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Da Introduction

Welcome to Hypeology 101. Today's lesson is simple, children; do not fall for the hype. Gamers everywhere hyped themselves up for Fable and let themselves fall for empty promises and hopeful wishes made by the game's father, Peter Molyneux. People claim that Fable is a shadow of it's former self, Project Ego, the game's previous title. Perhaps in some ways it is, but they simply don't understand why or how some of the features were cut from the game and they most likely do not care. No, they fell for the hype and, rather than blame themselves for their mistake, they place the blame on the game itself. Fable does not deserve this. Look at the game for what is here. Look at it for all it allows you to do and see. Fable, behind the hype, is a truly unique, evolutionary and, yes, fun game. A game that falters at times, but it excellent none the less. I truly hope that other developers improve or expand upon some of the features in Fable in other games (or perhaps a sequel), so that we may see some truly groundbreaking RPG's.

Da Sound and Da Graphics

On the visual and audio sides of things the game soars. The world of Albion is lush and the musical score that accompanies each area is absolutely perfect. In fact, the music is one of the best features of the game and I've absolutely no complains there. There are a few graphical glitches to be found here and there and some slight slowdown (especially on older XBOX consoles) to wade through but otherwise everything is great. The controls in Fable leave a little to be desired. There are far too many available actions and not enough buttons to execute them with. Combat works like a charm, but scrolling through your item lists, accessing your quick slots and getting the right magic spells set up can be a chore and a hassle. With a streamlined control scheme things could have gone much more smoothly, but as it is it's hard to access the expressions you want at a given time, since you're only given four slots to use and you'll also want to be able to access your potions or food quickly in mid-battle. This means if you want to hit on a person you'll probably have to go into your menu or mess around with the quick-menu and hope that they're still in the area when you execute the gesture. You don't want to accidentally use your vulgar hip thrust expression in front of a drunken bar patron.

Fable is very linear and yet very free all at the same time. In the beginning everyone starts out as the same scruffy little boy. There is no choice between gender, race, eye color, shoe size, etc. It's how you play the game, the choices you make and the clothes you wear that make your character different from others. How you complete quests and what you do in your free time affects your character's appearance. The goodie-two-shoes will sport a fashionable halo, butterflies will flock to him and sunbeams will pour down upon him. Mr. Evil-incarnate will be pale, sprout horns and be accompanied by a swarm of flies. People also respond to good and evil characters differently. As word spreads of your good deeds in the land of Albion you'll rise from virtually unknown status to famous and beyond. Good and noble heroes will be surrounded by clapping and cheering villagers. They'll literally drop what they're doing to applaud for you. On the other side of things, villagers and traders will run screaming from vile, evil heroes; pleading for their very lives and begging you not to manhandle their merchandise (take that as you like).

Da gameplay

Unfortunately, your response to all this is quite limited. Aside from brief clips ("Thanks", "Ha-ha!", and "Sorry.") your avatar never utters a word. He communicates through different expressions that can be earned by growing more famous or with your shifting alignment towards good or evil. Good characters can apologize and say thank you, while those evil bastards out there can do lewd pelvic thrusts, hurl insults or flip someone the bird. It's too bad your character doesn't actually speak much, as I'd love to hear his voice change as he grows more evil or good. Dialogue trees found in games like Knights of the Old Republic would have also been welcome and added a bit more depth to interacting with the people of Albion. That limitation still doesn't stop you from being able to flirt, woo a woman (or man, if that strikes your fancy), marry her, and eventually do the horizontal mombo (don't get too excited, the scene is blacked out). Fable takes the same attitude towards relationships as Harvest Moon. Shower a person with enough flattery and cheap trinkets and they'll gladly marry you. Unlike Harvest Moon, however, you can also get divorced. Neglect, changing too much, or outright spousal abuse will make her (or him) leave you, giving you mucho evil points.

Your actions in towns aren't limited to humping and farting though, so don't panic. There are many buildings to enter (and loot, if you choose), goods to buy and games to play. Each town boasts at least a few shops and a tavern, in which you can play different mini-games such as Blackjack, Card Pairs, and Shove Ha'penny. You can also get drunk, get others drunk and have a talent less Bard recite a "song" about you. Albion boasts it's own economy and the developers must be quite proud of it because all you'll ever hear from traders is "People make a lot of money by buying low and selling high, you know!" Yes, we know. You said that last time. Repetitive dialogue and limited voice talent in Fable is another one of its small problems, but to its credit the voice acting is good, unless you have something against the British.

