Fable: The Lost Chapters — The choice is yours…sort of.

June 21, 2006 Off By Tommy Gun

fableLC_1.jpgI beat the game last week. The original content took me just under ten hours, and the whole game took about 13 hours, which is really short for an RPG, and even short for a regular game. I did avoid a lot of the side-quests (didn’t really interest me, although I did get married twice, and totally scored like four times!), and there were plenty of other things to do — find all the silver keys, open all the demon doors, etc. Then obviously you can play through multiple times and try to be 100% evil, 100% good, a pure mage, a pure archer, etc.

The length of the game didn’t bother me, I actually like shorter games. I have literally shelves of games I haven’t played yet, and I don’t have the time to play tons of 60-hour games. It should be noted that they easily could have made the game longer in a lot of cheap ways, which is what a lot of games do. For instance, Fable lets you press a button (from anywhere) to teleport to another town or location. They could have forced you to actually run back to the town teleports, and that would have added time. I’m glad they didn’t. A lot of games make you backtrack all over the place picking up stupid items, just to extend the game. I’d much rather have a short game of content than a long game of filler. Although with that said, the story could have been better.

A lot of people were disappointed with Fable because of all the hype Peter Molyneux created around it before its release (back when it was called Project Ego). I didn’t follow the game until close to its release, so I avoided most of that. I also didn’t play the original, I went straight to The Lost Chapters, so that helps too. Still, there were some disappointments for me (some of which are true for a lot of games):

Good or Evil?
This is the big idea behind the game. You have “alignment” to good or evil — do good deeds and everyone will love you, steal and kill people and you will be hated and feared. That’s all true, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that it’s not really beneficial to play one way or the other, and the game is pretty much the same either way. I played as “good,” mostly. I didn’t steal things from people’s houses, or kill innocents, etc. Eventually I realized that a lot of the items in the game are in people’s houses, so I was actually missing stuff by not stealing! You get tons of stuff for free by stealing, and nothing really bad happens to you either. If you get caught you have to pay a small fine, or just leave the town for a few minutes and all will be forgotten.
Play as any class?
By using different abilities, you’ll automatically gain experience points and be able to upgrade those things. The three are: Strength (melee), Skill (archery), and Will (magic). In general, I think magic rocks, so normally I would upgrade that completely and be a mage. However, it doesn’t really work that way. First off, you have limited magic power (nothing new about that), but there’s no limit on using your melee weapons (or arrows, for that matter). Right off the bat you have a disadvantage. Second, it’s really weak at first. You have lightning from the start, but it takes forever to kill anyone! It’s much easier to just take them down with your sword. Third, most of the time you’re fighting multiple enemies, so you can’t just sit there and wait for someone to die from lightning, they will crowd you. The same problem makes archery pretty useless. Fourth (whew), it’s definitely in your best interest to upgrade your health and other physical traits as much as possible, and to do so, you need to use your melee weapons to gain experience. Magic is good as a supplement, like using “Force Push” to knock enemies away while you slash at them. So although it’s possible to be any of those classes, most people will probably end up the same.

In retrospect, I really should have bought “Enflame” and “Slow Time” early on, as those spells are really good. You certainly can play as a pure mage, but unless you’ve already played the game or read an FAQ, you really wouldn’t know what to upgrade, and that’s kind of my point. Melee weapons have a damage rating, so you know exactly how strong they are and what’s the best. Not so with magic.

Customize your appearance?
You can get all sorts of clothes, tattoos, and haircuts to change your character. Sound good? Well…it’s pretty obvious you’ll want to wear the strongest armor you have. Why would you run into a battle shirtless just so your character looks cool? You probably wouldn’t. Most people will find the same strong armor (with helmet). You won’t see your tattoos, and you won’t even see your face/hair when you’re wearing the helmet. Again, most people will end up looking the same, despite what the developers claimed, unless you really go out of your way. I saw a video someone uploaded showing a glitch in the game, and their character looked exactly like mine.

The menus are slow and annoying (many tiers to go through), so it’s really not worth changing your clothes back and forth when you’re in a town. I wish they would have at least put in a customizable “outfits” menu (with hotkey), so you can change from user-set “battle” gear to “town” clothes quickly, for instance.

The “young” years are too short!
One of the things that intrigued me the most about this game was the whole “revenge” aspect to it. You start out as a kid and your town is destroyed, but you’re too weak to do anything about it. Throughout the game you grow stronger and older, and face your old enemies. At least, that was the idea. In truth, you only play as a kid for about ten minutes! Then you get to the Heroes’ Guild, go through training (tutorial), and emerge as an adult. I was really hoping they wouldn’t jump through time so much. I wanted the game to have you play as a kid for HOURS, doing quests, making friends, making enemies, learning skills. Then once you’re older, you’ll be able to take down those familiar enemies, marry the girls you knew as a child, and so on. There was a girl you helped out as a kid, and when you come back to the town as an adult you meet her again…and then she’s gone. I looked around town and couldn’t find her living anywhere (although it’s possible I just missed her). I wanted to try to marry her, but I never saw her again.
The characters aren’t very well developed
There are various other characters in the game who you see from time to time, but really not all that much. Even though the game is short, they could have had the other characters with you on more of the quests at least. Your sister in the game is very cool, I wish she played a larger role. She…[SPOILER]…was kidnapped as a child and wouldn’t tell the captors where you were, she just stared at them. Because of this, they cut out her eyes. When you meet up with her later she walks around with a blindfold on, but she’s partly psychic, so she’s actually a good warrior and she senses your presence. She’s an interesting character…but you only see her for a few minutes throughout the whole game.
Hero Save glitch!
This is just a word of warning to anyone who hasn’t played the game yet but is going to — don’t “Hero Save” more than ten times (through the whole game) or it will corrupt your saved game! Just World Save instead, I didn’t Hero Save at all. You really shouldn’t need to, there are other quick ways of leveling up.

Okay, enough about the bad parts of the game. I actually really liked it, I just wanted more. Here are a couple of my experiences that stood out (a lot of other people probably did the same things):

Screw you and your little bar games.
At one point you can’t get into this one camp without a pass. There’s a guy in the tavern who will give you one if you win his “guess the addition” game. It’s a memory game, but the objects are 3D and change places and the direction they’re facing after each round, so it’s hard to even see what they are! On top of that, it’s timed, so you can’t look very closely. I played it three or four times, and got to the final round twice, but lost. It was just lame, and I didn’t want to do it…so I killed the guy instead and took the damn pass. I would have paid him for it, if he’d let me. It’s his fault. Really. (It turns out there was a different guy who was selling one. Oh well.)
After I beat the game I just played around in the game for a while. You can buy houses and stores if they’re available. Well, one night I went into a town and just started killing everyone. I smashed down doors and murdered whole families while they were sleeping. (How do you like that, J.T.?!) Each time, the screen popped up a message saying, “a new store has just become available for purchase!” Haha. Guards get sent after you of course, but at this point I was so powerful and had so much gold it was easy to kill everyone and buy all the houses and stores. In the end no one was left in the town, and I owned around ten stores. Next: the world.

Okay…well I guess both of those involved killing innocent people. Hmm. Maybe I should have played the game as Evil.