As with others, I have been waiting for an RPG to be released to give me everything I needed in a great game. I wanted a great combat system, wide range of spells and melee attacks, great customization with my armor and weapons, and plenty of things to do besides the main quest.
As of now, I am still waiting.
Fable starts off simple enough. You are a young boy in a small village with a gift in mind for your dear sister. Early on, you are given examples of the choices you will be given throughout the game that will decide what kind of person you will be when you grow up. As with your sister's birthday in mind, there are quite a few ways to gather some coin to put towards her present. Indeed, you could be a good lad and work for it, but I found it more entertaining to be a brat and cause trouble around town.
In turn, the choices that you make are there to mold you into what you will be later in life. Be a saint, sure. Save a few orphans and give mercy on the ones that are trying to take your life, sure, but it is much more rewarding to be bad. Sadly, you could be as bad as you want and it will not make a difference in the game. The townspeople will scream when you are near, but that seemed to be about the only changes.
Aside from the conflict to choose what would be more rewarding, and if you could get away with the deed, the morality system is completely cosmetic.
For those of you who have had the pleasure of playing Ultima Online back in the day, you know how fun it was to be a thief. Stealing in shops and from other players was a very exciting, and not to forget profitable, way to play that game. In Fable, stealing is tedious, and if the item is worth a lot, you may be asleep by the time you are "finished" stealing the goods. When you attempt to steal an item, a bar will appear and it will increase until it is finished. When it is reaches the end, you will take the item. Of course, if you were able to simply swipe an item at will, you could rob entire towns blind with the quickness. Even when you are insanely evil, the shopkeepers and guards will still never keep an eye out for you.
Definitely not a suspicious character.
Neighborhood Watch wasn't invented yet, I guess.
As for the game play itself, you spend all of the game swinging a sword and casting a spell or two every so often. A hack and slash affair, indeed. Although, you can improve your skills by picking up orbs that act as experience that are given by doing just about anything in the game, as it is rewarded by doing side-quests as well. The three skills you can choose to upgrade with your gained experience points being strength, will, skill, and your general pool. Each of these spread into three different categories. The name of each skill isn't very important, as it's very basic such as what strength would entail. Strength increases your health, your buffness, and melee attacks. Skill increases your effectiveness with a bow, your speed, and guile is the only skills name I was curious about why it is needed, but it is important to be a good thief. Perhaps if Nick Nolte had more guile, he wouldn't have such a mug shot floating around. You are not the good thief, sir.
The third is will, which improves spell damage, the range and length, and increases your mana pool. We actually have a few nifty spells at our disposal. You have all the normal spells you'd expect in an RPG, such as a fireball and lightning. Sadly, I do not recall actually using any other spell besides Slow Time and Berserk. With those two and a good weapon, nothing stood a chance. Though, the spells do look gorgeous. At least try them all to view the eye candy.
To much dismay, this game was entirely too short with little to add for replay value. You could always continue playing the same game after the end to max out your character completely, buy all of the property, beat your wives, gather more gear, but why bother? There is nothing left to do with all that new coin and a shiny, new sword. Even if you thought about playing Fable once more, why would you put yourself through those loading screens again? Every quest had you running about, passing each small area rather quickly, causing quite a bit of loading.
At least for the children, put on a shirt!
In addition to all of this griping, I was disappointed that the beautiful animated sequence with the boy talking about his family in the trailer was just for the trailer as there were only murals shown after each event. It is a minor gripe, though, as I was expecting something a bit more theatrical after viewing the preview.
Surely, all of this still does not do justice to what we all felt with the hype over the years prior to the release to only be let down a bit. Although, I still enjoyed Fable quite a bit even that it did not live up to expectations. The combat was fun, the spells were great to watch, and it gave me a certain attachment to watch my character evolve over the time played to my liking. To his hair, his tattoos, and his horns. This was a really good step in the right direction and I hope to see this used more often. Being able to customize the hero of a game to your liking adds some value to the game that allows you to establish a connection with the character no matter how crummy the dialogue and plot.
How Survivor: The Game should have been.