You'll most likely be spending a great amount of time in Albion's Guild of Heroes, where your character spends much of his youth. Here is where you'll be trained in the ways of combat and magic. Combat is one of the game's best aspects. Melee combos are strung together with various taps of the attack button and with enough consecutive hits you can unleash a "flourish" attack that's powerful, unblockable, and may very well end up in decapitating your foe. As you fight you also build up a multiplier that makes your experience worth much more when you pick it up. The catch is that if you're struck your multiplier will take quite a steep hit, and the glowing experience orbs that baddies drop when killed disappear after a few moments. This poses quite a challenge. Do you risk being hit and having that experience disappear to get in a few more hits and raise your multiplier, or do you collect it all now to be safe?

You won't be handling those monsters and other assorted uglies with just melee combat though, as you can also specialize in ranged combat or the use of Will (i.e.; magic). With ranged weapons you must hold the attack button, making your character draw the arrow back further and hit harder. You can also click the left control stick to switch to a first-person mode and zoom in on your target to get a more accurate shot. You're able to switch between ranged and melee combat easily by pushing the black or white button to draw either weapon so it's quite easy to get the attention of a group of bandits with a few well-placed arrows and draw your sword as they close in. You can also use the power of the Will to cast some rather deadly (and impressive looking) spells to augment your melee skills, or you can rely on magic completely. There are a generous number of spells that can be leveled up multiple times and some can only be mastered by specifically aligned characters. Some spells include the ability to slow time, go into a berserk fury, and shoot fireballs or lightning from your fingertips or multiple arrows from your bow. Unfortunately, as fun as combat is, Fable is far too easy thanks to the insanely helpful magic spells and the fact that health potions drop consistently. By the end of the final boss battle I had over thirty potions left and had hardly the need to purchase any, as you'll pick up at least two or three food items or potions during each encounter.

You also have Resurrection Phials, which can be purchased from shops and found around Albion. I never once died, but I knew that if I did I had an unheard of nine Resurrection Phials waiting to get me back on my feet again. Boss battles are also quite easier, and in actuality, easier than some random groups of enemies. These battles are all pattern-based fights and it's doubtful anyone will die facing down a boss. Luckily you can make things a bit tougher for yourself by boasting. You can boast right before a quest begins and you'll be taken to the Boasting Platform outside of the Guild where you can claim that you'll finish a quest in nothing but your undies, or without taking a scratch.
So, what do you do with all that experience? Fable doesn't have a traditional level-up system. You get to choose when and how your character levels up. How you fight earns you different types of experience. Feats of strength gain you Physical experience, using your ranged combat techniques or being stealthy nets you Skill experience, firing off spells gains you Will experience and every slain enemy will drop the previously mentioned green "general" experience orbs. Upon returning to the Guild you can spend your points in one of the three categories which are further broken down. Physical traits are broken into Physique (more damage in combat), Health (the length of your health bar) and Toughness (your defense). As you put points into the three categories your character will age and he'll change accordingly. Melee specialists will get bigger muscles and tougher hides, while Will specialists will get white hair and glowing tattoos. As you put points into one category it becomes more and more expensive to level-up while the others get cheaper, so you're always able to go back and invest some spare points into your speed or a spell or two. This is another one of the aspects of Fable that I really enjoy. It's quite an interesting and unique system, as I can level-up my character when and how I like, and you are not forced down one path.

Too bad I can't say the same for the story or the environment. Where Fable falters the most is perhaps its small world and its lackluster story. The tale presented to you in Fable is clich

Fable

 

