As a fan of Zero Punctuation let me point out that I agree with a lot of what he says, specifically because what he says is usually observational and opinionated. The things he said about Fable: Lost Chapters and Fable II were perfectly fair and the reviews themselves were hilarious.
But the thing is is that I LIKE the cliches of medieval Europe and shit-loads of European accents. So let me say right here that I love both these games and that I will buy Fable 3 the moment it hits the shelves.
Still, here are my observations:
Fable: The Lost Chapters is what you would expect of a European RPG. It starts with a picturesque little town or village where you get to define yourself for the future by giving you simple choices and then it gets burned down and you have to train to avenge your loved ones by finding out and destroying the ultimate evil.
Now for the nitty gritty. The game's setting, which may seem a bit familiar and overused in some instances, is set in a country that is suspiciously shaped like europe and has much of the following: towns, villages, villagers in distress, evil woods, the undead, manipulative people, spineless cowards, guards, and talking doors that will have you do anything from perform mass slaughter to giving them a rose for them to open up to you. When playing this game (back when I was about 13 or so) I honestly thought that no other game on the face of the earth could possibly be more fun or original than this.
I at least discovered that the latter was false. There are plenty of RPGs with medieval settings (Elder Scrolls 3, WoW, and Diablo to name a few) and I thought my Fable was the first to do this. I wasn't that crushed when I found out, but let me tell you why I still think that revisiting the Medieval Europe is still a fun ride.
I want to talk about the combat first. When I played this game, I felt as if I was REALLY involved with the combat as my every move was determined by a press of a button, and it wasn't just the "click and wait until it dies" sort of game. I really felt as though the game put me IN the combat when it came time to slay the baddies.
Your typical fight in Fable: The Lost Chapters. You're the little guy.
The style of the combat is what I can best describe as just under the top enough to be believable, but just over the top enough to be a spectacle. Not only that, but it was the first "hack-and-slash" game that I had ever tried, and I found this to be the most fun time I had ever had on a videogame since StarCraft let me feel like a God. This game made me feel like a God as well, but more of a God among men with awesome armor and overpowered spells.
Not only is the combat visually stimulating in its movements, but it's also stimulating in the graphical sense. The way the light reflects so gracefully from your weapon as it decapitates a spineless bandit is actually noticeable, as is the colorful brightness of the spells. It's just your basic hack-and-slash gameplay.
Now to move off of combat and to the things around you.
The environment is, at some times, hard to navigate because your character lacks any means of jumping like he has in Fable 2, he could find himself not able to go over a fence to reach an area easier than it would have been to just walk to the location, but here's the thing... you will NOT notice that unless you are just TRYING to find things to complain about. There is one thing that one could complain about, though, and it would be a valid point. When playing the console version of Fable, it is likely that sometimes there will be pop-in graphics or entire sections of the land around you unrendered or untextured. This happens enough to make it noticeable, but if you just keep playing, the lag will not reoccur as long as you are in the area and the hills will not revert back to giant blobs. Also, sometimes when entering an area with a troll, you'll see the troll stand there for a second before he disappears and pops out of the earth properly. But other than those small things, this was the most beautiful game on the Xbox original that I can remember. The trees, the grass, the flowers, the cobblestone, the hills and mountains, and especially the water were just rendered to beautifully for the time of its release that I honestly believed that no game could have looked any better for its time, and still today the game stands out as beautiful, even if a little pixel-ly compared to something like Uncharted 2 or Bioshock. When playing, however, the game looks and feels nothing short of grand and epic.
MOVE! I'M TRYING TO SHOW THE SCENERY!
Now for the soundtrack, which I thought was good at the time, but now that I play it years later, it actually annoys me. It's not the music itself, which I think is good, but it's the PLACEMENT of the music that bothers me. When I am experiencing a dramatic plot twist in the game, the music starts blaring this exciting, up-tempo music, and while the music would be fine if I was in the middle of a battle, it's not fine when the same music is being played when someone is calmly telling you some lore. It's a good thing, however, that the music can be turned off.
The "gameplay" outside of the combat is... somewhat satisfying. While you get to make "choices", they generally aren't like the ones they give in Bioware games where there's always a neutral choice you can make in a conversation. In this game, your character is completely mute (which I think is a bit stupid since you can't change your gender or origin story, so they may as well have someone voice him up a bit) so whenever you are trying to further the plot there are only a few instances where you get to press a button for "yes" or "no" to a situation, but otherwise you're stuck to blindly (and mutely) following along with whatever the guildmaster or whoever you're talking to says. Oh, right, and about the guildmaster, he is about half as annoying as Otis from Dead Rising in terms of telling you to do shit you already know how to do, but UNlike Otis, you can turn his advise off and savor sweet silence when your health is low and you KNOW you need a potion or food. He could be useful if you're the kind of person who plays videogames and talks on the phone while typing reviews for a game hardly anyone cares about anymore while you feel like an erection might be-sorry, a little off-topic there. However, there are also things you can do in the game besides cutscenes and listing to a guy yell in your ear about your health being low. You can also do some minigames and interact with the community by waving your hand at people. If you wave your hand towards blue people, they're usually just people who'll either A: Give a friendly response if you're an angelic figure, B: Give you a cordial response because you need to work on your renown, or C: Give you a big "F-you" because you've established yourself as the village nuisance. In all cases, there's a chance they will refer to you by your "Title". No matter what you call yourself in the beginning, they'll only call you by your title until you change it to another title. So by default, people mock you as they yell "Chicken-Chaser!" at you (though I changed mine to Reaper as soon as I could, so they know who they're f***ing with).
