GAMEPLAY - What's with all this talk of playing Fable two and three times or more? The fact is that Fable is a very short game. The main quest takes only about fifteen hours to beat. But, after you beat it you begin to understand that, while the game is short, there are simply too many ways to create a character and drive your story to fit into one fifty hour epic game that nobody ever finishes. Instead it appears that Big Blue Box went with a more replay-friendly theme allowing players to mold multiple characters with vastly different traits thereby recreating an entirely different game from a character perspective.

Leveling up in Fable is done by battling assorted foes with certain weapon classes: duke it out with a sword and your character earns more strength points, use your bow to build more skill points. Likewise, a magic-heavy attack will increase your will points. Again, you create your character the way you want and by increasing the number of points you earn based on your M.O. this lets you reach your goal that much quicker. A really sly feature to note is how your application of points affects your character's look. For example, if you build up your strength categories your character becomes more stout. By building up skill he becomes taller guaranteeing that you and your friends' characters will never look quite the same.

While some of the earlier levels can be somewhat challenging due to your lack of strength and weak weapon selection you will very quickly make a name for yourself and in no time at all you will be taking out dozens of enemies without having to catch your breath. In fact, you will probably never even buy a healing potion or resurrection vial during the entire game (sans boasting) since enemies and treasure chests dole out more than enough to keep you going. Another weak area is the boss battles - they are simply too easy! Even the Arena challenge, which pits you against wave after wave of enemies, is reduced to an exercise in annihilation as your character is just too powerful by that stage of the game. More challenging boss battles for an Action RPG of Fable's caliber should have been incorporated.

Which leads us to another clever innovation with regard to how Fable approaches the difficulty issue. Instead of choosing easy, medium or hard before starting a game the issue of difficulty is addressed by boasting. Boasting allows your character to choose from an assortment of handicaps that make for a more challenging quest and also lets you nab more renown, which in turn, lets you build a stronger character. To invoke your boasting rights you simply walk your character onto the boasting platform in front of the Guild before any quest and choose from a menu of options that challenge you to defeat your enemies without taking any hits, or doing the quest naked and so on. Yes, there is a serious challenge posed when you're face to face with three balverines in your Union Jack briefs!

Magic in Fable can be used to great affect (with great effects, to boot). There are so many different spells! The customization factor is huge when it comes to magic. Attaining the higher levels costs a good chunk of experience points, but it is possible to find certain locales that allow you to rack up your multiplier and rake in the points for a devastating collection of fully loaded magic attacks. The particle system looks fantastic as well, which is a great segue into...

Overall Score
Action RPG
Lionhead Studios
Big Blue Box
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