Fable

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox
Category: n/a
 
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Da Introduction Welcome to Hypeology 101. Today's lesson is simple, children; do not fall for the hype. Gamers everywhere hyped themselves up for Fable and let themselves fall for empty promises and hopeful wishes made by the game's father, Peter Molyneux. People claim that Fable is a shadow of it's former self, Project Ego, the game's previous title. Perhaps in some ways it is, but they simply don't understand why or how some of the features were cut from the game and they most likely do not care. No, they fell for the hype and, rather than blame themselves for their mistake, they place the blame on the game itself. Fable does not deserve this. Look at the game for what is here. Look at it for all it allows you to do and see. Fable, behind the hype, is a truly unique, evolutionary and, yes, fun game. A game that falters at times, but it excellent none the less. I truly hope that other developers improve or expand upon some of the features in Fable in other games (or perhaps a sequel), so that we may see some truly groundbreaking RPG's. Da Sound and Da Graphics On the visual and audio sides of things the game soars. The world of Albion is lush and the musical score that accompanies each area is absolutely perfect. In fact, the music is one of the best features of the game and I've absolutely no complains there. There are a few graphical glitches to be found here and there and some slight slowdown (especially on older XBOX consoles) to wade through but otherwise everything is great. The controls in Fable leave a little to be desired. There are far too many available actions and not enough buttons to execute them with. Combat works like a charm, but scrolling through your item lists, accessing your quick slots and getting the right magic spells set up can be a chore and a hassle. With a streamlined control scheme things could have gone much more smoothly, but as it is it's hard to access the expressions you want at a given time, since you're only given four slots to use and you'll also want to be able to access your potions or food quickly in mid-battle. This means if you want to hit on a person you'll probably have to go into your menu or mess around with the quick-menu and hope that they're still in the area when you execute the gesture. You don't want to accidentally use your vulgar hip thrust expression in front of a drunken bar patron. Fable is very linear and yet very free all at the same time. In the beginning everyone starts out as the same scruffy little boy. There is no choice between gender, race, eye color, shoe size, etc. It's how you play the game, the choices you make and the clothes you wear that make your character different from others. How you complete quests and what you do in your free time affects your character's appearance. The goodie-two-shoes will sport a fashionable halo, butterflies will flock to him and sunbeams will pour down upon him. Mr. Evil-incarnate will be pale, sprout horns and be accompanied by a swarm of flies. People also respond to good and evil characters differently. As word spreads of your good deeds in the land of Albion you'll rise from virtually unknown status to famous and beyond. Good and noble heroes will be surrounded by clapping and cheering villagers. They'll literally drop what they're doing to applaud for you. On the other side of things, villagers and traders will run screaming from vile, evil heroes; pleading for their very lives and begging you not to manhandle their merchandise (take that as you like). Da gameplay Unfortunately, your response to all this is quite limited. Aside from brief clips ("Thanks", "Ha-ha!", and "Sorry.") your avatar never utters a word. He communicates through different expressions that can be earned by growing more famous or with your shifting alignment towards good or evil. Good characters can apologize and say thank you, while those evil bastards out there can do lewd pelvic thrusts, hurl insults or flip someone the bird. It's too bad your character doesn't actually speak much, as I'd love to hear his voice change as he grows more evil or good. Dialogue trees found in games like Knights of the Old Republic would have also been welcome and added a bit more depth to interacting with the people of Albion. That limitation still doesn't stop you from being able to flirt, woo a woman (or man, if that strikes your fancy), marry her, and eventually do the horizontal mombo (don't get too excited, the scene is blacked out). Fable takes the same attitude towards relationships as Harvest Moon. Shower a person with enough flattery and cheap trinkets and they'll gladly marry you. Unlike Harvest Moon, however, you can also get divorced. Neglect, changing too much, or outright spousal abuse will make her (or him) leave you, giving you mucho evil points. Your actions in towns aren't limited to humping and farting though, so don't panic. There are many buildings to enter (and loot, if you choose), goods to buy and games to play. Each town boasts at least a few shops and a tavern, in which you can play different mini-games such as Blackjack, Card Pairs, and Shove Ha'penny. You can also get drunk, get others drunk and have a talent less Bard recite a "song" about you. Albion boasts it's own economy and the developers must be quite proud of it because all you'll ever hear from traders is "People make a lot of money by buying low and selling high, you know!" Yes, we know. You said that last time. Repetitive dialogue and limited voice talent in Fable is another one of its small problems, but to its credit the voice acting is good, unless you have something against the British. You'll most likely be spending a great amount of time in Albion's Guild of Heroes, where your character spends much of his youth. Here is where you'll be trained in the ways of combat and magic. Combat is one of the game's best aspects. Melee combos are strung together with various taps of the attack button and with enough consecutive hits you can unleash a "flourish" attack that's powerful, unblockable, and may very well end up in decapitating your foe. As you fight you also build up a multiplier that makes your experience worth much more when you pick it up. The catch is that if you're struck your multiplier will take quite a steep hit, and the glowing experience orbs that baddies drop when killed disappear after a few moments. This poses quite a challenge. Do you risk being hit and having that experience disappear to get in a few more hits and raise your multiplier, or do you collect it all now to be safe? You won't be handling those