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Fable
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Fable
Genre: Action RPG
Publisher?
Microsoft
When's it out?
8 October 2004
What platforms?
Xbox
How much?
£39.99
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Create your life story from childhood to death, your every action determining your skills, appearance, and reputation... Chris Haythornthwaite had a look - will he choose to be good..or...eeek...evil?

quoteNo smooth intro this time, no fancy way of setting up the review talking about leggings, swords or big bugs, not this time, just straight in for the kill, this game is fantastic, and if you don't believe me then read on and I'll prove it to you.

At first glance you would be forgiven for thinking this is a hardcore RPG (Role-Playing Game) that will only to appeal to those people that just can't get enough of player stats, dice and going to see Lord of the Rings 27 times. Well you're partly correct it is all this and yet it is so much more.

In a nut shell, Fable is a game comprised of three different genres, you have your RPG elements as stated, and let's not get confused; first and foremost it IS an RPG, but then there is the action genre and interestingly the sim (simulation) genre mixed in as well. I use the word sim here because if any of you have played 'The Sims' then you will recognise certain elements of this game immediately. So I will go through each of these genres and explain how the game uses them to blend an engaging, thrilling, exciting experience together on one small plastic disk.

The Role Playing Game - If you enjoy playing any role-playing games from traditional board inspired games such as 'Dungeons and Dragons' to more modern interpretations like the 'Final Fantasy' franchise or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, then you will like what Fable has to offer. All the usual features are here from a plethora of weapons to the basic attributes that you build up using experience from victories in battle, in Fable you have three; Strength, Skill and Magic. You take quests that will earn you gold so that you can buy better weapons and over the course of the game you will learn new skills depending on the different skill roots you take. Classes also exist where you can choose to be a thief, assassin, rogue etc, however in Fable you can choose to adopt a class whenever the fancy takes you because you purchase them from traders and if you would like to change then you just buy a new one, you will then be known by that new class. This means you can have a go at being a warrior for some of the time then a thief for the rest or whatever you like, which adds a little more variety into this incredibly deep game.

A new feature of this RPG is the boasting system, this is quite a nifty idea. When you take a quest you can choose to make a variety of bets on the quest which if won wins you extra gold and allows you to become more renown, (which I will come onto in the next section). For example, I took a quest to defend some goods from bandits and I made two bets, firstly that I would not let any of the other guards defending the goods die and the second to perform the quest naked apart from a loin cloth (therefore removing all of my armour). I then set to the quest and when I had completed it I won the bets, which got me better prizes. This again adds a little extra spice to what could be just your standard go on quest, level up, buy a new sword, go on another new quest and so on. However this is just the tip of the innovation iceberg.

Chris Haythornthwaite
Chris "level-up" Haythornthwaite

The Action Game - Although not as deep as the RPG elements, there has been some thought put into the action elements of this game. The control system is good allowing multiple different attacks; melee, ranged and magic all can be used at the touch of a couple of buttons. There is also a handy multiplier that has been added to the combat which means when in the heat of a battle the more enemies you slay the more your multiplier goes up. When you come to collect the experience orbs at the end that have fallen out of the enemy you get multiplier bonuses based on how many you managed to slay. This means that the normally monotonous hack and slash sections that come in most RPG's don't appear here because you are always keeping an eye on your multiplier. You can only access some of the side quests if you can get your multiplier high enough in certain battles. Another feature is the flourish move, when you manage to land more than one hit without getting hit yourself you can activate a flourish move, this is unblockable and helps to build your multiplier up, it only disappears once you get hit. And of course coupled with the levelling up system the action elements subtlety change, as your character gets faster and stronger.

The Sim Game - Now take all of the above and integrate that into the Sims, you are now getting the sort of idea that of what Fable is like. As well as the quests, the levelling up, the new weapons and the ability to boast you also have a character that you must nurture as well, and this is completely open ended, I'll explain what I mean. Your character has social interactions that you can access and use on anyone you meet. This will affect how that person or people treat you.

For instance if you talk nicely to some of the traders you can get discounts, but it goes so much deeper than that. You can meet a lady, woo her, get married, buy a house, get divorced, meet another lady, woo her and so on, all independent from the main storyline. The game keeps track of all the marriages, divorces and kids you've had, it'll even tell you how many times your character has had sex. It's like a whole separate game that has been integrated, it really does take the term role-playing game literally.

You can even change your characters appearance so you can go to the barbers and get all manner of hair cuts or facial hair, you can also get all kinds of tattoos and clothes. However these are just little extras that the developers added, the main feature of the simulation is a technique that was adopted by Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), where you choose whether you are going to take the good path or the evil path. Like KOTOR, Fable offers you decisions and which option you decide upon will either give you good points or evil points. The outcome of this is it shapes the way the game plays through. People might fear, or celebrate you, you might be welcomed or people might drive you away. Even your appearance will change, for instance if you go down the good path butterflies will be attracted to you and you will glow, whereas if you pursue the bad path you will grow horns and attract insects. The way these choices are put forward are more subtle than you might find in KOTOR often being hidden, meaning that sometimes you don't realise you have just got evil points for breaking that barrel that belonged some villager and therefore you have destroyed their property, the depth here is amazing.

So there you have it, a very brief description of some of the best features about this game. There is so much I have not mentioned that appear in the game and that really is Fable's strength, it is so deep and playable that it will suck you in for months and not let go. However this is also its weakness, if you don't 'do complicated', if you're not into stats and levelling up, or fantasy settings then you won't like this and that is shame, because I really think this is one game that is a genre beater, it stands above the rest as the pinnacle of the Role Playing Game at the moment (at least that is my opinion).

Now if you have read this and you still disagree with my original statement that this game is fantastic, then thanks for reading and I might suggest that this game really isn't for you, however that doesn't stop it from being a truly fantastic game in every sense of the word.

Now I'm off to patch things up with my fifth wife...quote

The views expressed on this page are those of the contributor and the opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the BBC.

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