October 16, 2004 - Fable from Big Blue Box Studios
After a brief overview of your home town of Oakvalle in the land of Albion, through various interactions with its citizens while your character is a young boy, the plot quickly accelerates and before you know it you're a full grown man fresh out of years of training at the local Hero's Guild to pursue your destiny. The Guild becomes your home base for the main game and you spend a lot of time there reading through its library of history, checking out fresco paintings of your exploits, and upgrading your hero. The crux of Fable is its good-versus-evil play mechanic that allows you to determine which path your hero will follow. Travel the good path and you will be greeted by cheers wherever you go. Pursue the evil path and find the streets of towns emptied as you approach and its residents whispering behind your back. How you choose makes for a unique experience every time you play.
PRESENTATION - There is a lot of polish on Fable. The developers made sure to flood the player's senses with a dizzying array of detail, which translates into one gorgeous game. Interacting within Fable's world is fairly straightforward with buttons for action, block, interact, sheath/unsheath, and the uber-move known as flurry for unblockable attacks. The main game interface also contains a nifty clock represented by a rotating sundial-type graphic, a mini-map, and the all-important health/magic/lives bar. One of Fable's few weak areas is its menu system, which takes an average of five button presses to get anywhere and soon becomes tedious for getting to anything of substance your character may require. Thankfully there is a quick menu option, but I found it limiting as you can only map four items to it via the D-pad and there are so many little things your character can do from the deep menu that four quick options just doesn't cut it.
Overall, the quality of Fable ranks right up there with the best of the Xbox library with a persistent world that allows you to interact with any non-player character, own shops and houses, pursue various guild quests and a myriad of other game minutia. The thought that went into the final build is impressive and it may take a couple of hours before you realize some of the more esoteric bits that make Fable such delicious gaming fare. Take for instance your character's physical transformation as the game progresses: yes, you will immediately notice the angelic halo and nubby horns that begin to take their shape, but you may not catch on to the small glowing butterflies and dark buzzing flies that follow you around until you run to the kitchen for a soda and come back to realize what a cool little nuance this is. Small tid-bits such as these are everywhere in Fable and most of it goes unnoticed until that second or third time through.