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Fable review

The hype was a bit of a tall story but fortunately, sighs GamesMaster, this cracking tale has a very happy ending...

It's also possible to buy titles to make people respect you. Chicken Chaser may be the name people call out when you start but eventually they'll be greeting you with Ranger or Gladiator. It's such nuances that make Fable very special.

Get a few hours into the game and you'll be thinking about marriage. Both men and women can be wooed and your appearance dictates how attractive you are. Get a hideous tattoo etched on your face, or wear a ridiculous dress and your potential partners are as likely to laugh at you as propose marriage. If you're dead set on the idea of getting a spouse the best solution is to give gifts to your intended until their heart grows stronger - literally depicted by an icon above the head. Buying a home and a wedding ring will then formalise the bond. Courting and marriage deepens your immersion into the game universe, but it's a novelty that does wear off. A few wives later and you'll soon be back to slaying monsters.

Taking part in the minutiae of Albion life is optional but there's no doubt it adds to your belief and in the world. Nitpickers will point out that it's only baby steps away from what we've played before in other RPGs, but getting married and having townsfolk react to the trophies you've collected is amusing and impressive.

Fable has a way of infiltrating your subconscious when you least expect it. We guarantee that once you start on the major quest you'll be hooked.

Most of the appeal comes from the world itself. Unquestionably Albion is gorgeous, containing not just elaborate detail but real artistry in everything from the creature designs to the rain effects when you're travelling at night, and alone. But Fable is sophisticated enough to give you companions should you not want to travel the dangerous forest paths by yourself. Along with missions that require you to escort traders, you can also hire mercenaries to help with the difficult quests.

Indeed, Albion has its own economy and you can make pots of money by trading items between villages. There are also thousands of combinations of weapons, clothing and armour you can clad your hero in. Each affects your attractiveness, but sometimes it's better to look stupid, but feel protected when a big battle breaks out. The sheer depth of the spell and combat system is awesome, too. Although weapon attacks are assigned to just the 'X' button, it's possible to launch a special blow with 'B' once your combat multiplier is triggered. Spells, meanwhile, are prismatic, potent and add a huge tactical dimension to encounters.

It's easy to undermine Fable for all the things it hasn't delivered, but isn't it better for a developer to set its sights high and fall a little short than be satisfied with mediocre ambitions? Sure, the original design has been scaled back but the love and attention lavished on every tree and sunlight-dappled glade is extraordinary. Even if you took away the interaction with villagers, the marriage and the home-building, Fable would still emerge as a robust and absorbing RPG. It may not be labyrinthine enough to warrant you playing through repeatedly, but your first time will definitely be something to remember.

Fable is out on Xbox now

More Info

GenreRole Playing
DescriptionChoose your path, good, bad, or in between, and live your life in this open world rpg.
Franchise nameFable
UK franchise nameFable
PlatformPC, Xbox
US censor ratingMature