Big Blue Box
Microsoft
RPG
1
09.14.04

Fable


Big Blue Box and Lionhead Studios have created one monster of a game. This was possibly the second most anticipated game in Xbox history, and the most anticipated RPG in years. There hasn't been much for us Xbox owners in terms of RPG's, but this game satisfies us all. You take control of a character and lead him through life. Everything you do, every choice you make, shapes who you become. Straight from the package, "For every choice, a consequence." This is the RPG we have all been waiting for.

Graphics

The first thing to say about these graphics is that they immediately seem different than any other Xbox game. There seems to have been some sort of change. In this case, change is a very good thing and nevertheless, they are excellent. The physical beauty of this game is almost impossible to ignore. Every detail is present. From little fluttering butterflies to massive swaying trees, the environment is beautiful. The lighting effects are well timed and placed and some of the atmospheres are truly scary. This is a great game to play at night. There are some truly amazing graphical effects in the towns, villages, and houses. They are sights to behold. You might want to live in some of them, and consequently in this game, you can. Next, the amount of detail put into the clothing and armor is superb. Some of the suits of armor are especially appealing and ornate. There's light and dark suits of each armor, and for a little hint, you always look better in black. Furthermore, the magical effects are sweet. The fluidity of combat and the flourish moves are simply great. The amount of effort put into these graphics shows through.

The only flaws with the graphics are occasional glitches during combat, but they hardly ever happen. I would have liked to see a fully seamless gameplay experience, but with the immensity of the game, it is understandable even though it does at times take away from the excitement of the game. Also, the monsters could have been made up better. They weren't incredibly scary and weren't fearsome at all. These two things are definitely not something to dwell on, and you will probably not notice them unless you read this. The amazing atmosphere and gorgeous environments overshadow all of these minor mishaps. In summary, this game is a sight to feast your eyes on.

Sound

The sound is amazing…simply amazing. On a personal note, this is the best musical score I've given for any game I have ever played. Yes, even better than Halo. From wind and fire to laughter and screams, to steel on steel action, this game has a sound effect for everything. Further effects come from the villagers and people you encounter as the comments they make are realistic and sometimes quite humorous. There are some weird voices on occasion, but that just adds to the beauty of the game. The background music is perfectly "in tune" with the action of the game, and it is particularly worth noting. The only knock on the sound is that the main character (you) does not speak. Since the game revolves around you, it would have been nice to be able to speak, but once again the game is so immense that it could be understandable that it was overlooked. In any case, it just adds to Fable's uniqueness.

Replay Value

This is a game that lets you create your own path. Light or dark? Mage or warrior, or a combination of the two? Married or single? City dweller or rogue? It's all your choice. These are just samples of the choices you can make throughout the game. And because of the sheer number of choices you can make and the sheer immensity of this game, you can do nothing but play it over and over again. However, the only thing that you must be warned of, is that no matter what you do in the beginning of your game or how you approach your character, you always end up doing the same final quest. Then you go off to hunt down monsters, or if you haven't already, settle down, marry, and have a family. However, there really isn't much holding this game back. There is so much to do. Think Morrowind, only with better gameplay, graphics, sound, and a better background behind it. You will most likely play it again!

Gameplay

Where do I begin? There are so many details in this game that I don't know where to start. Let's start with the basics. The game difficulty progresses as you get better and more accomplished. You pass in real time as you take control of a young boy and lead him through his life. You can get married and have a family, get drunk, become evil, and even get haircuts and tattoos. You can also get fat or stay skinny. You can become a mage or a warrior. You can do whatever you want. Chances are that you can do whatever you are thinking about doing. That's the basic storyline.

Now onto the actual gameplay. First things first…the controls. They are easy to manage and combat is fluid. The X button is all you need to press to attack. If you want to perform special moves, then wait for your weapon to glow and hit B to use a flourish attack. The other thing you want to know about is the combat multiplier. The higher it is, the more powerful your base attacks will be. You can get this only by attacking, and not getting hit back. Blocking is done using the Y button, but to dodge, hold Y and move the left thumbstick. To pull out your melee weapon, hit the white button. A cool thing is that you can augment your weapons, much like Sudeki. You have to be selective though because there are only a certain number of slots that can take augmentations. To add to that, not all weapons take augmentations anyway. Moving on, for your ranged attacks, you use either a bow or crossbow. You take these out by using the black button. To attack (for all situations), hold the left trigger to lock on to someone, then hit X. To zoom in with your bow, hit the left thumbstick to get as close as you want. For magic, lock on with the left trigger, and then hold the right trigger. This will bring up a little menu on the bottom right of the screen. These icons represent your spells. To use, simply hit the button corresponding to your spell of choice. And that's the combat system in a nutshell. You can also use your hands, but I wouldn't recommend it.

