With good graphics, good story, and mediocre combat and controls, Fable: The Lost Chapters really needed something else to make it more than just another amusing RPG. Lionhead’s answer to this was to make each character choice and action have a long-lasting effect on the game. In some ways this idea panned out well, in others it was lacking. The Hero’s physical appearance changes with time. As he gets hit in combat, scars appear on his face and body. As he levels up and spends his experience points on Physical, Magical, or Stealth skills, his appearance changes accordingly. Heroes that focus on building up Strength or Stamina will soon find that they become hulking brutes, while building up the Magical skills greys the hero’s hair and causes his eyes to turn a mystic blue. In addition, with each level-up the Hero ages a bit, continuing to give the feeling that players are truly experiencing the entire Heroic life.
Moral choices also have a very obvious effect on the game. Most actions in Fable are either Good or Evil. Good deeds, such as rescuing the innocent, fighting horrible monsters, and self-sacrifice, will ratchet the Hero toward the Good alignment. Eventually, he’ll find himself surrounded by a shimmering aura, complete with halo, and he’ll be surrounded by a flock of butterflies. Townsfolk will trip over themselves cheering and clapping, and many will fall in love with him. On the flip side, Evil actions like killing innocents, stealing, and overall rowdy behavior, will result in a much darker appearance, including a few demon horns. Townsfolk will cower in terror, children will run screaming, and it becomes much more difficult to get merchants to stand still long enough to actually trade. But for the physical appearance and a slight adjustment in the experience cost to buy certain spells, there isn’t that much of a gameplay difference between Good and Evil. A few of the side-quests are decidedly Good- or Evil-oriented, and the main quest will play out a bit differently, but overall there just isn’t enough variation between the Light and Dark sides of Fable. Playing through a second time on the other end of the alignment spectrum soon became repetitive, and were I not reviewing the game I most likely wouldn’t have made it through the second run.
That’s not to say Fable isn’t entertaining for the first run, though. There is plenty to do, including oodles of side-quests and treasure hunts. Mini-games are also sprinkled throughout the game, running the gamut from card games to fishing games to a chicken-kicking version of shuffleboard. Players can customize their Hero to their heart’s content, toying with haircuts, beards, tattoos, and clothing. Heroes can also undergo a Sims-like minigame of finding themselves a spouse (or spouses). All in all, expect to spend about 12-15 hours for a single run though the game, longer for those trying to do everything on a single go. For those familiar with the original Fable, The Lost Chapters adds a few extra hours’ worth of content after the original Final Battle, in addition to fleshing out various NPCs with more cutscenes. There are also a few new locations and quests mixed into the original storyline.
I enjoyed the time I spent with Fable: The Lost Chapters, but when the final credits ran I found myself asking, “Is that it?” The game was just lacking something. I’m not willing to highly recommend the game to those who have already played the console original, as I just don’t believe there’s enough new content to justify purchasing another full game. Die-hard fans of the original will find something to like, if they’re unable to resist the urge to possess all things Fable. And for those who haven’t had the Xbox experience, Fable: The Lost Chapters is a solid, impressive-looking RPG that’s at least worth one playthrough.
A solid and enjoyable, if short, RPG that doesnâ€™t quite live up to my expectations. While itâ€™s a good bet for those unfamiliar with the original, thereâ€™s just not enough new content for those who already played through the console version.
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