Fable: The Lost Chapters

February 26, 2006

Let’s get this out of the way first: [i]Fable[/i] is a game directed by Peter Molyneux. He promised all kinds of cool things that did not end up in the final release. Boo hoo. Get over it. Now, with all of that over and done with, what we have is one of the PC’s best action RPGs in a long time. If you played the original Xbox version of [i]Fable[/i], you’re not going to see very much that is new. There are a few notable editions, but [i]The Lost Chapters[/i] is the same game you played on the Xbox a year ago. Now, PC players can join in on the fun.

PC gamers do not get to enjoy the hack-and-slash games that their console brethren get to very often. The click-fest genre has been quite dry since [i]Diablo II[/i], so it turns out that [i]Fable[/i] is a very welcome addition the PC library. The core gameplay of [i]Fable[/i] is what you would expect. You click with the mouse, and as a result, things die. There are many ways to cause this death. Huge swords, accurate long bows and powerful magical spells round off your character’s abilities. Most likely, you will pick one of these specialties and stick with it for the majority of the game, as specialization is certainly the way to success.

The combat system is not very robust, even given the large array of abilities you can pick from. You will most likely pick one of the three and use it almost exclusively. Melee fighters have a definite advantage over the magic users and archers. They are capable of building up much larger combos much quicker and are generally more fun to play. The gameplay when the player is utilizing magic or arrows requires a lot of running away, which unfortunately causes a lot of difficulty because of the game’s seemingly broken lock-on system. (Not the only thing that the game borrows from the [i]Zelda[/i] series, the system for locking onto characters just simply does not work very well.) You will lock onto one character and then be harried from the back, and there is no easy way to switch away from the character that you are targeting to another one quick enough. Combat forms the bulk of [i]Fable[/i]’s gameplay, and as a whole, it is satisfying.

If [i]Fable[/i] does not shine in an amazing combat system, what does it do well? The main draw of [i]Fable[/i] over another game is the rich world in which you will be traveling. As a young hero in a world of competing heroes and lesser folk, you will have to earn your mettle with gradually more difficult missions. Through the use of a hub guild, the player will go on quests. Completing quests awards experience points, money and prestige. The experience points can be put into learning new magical spells, toughening up your character or making him more agile. The game does not explicitly have classes, but there are three categories for growth which epitomize the classes of Fighter, Thief and Magic User. The money can be used to buy new weapons, gifts for the ladies and even a few houses. Earning prestige will make your character more memorable. Crowds will cheer for popular heroes as they pass, and grateful women will throw themselves at you. Prestige also earns you access to more advanced quests.

It is this interaction with the people around you that makes the game at once a great victory and a terrible tragedy. The groundwork is clearly here for a more advanced game system, with more clear consequences for good and evil actions, but the game does not really tackle these subjects. Your actions have clear results. Guards will try to stop you from committing crimes, and killing indiscriminately will affect an alignment stat. After many hours with [i]Fable[/i], the interaction with NPCs becomes surprisingly shallow. You can make friends, fall in love, get married and perform quests for people, but there isn’t a lot to it beyond that. The game is thankfully short in this regard. Just as you start to bore with the NPC interactions, the game is over.

Aesthetically, [i]Fable[/i] really works. The graphics look beautifulA

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.