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gaming since 1997

Fable

If I had followed Fable for the last couple of years, my mind would be filled with towering expectations. The yearlong hype that preceded the coming of Lionhead’s role playing game didn’t get my attention. I took off my blinkers now and then to pick up a glimpse of some new screenshots, but movies: forget it. I tried my best to keep my gaming experience fresh and exciting. For those among you who are thinking: “well bloody hell, why didn’t I think of that?”, no worries: Fable is hype-worthy!

The story is set in the fairy-tale world Albion. Your adventure begins in your birthplace Oakvale. As a young rascal you have to perform a couple of good deeds for your dad. He’ll give you some money with which you can buy a nice present for your younger sister. The quests you’ll have to take include telling on a local adulterous man, saving a teddy bear and protecting some crates. These are all fairly easy missions which introduce you with the intuitive control scheme of Fable. The peaceful village isn’t the perfect background for a compelling story, therefor a couple of bandits are disturbing the peace by setting your family’s house on fire, taking your mother and sister and killing your dad before your own eyes. A heroic lad named Maze will come to save you from the evil men and he decides to take you up in his guild. This will be your base of operations where you’ll first get a short tutorial to learn the fighting system. Later on it will be possible to improve your hero there and to get new quests.

One of the innovations with which Peter Molyneux loved to brag, is the evolution of your appearance. As days go by, your looks will change, depending on your actions. This process will go very rapidly during your early years of life. Once you’ve mastered your swordsman skills, you’ll get the choice to proceed to puberty. Your appearance will change by the touch of a button and this way it doesn’t really feel like an evolution. From one moment to the next you’ll have a lower voice, hair will grow under your armpits and you’ll get excited by looking at women’s underwear (in a manner of speaking of course). You won’t be spending a lot of time in puberty, soon you’ll get the choice to evolve to adulthood. When you finally get the chance to leave the guild and go on a quest, you’ll be fully grown and ready for battle. From now on your actions will have an impact on your looks. If you drink liters of beer every evening, you shouldn’t be shocked by the absence of females that are interested in you. Even if you’re really convincing with one-liners such as: “all good tools are placed under a shed”, as long as your hero is equiped with a bar spoiler (beer belly), the women won’t bite. The tempting part about drinking beer is the effect of being drunk, which the guys of Lionhead achieved of putting in the game. After your third beer, your image will become more fussy and your character will bend over to get those extra liters out. A tip: throw up outside as the barkeeper isn’t really keen on your smelly vomit.

Self-mutilation is also possible in the world of Albion. During your adventure you’ll meet guys that are happy to get you inked up with the coolest tattoos. These can be either appealing or scary, depending on your preferences. Aside from this you’ll also be able to get some fresh new haircuts and shaves so you won’t have to walk around Albion looking like a bum, that’s nice isn’t it? With your trendy haircut and cool beard you’ll be picking up chicks with the blink of an eye. After a certain amount of experience you’ll get new expressions which will have, depending on your playing style, good or bad intentions. The “hero pose” for instance will make all the girls fall in love with you. Once you get a lady crazy enough to like you, you can go out and buy her a wedding ring. The greedy bitch will immediately ask for a house and send you to go and find a nice crib.

This will cost you handful of cash of course and money doesn’t grow on trees, not even in Albion. There are several ways of earning some green. The most conservative is probably finishing missions. This will usually earn you the most cash, making the other methods less important. The bar games, like memory and black jack, will only make you rich when you’re betting a lot of money and, of course, doubling it. For the criminal minded among you, you’ll also be able to go and rob the poor people. This however will make your character turn more to the evil side and you’ll have to be careful with the numerous guards patrolling each village. The last option to get you financially wealthy is trading. This will take a lot of time because you first have to search for a trader who wants your goods and then hope for a decent prize. These ways of earning money do add some nice variation to the game but they won’t make you a millionaire.

What has been mentioned so far are all matters of secondary importance. Your main goal is to finish the quests. In Fable you’ll get two kinds of those: main and side quests. It’s obvious that the main are the most important and will keep the story going. The side missions have a more filling nature but do offer enough variation to play them too. These include saving a little child, accompanying a trader through the dark woods and beating up some bandits that are trying to steal the food supplies. When you only play the main quests you’ll soon see the credits; therefor it’s advised to take on some side missions too, not only to improve the lasting appeal but also because they’re just plain fun. Most quests can be gotten in the guild but some can be found along the way.

Before you start your mission you’ll get the opportunity to do boosts. Can you fight without using your weapons, without taking damage or are you going to fight those bandits in your underwear without protection? The choice is yours, taking boosts will make the mission more difficult but if you succeed it will mean more money and more renown.

Your renown level will define how the people of Albion see you. If you’ve got a lot of it they’ll cheer for you, if you’re a scared coward however they’ll insult you. They’ll also come up with a nickname which you can change whenever you want. Another way of improving your renown is showing off your trophy’s, which you’ll get after a successful mission.

The fighting system in Fable is real time. No suddenly popping up enemies, waiting times or menu’s, just straight on action. You can use your fists but the weapon offer in Fable is much more fun and effective of course. The swords, axes and bows can all be improved with silver (to pierce through armor) and fire augmentations (causing more damage to those susceptible to fire). Aside from the weapons you’ll also get a huge variety of magical powers. These are divided into three categories: attack, surround spells and physical spells. The attack spells are obviously meant for directly taking on your enemies (lightning strikes, fire blasts). The surround ones have an effect on all the surrounding bad guys, such as the force push which will push the foos to the floor like falling domino’s. The physical spells are more focused on yourself, like the ability to heal yourself.

The most impressive part of Fable is probably the atmosphere. From the rippling rills in the forests to the cute little houses in the villages; it all gives that proper feel of living in one big fairy-tale. This is one of the best looking games on Xbox; we’ll overlook the sporadic slow downs during big battles. As impressive as the graphics, the sound is perhaps even better. Where the supposed opponent Sudeki offered one of the worst voice-overs ever, Fable does the exact opposite. The voices you’ll hear during your adventure are at times hilarious and, more important, really suiting in the game. This is, together with the magnificent soundtrack, easily one of the best sounding games too.

When you look up Fable in a dictionary (www.dictionary.co.uk) you’ll find the following:
fable

noun {C or U}
a short story which tells a general truth or is only partly based on fact, or literature of this type
fabled

adjective {before noun} LITERARY
describes something or someone who has been made very famous, especially by having many stories written about them:

And this definition hits the nail right on the head; Fable is a short story. With the side quests included it’s finished in 15 hours. This is mainly due to the difficulty level which is, in comparison to other role playing games, really low. This will result in a unsatisfied feeling and the longing for more. On one hand they offer you tons of gameplay possibilities and on the other hand they give you a short lasting appeal making. As for the yearlong hype, Fable is more than fabled. It has been made very famous throughout the years but it’s hype-worthy. Fable is easily the best role playing game you can find on your Xbox to date.

Our Score:
9.0
related game: Fable
posted in: Microsoft, Reviews, Xbox
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