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Fable: The Lost Chapters Xbox

Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Lionhead Studios

An immersive RPG that if savoured instead of run through, is very deep and
satisfying.

Having played both versions of Fable and Fable: The Lost Chapters, I would
like to begin by saying in my reviews I don't take into account anything that
was promised by a developer that didn't turn up in a the game I'm playing.
Many of the initial reviews of Fable harped constantly on a few interviews
Peter Molyneux gave early in the Fable development cycle in which he waxed
rhapsodic about things that he 'promised' were going to be in the game, like
the ability to have children, a dragon, and so forth.

As a visionary game developer, Molyneux had plenty of ideas about what he
wanted to do with Fable (early on called Project Ego), and was quite open
about sharing some of the ideas he was kicking around.

Well when the game finally shipped, many gamers who had read the interviews
Molyneux made were enraged at finding that the 'promised' features weren't
in the game.

For that reason, many early reviews, including ones posted on places like Gamespot, could basically be summed up by saying: "Fable sucks because this promised feature
isn't in the game and I was looking forward to it."

This is just being facile. A review of a game should be based on what that
game actually is and what it actually contains, not what you expected, what
someone else promised, or what others advertised.

Therefore, this will not be a "Molyneux lied and ruined this game because
Feature X that he promised isn't it it!"

Story: Fable puts the gamer into the mythical world of Albion as a character
who must save that world from evil that threatens to destroy it. Over about
20-30 gameplay hours, you progress from a small child to a full grown adult
male warrior. Most compellingly, you get to choose whether you will be a Hero
or a Villain, and making the choices you do affects your character's
appearance and development.

Gameplay: The gameplay is varied in Fable. Hack and slash battles soon give
way to battles where careful strategy must be used to achieve victory.
Mini-games abound, from blackjack, to fishing to digging for treasure. Most
of the game centers on various quests the gamer's character is given, some
vital to the main storyline, some not. Unlike some games, here you can do
most of the quests in whatever order you wish.

The world of Albion is presented on a fantastic scale. There are various
regions that can be explored, some that are forest, some that are seaside
villages, others are snowbound islands.

The RPG/Character Customisation is done very well in Fable. I don't know of
another game where the gamer has so many choices and options when it comes to
hairstyles, tattoos, clothing, weapons, magical abilities, physical
abilities, even how big his muscles are, are all up to the gamer to choose.

As always in a game like this, there are people who will claim it is 'too
short' and 'I beat it in 10 hours!'. Like that's the goal. If you want to
speed run through Fable, yeah, y ou could finish it in 8 to 10 hours. But
then again, why would you buy an RPG game like this just to speed run through
it in the first place?

Taking your time and doing all the quests and exploring the world of Albion
should take most people over 20 hours on the first play-through.
The added content that extends the game lasts around another 2-3 hours, and
the difficulty has been ramped up for the final battle; apparently Lionhead
Studios was listening when a lot of gamers scoffed that the first game was
too easy. 

Your Hero is given a new country to explore, new enemies to fight (and some
old ones as well), with the added bonus of new types of clothing, weapons,
tattoos and people to interact with. 

Graphics: The designers have literally created an entire world where some of
the backgrounds to the action going on in the foreground are just
jaw-droppingly well done. Coastal villages, forest glens, mountainous paths,
icy snowbound vales, all are rendered in stunning detail.

The character animations are very well done as far as their movements and
actions go; one quibble is that quite often you will see the same character
model in the different towns. All the traders look alike, etc.

That's as far as the townspeople go. When it comes to enemies and heroes
however, the character models are incredibly varied and well done. Your hero
interacts with around 30 other main storyline characters in the game, from
the Archeologist to Whisper. Hobbes (evil underground gnomes), Bandits,
Minions (think of a giant rat in armor), Undead zombies, Ghosts, giant
Spiders, and more all stand between the main character and the successful
completion of his quests.

Sound: Very well done voice-acting, and some of the lines are unbelievably
hilarious. Sometimes it's worth it to just stand around inside a tavern and
just listen to what the people inside of it say to each other. Sword chops,
clanging weapons, eerie ghoulish screams in dark places, the wind whistling
through the trees, the sound of the main character's footsteps on the wooden
boards of a pier, or on a stone floor, all very distinctive.

That's the background sounds during the gameplay. The musical score written
for Fable is just stunning. Just listening to the opening segment when you
first fire up the game will give your ears a hint of what's to come.

Value: This game is so varied in it's gameplay and character customization
features that it can be played through several times, one to see how good you
can get your character, again to see how evil he can become, and then again
just trying out all the various appearances you can give him as you
experiment with tattoos, hair styles and clothing options in a quest to make
the Handsomest Hero of all Time, or the Wickedest Villain of the Ages.

Reviewer's Tilt: The replay value of this game is great, so I give it higher
marks for that.

Deaf Gamers Grade: Like the original Fable, all the cutscenes have subtitles
but the NPC statements to your character during the gameplay do not. While
there is quite a bit of subtitled dialogue in the game, some of the best
dialogue is inaccessible.  B

Overall Score: 9.5

by Brian Cates