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10,000 take away meals eaten, around 50 babies born, 100’s of work experience students employed – these are some of the statistics that are included in the credits of Fable. Undoubtedly they are intended to represent the time and effort that’s gone into the game. It’s a shame that the reasoning behind these strange figures may be dismissed due to the over the top hype and exaggerated claims that have surrounded the project in the last few years.

Gamestyle begs you now to forget that entire life simulator ™ stuff you’ve probably heard about Fable to be able to see its true beauty.

And beautiful it is. Your unnamed character begins life as a child, and the game kicks off with an undeniable air of innocence as you’re off to perform good deeds to complete your first objective. The trees, grass, houses and everything surrounding are so vibrant, crisp and full of life you can almost turn the camera and breathe in the clear country air yourself. Then in all likeliness the first person you might talk to is this trader with a lisp which gives an insight to the corny, but loveable English voice acting that accentuates the entire game. The style of the characters is also exaggerated with large feet and hands, but it all looks so unique and perfect that Big Blue Box and Lionhead Studios really have achieved the dream of making their own engrossing world.

However, do not be fooled. This world is incredibly linear. Never is there a Hyrule Field or a place where you can actually get lost. While at first this element is a real heart-breaker, it’s later realised that it adds, rather than detracts, from the enjoyment of the game. Sometimes too much freedom is a bad thing. Huge, empty areas with endless enemies are what put off many a player of Morrowind. Too much running about in Final Fantasy meant unavoidable endless battles. Well let Gamestyle say this about Fable: in our sixteen hours that went into the game, never once can we say that there was a wasted second, ever.

That is why you shouldn’t let the short lifespan put you off either. Fable is an incredibly focused game, and while there are plenty of sandbox elements, the user interface and map system means it’s near impossible to get stuck or frustrated. Any important characters in the game world have a green aura around them, and they’re represented as a green dot on the map (which is always displayed in the corner of the screen). No matter what nook or cranny that important informant or distress seeker is hiding in, you’ll find them, always.

Any non important characters are displayed in a blue aura, and these are your sandbox characters. Say “hello”, flirt with them, burp or fart at them, laugh at them, hell, for that matter marry them. If the world is your oyster, then the Fable world of Albion is your all-you-can-damn-eat buffet.

The game uses your childhood and teenage years to train you in the art of combat and means of exploration before the full blossoming of adulthood is reached. The start may seem restrictive, but it’s miles better than the typical training level with the annoying background narrator in an assault course telling you what to do.

It is the first real adult quest where the game really opens up. On defeating the enemy in question, you’ll be cheered and clapped at. Should you have chosen a title as your name, they’ll say it and scream it at you like a spotty teenage boy band fan (by default it’s ‘Chicken Chaser’ but ‘Arseface’ makes a good alternative).

See, the entire game reacts to you this way; your appearance changes with your actions, as does how others react to you. But Gamestyle is sure you’ve heard plenty of what you can do in endless previews of Fable. Yet we are certain of this: no player’s character will probably ever be the same as any others. Some will go around buying everyone beers, getting drunk (and sick – the screen blurs out the more wasted you get) and eventually thrown out of town. Gamestyle focused its spare time in the property market, making a fortune with the right buying and selling techniques. In fact after we felt wealthy enough, it was time to marry, which is a good little distraction in itself. It was strangely compelling to come home, scar ridden from a long quest, to wait besides your wife’s bed at dawn, only to have her wake up, smile warmly and order you to have sex with her!

Naughty bits aside, how is the battle system? It starts off pretty standard and unimpressive, the left trigger locks on and highlights your enemy as red, and the X button is either to swing your weapon, or holding the right trigger down will bring up the magic (or “will” as its referred to in Albion). At first, it’s a matter of button bashing as the enemies are simple and the range of attacks is limited, but once experience is gathered up, there’s a good amount of skills that can be learnt and mastered. Gamestyle mastered speed and using a light sword, combat became a fast and furious array with multiple enemies, and when things got too hectic, we summoned four ghost swords to join in the battle so we could retreat and use the crossbow from a distance along with a handy healing spell. How you fight in Fable is also up to you.

What lets Fable down is that it’s so good and it’s over so quickly. That left Gamestyle feeling slightly unsatisfied. The last few quests and events of the game feel rushed and lead to a rather anti-climatic end. Nevertheless, the game is so gripping, that a few hours will be spent in the game world after the credits have rolled, just to do and see what you haven’t so far.

Just remember, Fable is not Project Ego. What it is, though, is a redefinition for RPG’s. It takes out all the frustrating elements of the genre, and instead puts in a heap of fun options and possibilities. This is why; despite its disappointing conclusion, Fable is one of the most gripping and enjoyable games that has come to grace the console scene.

There can be no other conclusion. Buy it, play it, and like anyone else who’s done the same, appreciate it.