Fable was released to the public yesterday and the big question on everyone's mind is "With Peter M.'s promises being whittled down, is Fable all that it was advertised to be?" Well, the short answer is yes.
You start off as a young kid in a villiage living with your dad, sister, and absentee mom. Life is simple but almost immediately you are thrown many choices that will force you to one moral side or the other. For instance, a farmer wants you to stand by some crates and watch things while his goes and 'uses the facilities'. Do you stand there while a group of kids trys to taunt you into breaking into the farmer's property? Do you succumb to their taunts and break into the barrels and then run off shirking your promise to stay put? Do you agree to stay put, go and break the barrels, and then come back and pretend like nothing happened? Its a simple choice, but you'll find that they get far more complex later on. Its always simple when you are a kid....
Some horrible fate befalls your family and your mother and sister are taken hostage. You are rescued and whisked away to the Hero Guild for training. Here is where one of the hooks of the game hits you: A hero isn't always a good person. Being well known, doesn't always mean being well liked. If you a Nazi, Hitler would be your hero. If you are a Mongol, Ghengis Khan is your hero. If you are the guy that walks into town and everyone is terrified of you, you can say you are 'well known' or of 'high renown". You can also walk the light path and do the right thing making people love and respect you. To say that he game has replayability would be an understatement.
While at the Guild, you learn the three basic combat types: Melee, Ranged, and Magic. You are given all three in the guild, so you don't have to choose between them up front. As you progress through the game you will be able to specialize through general experience gained through adventuring or thorugh specialized experience gained by using one of the three combat types. If you are a caster, you might specialize in destruction spells. Practice makes perfect, so the more you use it, the more xp you can spend on it. I've not gotten far enough to see if trying to do all three will have a negative effect, but suffice to say you'll be more powerful if you specialize.
The graphics of the game are well done. The screenshots don't convey the amount of detail in the game. Each piece of armor you buy is graphically represented. Towns feel somewhat alive, and villagers seem to carry on about their business like they should. The whole game seems to have a haze or glow about it (which could easily go away as I slowly shift towards the horn-wearing tattoo type) which adds to the overall feel of the game. I've not encoutered any slowdown yet, even with 10-12 enemies on screen. This could change as we move into the higher level magic effects, but thus far its fantastic.
Loading is minimal. For the bulk of your adventuring, you'll load an area, adventure in it for a while, and then load the next area. You can always teleport back to the guild for new missions, so don't think you have to load 10 areas to get somewhere, and then reload them all to get back.
The voicework in the game is very good. Each character is voiced (even you to a degree with your emotes) and I've not encountered anybody that sounds like they might belong to a Resident Evil game.
I've just completed my training with the guild and taken my first mission. I've killed a bunch of wasps that were bothering some villagers. I faced off against their queen and defeated her as well. Villiagers came and celebrated my successes and it felt good. (Pride is a vice you know...) I'll show the Queen's head to anyone who will look...damn right I killed her!
We'll see what today's adventure brings...
(i.e. this will be a long running thing until the review, and perhaps beyond if you guys are interested)