monsters and other assorted uglies with just melee combat though, as you can also specialize in ranged combat or the use of Will (i.e.; magic). With ranged weapons you must hold the attack button, making your character draw the arrow back further and hit harder. You can also click the left control stick to switch to a first-person mode and zoom in on your target to get a more accurate shot. You're able to switch between ranged and melee combat easily by pushing the black or white button to draw either weapon so it's quite easy to get the attention of a group of bandits with a few well-placed arrows and draw your sword as they close in. You can also use the power of the Will to cast some rather deadly (and impressive looking) spells to augment your melee skills, or you can rely on magic completely. There are a generous number of spells that can be leveled up multiple times and some can only be mastered by specifically aligned characters. Some spells include the ability to slow time, go into a berserk fury, and shoot fireballs or lightning from your fingertips or multiple arrows from your bow. Unfortunately, as fun as combat is, Fable is far too easy thanks to the insanely helpful magic spells and the fact that health potions drop consistently. By the end of the final boss battle I had over thirty potions left and had hardly the need to purchase any, as you'll pick up at least two or three food items or potions during each encounter. You also have Resurrection Phials, which can be purchased from shops and found around Albion. I never once died, but I knew that if I did I had an unheard of nine Resurrection Phials waiting to get me back on my feet again. Boss battles are also quite easier, and in actuality, easier than some random groups of enemies. These battles are all pattern-based fights and it's doubtful anyone will die facing down a boss. Luckily you can make things a bit tougher for yourself by boasting. You can boast right before a quest begins and you'll be taken to the Boasting Platform outside of the Guild where you can claim that you'll finish a quest in nothing but your undies, or without taking a scratch. So, what do you do with all that experience? Fable doesn't have a traditional level-up system. You get to choose when and how your character levels up. How you fight earns you different types of experience. Feats of strength gain you Physical experience, using your ranged combat techniques or being stealthy nets you Skill experience, firing off spells gains you Will experience and every slain enemy will drop the previously mentioned green "general" experience orbs. Upon returning to the Guild you can spend your points in one of the three categories which are further broken down. Physical traits are broken into Physique (more damage in combat), Health (the length of your health bar) and Toughness (your defense). As you put points into the three categories your character will age and he'll change accordingly. Melee specialists will get bigger muscles and tougher hides, while Will specialists will get white hair and glowing tattoos. As you put points into one category it becomes more and more expensive to level-up while the others get cheaper, so you're always able to go back and invest some spare points into your speed or a spell or two. This is another one of the aspects of Fable that I really enjoy. It's quite an interesting and unique system, as I can level-up my character when and how I like, and you are not forced down one path. Too bad I can't say the same for the story or the environment. Where Fable falters the most is perhaps its small world and its lackluster story. The tale presented to you in Fable is cliché RPG fodder and the conclusion is nearly the same weather you played as the devil incarnate or as a righteous knight. Only the three second schpiel at the end of the game changes. You're given a few choices during the game, but like I said before, they have no real impact on the world at large or the ending. Still, there are, at least, multiple endings, four in all. You can also continue playing after the game has been won but it requires you to sit through quite possibly the longest credit sequence ever wrought by the hands of man, and there's not much left to do in the world afterwards. The world of Albion is equally fenced-in, keeping you to linear paths when going from one place to another. I wish there was more freedom here, as in Morrowind. To be sure, the island of Vvardenfell was a hellish place filled with ashy wastes and Cliff Racers, but the game was open enough to allow you to actually have to plan your route from one point to the other and some journeys could be quite the trek. In Fable's defense, however, the world of Albion is quite beautiful, the roads are wide, towns are far apart and there are plenty of secrets to be found. At most bodies of water you can stop to fish, there are Demon Doors dotting the dusty road demanding you solve their riddles before reaping the rewards within, traders walking the path will be ambushed by bandits, and most patches of open ground can be dug up with your shovel as you search for buried booty. The game's stat screen also keeps track of more than your level; it tells you your sexuality, how many times you've had sex, if you're married and how many wives you have, your furthest chicken punt, your top score in mini-games, total money and experience spent and much more. It's just too bad that for all of Fable's little side-quests, quirks and interesting things to do the game is still relatively short. Quests from the guild only reach about thirty or so and if one blows through the main story in a rush the game can be completed in a mere eight hours or less. Fable is not a game to rush through, though. I can almost guarantee if you hurry through it you'll have a terrible time. Fable is a game that demands to be enjoyed and savored. Take your time and explore, see all there is to see and do all there is to do, or just go for a walk and rack up the experience for a while. I know this review may seem a bit lop-sided and leaning towards the negative aspects of the game, but Fable has almost an indescribable quality to it that makes it so enjoyable. It's wonderful to see your character change as you develop him, to see people run from you or praise you, and just to wander around experimenting with different things. If Fable were expanded a bit further and these negatives ironed out it could have been something legendary, one of the greatest games of all time. As it is, however, it's still a great game and a wonderful experience. If you didn't fall for the hype, that is.






 
 

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