Fable is one of those games that had always been at the back of my mind ever since I first learned of it's existance. That was five years ago, and I've been loking forward to it ever since. I had read interviews with Peter Molnyeux, design guru and lead art director onf the game, revealing tantalising details of "project ego", far before it's release. I was promised complete and utter freedom, a world to get completely lost in. I dreamt of becoming a dark and mysterious archer who lived in his own cabin, deep within the woods. From time to time I would emerge to pillage and destroy towns, ransacking them for all they had. Or perhaps I would become a tall, muscular hero who would stride into town and be cascaded with roses, presents and cheers. To a certain extent, this is what you can do. But 'to a certain extent' seems to define the final version of Molnyeux's magnum opus. You can sort of do whatever you want, not really. You might get some (rather lacklustre) cheers of delight if you are a very famous/noble hero, and children make "scared" noises if you walk into town sporting horns and leaving a sinister red aura everywhere you walk. But in many towns your weapons are confiscated, your magic disabled, and in towns that permit weapons, you are fined for drawing your sword or bow. Guards respawn seconds after you kill them, and dead villagers quickly repopulate. If you're a "good" hero, you will not make much money, as several choices in the story and methods of financial gain are considered evil acts. Ridiculously, if you are bad, and kill a bandit out of cold, heartless savagery, you have commited a good act. Equally ridiculous, if you accept a mission which requires you to kill guards, you have commited a bad act, even if it is for the greater good.
All of this said, it is still a well-crafted, beautifully made, and artistic game. Much care and talent has gone into it, and despite it's misgivings, provides a unique and refreshing world to enjoy. The icons on you screen are simple and satisfyingly clear. The soft-focus dreamscape villages are charming and inviting. The dark, murky woods are atmospheric and exciting. And no amount of unfulfilled promises can change that. This game has to be looked at on it's own, without the hype. And it is a humble, if flawed, work of art amongst an unbearable mire of film cash-ins, uninspired platformers, and familiar shoot-'em-ups. Buy it, and bask in it's quirky genius.