Fable Xbox Review
The greatest story ever told?
Fable chronicles the life story of a hero. The game starts off with you playing as a boy in his younger years free from the influence and pressures of life, where he is not swayed in any particular way. Nor is he either good or evil, but as the game unfolds he is going to become an avatar of you; the way you look at life and whether you want to be good or evil. Your decisions decide what happens to your hero, well most of them do!
Starting in childhood, you begin your progress through the game. In a matter of minutes you will have performed your first good/evil deed and so begins your story, or should I say you’re Fable begins. Once you have learned the basic mechanics of the game by doing various tasks through OakVale (your home town) the story will start to progress further. Once that cut-scene happens (which I will not talk about as it would be a slight spoiler) you find yourself in a guild where you begin your training to become a warrior. This is also where your hero will begin to grow up and by the time you have learned all of your skills you will have become an adult and be ready to begin the main part of the game. You will now begin “your” Fable.
You progress through Fable by taking part in quests, to do this you go to the Hero guild and pick one from the list available. Complete a quest and you earn gold and gain experience points. With the gold you can either buy new clothes/potions/gifts/houses and other endless amounts of items, far too many to list! With the experience points you upgrade your character. You’re also given the option to boast before you set out on you quest, you could for example proclaim you will “complete the quest naked using only your fist” if you meet these deadline you will get more gold for your achievements. Some quests will take you far away from the guild but thankfully teleport locations are scattered throughout the game so there is basically no need for annoying backtracking. If you need to get from one end of the world to the other quickly you will be blessing LionHead for their addition.
Even though Fable has plenty of depth for the regular “hardcore” RPG’er it still has a simple enough interface to allow a newcomer to enjoy the genre. The combat system allows you to do a variety of things but most importantly it does not feel cluttered in any way, in less than an hour almost all commands will seem second nature to you and should be very intuitive.
Fables combat system is real time. The left trigger allows you to lock onto your target (like the Legend of Zelda games) holding the right trigger opens the magic menu, “X” is your attack button, “Y” is block. Although the combat system works well for most of the game it can get a bit messed up at times, especially while fighting groups of enemies. Sometimes it chooses to target one of the furthest away enemies thus letting one of the closer ones take a clean swipe at you, even worse it may decided to lock on to a “Friendly” which then hurts the character your supposed to be saving and even worse may give you an unwanted “evil point”. Thankfully these mistakes are not evident through out the whole game and only happen in extremely chaotic situation when you are fighting over half a dozen enemies. Although this tarnishes your enjoyment at times it doesn’t annoy enough to ruin your fun outright.
So far I have just talked about choosing quests and basically doing what the game tells you to do but this is not what Fable is about, if you followed the game through its long development then you will know Fable is about doing what you want to do when you want to do it. To get your moneys worth out of Fable it is best to interact with others as much as you can. Why get married once, when you can do it twice, maybe three times? Maybe you find the girl of your dreams in the game but you find out she is married! Don’t worry!! Just find her husband take him out to the woods “dispose” of him and let you live happily ever after. You see a house you want? Buy It! Someone else is already living there? Dispose!!!!
Of course you can do other nicer things if you so wish, I was just giving examples. Make sure you don’t just play though Fable by doing quest after quest, make sure you explore your surroundings. Try to do things you might not think are possible in a game and you might be surprised what happens. Think outside the box when you play Fable! It’s worth it!!
There is a living world in Fable you so why don’t you play in it?
Graphically, Fable has a very eye-catching look. The townspeople are alive, each of them going about their daily duties. The environments are beautiful, each with their own little eccentricities and little details that most gamers will not notice but they really help to make the world what it is and make it feel alive. Whether you chose to adventure in the forests, graveyards, caverns or any of the other glorious created locations you will notice they each have their own ambiance and slightly different graphically touches. When using spells the whole area and other characters light up and look stunning and this is a joy to look at! Even though the game graphically pushes the Xbox close to its limits it still manages to run the game at a respectable framerate without including too long of loading times.
But by far the most graphically impressive aspect of Fable is how your character develops parallel to the decisions you make within the game. Watching your hero take shape will be a different experience for everyone and I will not spoil it by including any details here. You may have heard of the long-running argument of “graphics don’t make a game” well in Fables case they certainly do help.
Similarly to the graphics, Fable does not disappoint in the audio department either. The game is expertly scored and if you have a 5.1 system hooked up you will be in audio heaven! A magnificent classical-style orchestral score plays as you adventure throughout the game and it changes majestically in its tone and in its mood to fit whatever situation you find yourself in on your travels. Danny Elfman also scored a beautiful song for the opening of the game, which suits the game ambience and mood perfectly.
Almost all of Fables characters have full voiceover each with their own brand of wit and humour. The game’s voice acting is of the highest quality, on par or maybe even surpassing games like Metal Gear Solid. There are enough different sound samples in the game to assure you won’t hear repeats too many times but unfortunately it does happen from time to time. Overall the sound aspect of Fable is amazingly well-done.
Surprisingly, Fable is a short game. The main story could be completed in less than 12 hours, that is if you want to skip all side-quests and if you are thinking of skipping the side-quests then why are you thinking of buying Fable? Fable is about doing what you want to do when you want to do it, if you ever played any games from the GTA series then you will understand what I mean. You may sit down in front of the TV thinking “I will finish this quest and then off to bed”…. 2 hours later and you will probably have never started that quest you set out to do. You will have probably decided to spend your time farting at half the people of Albion and giving “the finger” to the rest!
Fable’s world is full of hidden secrets, hidden secrets you will actually want to find, Albion really is a world you will want to explore and find out all you can about it. If you get bitten by the Fable bug and chose to seek out everything the game has to offer then you could be playing for well over 30 hours or literally as long as you want to. There should be something new to find every time you play! The game does have multiple endings depending on your morality and ultimate decisions you make so these is a reason to play the game through again if you want to
Fable is about experiencing the journey not about hurrying to the finish!
All in all Fable is a solid action RPG.
If you were expecting an exciting RPG with humorous moments, moments that make you feel a tinge of sadness that includes small instances that make you look at how you live your own life as you play the game and then Fable is most definitely for you. However, If you were expecting a true non-linear game that lets you personalize your own story and create your own legend in a gaming world then prepare to be disappointed. Fable does not offer the true free form world that it may have promised upon its announcement but it does go some way to pushing the boundaries of the genre. Peter Molyneaux and the guys at Lionhead have managed to do something very special indeed even if they did not succeed in the way they thought was possible 4 years ago they have now opened the doors for others to try. A brand new genre could now unfold in the coming years because of the work these guys put in. A true free-from adventure is not possible in gaming today, but imagine what we could be playing in the future!
So to answer the question I posed at the start of the review; is Fable the greatest story every told? I would have to say no, but it still is a damn good one!
Heroes get remembered, legends live forever. Fable will be remembered.
8.9 out of 10