Welcome to The TPS Report, home to video game blogs, mix sets and even the odd piece o' 3D art.

Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.

-Matt/Diggler

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If interested in discussing writing opportunities for on or offline gaming publications - either UK based or abroad - please contact me via E-Mail. Sparkling CV available on request

 

 

Endorsing Fable
Posted by Diggler - 18/10/2004 20:52

A game in the making for so many years, Fable didn't quite turn out to be the revolutionary cutting edge experience that was originally promised. Creator Peter Molyneux even released an official apology last week which is worth a paste;

There is something I have to say. And I have to say it because I love making games. When a game is in development, myself and the development teams I work with constantly encourage each other to think of the best features and the most ground-breaking design possible.

However, what happens is that we strive to include absolutely everything we've ever dreamt of and, in my enthusiasm, I talk about it to anyone who'll listen, mainly in press interviews. When I tell people about what we're planning, I'm telling the truth, and people, of course, expect to see all the features I've mentioned. And when some of the most ambitious ideas get altered, redesigned or even dropped, people rightly want to know what happened to them.

If I have mentioned any feature in the past which, for whatever reason, didn't make it as I described into Fable, I apologise. Every feature I have ever talked about WAS in development, but not all made it. Often the reason is that the feature did not make sense. For example, three years ago I talked about trees growing as time past. The team did code this but it took so much processor time (15%) that the feature was not worth leaving in. That 15 % was much better spent on effects and combat. So nothing I said was groundless hype, but people expecting specific features which couldn't be included were of course disappointed. If that's you, I apologise. All I can say is that Fable is the best game we could possibly make, and that people really seem to love it.

I have come to realise that I should not talk about features too early so I am considering not talking about games as early as I do. This will mean that the Lionhead games will not be known about as early as they are, but I think this is the more industry standard.

Our job as the Lionhead family of studios is to be as ambitious as we possibly can. But although we jump up and down in glee about the fabulous concepts and features we're working on, I will not mention them to the outside world until we've implemented and tested them, and they are a reality.

Thank you for reading.

Peter

If you ask me though, who cares about that when all's said and done? The important part isn't what got cut, but how the end game turned out - and I'm happy to report that Fable is a brilliant game in its own right, cut features be damned.

I could spend an eternity detailing the history, plot and gameplay specifics of this delicious new RPG masterpiece, but decided against it in the end as so many other mags and review sites have already done the whole 8-page-Fable-extravaganza thing. Instead I'll skip the foreplay and delve right into my underlying opinions, including some specific thoughts and feelings on this fabulous adventure. For some more details on the actual game I can highly recommend the IGN review.

Review-Light

Let me start by just praising the graphics. The world of Albion is a beautiful, inviting one - the kind of place you wish you could live in. The gorgeous colours, the attention to detail, the atmospheric music - it feels kinda like you've downed some 'shrooms and gone wondering through The Shire.

The way the game piles on excessive graphical effects and filters makes it even more of a sight to behold, and you're left with one of the most truly stunning looking RPGs you'll ever see. The one single thing holding the visuals back is the low resolution of the shadows, which during the close-up cut scenes, ruin the illusion somewhat.

Click to enlarge
A game that's as beautiful to look at as it is fun to play
I call it an RPG, but at times Fable feels more like a simple adventure game than a full-on role playing game, with more in common with Zelda and Beyond Good & Evil than Never Winter Nights. There's no better example of that than the combat system. Not content with the boring old turn-based RPG bollocks, Fable opts for a much more fluid real-time beat 'em up style. The three different fighting methods stop combat from becoming a button bash fest though, and the "combat multiplier" system it uses is a great little sub-game in itself.

Hardcore RPGers may be turned off by this sort of simplicity and accessibility, but that's not to say there's no depth in Fable - quite the opposite in fact. The sense of freedom and ability to do whatever you want is what sets Fable apart from the rest. You can happily plow on through the central (and very linear) main quest like you would any other game, enjoying its pleasing story and characters, but you can also deviate off at any point and do any other number of things that tickle your fancy.

Fishing, getting drunk, playing bar games, searching for treasure, shagging girls, digging up graves, robbing houses, going off on side quests, and enjoying the robust trading system are just some of the many things that come to mind. There's just so many little tangents and Easter eggs, I doubt anyone will ever truly see all this game has to offer. Heck, you can even mix your time between beating up kids, and murdering your wife when she won't have sex with you.

This all works so well thanks to the sense of life given to the various towns and villages. Traders carry goods up from the docks, kids play in the yard, shops close at night, and people even lock their doors and go to sleep. This underlying Sims-like system gives the world a whole other reality never seen in an RPG before.

Even cooler is how this world then reacts to you. If you charge through towns scaring the peasants and slaughtering the guards for instance, people will run screaming from you wherever you go. If however you do good deeds, help the locals out, and build up some renown, strangers will welcome you with open arms and applaud you on site.

Character Customisation Done Differently

Which leads us onto the great sense of customisation given to your character. Whereas in most games you'd decide on a look by choosing various options at the start of the game, Fable automatically alters your character's appearance based on how you play. If you follow the dark path you'll sprout horns, if you constantly use magic your hair'll slowly turn white, and if you punch your way through everything in site you'll grow big and bulky. You can then buy new clothes, have your hair cut, and even get tattoos to round off your desired look. The end result is a character who truly reflects you and your play style, and chances are he'll look like a completely different person than when your friend plays.

Click to enlarge
Your appearance alters depending on your play style
As stated, you can play good, evil or anywhere in between. Rather than set out with an agenda, like "I'm gonna be an evil sadistic fuck", the best way to play is actually just to improvise as you go along; take each situation as it comes and be true to yourself. This results in a character who oddly mirrors your real life alter ego, and it's a rather surreal experience.

Failing that you can ditch the swords and turn yourself into an archer like Legolas, or stick with the magic and become a Jedi like Obi-Wan. The sheer scope of choices on offer are amazing in that way, and really emphasise a need to replay the game long after you complete it. Personally I rarely find games worthy of replaying, at least not until years later when it's driven more out of nostalgia than anything, but Fable is one rare game that I could easily repeat immediately. Not just to try a different take on the good/bad angle, but also in the style of combat I pick, the clothes I wear, the look of my character, the people I kill, and the ones I spare.

Skilled Players Need Not Apply

Click to enlarge
Play as an axe-wielding brute or a stealthy assassin - the choice is yours
To be honest, this extra longevity is a damn good thing, because Fable is one easy game. In fact I completed the entire core quest without dieing once, and in a little under 15 hours. This can be stretched out considerably by doing all the side quests and exploring every single inch of Albion though, and it's also worth noting that leaving the game to roll on over the end credits allows you to continue playing your character indefinitely, even after evil has been defeated. This essentially means the game never ends, and you can go on exploring and, well, screwing for as long as you like.

Either way, Fable isn't a game you blast through in a day, it's something to be savoured. If you pick this work of beauty up for yourself, take your time with it. Breathe in those sites and sounds. Explore to your hearts content. Avoid the main quest and just bathe in Albion's beauty. Much like tappin' that arse, gratification rewards patience. Taking your time with this masterpiece could yield a game that takes anywhere up to 30 hours to complete.

While Fable isn't quite up to the level of Knights of the Old Republic, it still takes a firm second place as one of the Xbox' premier RPGs. Get this game.

(Pictures courtesy of Fable)

Untitled Document

The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

Untitled Document

Game
Fallout 3

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Untitled Document

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Matt Robinson, 2011

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