Single player Fantasy RPG
Developer: Lionhead Studios
, Big Blue box
September 15, 2004
This node is not here to tell you about what Fable was supposed to be (Project: Ego), which it isn’t, but instead what Fable is, which is still pretty good. It is a fairly well put together game, with an interesting, yet short, storyline. If you are not a hardcore gamer, and managed to not be horribly swayed by the propaganda machine, you will enjoy this game very much. If not, then you will still probably enjoy it, if you can get past its faults.
If you were dissapointed scroll down to the last section.
Fable is set in the mythical world of Albion, another fantasy revision of England. As a young boy, your village is burned to the ground. Your father killed before your eyes, and for all you know, your mother and sister as well. You are taken in by Maze, the patron of the Guild of Heroes, who trains you so that one day you can find the ones responsible for what happened to your village, and either bring them to justice, or exact your bloody revenge. You path from now on either righteous or malicious, is your decision.
Fable is about as sandbox as an RPG can be. Throughout the game you are given various quests. There are the main story quests, and also optional side quests that will award you with treasure and renown.
Renown is very important because along with your alignment and appearance, it affects how the NPCs react to you. There are some quests that you will not be allowed to do unless the NPCs think you are strong enough to accomplish it. With enough renown you gain expressions that you can use to either make people like or despise you.
Alignment effects how guards react to you. If you are good and orderly, they will ignore you for the most part, and you can bribe then to look the other way as you break into houses and stores to steal from them.
There are alas only three quests that give you a choice of which side of the law you are on. Most of the quests are morally ambiguous, though several force you to do good acts to achieve them, and one side quest at the end that is entirely evil.
You appearance is important. Every piece of clothing, armor, hair style, tattoo, and facial hair grooming option, has an attractiveness, scariness, and alignment modifier. Brighter clothing will make you more attractive, darker will make you look scarier, though so much cooler.
You can woo almost every character in the game, male and female alike. You will be able to get married to one person in every town, own houses and stores, that you rent out.
In every town and encampment there are traders and gamblers. Traders will allow you to buy and sell items, dependant of each situation. The economy system is dynamic, working on a supply and demand system. You may encounter some traders that will only sell, and some that will only buy. Traders, barbers, and tattooists walk the open areas outside of towns as well.
The gamblers will allow you to play different bar games, such as black jack, and memory games. There is also a coin golf game. You can place bets on each, and each has a bonus prize for a high enough score or fast enough time.
Throughout the game are Demon Doors which require you to perform certain tasks, or gain enough weight (i.e. pork out on meat, pie, and crunchy chickens) , to satisfy them, so you that you may proceed to secret areas. Three of them are required to be done for story quests.
There are Cullis Gates around the world which let you teleport form one area to another.
Combat and Character leveling:
Combat is fairly simple. You have a primary melee weapon (sword, mace, axe, scythe, wooden stick, and frying pan), a ranged weapon (bow, crossbow) and magic, as well as unarmed combat. If you are hurt, and don’t tend to your wounds, then you will gain scars.
Using your melee weapon consists of just swinging the thing around by pressing the attack button. If you lock on to an enemy you can circle it, but unless your weapon has a long enough range, you will only harm one enemy allowing for the others to smack at you freely. There is a dodge button that allows you to roll away in any direction, and flourishes, which are powerful, unblockable attacks that are only available if you have a high enough combat multiplier, basically a to-hit ratio. If you use a light weapon, you can increase your speed skill and swing faster. Increasing strength deals more damage.
The ranged weapons are a bit more complex, in that each has a different reload time, and damage is dependant on how far you pull back on the bowstring. Using the bow allows you to fire off shots very rapidly, while a crossbow requires you to reload after every shot, but do more damage. Pressing in on the left analog stick brings up the manual aiming function, but accidentally pressing it can be very annoying during combat. You will be able to upgrade your speed and accuracy with these weapons. A head shot will decapitate human enemies.
Many of the weapons you find will have an augmentation slot, allowing you to customize each to your tastes. There are some rare weapons that you find which will have their slots already filled. The Prima strategy guide does have some incorrect information on this section however.
Magic in Fable is even more complex. To cast magic without having to go through the pop up menu you have to assign certain spells to the colored buttons, and then switch between sets of spells. Every spell can be upgraded. They range from casting fireballs, healing yourself and others, to summoning monsters, and even slowing time. Most of the spells have an alignment modifier, and the use of magic ages you.
Finishing quests and killing things gives you four different types of experience; strength, skill, will, and general. You can buy upgrades with experience points at the guild. Strength allows for upgrading your strength, health, and toughness. Skill allows for speed, accuracy, and guile (stealth, thievery, and negotiating modifiers). Magic lets you upgrade the three schools of magic, and also your general magical ability. General is extra points that can be put into anything.
One of the main problems with the game is the controls. In trying to make the game so open and accessible to everyone, they ended up binding a large amount of functions to the controller. Many functions overlap each other, but you can manually bind items and expressions to the d-pad, and sets of spells to the four colored buttons.
A better organization of functions would be required for future games in the series.
The game in itself is very visually stunning. The architecture and fluidity of motion in the characters is especially noticeable. Each town has its own style and feel.
The non-character NPCs, those not really part of the story, are made of various body and head types. Every line of dialogue is voice recorded, and while walking around you may hear some interesting things. Some women may see you and swoon at how handsome you are, wandering merchants will announce how they have, “Stuff available!” among other things. NPCs will cheer you or runaway in fear. Each of the story characters has their own voice actor and unique body to make them stand out.
The HUD can be made as opaque or transparent as you feel comfortable with. The only problem however, that I have found is that there is a filter over everything, so that you don’t notice the polygons. This is fine and adds to the atmosphere, unfortunately it makes some of the smaller detail, especially those on the card games, hard to make out.
A message from Peter Molyneux
This was posted on the LionHead boards on October 1st, 2004 at 2:12pm by Fable's head designer.
There is something I have to say. And I have to say it because I love making games. When a game is in development, myself and the development teams I work with constantly encourage each other to think of the best features and the most ground-breaking design possible.
However, what happens is that we strive to include absolutely everything we've ever dreamt of and, in my enthusiasm, I talk about it to anyone who'll listen, mainly in press interviews. When I tell people about what we're planning, I'm telling the truth, and people, of course, expect to see all the features I've mentioned. And when some of the most ambitious ideas get altered, redesigned or even dropped, people rightly want to know what happened to them.
If I have mentioned any feature in the past which, for whatever reason, didn't make it as I described into Fable, I apologise. Every feature I have ever talked about WAS in development, but not all made it. Often the reason is that the feature did not make sense. For example, three years ago I talked about trees growing as time past. The team did code this but it took so much processor time (15%) that the feature was not worth leaving in. That 15 % was much better spent on effects and combat. So nothing I said was groundless hype, but people expecting specific features which couldn't be included were of course disappointed. If that's you, I apologise. All I can say is that Fable is the best game we could possibly make, and that people really seem to love it.
I have come to realise that I should not talk about features too early so I am considering not talking about games as early as I do. This will mean that the Lionhead games will not be known about as early as they are, but I think this is the more industry standard.
Our job as the Lionhead family of studios is to be as ambitious as we possibly can. But although we jump up and down in glee about the fabulous concepts and features we're working on, I will not mention them to the outside world until we've implemented and tested them, and they are a reality.
Thank you for reading.