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Fable: The Lost Chapters Review

Developer: Lionhead Studios Publisher: Microsoft
Release Date: October 20, 2005 Also On: PC and Xbox

It is no secret that I have been a cynic of the Xbox for quite some time. Halo 2, Brute Force, Conker, Blinx…the list goes on and on of games where single-player on the Xbox did not live up to expectations. Due to the Xbox’s long history of hyped up games disappointing gamers, I went into Fable with lower expectations than most people did for such a high-profile release. At one point, Fable was believed to be the ultimate RPG, the system’s answer to Final Fantasy and one forum poster at TVG said that it was “only possible with a HDD” that the Xbox provided. How they were all wrong…

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Well, after finally playing Fable: The Lost Chapters, I’m not sure what all of the fuss has been about. Sure, Peter Molyneux set himself up for failure from the start by setting impossible expectations, but anyone that believes PR rhetoric would be a fool (or fanboy) anyway. Here’s a different way of looking at it: if I told you we were going to go to Disneyworld and we ended up at Busch Gardens instead, you’d probably be disappointed. Fable: The Lost Chapters, despite being a different game than the one Peter Molyneux talked about, is worth every bill (all 20 of them) that it is being charged for.

You start off in the town of Oakvale, a quiet peaceful town with harmless inhabitants in the world of Albion. One day, a group of bandits raid the town, set it ablaze and murder the main character’s family…or so you’re told. Maze and the Hero’s Guild rescue you, nurture you into good health, train you and set you on your destiny to save the land and avenge your loss. The storyline, while not overly creative, does a good job of keeping you informed and interested.

This is not an RPG that you play for the storyline though. I suppose Fable is a love it or hate it type game. You don’t have to be into RPGs in order to like this game. Fable: The Lost Chapters is an action-oriented RPG with three techniques to choose from when fighting: melee, ranged and magic. You can wield swords, axes and other melee weapons, arm yourself with a bow or learn spells to cast magic on enemies and allies alike. The more you use a fighting technique in combat, the more experience you will get towards that category. In order to use larger weapons, you’ll need to apply skill towards strength or to shoot faster arrows you will need to put it towards skill.

Now, you don’t go around hacking and slashing at people, though technically, you could, it is just going to cost you. Fable: Lost Chapters is all about completing quests and Molyneux was not shy to make this game linear. Don’t expect a huge branching story or side-quests that will significantly change gameplay. Even the “good vs. evil” system that determines your physical characteristics, respect (or fear) in a town, etc. is not all that central to the overall goals of the game. Both the “good vs. evil” system and side-quests are nice little additions, but more diversions than actual essential pieces.

Most missions will involve protecting, killing or rescuing something or someone. This goes for the werewolf-like creatures, the bandit missions, among others. A very limited number of missions will ultimately affect the moral direction that your character will lead. You may pillage a town here and there, but ultimately, whether or not you kill an innocent hero (among other things) will determine whether you are good or evil by the end of the game, not the more “petty” things like stealing, murdering and breaking things. In fact, you can get good points for killing bandits, so don’t feel guilty.

Since Fable was only about ten hours long, Molyneux added an extra island to The Lost Chapters where you will have the chance of facing off against the final boss in the first game again in a different form. Aside from the few new side-quests and two or so hours of new missions, The Lost Chapters should not last you more than 12 hours. That said, there are some distractions in the game, including parlor games, fist-fighting, a bartering system and yes, even fishing. The complaints that people have leveled against Fable’s lack of length are valid, but when you look at the big picture, it only cost you $20.

While I am a big fan of the action-RPG gameplay offered by Fable, I am even more impressed with the graphics. You have a large world with colorful scenery, characters that look like they have almost been taken out of some cartoon and it changes from night to day. Over time your character will age, from a boy to a young man, an adult to an elder. You will gain scars from combat on your face and throughout your body (whether they are just randomly generated or not, I do not know) as well as facial hair that can be cut at a barber shop. You can apply tattoos to your body as well as armor, which also protects your character. Let’s just say I was not the fashion statement of Albion.

If you came into Fable expecting the best RPG ever made, you probably left disappointed. I feel sorry for you too, because Fable: The Lost Chapters is one of the better games available on the Xbox. It might not have lived up to the hype that Peter Molyneux was touting, but with the low bar that I had going into the game after hearing such negative things about it (except Game Freaks 365 did give the original an 8.8 out of 10), I was a bit baffled. If you can put aside everything that Microsoft wanted you to believe before Fable was released and everything the press wanted you to believe after the game was released, you can easily enjoy this game.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 8.9
Written by Kyle Review Guide