was released on the Xbox in 2004. Developed by Big Blue Box, a satellite developer for Lionhead Studios (Black & White
showed promise of being one of the most unique and exciting action-RPG titles of the early 2000s. It boasted a big in-game world filled with rolling hills, mountains, waterfalls, caves, and forests, an exciting and engaging story, and memorable characters and adventures. However, Fable
's main selling point revolved around the players' Hero. During the game your Hero reflected your playing style - changing both the world and how it reacted to him and your own physical appearance depending on if you chose the role of a great Hero of good or one of Darkness and evil. On release, Fable
did pretty well earning the top spot for copies sold at that time on the Xbox and the game received fairly positive reviews from magazines and websites alike. In 2005, another title named Fable: The Lost Chapters
appeared on the PC and Xbox - this was an extended version of the game which added new quests, items (armor, weapons, etc), characters, and the like.
In 2004, Fable's graphics were top notch, and even for these days they're not all that terrible to look at. The strongest thing about the visual style of Fable was its ability to really use that resource to its overall success. The environments, character designs, and effects in the game perfectly reflects the overtones of the game and the story unraveling before you. Fable effectively places you in a world that you feel like your imagining after picking an old, page torn fantasy novel off the shelf. Albion has bright sunny country sides, dark mysterious forests, grand and spectacular cities, and frightening graveyards - all of which jump off the screen at you.
Graphics = 9/10
As mentioned earlier, Fable's biggest selling point revolves around the players' Hero. He will age, become scarred, can get tattoos, wear different styles of hair, own property, and even get married. Your Hero can also become either Good or Evil, a mechanic we're more than familiar with these days but not too widely used in 2004. Depending on the players' actions the Hero will physically change over time: Good heroes will have bright skin and glowing locks while Evil heroes' skin becomes grayer over time, their eyes begin to glow red, and they even start to grow horns from their heads. But your own physical condition is not the only thing which is effected, the world around you and how it reacts to you is also taken into account. If you're Good the masses will flock to you, women will love you, and the people will generally praise you. However, if you're Evil they'll curse your name, run from you, and sometimes blatantly attack you.
Like most RPGs, Fable will present the player with a series of quests and adventures that can be undertaken to either provide fame and fortune or further the main story. These can accessed via the Heroes Guild on Quest Cards. The player can choose whether or not to do certain quests but in order to advance the game and ultimately beat it the story driven quests must be completed. When a quest is chosen, the player then can have the choice of boasting. This means that prior to heading out on the quest, the player can agree to certain terms during the adventure. This can include say...killing 25 enemies, completing the quest without taking damage, or even doing the whole quest in nothing but your underwear. Upon successful completion of these boasts the Hero will earn more money and more Renown (popularity).
The combat of Fable is fairly simple: hack and slash. The player can essentially choose four different ways to fight: melee, ranged, magic, or a combination of the three. How you fight remains up to you and the weaknesses of your enemies. However, what you choose can also have a greater effect on your character: by upgrading (with XP) one of the three different styles (Strength, Skill, and Will) your own physical appearance can change. For instance Heroes with high levels of Strength will make your Hero more bulky and toned, higher levels of Skill will make you taller and faster, and high levels of Will (or magic) can cause glowing runes to appear on your Heroes' flesh. The only downside to Fable's combat system is blocking, while totally possible to block I found it harder to utilize and get used to more than other games. I can't really explain it at the moment.
For those looking for an epically long game look elsewhere, from start to finish this title only lasted me about six hours of gameplay. This unfortunately is a drawback to the title, with a world this size and full of so many things to do there just doesn't seem to be enough time to do it in. Now, you may say: "well hey, they do give you the choice to stop and finish up exploring and such before completing the story" but you'll find that you'll be playing Fable as a race against time - and by time I mean old age. One of the drawbacks to Fable's running time and age mechanic is that since the game is in fact around 6 - 7 hours long normally your Hero will age at least five years for every hour you play, thus by the end you're no longer a young handsome warrior but rather a scarred grey old man. This is one of my turn-offs for the game. I could understand a steady age mechanic but this one leaps around way to fast for my liking.
Gameplay = 9/10
Surprisingly, the music for Fable was actually composed and performed by Danny Elfman (Batman, Sleepy Hollow, The Kingdom). The Hollywood caliber music shows through and does wonders for the game, giving it that big fantasy adventure feeling. Beyond the score, the sound effects are usually well done but for the most part can become bland, and the voice work is well done but nothing too exceptional.
Audio = 4/5
Truth be told Fable does in fact have a lot of replay value. The game begs to be played again and again due to its ability to present the player with a different experience every time. For instance not only can you play through once as Good or Evil but you can choose to do and be lots of different things. You may want to play as an Evil warrior one time and then as a Good archer, or better yet as a balanced Will user. Or maybe you want to have a wife in every town and city, or be a trader and go from town to town buying and selling goods, or better yet how about making your character the village drunkard - there really are no limits to what you can and can't do with your time in Fable's world. I played this time through as a Good archer, I believe next time I will make my Hero into a Evil Will user - destroying everything in my path and showing mercy to none.
Fable's story takes place in the fantasy world of Albion and revolves around the players' character (referred to as mostly "Hero" throughout the game but you can take up nicknames) and his quest to reunite his family years after their village was attacked and burned. Seeming to be the only survivor of the attack, "Hero" is taken in by Maze (a wizard) and raised at the Heroes Guild until being let loose into the world after his training. Fable's story remains fairly simple which allows the player to be able to explore the world more often and more freely without having to always be paying attention to the greater plot at hand.
The point of Fable is to sort of make your own story for yourself as you make your way through the ever constant actual plot that sits in the background and waits for you to complete it whenever you're ready. This approach works fairly well but also can sometimes feel as if the story of the game is sort of half-assed and is trying to make up for it with freedom of choice.
This is a new section of my reviews I'm going to implement from here on out. This will be a little section where I will list/explain some of the more serious drawbacks and negatives of the game that I couldn't find room to or an appropriate place to put.
- The game was fairly short, too short even for my standards (and I think8 hours sometimes is pushing it)
- NPC character models were just too bland and repetitive after awhile
- The expression mechanic didn't ever really work the way I wanted it toand felt a little tacked on and useless
- While there are various kinds of weapons and armor in the game that effectalignment and such I felt that there really weren't too many to choose from,for instance a bow I purchased halfway through the game ended up being thehighest level of bow there is
- The ability to have kids didn't make it into this title as promisedby its developers but it seems as though it has been included in Fable II
- Aging mechanic works a little too fast
Overall, Fable is a wonderful game! It provides enough freedom to satisfy most fans of that sort of gameplay but also doesn't overwhelm you - leaving you to wonder what exactly you should be doing half the time. The point of the game is choice - it's up to you what your own experience of the game is going to be. You can play Fable by strictly staying to the story, or you can use your time to mess about and cause trouble it's all up to you. If you're thinking about picking up this title, I would track down The Lost Chapters, both games should be fairly cheap by now but TLC at least has more content to it.
Final Score = 34/40 = 85%