles. The Lock-On system, on the other hand, is simply too faulty. On several occasions I have accidentally killed an innocent bystander due to the lock-on feature skipping the enemy and locking on to the bystander instead. This quickly becomes frustrating and results in losing a large quantity of health or killing the wrong target.

Magic can also be used as opposed to using weapons in Fable. Using your experience points, you are able to purchase new magic abilities, which can range from offensive attacks such as lightning or balls of fire, or defensive magic such as clearing the enemies around you with force-field like blow. Enemies will react to these attacks accordingly, with some being almost immune to some magical attacks. This ensures that the battles remain interesting and fun.

Throughout your adventures in the world of Albion you will encounter a large range of different creatures. Hobbes, which are small, white creatures come in several different varieties and are almost always found in groups. They range from almost weak, pitiful types through to large, muscular and powerful creatures. There is also a type that throws damaging fireballs at you. The Balverines, which look like a half-wolf, half-monkey creature, are powerful, fast monsters that can inflict some serious damage. There are also a number of large, powerful creatures, such as the rock troll, which not only inflict some serious damage, but also take some time to kill.

As said earlier, townsfolk will often comment on your status throughout the game. If you decided to kill someone rather than letting him or her live, they will actually comment accordingly on it. Some will applaud you for your strength and courage, whilst others will hate you for your heartless brutality.

Interacting with the townsfolk is further enhanced through the ability to perform a variety of actions that are assigned to the D-Pad. Different actions become available depending upon your status and progress through the game. You can flirt, burp, insult, apologise and more. It is interesting to see how the townsfolk react to these actions, however often the same phrases are repeated a number of times.

Your surroundings are generally amazingly detailed. The leaves on trees and the beautifully detailed grass sway realistically in the breeze, looking almost life-like at times. Although the countryside between towns and villages isnt huge, the scenery makes it feel that the game continues forever. It makes you feel that you are only seeing a small part of Albion, and that there are plenty of more, interesting places to visit. This makes Fable feel larger than what it actually is, something that few games are able to achieve.

Each village and township in Fable is unique and is filled with plenty of things to see and do. People are dressed differently according to the area that they belong to, as with their different styled houses. For example, your hometown, Oaksville, which is situated on the beach and is always bright and sunny, features cottage-styled houses. In Knothole Glade, however, which is located in a dark, constantly raining forest, the houses are made out of large, simple, log-constructed houses which fits the scene of the area perfectly.

Although peoples clothes will change depending upon their location, there are a limited number of different faces in Fable. There are only about five or so different looking men and women. Often, you will see a group of identical traders together, looking rather unusual. It would have been nice to see some more different-looking humans in Fable.

Your own character is visually stunning. He moves smoothly and realistically. Scars will appear on your face if you are receiving a large number of blows from your enemies. Your clothing reacts to the situations that you are in perfectly and looks amazing. You hair will blow in the breeze or react to any movement. The attention to detail that has been spent on your character is simply amazing.

The music in Fable couldnt fit the game any better. From the opening soundtrack through to the in-game music, it fits the whole style of Fable perfectly. The music is moody, strong and powerful when needed, such as during battle sequences, but becomes smooth and calm when in a village or town. Orchestral pieces of music have been used to create the perfect sense of an old, timeless world in which Fable is based on.

The voice acting is generally of a high standard. Characters around you will speak their sentences in impressive, expressive tones of voice. Occasionally, though, a townsfolk sounds rather ordinary and out-of-place when compared to the people around him.

Although some highly anticipated features have been removed from the final version of Fable, the game still is an awesome title. The storyline is interesting and engaging, the gameplay is expansive and unique, the graphics are jaw dropping and the sound is perfect. Although it may disappoint those who expected more from the title, what the game actually does do makes it one of the best RPG games available. No longer are you limited to do only one thing you have the freedom to do almost anything you want. The amount of side quests and activities is very impressive, creating plenty of reasons to play through several times.

I only really have one problem with Fable the targeting system. It really is difficult to find any other notable problems with this game. Fable is an excellent RPG that I recommend anyone should give a try.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.