Continuing on gameplay, there's some ways to customize your character, the most obvious being in clothing choice. You can also add tattoos and change your hairstyle, and you can also change your appearance based on your alignment (Aryan for being good, black hair and pale complexion for evil). All of this affects your attractiveness, which you can see affects these hearts that show up on people's heads. They grow as the people find you more attractive or as you use expressions or gifts to woo them. Eventually, when they glow green and the heart above their head is fading in and out, you can give them a ring and they will marry you on the spot (provided you have a house). One thing that's notable about this game is that Albion is much more open-minded about gay marriage than the U.S., and there's no STDs and there's no pregnancy (then again, there's also no sex outside of marriage). Still, the people don't like polygamy (even if it isn't against the law) and if you have two spouses that find each other, then they will fight and both divorce you. You WILL get evil points for such a thing.
Your typical interactions with villagers (note the lady in the background who's got the hots for you).
Oh, yes, and finally the story. Well, it's just like any other story about a great hero. He starts off as an innocent child who makes some good or bad choices, then he grows up to fulfill some destiny by killing the man who caused pain to him when he was young. Then he spends the rest of his days slaughtering the villagers he saved and then renting out their houses, or maybe that's just what I did? But the story is, as far as I can say, just good enough to keep you playing for the whole 8-10 hours of gameplay this game has to offer (unless you're SUPER speedy and beat the game in under 5 hours). It's just enough incentive to make you give some shit about your character and his destiny, but not enough for you to want to tell that story to your grandkids.
Judging Fable from EVERY other RPG that I've EVER played up until now (even current generation ones and ones like KOTOR and Pokemon), I would give Fable an "A-". The "A" is for taking cliche themes and presenting them in a way i found outstanding, and the minus is for things like bad song placement and an... empty feeling at the end of the game. Yes, even though this game feels amazing and cool and makes you feel like God on earth for more than a few hours... after you beat all the bad guys and buy all the houses and kill all the creatures... it feels empty. Still, for the time that you will be going through the game, if you have a tendency towards RPGs, then you will enjoy this game thoroughly (unless you love taking turns or otherwise having a hands-off approach to combat) and i wholly recommend picking it up for about 10 dollars at a Fry's or Gamestop. Overall, an amazingly fun game that requires little thought to play and can give you that feeling of accomplishment for as long as you can prolong the story.
-Hack and Slash Games-
I love Hack and slash games, i love the idea of not having to take turns when i'm fighting enemies. I love being able to walk up to my enemies and blow them all to kingdom come before they have the chance to notch an arrow. I like this because it is exactly as it sounds... unfair. I like having the unfair advantage of my extremely overpowered weapons and spells when I'm fighting bandits who know to do little more than block and slash. It's fun to me when I don't have to make my battles into rocket science and I can just rush into battle, my x-button a-blazin', and not have to worry about what my opponent might do next or whose turn it is after mine. I like it when my games rely less on chance and more on just how powerful my character is. I don't like the idea that I can have maxed out some stat relating to "accuracy" when i use a weapon and still miss when i try to hit some level 1 chicken, because that's what annoys me about games like Runescape, WoW, and KOTOR, their combat has much skill involved, yes, but in the end, chance shall rule the day. Hack and slash games throw chance out the window and say, "Now just go up to it and beat it senseless, because it can't dodge and it won't be given a complimentary chance to strike back." Another thing I liked about fable AND fable 2 is the lock-on function, which, without it, would have made the game a straight "B" in my opinion because hack and slash is useless when you can't hit anything because it shuffles to the left a bit (Dead Rising was the PERFECT illustration of this, if that game had a Lock-on function, it would have been a B+ in my book). Overall, the only hack and slash game I've played and thought it was done best in was the Fable series. Elder Scrolls has the same thing, but the lack of a lock-on feature makes combat feel bland and too much like KOTOR or WoW in terms of "click and wait to die" combat since hitting things in the game never seems to have any "power" behind it, and it's not nearly as beautifully stylized as Fable's combat was to me (Note that i actually own Elder Scrolls 4, and I thoroughly enjoy it, but i feel the combat is weaker and feels less spectacular than it does in Fable, but ES4 wins in the Exploration department)