Monday 25 October 2010

Taking a Step Back in Time...

A while ago now, when I was first in university I was working for a site called Britxbox. While I was there I reviewed Fable: The Lost Chapters, and seeing as though this is a week of Fable hype I thought I would take a step back in time and look at the game that enhanced our Fable experience on the Xbox. Enjoy...

Back in October 2004 Peter Molyneux and Lionhead Studios graced us with Fable. The revolutionary graphics, game play and a superb story making it a sure fire hit for the future of role playing games on Xbox. However after its initial hype and the honeymoon period, the game slowly slipped away, gamers feeling slightly let down by the shortness of the story and the ease of the game itself. Fable unfortunate suffrage from over-hype which led inevitably to the fans disappointment.

However, a year on we have been given a second helping, a hope for role players everywhere, and most importantly a proper Fable. The new game, Fable: The Lost Chapters is seen by many as the Directors cut of Fable, the way it should have been if Lionhead hadn't been hindered by deadlines and release dates.

It aims to set right the mistakes of the first game and in turn, win back its audience that were disappointed win the original. Thankfully, for me, and certainly the rest of the role playing community, the game has finally decided to deliver.

The games main criticism was that the story in the first game was too short, lacking in plot and substance. Lost Chapters has solved this, Lionhead have added a whole new chapter to the game and expanded the storyline through the use of previously minor characters, as well as the more major ones.

Quests have been moved in to fill the time in story gaps and the game now feels fuller because of it, making the world of Albion seem even more real. However the addition of new areas and the added story serve as only a small addition. The extra island takes no more than an hour to complete and lacks any staying power, the story also feels rushed and when you reach the admittedly breathtaking ending you are still waiting for more.

The Graphics are still impressive in the Lost Chapters. The lush forest and tundra wastelands each have their own feeling of belonging. Also the smaller effects like grass blowing in the wind, and the running water, add extremely well to the world of Albion.

The people of Albion are as before, beautifully sculpted and with distinct expressions and mannerism they are a joy to interact with. The voice acting is still great, each villager with his or her own voice, aided with a wide range of lines that mean you almost never here the same witty remake twice.

Still within the game the choices you make, ultimately shape your appearance and your destiny. This is what sold the game to so many gamers last year and is what will undoubtedly sell the game this year as well. The many opportunities present themselves as complex moral decisions and are a joy to mull over.

One quest sees you raiding a trader camp and having to decide whether or not to behead the last trader. Obviously this proves a difficult decision for the player, more money, or mercy? However the game can't rely on just this evil/good element and however much I love the moral choices, the lack of story and motivation really made my decisions.

The game also boasts new spells and new weapons, and they do deliver. You get a whole two new spells that, although grand in style, are basically copies of themselves and add nothing to the overall feel of the game. The weapons feel just as redundant, coming at the end of the game, and offering less power than the ones you already have. They usually end up in your inventory, and are never seen again.

This lack of a grand narrative and the small quest developments mean that Fable: Lost Chapters doesn't really feel like a role playing game. An example of this is in the limited movement by the character. You can enter a wood, and walk about, but you are seriously limited in your path.

You are told to go one way, and one way only. This serves to simplify the game and means that you inevitably feel like you are being dragged along by the ear throughout the game, occasionally being let loose for a few minutes in a village or town. Fable: The Lost Chapters therefore serves more as a Action/Adventure with role playing elements, rather than a full blown RPG.

The addition of Xbox Live has also been left out of the new version, and I can't help thinking that downloadable content would have seriously boosted the games lasting appeal. The regular download of quests and items that was so easily done with previous games like Knights of the Old Republic and Phantasy Star Online, added seriously to the games appeal, and if it had been done with Fable, it could have gone in a completely new direction.

If you are looking for a simple, easy to play RPG and haven't played the first game, then Fable: The Lost Chapters is the game for you. I am still a massive fan of the Fable games, and enjoyed playing them immensely, but was put off by the lack of story and development. If you are looking for a RPG that brings you in deep and makes you miss work for the next month, then this isn't for you.


If you want to see where it was originally and the awesome site that is Britxbox then click here

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