Fable: The Lost Chapters E3 2005 Preshow Impressions

We take an updated look at the PC version of Lionhead's Xbox action role-playing game just in time for E3.

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We checked in with Microsoft Game Studios to see Fable: The Lost Chapters, which will be the PC version of Lionhead's Xbox action role-playing game. Like the original game, the PC version will let you create an adventurer who wields a sword, a bow, or powerful sorcery (or some combination of the three), and who will eventually grow from a small child into a saintly crusader or a sinister villain. And just like in the Xbox game, your character's appearance will change to reflect the moral choices you've made--and characters in the world, such as townsfolk, will react to you accordingly.

The PC version of Fable will feature a total of nine all-new regions to explore, each of which will include much more challenging content for high-level characters. You'll also find 16 all-new quests that Lionhead's Louise Copley describes as being "multithreaded"; that is, having different paths that will ultimately lead you to greater good or greater evil. Five of these quests will be part of the main story, while the other 11 will be optional quests that appear throughout the game. But according to Copley, the PC version of Fable isn't just about more content and areas; it will also be about more "fun" content, including a great many new "expression" animations you can use to communicate with townsfolk, such as humorous animations like playing an air guitar or dancing flamenco, both of which will amuse them to no end. The game will also feature an all-new adventuring accessory: hats, which will include feathered caps and slightly less-conventional headgear, like chicken masks (which seem to work well with the new "chicken dance" expression). You'll also be able to use the PC version's all-new tattoo-importing tool to import any bitmap image on your computer into a tattoo that appears on your character's body (such as a tattoo of Lionhead's Louise Copley).

In the meantime, many new sets of armor, weapons, and other items have been added to the PC game, along with a set of all-new monsters and two all-new, high-level, "epic" magic spells (one good, one evil), all exclusive to the PC game. The new monsters include the ice troll, a hulking giant made of chunks of ice who hurls ice crystals at you while also trying to squash you with its huge fists. There will also be a new arctic species of balverine, wolflike creatures that walk upright.

The PC version of Fable will use the W, A, S, and D keys on your keyboard to move along, with mouse-look for your mouse. The new control scheme should, if nothing else, allow you greater control over switching between different weapons and spells, as well as more-precise aim when using a bow, which, like in the console version, zooms into a third-person, over-the-shoulder view when firing. Otherwise, Fable: The Lost Chapters looks much better on the PC than the original Xbox game, as you might expect. The game's character models use crisper, higher-resolution textures that articulate folds and creases in clothing much more clearly, and they should make the act of seeking out new clothing and armor to adorn your character even more compelling than it was previously. Fable: The Lost Chapters is scheduled for release later this year.

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