WWW DG  

PC ¦ PlayStation 3 ¦ Xbox 360 ¦ Wii ¦ DS ¦ PSP ¦ Others ¦ DGC Grade Table

Fable Xbox Official Website

Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Big Blue Box Studios/Lionhead Studios
Release Date : Out Now
Price : £39.99

We've said many times before that if there's one genre that really needs attention in the Xbox games catalogue it's the RPG genre. Quality role playing games are really difficult to come by on the Xbox and for a couple of years most gamers will have looked to Fable (originally known as Project Ego) as being the genre's saving grace. Well now it's finally here and at last we get the chance to see if the game can live up to the huge wave of expectation that it's production has generated. Such high expectations can, and in Fable's case do, prove a bit of a burden. Whilst there is no doubting the game is a quality RPG, those who have read all the pre-release information on the game over the last couple of years will inevitably feel disappointed.

Fable is set in the land of medieval-like Albion. The game begins in the sleepy village of Oakvale with you having to earn some money that will enable you to purchase a birthday present for your sister. No sooner as you give the present to your sister though, it all goes horribly wrong. Bandits attack Oakvale and kill almost everything in sight. At first it seems even your family has been killed but it later becomes known that they've been captured. As you look around at the desolation a man called Maze appears and whisks you off to the Guild of Heroes where you'll come under the instruction of the Guildmaster who will teach you to become a hero. From here on in you'll be doing quests to improve your abilities so that you can take revenge on those who ruined Oakvale and captured your family. The main story in the game won't take you any more than 15 hours to complete if you stick rigidly to the events that move the story forward. Should you seek every quest that's going, you could probably stretch this to 25 hours which isn't too bad at all. However you've also got the chance to play through again and create a character that does everything differently and has a personality that's the opposite of your original one.

The most appealing aspect of Fable was that the game was supposed to offer total freedom and truly allow you to play how you wanted to play. Whilst there is, to a certain extent (you can get married and buy a home for instance), the freedom to do what you want in the game you're still bound by the games script and the main choices you'll have to make are whether you'll be good or evil (which does affect the ending of the game). I was surprised that you had no choice over the creation of your character. What if you want a female character? Well then it's tough because you can't have a female character. In fact you can't change anything about the male character that you begin the game with. Of course as you play through the game your character will take on their own traits and aesthetic qualities in accordance with their behaviour but whilst this is impressive it doesn't cover up the fact that we all begin the game with the same character and this in turn does mean your replay value is somewhat more limited than it should be.

There are some interesting concepts in Fable that haven't really been done before (or at least not to the same extent). Renown plays a major part in Fable and your renown determines how people will relate to you. Essentially renown is your reputation. Every action or choice that you make will determine what people think of you. If you're a true hero people will clap and sing your praises whilst if you're a complete evil scumbag no one will want to be within a mile of you. It's certainly an impressive feature although I was surprised to find that boasting about a quest before you've done it will increase your renown should the quest be completed. I've always thought boasting in real life had negative effects but this is probably just me being picky. You can be expressive through your emotions. You can flirt with the ladies (impress a lady enough and you could marry them), perform manly arm pumps and even be rude and fart when next to some one. The only downside here is that the people's responses are not subtitled.

Love it or hate it you can't get away from it. What am I on about? Combat of course and Fable has plenty of it. There are a variety of weapons in Fable and as you would expect they are a good mix of melee and ranged weapons. Holding down the L trigger allows you to lock on to your target with the X button being used to attack and the Y button being used to block. You can switch to a first person view when using a ranged weapon which makes aiming much easier. If weapons aren't your thing you'll also have magic at your disposal. Naturally to begin with your magical powers aren't that great but should you choose to develop this side of your character you'll be very powerful indeed. Holding down the R trigger will enable you to cast spells with the X, A, and B buttons whilst the Y button cycles through your spells. On the whole the control schemes for combat are very good and I didn't have any issues with them. What I don't like though is the respawning enemies. Kill the enemies in one region then leave and instantly return to that region and you'll find the enemies you've just slain have come back to live. This Lazarus ability of your enemies can get very irritating in the latter stages of the game especially if you don't have many health items on you.

Whilst it's true that Fable isn't the best looking game on Xbox it does look good and definitely has a certain visual charm. The graphics are colourful and easy on the eye and when you intend to spend hours in front of the game this is just as important as being technically impressive. The game is played from a third person perspective and you'll have control of the game camera by using the right analogue stick. The one exception to this is when using ranged weapons as you can then switch to a first person view if you want to. With a game world as big as the one in Fable you're going to come across loading times quite frequently but thankfully they aren't too long and don't break up the action.

Perhaps the most obvious disappointment that deaf gamers will have with Fable is that it's not 100% deaf gamer friendly. For a while on our forum now we all thought the game was fully subtitled but this isn't actually the case. Yes the cutscenes and important conversations are subtitled but it could have been better for deaf gamers. As you pass people by they will call out to you and comment on the kind of person you are. These comments are not subtitled. There are some comical conversations between people that you'll miss out on too. Early in the game a wife asks you to find her husband. You find that he's cheating on her with a young girl and when you go back to tell the wife she runs up to the husband and threatens to 'cut them off' amongst other things. None of these conversations will be known to deaf gamers though. Later in the game you'll receive advice and objectives from the Guildmaster which are not subtitled. Objectives can be accessed at any time by pressing the back button though. Tutorial messages are shown in text as are hints that are displayed on loading screens. Good use has been made of icons which naturally helps deaf gamers.

Your opinion of Fable will really depend on whether or not you believed all the information and hype that existed before the games release. If you swallowed every single bit of pre-release information and were expecting something truly miraculous, the like of which we'd never seen before then be prepared to be in for one heck of a disappointment because that's certainly not what we have here. However if you happened to come across Fable only recently or have picked (or intend to pick) the game up on a whim then it's safe to say you'll be happy with your purchase. What I'm trying to say is forget all the pre-release details and take Fable for what it is because essentially it's a very good game. Sure some things could have been done much better (allowing you to create your own character would have been good for starters) and yes the game could have been longer but it's definitely a game that RPG, Xbox owning, fans should not be without.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
Whilst Fable doesn't live up to the all that the pre-release info promised, it's still a very enjoyable RPG.

Deaf Gamers comment:
It's disappointing that the game isn't completely deaf gamer friendly. Deaf gamers will be able to enjoy the game but not as fully as hearing gamers will be able to.