Fable is a hard-to-review game. You can focus the review on the action sequences, with their magic spells and great weapons; you can focus on the sandbox features, like as adjusting your character’s appearance and getting married; or you can focus on the RPG elements, including the story and character progression. Each of these are good in their own right, but what they combine to create is something completely new and massively captivating.

When you play Fable, you are truly role-playing, in a sense never seen before in any genre. Your avatar is what you make him. The amount of freedom, even though the paths are linear and the story is direct, can be daunting. The tighter focus may upset some gamers, who wanted this to be more like a truly next-gen Elder Scrolls game like the upcoming Oblivion , by which I mean they wanted total freedom to go anywhere and do anything.

The controls for the game are very tight, and I never once had a problem doing what I wanted or needed to do. The combat controls, while they are done in a beat’em up style, make fighting easy to do and you never feel out of control. Whether you want to tear through those bandits with your Obsidian Long sword or chain bolts of Lightning magic between up to four foes, how you fight is up to you. The animations are smooth as well, and the little features like stabbing your sword through a downed enemy’s chest to finish him are well done.

The sandbox elements, while entirely superfluous, are fun to get in to. Getting a title for your little dude is almost required. I decked quite a few citizens of Bowerstone, as well as some wandering merchants in the Great Woods for calling me ‘Chicken Chaser.’ My new title, Rune master, gives me a little more respect. Speaking of respect, Renown is something that you can get to like real quick. The first time a child ran up to my character and spouted, “Rune master! It’s you!” I was hooked on fame. Other side tasks you can get into are trading between shops for lots of money, playing card games for money and renown, getting new haircuts and tattoos, and getting married (to either a man or a woman, your choice) and they can be just as engrossing.

If you like the stats of games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that tracked all the little things you did, then you’ll love the stat tracking in Fable. It keeps track of things like your renown and alignment, your age, and your titles. It also tracks some slightly quirky but fun stats, like Longest Chicken Kick, Sexuality (…), Number of Times Kicked out of a Town, and your Favorite Areas, Towns, and Weapons.
There are flaws to the game, though. The story itself is quite short, and is said to only take 20 hours or so. However, if you get involved in the side quests, that number can go over 100 hours. Also, the game doesn’t end after you finish the story. You can keep playing and using your character until you decide to quit. Another problem is that the Apologize expression is a little too powerful. You can get out of allot of crimes just by using it with the guards. Finally, the game is rather easy. Many people will get through the game without allot of hassle.

It’s hard to say if the wait would have been worth it to individual gamers. The game could have easily been crushed by the hype, but it stood up very well. Some highly anticipated features like two-player mode, having kids, and the aforementioned complete freedom have been axed, but what’s left is a very satisfying gameplay experience. I think that anyone who approaches it with an open mind will definitely enjoy it. Buy it, Play it, Love it. Alphasim out.