Peter Molyneux’s latest brainchild, Fable, has become one of the best Xbox games on the market. The open-ended RPG, which hit the shelves in September, follows a character through the world of Albion, based on the player’s decisions rather than following a linear storyline. The player creates a character, who is dropped into the game as a child just before bandits attack his town. From there, the game opens up to a whole new world where the player is faced with decisions between good and evil.
The player’s choices may not affect the main quest directly, but they do change how the NPCs in the game react to even the mere presence of the character. Evil characters are often feared and reviled while good characters are heartthrobs for the ladies and negotiate more easily with other NPCs. This not only allows for different playing styles, but also provides certain benefits depending on what side the player chooses to ally with.
One of the more interesting things to do as an evil character has to do with real estate. In the game, the character can buy vacant houses (and later use them to house a wife), but evil characters can save money by slaughtering the whole village and later buying the bottomed out property.
Borrowing from Dungeon Siege, a PC game developed by the same company, characters in Fable do not “level up” in the traditional RPG sense. Rather, they level up based on how often they do things and gain points in specific areas, which can later be used to raise those specific stats. Characters who use bows build up more dexterity points, for example, while those who use swords or magic add to their own respective point areas. A smaller amount of general experience is granted with each kill.
The open-ended quest may be short—it can be finished between the average gamer in 10-15 hours—but it provides plenty of replay value. There are numerous secrets, many of which have yet to be uncovered months after its release, and the game is different every time depending on how the player acts. The way a player acts also directly affects how the character looks. Good characters are often younger and better looking and sport bright armor. Evil characters are old and so ugly they scare little children.
That’s another good thing about this game—the graphics. Although they cannot compare to Doom 3 or Halo 2, they are still above average and the changing character appearance is a unique effect. Completely evil characters’ appearances shift if a player starts doing good things, and so forth. It’s a little detail that adds to the game.
Also, the soundtrack to the game is superb. Music within the game provides the perfect mood for each location from the dark and murky swamp to the cold caves to the prestigious hero’s guild. The voice acting in the game is also decent. While not the best, it does add to the game rather than detract as in many of games of late.
Controls in Fable are quite simple and conform well to the Xbox controller. One trigger controls the sword, the other the bow, while the d-pad controls emotes and the buttons control magic and action. The camera is controlled easily with one of the joysticks (and usually is very cooperative anyway) and the other controls the character.
Overall, Fable is another great game put out by Lionhead Studios. Since it is an exclusive, it will only be on the Xbox, which helps since the ‘box lacks good RPGs. Enjoyable to play over and over, Fable is a definite buy for anyone who likes RPGs and who owns an Xbox. If you don’t own an Xbox, buy one, otherwise you will seriously be missing out on a great game.