The default control mode will consist of the following, and you will have the basic combat controls as stated above. The A button is used to interact with people. You know you can talk to them if you walk up to them and they are highlighted in green. Your basic movement is a walk, but to run hold B. On the upper right hand side of your HUD, you will have your mini map. The mini map has your day clock. It also has your awareness eye, which is useful for bandits and thieves because it tells you how many people are watching you. A red version of this eye tells you when your enemies are near. You can bring up the mini-map by tapping the right thumbstick. On the upper left hand side of the screen is your health bar. The upper red bar is health, and the lower blue bar is your mana. The heart on the left hand side shows how many resurrections you have left. The resurrection is a potion that you get that will allow you to die and revive instantly, instead of dying and starting over again. Kind of like a cat, if you have a lot. Underneath that is your combat multiplier when you fight. If you are familiar with Sudeki, then you know about the quick menu. This is in relation to your d-pad, and you can program where you want stuff to go. Going up enters you into the menu. In non-combat time, these slots are filled with various expressions that you get from either renown or experience. Going down passes you into the guild seal, which is a teleporter. You get the guild seal once you get through the guild, which is really the only planned part of the game, so I am not going to explain that. It's at the beginning and it teaches you about the game. Also, you can access your inventory in two ways, by either hitting left on the d-pad or by hitting the back button. There is so much stuff here to tell. There are various colored circles that pop up during combat. The green ones are experience. You can get these when you kill an enemy. Pull the right trigger to collect them or run over them. As always, some enemies will drop things that you can pick up. The red circles are strength experience points. When you use melee attacks, you earn strength. The yellow ones are skill, and you get these when you use ranged weapons. Blue ones correspond with will power, and you acquire these by using magic. Lastly is the gold notification circle, which you see when you either gain or lose gold. Can there possibly be more? Of course. Let's move on to actual gameplay.

There is so much here. After you get through the guild, you can pick up various quests. You can't pick up all requests at once, however. Some require you to be at certain levels. Also, at the guild there is the Experience Spending Platform. All of the experience that you collect during battle can be cashed in for upgrades in all areas. Strength, toughness, agility, will power, spells, speed, and a few more can all be upgraded. You can cash these points in to gain levels in these areas. Also, in the guild are shops and the main transport seal. To go shopping, you can go up to merchants and interact with them and they will offer you the chance to buy or sell. Not only was this a great experience, but navigating this menu was extremely easy, as with all of the other menus in the game. It's all a combination of the left thumbstick or d-pad, and A and B. Transporting is easy, but you can go through the world just by walking as well.

There are many goodies to be found in Fable. First, are regular chests and barrels. Then, there are silver chests, which can be opened only with silver keys that you must collect throughout the game. These chests have special goodies such as special potions or weapons of incredible power. Demon Doors are doors that are haunted by demons and require something from you before they open. The required item can range from a box of chocolates to a certain costume, or a certain combat multiplier. You will be rewarded with your efforts. You can also gain objects by completing quests, fishing, or digging.

The last thing to talk about is renown. This is how people know you. You can gain it positively or negatively. By doing bad things, like killing innocents and causing mischief, you will grow evil. By doing good things, like helping people and completing quests, you will grow good. There are many things that affect your renown. After taking quests, you can boast to do the quest a certain way and earn more points for that. The overall effect of renown is to have your name known everywhere you go. Your name will follow you and proceed wherever you go.

Bottom Line:

This is truly one amazing game. Xbox finally has a super RPG. There is so much detail, so much excitement, and so much goodness that comes with this game. Go out and buy Fable. It is worth your while because you can play it over and over again. You will enjoy everything about it. Get Fable.

Related Links:

Official Fable Website
Fable-game.com

-Pat G.




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