Fable Xbox Review

Keeping promises is tough, especially when you're dealing with a fickle group of video game players. Director Peter Molyneaux has the ideas; there are just times when the technology isn't there to match them. Fable was promised to be so much more, yet when you're done with this 10+ hour adventure, you'll never realize things that were promised were missing.

The core mechanic, choosing which path to follow as you live out an adventurer's life, is the basis for Fable. It's what the game started to be, and it's still what it has become. Compared to other titles that follow this same mode, Fable allows for extensive freedom, to be the character you want to be. There's little holding you back other than the mission structure.

That sends players around the games gorgeous and fully realized world, performing (or not) various deeds. Certain ones allow the player to choose which side to be on, others unfortunately force the player into doing something else. It's impossible to play through without performing at least one deed for the other side. That one will hardly make a difference as your character evolves with both a personality and noticeable body changes. People will either cheer you on or duck and run depending on your choices. This is a small, noticeable, and fun inclusion, and one that really sets the game apart.

Combat, at least on the surface, is simplistic. It's not deeper than any standard beat-em-up. A few three-hit combos late in the game and it's enough to take down just about anyone. It's enough to turn off those looking for a deep, involving RPG experience initially.

Under the surface is where things start to happen, with an evolving magic system, strengthening, and other increased attributes. Leveling up is sometimes annoying, as you're required to visit the sole place in the entire game that lets you do so, and loading times are aggravating (a major missed promise from Molyneaux early on).

It's not all just missions and combat. There are plenty of things to keep players busy, including a far-more-addictive-than-it-should-be table golf mini-game (amongst others like Blackjack). You can buy houses and decorate them for cash when you decide to rent them out, marry women, sneak into residences at night, barter between stores, fish, dig for treasure, or just generally annoy people.

One aggravating features is the voice work, particularly the guild master who is constantly in your ear. If your health is low and you're void of any power-ups, he'll remind you of what you need every 15-seconds or so, regardless of how far you are in the game. Not even the score, beautifully written by Danny Elfman and Russell Shaw (the latter who composed another Molyneaux original Black & White) can cover up the repetitive acting.

Even if it wasn't completely what the director wanted or told gamers it would be, that's nothing against what is a fabulous title. This is a premiere game for the Xbox, masterfully crafted from the ground up, and one of the best reasons to own the console. If you're worried about the length, don't be. The replay value here is tremendous, and playing the opposite side is a remarkably different experience. Exploration has never been more engrossing.

Note: Breaking Windows nominee for 2004 Game of the Year. Also be sure to read Ken's review of Fable.

Comments (4)

Jordan Fouts:

I just found out about a release of Fable for the PC, an enhanced version... something like 33% more stuff (weapons, clothes, places). Anyone seen this, played it, could tell me how awesome it is?

It is called Fable: The Lost Chapters. It is coming to the Xbox as well. In short, it will kick but. Fable kicked but, TLC will kick even more butt.

I am not sure I will be spending $50 for just a little more questing, but if you missed it the first time around, it is more then worth it to buy. And you absolutely need to play this game (at least) twice for both morality story-lines and endings.

I like the idea of Lost Chapters, I don't like how it works. You can't just import a character and pick up after the game ended. You have to play all the way through to see the new stuff. To that I say: NO.

I agree with that Matt. Shame on them. But hey, for those who haven't put countless hours into Fable yet, they reap the rewards.

So I guess you just revealed another reason why I am not getting The Lost Chapters. I hadn't read there was no import of a character.

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