Sweet As Syrup: Fable The Lost Chapters Review

I decided to take a break from my Phantasy Star review marathon and talk a bit about one of my favorite games as a teenager. It was one of the few PC games I bought prior to getting a Steam account. When the game stopped working, I eventually ended up buying the game for a dollar on Steam and beat the entire game. Fable was a game that had a lot of hype but ended up being a quality product. I want to share with you all my joys with this venerable game.

Need To Know Information

Fable was originally released in 2004 for the original X-Box. After some mixed consumer reactions, an enhanced version was released the very next year. This version added a few hours of content plus several new side-quests and legendary weapons. 9 years later, Microsoft released yet another iteration of the game known as Fable: Anniversary. This game is what I find to be the worst of the three versions. The HD graphics don’t match well with the dated character animations, the original release was plagued with bugs the original game didn’t have. The game also had a crap ton of unnecessary DLC and is honestly just a pointless remake. The only features that were really worth it was the addition of a hard mode and the fixing of the broken “Hero Save” system the game implemented (More on that later)

Plot

Unlike a lot of other games that start you off as the hero, you start the game off as a young boy. You are just a normal nameless lad, going about his business and living life in this quiet village. However, a gang of bandits attack, kill your father, and destroy your life. You are found by a powerful mage named “Maze”. Maze works for the Heroes’ Guild, an organization dedicated to training and deploying powerful dedicated heroes to protect the realm. They are kind of like the Avengers mixed with the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

You are tasked by the wise and extremely annoying Guildmaster to go out and protect the realm of Albion. Or… Destroy it. You see, your character is yours to mold so you can to choose to be good, evil, or anything in-between.  As you traverse through the story and come face-to-face with the mysterious Jack-Of-Blades, you will be forced to make choices between the high road or the low one. To be honest though, the choices are insanely black-or-white and don’t offer a lot of long-reaching consequences. They are still great though and they work well within the fantasy realm of Albion.

Gameplay

Fable is a game that is centered upon combat and choice just as much as it is plot-focused. The game features you making use of magic, ranged combat, and melee combat. These are grouped into “Will”, “Skill, and “Might” respectively. Using attacks or abilities from these school trees will get you EXP orbs in these areas that you can use to level up skills in those areas, as well as give you green EXP orbs which can be used to level up any skill. Each individual skill can be leveled up multiple times, requiring more and more EXP each time to do so. However, I found that getting EXP in the game is way too easy. Using a combat multiplier in combat mixed with Ages Of Skill, Will, or Might potions can easily net you 10,000 exp with ease.

It gets ever worse with the “Hero Save” system. Lionhead decided to implement this system that kind of makes the game easier and the game is already easy enough as is. The Hero Save system is kind of broken since it saves all of the items, experience, and gold you make on a quest, so you can reload the quest constantly and continually gain large amounts of items and experience points. It really breaks the game, especially since it makes Ages potions even easier to get.

The gameplay itself is pretty good. I found melee combat to be a bit annoying though, even when I locked on my character would occasionally miss swings with melee that he should have made. Other than that, it’s pretty dang solid. There is a good variety of magic spells and firing at foes with a bow is immensely satisfying. The game also lets you buy a variety of items to help customize you further. This includes magical stones that can augment your weapons, various pieces of armor, food that can change your character’s weight and even cards that depict different hairstyles your character can wear. Another thing that influences your appearance is leveling up itself. Leveling up certain skills, for example physique, will make your character appear more muscular.

Leveling up in general will cause your character to age, causing you to go from a teenager to over 50 by the time the game is over. People complained about this feature, but I thought it was unique. After all, few games actually depict leveling up as what it actually is: Growing older while growing stronger. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to learn how to swing a great-sword when you are 16. The game also has an alignment system. Doing good deeds will earn you good points, while doing evil deeds earns you evil points. You shouldn’t be too afraid to dabble in both sides though, since there is enough good and evil points to allow you to experience both the light side and the dark side.

All in all, the gameplay is pretty solid. If I had to make a complaint though, the melee combat just looks silly. Your hero will just flail his sword about randomly as if he is an action figure who just got his back-button pressed. The game also lacks replay value, as I beat the entire game and most of the side-quests in about 14 hours. True, you can go back and select the evil (or good) choices that you didn’t pick the first time around, but you will most likely see similar results for your actions.

Visual Stimuli

The game looks pretty good, though it is fairly dated by today’s standards. Characters awkwardly flail their lips about as if they were singing mechanical fish and the facial models on children could look downright creepy. Despite this, it looked pretty good for the time. The level-up interface is horribly dated though and it looks like it was an after-thought in the game’s development. The music in the game is pretty good, especially because it was the work of famous composer Danny Elfman. Because of Danny’s involvement though, I can’t help but think the main theme to the game sounds eerily similar to the theme from the Spider-Man movie. Maybe that’s just me though!

In Summation

Fable: The Lost Chapters is a great game. It’s a bit on the short side when compared to other RPGs, but it is certainly a lot of fun. I reccomend nabbing this on Steam when it is on sale, because 1 buck nets you 12-14 hours of gameplay which is awesome. Be forewarned, the game looks horribly dated, combat has some issues, and the alignment system is too black & white. Still, you’ll get a lot of fun out of this if you like silly British antics and fantasy settings. In my eyes, this game is definitely sweet as syrup. If I had to give it a score, it would be 8.5/10. It’s solid fun but not without its problems. I’d steer clear of the sequels though, they aren’t the best and didn’t fix the problems the original had that much.

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