Fable: The Lost Chapters Review

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Graphics: 9.5
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 9.0
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 9.1
Review by Andy Levine
When it debuted on the Xbox last year, Fable was a smash hit due to its open-ended nature and in-depth character customization. Now, Fable: The Lost Chapters is making its way to the computer, allowing PC gamers to finally discover what all the fuss is about. As the game progresses, your character will evolve based upon every decision you make, making the experience feel fresh no matter how many times you play it. Expanding on the Xbox version with more quests, new weapons and a load of new decisions to be made, Fable: The Lost Chapters is an excellent addition to any RPG fan’s collection.

The most notable feature about Fable: The Lost Chapters revolves around the choices you make and the impact they have on your character. Like most RPGs, your character will gain experience points through quests and become stronger, learn new skills, and gain new weaponry. In addition, specialized experience points will be awarded based on how you attack. If you prefer melee attacks, then your character will obtain a muscular physique and inflict more damage in hand to hand combat, while spell casters can use their special experience points to learn new abilities.

Your character’s physical appearance will also change based on various factors. Depending on your alignment, a heroic character will carry a bright aura with a welcoming face, while evil characters tend to look like vicious barbarians. As a result, people’s opinions of your hero will change based on how he looks. A stealth assassin clad in a black uniform will put fear into the townsfolk, while a gentle warrior with a tunic and boots will comfort the citizens. Other components that affect the hero’s appearance include tattoos (if any), scars received during battle, and even your weight, which can be gained or lost depending on your diet. While your complexion doesn’t affect the gameplay considerably, it’s still easy to appreciate the detail Lionhead Studios put into the character development.

The quest interface system in The Lost Chapters further stresses your character’s individuality. Whether you choose to be good or evil is entirely up to you, and as a result your objectives will slightly differ based on the mission you select. For instance, one mission might have you protect traveling merchants if you’re a noble hero, but the same quest could tell you to rob those merchants if you take the rogue route. Before you perform a quest, you’ll have the option to ‘gamble’ on your quest’s outcome. The hero can brag about his skill which will unlock special challenges, requiring him to do things like beating the entire quest without any armor or without using any health potions. If you manage to succeed you’ll be rewarded handsomely, but you’ll lost both respect and some gold if you can’t live up to your boasts.

In addition, certain characters with icons over their heads can deliver special optional quests that can reward you with gold or simply affect your alignment. Over time, your hero will gain a reputation based on his actions, and the people around him will clearly respond to this. Context-specific actions can be used in certain scenarios, ranging from blowing a kiss to a lovely maiden or even farting on a homeless person. As your reputation builds up more of these actions will become available, and if you play your cards right you’ll even be able to do something drastic like get married! Choosing an alignment and sticking to it truly displays the consequences for how you act, and the people you encounter do a great job telling you this.

One of the biggest challenges the developers faced was to successfully convert the controls from the Xbox controller to work effectively on the PC. Luckily, a few tutorial levels early on do a great job of introducing the combat system, and although using a keyboard can be a little tricky at first for a game with so many commands, after practicing a bit you should feel right at home. Fable uses the standard WSAD control layout for movement and the mouse for looking around. Left mouse click is your attack button while the right mouse button is used to block, and by holding down shift the left and right clicks cast two predetermined spells. Some keys have two actions bound to them, and while this can easily be changed in the settings, it’s still bothersome to begin running and accidentally cast a spell, draining your energy. Moving about the world is simplistic, but the camera has a tendency to jump around the screen a lot. Instead of staying in a fixed position behind the character, the view will constantly shake back and forth, which can make you a little dizzy if you play for too long. Aside from this, the PC control scheme for The Lost Chapters is easy to get a grasp of.

As far as the actual combat goes, Fable uses a lock-on system to select specific enemies, allowing your character to accurately cast spells, shoot arrows, and slash up your chosen target with ease. Occasionally the lock-on system will target a friendly unit in the midst of battle, which can be quite costly if you accidentally rip apart an ally. The variety of enemies you encounter helps add depth to the battle system; at one point in the game you’ll have to face massive trolls who send a shockwave through the ground, while later on you might have to face hordes of flying insects. You’ll constantly have to devise new battle tactics for each type of foe simply because each type of enemy has their own strengths and weaknesses. While it’s relatively easy to run up to a lethargic creature and slash it to pieces, it’ll most likely be easier to cast spells on the more nimble opponents.

On the down side, failing a quest or being killed in combat has hardly any outcome on the game at all. While one could expect that failing a quest could upset certain people and set off a terrible chain of events, any quest can be restarted until you finally get everything right. In addition, there’s a proliferation of resurrection vials throughout the world, so dying will have a minor outcome on the rest of the game. Still, you’re bound to come across some intense fight scenes every step of the way, and although there aren’t any major consequences if you fail, the whole experience is rather enthralling.

One of the greatest features about The Lost Chapters is its astounding presentation value. The environments are simply beautiful; the textures are highly detailed and the worlds are overflowing with beautiful colors. From the lush green forests on a warm spring day to the stifling cold days in a winter setting, everywhere you travel possesses its own unique feel that will really make you appreciate your surroundings. Cities are full of life as well, and although some of the same bartenders and shopkeepers will appear over and over again, you still can’t help but appreciate the level of detail that went into the making of each character model. The audio is also right on the track with the visuals in helping create a memorable experience. The burning flames of an inferno spell, the traditional unsheathing of a sword and even the character dialogues all sound so natural and unscripted. The soundtrack is truly epic as well, effectively adding drama to the game where appropriate. Overall, Fable profoundly creates an illusion of real life through its audio and visuals, something every game should strive to accomplish.

In conclusion, Fable: The Lost Chapters is not only a great buy for PC gamers without an Xbox, but even if you have played the console version it’s still entertaining to explore new worlds and take on new quests. While we would’ve loved to seen a stronger emphasis on the whole ‘actions have consequences’ premise, Fable still allows the gamer to develop a strong bond with their hero. A few control bugs and a somewhat linear storyline slightly take away from the experience, but Fable: The Lost Chapters delivers a captivating adventure that shouldn’t be missed.