Playing Fable…

Title Fable
Developer Lionhead
Type Role playing game
Platform(s) XBox, XBox 360 (emulation mode)
Kelly Score ™ 90 / 100

Lionhead games released a game called “Fable” (note: site uses Flash plugin) a few years ago. I dismissed it because a few folks who liked “goofy/cartoonish” style games thought it was a great thing.

I picked up a discounted XBox version of Fable over the weekend. Not XBox 360, but XBox- it runs under emulation mode in my XBox 360, though. This means that the graphics aren’t great. But after playing the game for (according to it’s in-game stats) a bit over 7 hours, I can say I truly regret not trying it sooner.

If you liked games like Oblivion, Sacred, or Gothic 3, then the characteristics of Fable will probably be at least somewhat appealing to you. It is a rather open-ended graphical RPG: it has some “plot” quests that you have to complete to progress, but far more of the quests are “optional”: you complete them purely for money, fame, and loot.

Fable has the usual quests, monster bashing, magic, and the like. It is a skill based system: use skills like firing your bow, and you get points you can apply to improve bow-related skills. You also get general “achievement points” (like experience) that can be applied to any of your skills. This allows you to customize the abilities of your character based on your preferences over time.

You don’t have as many initial character appearance choices as some of the “newer” games: you are the “hero”, and he is a human male and starts out with a certain pre-ordained appearance. What differentiates Fable, though, is that your character changes as you play. You start off as a little kid, apprentice at Hero school (Yep, hero school- it isn’t as hokey as it sounds), and grow up into an adult. As you get into the main part of the game, you can start to make more significant choices that will have major impacts on your appearance and how people in the world perceive you.

In terms of appearance….if you focus on skills that increase your strength and fortitude, for example, your character will become more “buff” looking. Although I haven’t found this yet, supposedly if your character eats too much of some foods he’ll become fat. You can also acquire “haircut” designs that allow you to change your hairstyle, beard, or mustache. Likewise, you can add tattoos and buy different clothing.

All of this frippery has a purpose: how you look has an influence on how people (NPCs) react. Wear a scary looking tattoo and some bandit clothes, and people might be inclined to run away instead of talk to you. Dress in fancy duds with a nice haircut, and people will likely react amicably.

But that’s just the beginning…Fable also keeps track of how you behave. Save the innocent villagers and kill the bandits, and you will be thought of as a virtuous and kind person. Kill the innocent villagers, help the bandits, and slay the guards…folks will run away screaming when you come into town. As you go further and further down the path of virtue or evil, your character’s appearance will also begin to change. Slay the women and rape the cattle, and you’ll begin to grow horns and your eyes will begin to glow red. Destroy evil and uplift the downtrodden, and you’ll eventually literally have a halo floating over your head. Or you can walk the balanced path, and just look more or less normal. Gaining fame or infamy is a very important part of the game- and there is no “right” way to do things. The game doesn’t penalize you for being evil or give you great benefits for being good. I found this neutral stance rather refreshing.

I keep finding nuances to the game that I never expected. My character’s fame is becoming moderately high, and I recently got him a haircut and an apparently rather attractive moustache. Now suddenly I discover that people are oohing and ahhing as he walks by. If my character finds a likely lass and flexes/flirts a bit, a little heart will appear over her head showing she’s fallen in love. I can then (apparently- I just read about this) buy a ring and offer marriage…I can buy a house, and my new bride will follow me home. Supposedly, there is even some nudge-nudge wink-wink (I.E.: non-explicit) “sex”.

Oh, and if your sword swings that way, you can seduce another man using the same methods as noted above. Actually, if your character is particularly attractive, the odd (er, occasional) male NPC might have a heart floating over his head with no provocation on your part at all, and might say something like “do you have an open mind?” as you walk by. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… And it is probably worth warning potential purchasers about the “maturity” aspect of the game. There is nothing explicit about Fable, but it doesn’t seem to shy away from or pre-judge things: that’s probably why it is rated “Mature”, despite having no nudity or visual sex whatsoever.

I am definitely enjoying the game. I’d say possibly even more than some of the arguably more “sophisticated” RPGs like Oblivion. Since it has been out for a while, you’ll probably find it at least somewhat discounted from regular price.

3 thoughts on “Playing Fable…”

  1. I have been playing it too. While fundamentally i find it lacks in terms of story which is always a big element for me… as a time waster and what not it has its place. I, for example have two wives and a ‘partner’, the entirely not hunky school teacher. The story seems to split too… I have the ability to woo the prominent lady in town or the little peasant girl by the gate. After you chose one you can’t go for the other. The game tracks all your encounters too, plus your sexual orientation. The sex is certainly anti-climactic. *g* Plus a wife or partner is worth more as a sacrifice to dark gods, aside from the money you can earn.

    The jury’s still out on this one for me…. it’s short, that’s one thing. But I haven’t put it down so… we’ll compare notes sometime when we both finish.

  2. The sex is certainly anti-climactic. *g* Plus a wife or partner is worth more as a sacrifice to dark gods, aside from the money you can earn.

    Written by a bitter divorced lawyer perhaps 😉

  3. Nice riff on Oblivions’ comment, Chris 😉

    Basically, the “sex” is a blank screen with some oohing and aahing. What gets the game it’s mature rating is the very fact that they imply any kind of sexuality. If it just had blood, guts, and horror, it would likely have a teen rating.

    Story-wise, I’m pretty satisfied with it. Not exactly “deep”, but entertaining enough. I’ve been playing for about 13 hours so far…I think I’m approaching the end game, though. I’m not sure what happens then…whether its “game over”, or whether I get to go back to completing the little quests that I might have missed earlier….

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