Review: Gets a little bit closer to Peter Molyneux's original vision.
The common joke among cynical gamers is that Fable: The Lost Chapters should have been entitled ?Fable: The Stuff We Meant to Put in the First Time Around?. While true that the original Fable lacked many of the features promised in Peter Molyneux's grand vision of the self-described ?greatest role-playing game of all time? ? along with being way too short and linear, having a shallow morality and NPC interaction system, and a host of other shortcomings ? one can't deny how deliciously fun it was.
The Lost Chapters is essentially an expansion pack to the original with new quests, weapons, spells, clothes and several surprises. (I won't go into detail on the original content since it has already been covered extensively here at Gaming Target and elsewhere, so will concentrate on the new material instead.)
Fable vets will be able to pick out the new additions quite easily but may be a little dismayed to find that little has changed at first, since the game starts off exactly the same as before with no new enemies, weapons or armor. Fortunately, that all changes as you progress deeper into the game where you will find powerful new Legendary weapons and armor ? but only after finishing what used to be the original ending. That's because most of the new content is tacked on afterwards, so you have to replay the entire original in order to get it.
That's not to say there aren't any new things added to the original portions of the game. There are four new Silver Quests ? which are basically more of the same rescue or attack/defend missions as before ? and seven new Bronze quests, some of which are pretty darn hilarious. For example, every Fable vet's favorite activity was punting chickens; hey, you know you loved it ? admit it! Well, now you can participate in an official Chicken Kicking Contest to win valuable prizes (including a ridiculously funny clothing item) and renown. Look at the chickens run! You can also collect books for the Bowerstone School, which will have you howling with laughter as you watch the awkward reaction of the prim and proper teacher as he reads some of the more questionable material to his class.
Another Bronze Quest expands on Lady Grey's story, a very welcome addition since her story in the original felt unresolved with many questions left hanging. Be careful, however; completing the new Lady Grey quest as an Evil Hero after
you take on Thunder will trigger a nasty bug that will disable your ability to teleport, which essentially kills your game. Trust me, I know from first hand experience. Luckily I had an old save that I was able to recover from; otherwise I would be talking about this in considerably more colorful language.
You also have two powerful new spells which I thought were pretty useless at first, until I learned from the Internet that you have to charge them up (gee, it would have been nice to mention that in the game, but anyway?). There is also a brand new location in Darkwood which will appeal to all of you horny male players out there. Boo yah!
Some of the new content is a bit more subtle; you can earn new clothing items (most of which are cosmetic and only affect your Attractiveness rating, so they're not useful for protection), see your breath fog in cold locations, and perform some hilarious new Expressions like the Cossack dance and the air guitar. Some of the NPC voices have changed ? including Jack's, whose voice has been deepened to sound more sinister (although I think his original voice was much scarier). Other new additions are designed to enhance gameplay, such as a much improved fishing rod (which you have to earn), using a lamp to light up dark areas, picking up items just by walking over them (as opposed to the old method of having to press the A button to pick up objects) and making it easier to level up. In the original, the only way to really earn valuable Experience points and level up was to wander around between quests killing random enemies. While this was fun, it also got quite repetitive. With the new side quests, it is much easier to earn XP and level up without having to waste time looking for random bad guys to hack up.
For most of the game, you will find the new content enjoyable but nothing really special; quite frankly it will leave you wondering if it was worth the time and money. However, once you complete what used to be the original ending, you will then unlock the real meat of the new content with six new Gold Quests, several nasty new enemies, a brand new territory, new Legendary weapons and armor, a new (and tough) final boss fight, and new endings. The new storyline expands on the original and gives you an opportunity to learn more about the various characters you have encountered throughout your travels. It will take you several hours to play through the new content and you will enjoy every minute of it since it uses the same classic Fable formula; simple, fun, well-designed and with just the right amount of humor.
But is it worth it? If you've never played Fable before, it's a no-brainer; buy this puppy right away. It may not be the ?best RPG ever?, but it's still pretty darn good and will consume hours of fun. If you're a die-hard Fable fan, you've probably already played through it several times and don't need me or anyone else to tell you what to do.
If you're a more casual fan, your choice is a bit more difficult; yes, it's only selling at a Platinum price which quite frankly is a steal, but hey, money's money. The new content is very enjoyable but really doesn't add that
much to the overall experience. Yes, the story is more fleshed out and you have some new things to do and weapons to play with, but it is still missing the same ambitious features that Molyneux glowingly talked about many years ago. There are also a lot of things that should have changed that haven't; for example, the load times are still irritatingly long, the disappointing pop-up and draw-in is still present, the levels are still as linear as an arrow, and the game is still too short. So for casual fans, I would chalk this one up as a rental ? but a darn good rental.