Being the man behind Populous and Black and White means that whatever you do next you've got a tough act to follow - especially when sometimes the hype gets a tad heavy. Fable, the latest title from Peter Molyneux and the chaps over at Lionhead is a true epic. Told in a story tale style of yesteryear, you play a character that has two choices before them - good or evil.
We are all faced with decisions, but rarely in a computer game does it matter what those decisions are and more importantly how you act to them will in turn decide how the game is played. That's the premise of Fable and one that not only adds to the gameplay but makes the game, in our mind, the brilliance that it is.
Bar the constant battle between good and evil, the game follows a storyline of a small boy who loses his family in the early stages of the game - the rest is about discovery of what really happened and if you choose revenge. Going on quests earns you experience points and experience allows you to upgrade your skills, strength and magical abilities. Use more magic and your magic powers will grow, opt for melee weapons and the likewise, on top of this do bad things and your fear rating will rise, bad things range from stealing stuff to killing innocent bystanders.
In true RPG style, along the way you can collect gold for challenges and this then allows you to buy better weapons, more potions and general stuff. As if copied straight from The Sims you can buy all host of things from haircuts to tattoos and this is were the game succeeds so well - in the freedom it gives you. That freedom extends to being able to roam the world looking for additional side tasks to complete. These will increase your powers.
Okay so it's not all good news. The game does suffer from some annoying habits, mainly that if you exit an area and then re-enter it, all the baddies you've just killed will reappear. Likewise, there are so many button combinations to master that at first you might find yourself in a tight situation not knowing what to press when.
Gripes aside the game is a masterpiece, the graphics are as impressive as anything we've seen on the Xbox and the sound complements it beautifully - whether it's the characters' dialect - all local English ie Cornwall, Birmingham etc - or the swishes of your sword, Fable manages to create a complete package that should last some time. Now if you don't mind we must get back to completing the current quest we've broken away from to write this review.