When you ask the common gamer about Fable, they’ll leech into a thunderous rant about “that bloody Peter Molyneux” and how the game didn’t deliver on all the things that the man promised during the development of the game. Of course, most of these people won’t realise that the man is still a great designer, responsible for greats such as Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Magic Carpet, but we must admit that Peter Molyneux has been blessed (or cursed?) with the gift of the gab, and sometimes gets a little too excited about the things his studio is working on (see Project Dimitri).
Despite a number of absent features and rather short length, Fable was arguably one of the top games of 2004. Since Fable enjoyed a successful run on the charts last year, Big Blue Box and Microsoft have decided to team up once again and release an enhanced version of the game, titled The Lost Chapters. Along with adding a bunch of new features, new areas and new spells, Big Blue Box have also taken the opportunity to port Fable: The Lost Chapters over to the PC, and the results couldn’t really have been much better (without greatly changing the game).
The Lost Chapters retains the same plot as the original version of Fable, but veterans of the first title will immediately notice the changes. Scythe, who was omitted from the original game at the last minute, has been reintroduced – he is a rather ghastly looking hero whom you will encounter at various points of the game. A couple of extra quests have been implemented through the game, but these are mainly the optional side quests – only one new story quest has been added, and this occurs right towards the end of the game, thus having no real bearing on the outcome of the story. For those interested in the prologue, epilogue and history of Albion and its inhabitants, The Oracle in the new area of Snowspire has plenty of information to divulge. The additional missions do help to expand the game’s rather lacking length, but players will still find themselves getting through the game with everything done in less than 20 hours.
The core gameplay remains unchanged, obviously, but there have been a number of improvements made. Players can now have a weapon equipped at the same time they use their Will abilities, which basically means you don’t have to jump back and forward between weapons and will, and most importantly, won’t be left vulnerable should you run out of mana mid-battle. Fable has been converted fairly well from game pad to keyboard and mouse, though the lock on targeting can still be a little finicky, often locking onto a friendly when you’re surrounded by enemies. The only real problem with the layout is that a couple of keys have multiple functions mapped to them, and as a result you can find yourself performing the wrong action at the right time, such as farting when you go to kiss your girlfriend. New epic spells have been added to the game, and these are…well, epic, with a large area effect which will wipe out any enemies in the way. Epic spells come in both good and evil flavours, too. There are also a couple of new enemies along the way – some aren’t really all that different from other areas in the game, while the Summoner and Minion are fiendish opponents that will require a couple of tricks to defeat.
The some of the newer additions to The Lost Chapters have a largely humorous connotation. The hero now has a bunch of extra expressions in his repertoire, such as a traditional Russian dance routine, which always gets a positive reaction from the ladies. Some of the new outfits in the game are quite outrageous and maybe even a little out of place, such as the pimp hat – I can’t remember the subject of pimps coming up during my studies of medieval England, but it is funny nonetheless.
When Fable: The Lost Chapters was announced for PC earlier this year, it was generally expected that Big Blue Box would improve the game’s load times and ensure that the game has a smooth framerate. What we didn’t expect was that the developer would go beyond that – load times have been greatly improved, decreased from upward of a minute on the Xbox to a mere 5 seconds on the PC. Textures have also seen a lot of attention and now look much cleaner than those we saw on the Xbox release last October. As one would expect, the PC version allows for players to increase the resolution of Fable up to 1600x1200, and we must say that it looks beautiful, though a rather beasty setup is required to ensure that the game runs smooth at such a resolution. The only problem with the visuals in The Lost Chapters (other than the need for a PC of decent power) is that some of the objects in the environment haven’t been changed to move at the same speed as the rest of the environment, for example, the bushes in the forests look rather stuttery. Nothing much has changed in the sound department, with a couple of lines of speech being re-recorded, as well as new sounds for the new enemies. One slight annoyance is that the audio channels don’t seem to mix as well as they did on the Xbox, but this may be traceable to the machine used to review the game.
With decent action-adventure titles having been in short supply on the PC in recent years, Fable: The Lost Chapters should be a welcome addition to anyone’s library. For those who’ve already played Fable on the Xbox, The Lost Chapters may be a bit of a tough sell – the additions to the game are handy, the new areas are good, the improved load times and enhanced graphics are great, and the game is fun to revisit, but there isn’t really enough here to justify a re-purchase at full price; the game is still quite short and certainly very easy, especially compared to other games in the genre. Die hard fans of Fable should find refuge in what’s on offer, and those who’ve not already experienced the Xbox version of the game should do themselves a favour and pick up a copy of Fable: The Lost Chapters today.
XBOX: Fable Review
15 Oct, 2005
15 Oct, 2005
Fable: The Lost Chapters Review
PC Review | PC gamers get their first taste of the life of a hero in Albion with this extended version of the Xbox classic.
|It's the definitive version of Fable, but only those who've not played the Xbox game, or are die hard fans should pick it up, given the additional content is not as plentiful as one would have expected, nor does it make the game profoundly different from what was released 12 months ago.||8|
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