PC – Fable: The Lost Chapters
By Andy Levine
Microsoft’s critically acclaimed RPG hit, Fable, is finally making its way to the PC with Fable: The Lost Chapters.
As a seemingly orphaned young boy, you are brought up through a Heroes’ guild to resolve the real mystery regarding your family after a group of violent bandits left your hometown in ruins. Whether you opt to uncover the truth via a path of good or evil is completely your choosing, but you can expect every event afterward to be affected by your ensuing decisions. This thrilling adventure filled with plot twists, character development, and intense battles should make for a highly anticipated addition to the PC gaming catalogue.
Gamers familiar with the Xbox version of Fable will find that there is a great deal of added content in The Lost Chapters. The Lost Chapters is essentially the original Fable, except this time it has new monsters, new environments, new spells, and a whole new arsenal.
Weapon augmentations will allow a weapon of choice to have an elemental value, allowing an enemy to be set ablaze or struck by lightning. Each character's appearance will vary based on every action; wielding a sword will grant him large muscles, while relying on speed and stealth will develop an agile hero. With an updated graphics engine from the Xbox counterpart, every combatant will receive battle scars corresponding to the damage inflicted upon them. Heroes can learn special traits and obtain new possessions, such as mastering the art of thievery or owning real estate, and The Lost Chapters is filled with an endless amount of character customization. Newcomers to Fable will love everything this title has to offer, and even fans of the Xbox version will still be impressed by the amount of new content.
Fable attempts to make your gaming experience as open-ended as possible while still gently leading you in the right narrative direction. At the game’s opening, your young character is tasked with completing a few good deeds about town to earn enough cash to secure your sister’s birthday present. Unfortunately, a group of ruthless bandits invade your town that day, killing everyone they come across, and leaving everything in ruins. However, somehow you escape the carnage and, as your father’s lifeless body lies before you, an important decision must be made. From that day forward you can choose to rid the world of evil, or force others to experience the pain you suffer. By choosing the light path, delighted townspeople across the game commemorate your honorable and courageous deeds while showering you with gold and adoration. Choosing the dark path makes them cower at your feet or scuttle from your very presence in a state of fear. By earning Renown points, you can build your reputation—whether good or bad—as your popularity or infamy spreads across the land.
After finishing your initial apprenticeship at the Heroes’ Hall (part of the guild that takes you in as an impressionable young boy), you can begin to select different quests. When choosing a quest, you can decide if you want to help somebody in their time of need, or ruin their day further by adding more hardship to their situation—obviously depending on which lifestyle path you choose to tread. You have the option to boast with every quest, which adds specific challenges to it. Boasts, such as not using healing potions, not wearing armor, or only attacking enemies with your bare hands will earn you a great deal of money and respect, but will also make your mission harder to accomplish. On your journeys you can stop at different settlements to purchase new weapons, potions, or even your own house...though securing a wife for it is more difficult. While within a city’s walls, you must obey all of the rules therein lest the guards discover any errant mischief and fine you accordingly. While randomly beating an innocent that crosses your path is extremely entertaining, you will be bombarded by an endless wave of angry guards if you slay too many civilians. Being a calamitous hero will always have its fun points, but sometimes it’s best to abide by all city laws—especially if you wish to truly follow the path of righteousness.
Your hero can also use context specific expressions, such as farting in the direction of a bully, or openly flirting with a woman, and again each of these actions will directly affect the perception of his image across the world. Throughout the game you will come across various keys, caves, hidden passages, corrupt humans, and hundreds of other events dependent upon your actions, making Fable quite enjoyable to play a second time through.
Using a keyboard is obviously different from using an Xbox controller, but with a little practice you will soon find that the PC version handles much smoother than its Xbox counterpart. Battles flow with considerably more fluency; by simply locking-on to a target by using the spacebar you can launch an array of assaults, including melee attacks, and bow and arrow attacks. You can even use ‘The Will’. The Will allows you to focus magical energy on a target and unleash a punishing bolt of lightning from your hands. Accessing your inventory is also straightforward, and the game’s shopkeepers and traders have deep category systems that will instantly allow you to find the perfect item. After killing an enemy, their discarded ‘experience orbs’ attract to you and are automatically collected (something all game foes leave behind when dispatched), and these aid you in leveling up through areas including strength, agility, and The Will.
Exploring and navigating the vast game world isn’t as hard as you might imagine, and a special gold map icon helpfully indicates where you should go to pursue your next quest—should you choose to. Also, you can teleport to the different cities you have encountered during your conquest, so you won’t have to spend hours wandering out in the wilderness while getting from A to B. With a battle system that is simple to learn but always leaves you scope for improvement, a navigation system that is exceptionally easy to use, and an in-depth character development system, what more could you possibly ask for?
The overall presentation is nicely polished, so you can expect to get a great deal out of both the audio and visual categories. The environment is teeming with lush forests, rushing rivers, and crystal clear skies. Details such as individual leaves on branches, or subtle variations in lighting might appear all but insignificant, but each seemingly mundane detail works together and often leads to some exhilarating results. Always try to remember that extreme nuance is rarely noticed but always subconsciously appreciated, whereas lack of depth and detail jumps out immediately. To accompany the visually beautiful game world, the aural atmospherics of its surroundings can always be heard. Birds are constantly chirping, bees are busy buzzing, and the gentle serenade of running rivers is endlessly soothing. By contrast, during the heat of battle, weapons viciously clash together, arrows whiz by inches from your head, and the moans from the wounded also create a memorable experience. The game’s thoroughly comprehensive performance is consistently delivered through many high quality features.
Overall, Fable: The Lost Chapters is guaranteed to be one of 2005’s most notable PC releases. And, due to its innovative gameplay, open-ended scenarios, and astonishing complexion, Fable’s September release will surely be marked highly on the anticipation charts of PC gamers everywhere.