MyGamer reviewed Fable back in September of 2004 when it was initially released on the Xbox. In that review, we talked about the impressive music and visuals, the real-time aging of your onscreen hero, its impressive free-will game play model and its engaging storyline.
A year later, PC gamers were finally given the chance to experience this classic role-playing title recently with the release of Fable: The Lost Chapters. Developer Lionhead Studios (the same team, lead by the legendary Peter Molyneux, that brought such titles as Black and White 2 to the PC) promised all of the original game play that made the Xbox version so wonderful, along with additional quests and content never seen before.
This extra quest and mission content, unfortunately, is added to the end of the existing game, so players of the original Xbox version will have to run through the game all over again just to get a few extra hours of quest content and to explore some new areas. Luckily, the original version wasn?t very long to begin with (approximately 20-25 hours tops), so returning players will not have to face a weeks-long wait just to see the new stuff. Unfortunately, the new content only adds another ten hours of things to do, at best, and has a sort of ?tacked on?, afterthought feel.
Fable: The Lost Chapters does have something to offer former players and newcomers alike: a rich, involved storyline in which the hero has the power at every turn to do good or dastardly deeds, all while wandering a game world that?s positively breathtaking to behold. Visually, the game does show its ?console? roots (player models sport lavish, high-rez skins atop fairly blocky, stiff, low-polygon models that are certainly a legacy of the Xbox?s code for example), but Fable more than makes up for its aging engine with unique, quirky and, we?ll just say it, downright amazing art direction, done up in a style that is at once realistic and slightly cartoony, like a child born from a cross-breeding between Morrowind and World of Warcraft.
In the final analysis, our only real problem with Fable: The Lost Chapters is not with its technology (aging, but still breathtakingly lovely) or its game play (the updated PC controls work much better than the controller setup the console version employed in this reviewer?s opinion), but rather its value.
Despite being little more than an add-on pack for a year-old console port, Fable: the Lost Chapters sports a new release price of $49.99, an outrageous sum. Given the game?s age, its disappointingly short length, and relative lack of new game elements, Lionhead and publisher Microsoft really should have released the game at a $40 or even a $30 price point. That the game has a host of graphics glitches ranging from annoying (the game will not launch on many systems that employ Windows XP visual themes, forcing the player to load the default visual theme if they want to play) to crippling (during our review, we crashed to the desktop many times) is bad enough, but when you couple that with the fact that there has, as of the date of this review, been no word from the developer whatsoever regarding the possibility of a bug-fix patch, then the premium price tag really becomes a sore spot. As a gamer, this reviewer expects a higher level of support for a game costing $50 than what?s currently out there.
Worse, the mod community for Fable is practically non-existent?difficulty with the game?s labyrinthine file structure and the lack of an official SDK are the reasons most often quoted on mod forums. The developer?s apparent lack of involvement or interest in supporting the PC version might be a factor as well. Some mods, mainly custom tattoo art and a few new clothing elements (mainly retextures using existing skins, shuffled to a different object), are out there, but not many, which is a real shame.
Fans of the RPG genre can certainly do a lot worse than Fable: The Lost Chsapters, but they could do better as well. After the Xmas Holiday Feeding Frenzy is over, and the game slips from a shelf cost of $50 to $30 and below, this 30-hour RPG will be a great value, just not now.
Game Play- 8 Roaming the land of Albion and becoming a hero is a blast, we can?t deny it. Become a shining paragon of virtue or a chicken-kicking, womanizing bastard- it?s all up to you. The game retains the console version?s wonky save game system, which stores your character?s statistics but not their progress through a given quest. Shut down the game and you have to start whatever quest you?re on from the beginning. Even with these warts, the game plays great, we only wish that the trip weren?t so darned short.
Graphics- 9 Sit back and prepare for a visual feast. The landscape is breathtaking and your enemies are lovingly rendered. As your hero ages, lines will appear on his face and his body will bear the scars of old battle wounds. If you have even a moderately powerful system then the game?s antialiased, high-rez graphics are sure to delight.
Sound- 8 Sound effects, voice acting and music are all top-notch, creating an aural palette as engaging as its visual counterpart. The sound of a leather boot impacting a chicken, and the resulting squawks and flapping that result, must be heard first hand to be truly appreciated.
Value- 5 Unfortunately, the PC version is not without its share of bugs, none of which the developer seems to care about patching or fixing- if they plan to, it?s a pretty carefully guarded secret. No multiplayer or co-op ability, which we would have thought was a no-brainer for the PC version. Extra content only adds a few extra hours of game play to an already painfully short title- not nearly enough to justify the game?s $50 price tag. Lionhead has moved on to their newest title, Black and White 2 and their absence in fan and support forums is keenly felt.
Curve-5 We wished for so much more from the PC release of Fable, but in the end we were left disappointed. Given the fact that Lionhead told gamers over and over about all of the cool things that they wanted to do in the original Xbox version but had to cut to make its release date, we really were hoping for a much more robust and fully-developed PC version with all or at least some of that ?missing? content restored. Instead we get a paltry 5 or 10 extra hours of quest material?disappointing. Our recommendation: check back with Fable in February. It should be about $20 by then, and will be a wonderful way to spend a few days in front of your PC during the bleak, gray, post-holiday dead time.