the Junkyard: Fable: Potential lost

Starsiege Series Tribes Series Halo Series
Fable: Potential lost
Fable: Potential lost
Posted by: IVIaedhros on Thu Dec 9th, 2004 at 1:21 PM
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Genre: RPG
DeveloperBig Blue Box
Release Date: 09-14-2004

Fable is probably the most disappointing game I've played in a long while and it's not because it's a bad game... it's just that it's exactly average; mediocre in some areas. Every now and then, you get a glimpse of the creator's vision and it's like, "Oh my gosh, that is awesome." Sadly though, moments like that are few and far between.

The Good


While looking through the reviews at GameFAQs, I noticed that several reviewers complained about the quality of the graphics and many others gave them only an average rating. I completely disagree. While they can't be called the greatest ever, I think the graphics guys did a superb job in putting a fantasial, dream-like atmosphere into the game. The lighting, coloring, and shape proportions is what, in my mind, really made this effect. The color in general was somewhat toned down, but many objects and terrain had a sort of... glow I guess. The art department also warped many objects (most noticeably the people's) proportions and the effect managed to be fantasial, without being cheesy. In fact, it was the art guys who gave me my only real moment of feeling for the main character: I got to see him after having been in a prison for a year and the look on his face... yeah, that was good.

I do have some gripes, most notably that there seems to be either a lot of in breeding or cloning between the locals, but that didn't dampen my love. I was particularly impressed with the rendering jobs they were able to do with the equipment as well as their handling with many of the character's faces.


Ah yes... the music. This, even more so than the art, is what helps make the fantasy atmosphere and what really made Fable for me. I was in band as an instrumentalist for a long time and I've always had a big appreciation for orchestral music and throughout the entire game, I felt like I had a mobile orchestra following me. That is a very good thing in this case. There is always a temptation to have the music stand out on its own and sometimes (especially in movies) the music can vie with the rest of the game for attention. Fable never did this. Instead, it was always in the background, adding to the mood of whatever level or task you were trying to complete.

As usual I do have a few gripes, particularly with the battle theme. It gets repetitive quickly and you don't have much of an alternative. Several other tunes don't fit in well, but you should never really notice it.

The Bad


This game is easy... seriously. There is actually a guide dedicated to beating the game without any power-ups or leveling. That shouldn't even be possible in an RPG according to my book. It's also not uncommon to hear of people killing the final boss in one hit. Part of the problem is the relative ease of acquiring uber-weapons, the other one being it's way too easy to get a ton of various health, magic, and life-reviving potions. I barely visited the stores at all and by mid-point in the game I had enough revival potions (I don't remember the actual name) to die six times over. That's not even counting my various restorative potions, foods, and spells. Logically, combat shouldn't be hard with all that I've just mentioned, and it's not. Think Zelda: OoT with a lot more enemies and you have the combat system for Fable. I have to admit, the interface system is quite functional, but there is extremely little skill or strategy in combat. Hit "X" will be basically all you need, maybe throw in some "Y n' B" to spice things up a little bit, but if you actually bother to do some real leveling, which I didn't, you can waltz through countless enemies without much worry at all.

The Story

My view on the story pretty much parallels the game: initial high hopes, let down, glimmers of greatness, than disappointment at the end. A narrator largely tells the story itself with cinematics designed to look like old time paintings. I'm reminded of some old paintings on leather and the effect is quite nice. But the more the game progresses the more it falls into the standard RPG story plot. The idea behind the story is old, but it could've worked if not for the complete lack of passion. Sorry, I'm just not sure how else to put it. Part of the problem is that the supposed crux of the game, decisions over morality affecting your play experience, really doesn't matter too much. The main difference besides physical appearance is that if you're good people like you, and if you're bad, people just get scared and don't talk. Being evil is fun for a while. I mean, who doesn't want to wipe out a town or two or three? But when no one wants to talk or deal with you, it gets kind of annoying. There's also the problem with the endings. Your previous decisions matter not at all, just save before the final battle and you can pick whichever you please. *Ahem* Now onto the next section which covers the biggest reason, IMO, behind the story's failure. The...


RPG's rely heavily on their characters. What would the Final Fantasy series be without its amazing cast? The first problem is your guy... he is just some silent and largely unknown person whom your expected to care about. I feel like a broken record, but there were times when I genuinely cared for my guy; however, those times were few and far between. That type of protagonist has worked before and worked well, but it's not executed well here.

However, it is nothing compared to the supporting cast's failure. By and large they have only one emotion and they stick with that through the whole game. Is your town burning down and everything you've ever known crumbling to ashes? They don't care. Is someone lying gutted and about to die? They're more concerned about telling you "try to get your combat multiplier even higher". While the voice acting is excellent, neither it nor the script ever support any real emotion.


I can tell this game was meant to be played more than once. Just look at the sheer variety of things you can do to customize your appearance alone. There are a ton of tattoos, hairstyles, and outfits to deck yourself out with. You'll also age and get fatter and skinnier as you desire. To add further incentive, you have a ton of skill, equipment, and morality choices to make, oh and don't forget the variable endings and lots of hidden things to discover. You can even own real estate and get married. Hell, you can even have sex with your bride. "Whoa, you mean I can practice spawning? WHY BY ODIN'S STARRY BOOTAY DID YOU PUT THIS IN BAD SECTION?!?!" Simple, all that will give the average gamer incentive to play through the game maybe twice. Here's why: 1) As I hinted at earlier, I didn't do too much and I was flushed with enough cash to try every single hair style, get married twice, and eat an apple. 2) There isn't much incentive to interact with people you don't care about.

Fin: Final Thoughts:
After reading through that, I realize I come off as though I hate Fable. I don't. It's not even a bad game, but it could've been so much more. I wasn't let down by hype because I never became interested in or payed attention to it until I decided to rent it at the local Blockbuster, but I can see the potential lost. How I feel after beating Fable is analogous to how I think some people felt after beating Starsiege.

Final note: I do encouage you to try this for yourself and make your own thoughts because some people really do like this game.

This review brought to you by IVIaedhros, who grades lower than most.

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