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Whatever you do – whatever you decide to be – there’s always some reward. Build a reputation as a great hero and you’ll be applauded everywhere you go. Women (and sometimes men!) will swoon at your feet, and you’ll be greeted with affection by all and sundry. Take the villainous route, and kids will run every time you appear, villagers will drop what they’re carry and cower and, well the women will still swoon at your feet provided you haven’t got too many disfiguring tattoos.
And that’s not all. Pair a pudding-basin haircut with mutton-chop sideboards and kids will laugh at you in the street. Eat or drink to excess and you’ll develop a weight problem and the booze will take its toll. Your character is entirely up to you.
Admittedly, this ‘have it your way’ stuff only goes so far. The core of the game is a series of primarily combat-driven quests. There is some pretence of variety – you may be guarding merchants, rescuing hostages from bandits or fighting waves of monsters in a grand arena – but you’ll always find yourself trying for head shots with your trusty bow, wielding a sword, axe, mace or hammer against the varmints, or letting loose with fire and lightning from your sorcerous finger-tips.
In this respect, it mostly doesn’t matter whether you’re a budding Sir Galahad or a wannabe Darth Vader; there’s only one way to do the mission, and if you don’t complete the goals then you’ll fail. There are some clearly nasty missions, and at times the game gives you a clear option to take the path of good or the path of evil, but there’s no chance of, say, deciding on a whim to join the bandits and rescue their trapped leader. In this respect, Bioware’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games are comfortably ahead of Fable in the ‘choose your own morality’ stakes.