Sober Second Look: Fable

Greetings Sharenation! Welcome to the first installment of "Sober Second Looks!" Where I take an older, borderline nostalgic video game and decide if it's still decent now that there's no pesky hype or disappointment involved. (Though console and year taken into consideration.) Let's start with Fable.

This was one of the only RPGs (if not the only) exclusive to the xbox (until it's inevitable PC release.) It's a game that people seem to either love or hate, which is easy to see why. In some ways, it was a unique and ambitious game for the time. On the other hand, there are frustrating aspects to the gameplay that weigh it down.

Might as well get the story out of the way. You play as a young boy, who's village has been destroyed by bandits. Luckily, a Hero named Maze just happens to be in the area, so he brings you back to a school known as the heros guild, where the most gifted children in Albion are trained to be famous and powerful warriors called Heroes. Once your training ends, your adventure begins! The story is pretty standard and it doesn't take itself too seriously. Most of the characters and voice actors aren't bad, but you'll quickly get sick of the guildmaster constantly reminding you that your health/mana is low. Jack of Blades however is a really cool main villian and is creepy and threatening every time you encounter him.

Jack of Blades

Before we talk about the combat, let's talk about what made this game different. The morality scale. Depending on actions you take, you can shift your scale to either the left (evil) or right (good). Good actions include killing bandits, helping villagers and choosing more peaceful quests/options instead of resorting to killing. Evil is what you'd expect. Killing villagers/town guards, stealing, resisting arrest and picking evil quests/resolutions Depending on how far it gets on either side, it will alter your character's appearance. A good hero will have a halo around his head, lighter hair colour and will be adored by any villagers he sees. An evil hero will grow devil horns, and scare the crap out of anyone who runs into him.

Fable good hero

Fable 2 evil

This can be modified depending on what clothing you wear, however the drawback is that higher level armour falls under the "scary" category and will slightly shift your modifier even if you're a good hero. This can be further altered by changing your hairstyle and beard or applying tattoos Some of which are attractive, some scary (That's right, evil people have to be ugly in this game. :/) This doesn't leave much room for any grey area making this something of a polarizing game. Though watching your devil horns get gradually longer every time you slaughter a few innocents is worth a laugh and a half. There are other factors that effect how you look as well. Running everywhere will keep you fit, and spending a lot of time out in the sun will tan you. Eating too much pie or meat will make you fatter and taking a lot of hits in combat will scar your body. Then depending on your combat style, your appearance can change (Melee combat will make you muscular, magic will make you blue and glowy) You can interact with villagers as well, by performing expressions like dancing, pick up lines, laughing, etc. You can even attract a villager and marry him/her assuming you have a house to live in. Polygamy is okay too, you can have a wife in every village if you want. No kids though, least not until Fable 2.

fable tatoos

Fable everyone loves me

The combat system is very ambitious, though at the same time a bit clumsy. You have 3 different disciplines: Strength, Skill and Will. Strength focuses on melee damage, heath, and damage resistance. Skill deals with ranged damage, attack speed and sneakiness. Will gives you a slew of magic spells to choose from, with several categories. There's your basic attack spells, like shooting fire balls and lightning. There's surround spells like do things such as slowing time or summoning spirits to help you fight. Or spells that improve your combat ability, like Multihit and berserk. The combat is set up in such a way that you won't get very far unless you're willing to be some sort of hybrid (Melee+Magic, Ranged+Magic, maybe a little of all 3) Though the system is at least flexible enough to build your character this way. You gain experience orbs by killing enemies, and getting combo hits will increase your combat multiplier (which makes your exp gain even higher.)

Fable combat ranged

There are different melee weapons at your disposal. You have light melee weapons (longswords, Katanas, Axes) Heavy melee (Maces and greatswords) Crossbows and regular bows. Even though heavy weapons do more damage, attack speed matters and you'll probably find yourself using katanas for this reason.

fable pwning bandits

As great as it sounds, the actual combat itself feels a bit clumsy. There are a couple of reasons for this. For example, the targeting system can be a drag. It's hard to explain, but it feels like you have to force what you're doing, and the blocking+rolling is mapped to the same button, you would think makes avoiding getting hit easier but I feel it just gets you hurt more because you may end up rolling when you want to block (or vice versa) in the heat of combat. You will get swarmed by enemies too which makes this even tougher. Spells like enflame are great for crowd control (causes a firey circle around you that kills anything that gets too close.) But I found myself leaning on it a little too much. Spells are one thing this system gets right though, holding the R trigger will map 3 spells to your x a and b buttons and releasing changes it back to normal. It's easy to quickly go from melee/ranged to magic quickly without taking damage. All of this said however, the boss fights are quite good and the frustrations aside, killing things is still a lot of fun.

Visually, it's nothing speical. Not even by the old xbox standards. Some of the character models are decent but a lot of them are kind of derpy...or creepy. Most of the environments look okay. The music is fantastic as well and suits the various moods. (Chilling at the guild, infiltrating bandit camps, exploring dark wood, all the sounding appropriate.) While exploring be sure to keep an eye out for silver keys (which open special chests filled with nice goodies) and also demon doors (talking doors that will only open if you meet certain criteria and they're usually packing treasure as well!)

Demon Door

Overall, Fable is enjoyable, but flawed. Since it was the first game in it's franchise (and I think one of the first games Lionhead ever made) most of what's wrong with it is forgivable. When I first played it, I was hoping it would be the xbox's equivalent to Zelda. While it's no where near Zelda quality, it's far from a bad game.

7.4/10: If you can look past the flaws, it might be worth checking out if you like RPGs If you can get the lost chapters edition the extra quests/locations are worth it.

fable good evil

Fable 2 & 3 will be up next, but I'm willing to take requests, especially since buying older games puts less of a dent in my wallet than newer ones.

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  • 2

    Nice review!!
    I never really got the chance to play much of the original Fable and this seems like a pretty good summary of the game.
    I wasn't really old enough at the time to play it on the original xbox, but I played like an hour of it on pc.
    It just didn't really stand out as anything too special and I agree that the combat system wasn't really too enjoyable
    But I shouldn't really be giving too much of an opinion of it, I'll leave that to the people who have spent a while playing it.
    Again, a solid review, and I look forward to seeing more!!

  • 2

    I was never able to get interested in the first or third Fable games. Fable 2 was awesome though.

    • Ertrov
    • April 28, 2013, 10:20 pm
  • 2

    Conkers Bad Fur Day would be an awesome game to choose.

    There's a few old-school game stores I could browse for that. Though I could always find an emulator. While we're on the topic of games by Rare, Banjo Kazooie and Perfect Dark are on my list.
    - CrazyJay April 29, 2013, 11:30 am
    those would be equally good!
    - serpentrepent April 29, 2013, 1:41 pm
  • 2

    I've happened to have played all the Fables and I've liked them all, though there are some things that always annoyed me like the fact that if I made my Hero level up in strength sooner or later they would turn into this freakish over muscled monster creature. Other then that most of it was fine it was not as annoying as some of the games I played like divinity 2 ego draconis I love that game for the fact you can actually turn into a dragon and fly around and that half the time everything is a joke. Like if you go around killing rabbits. after you kill enough you end up summoning a demon bunny that trys to kill you, but it has some of the most infuriating glitches in the world.

  • 1

    Knights of the old Republic 1&2, Battlefront 1&2?

    If I can find them.
    - CrazyJay May 2, 2013, 10:36 am
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