I wrote this review after "beating" Fable in about 11 hours doing just about every side quest, core quest, and every little annoying little thing possible (ok... maybe not EVERYTHING). That being said, there's still a lot available to do not factored into my review. Also note that while playing the game I decided to be 100% evil, killing just about everyone in my path (which was fun by the way). The story, although simple, fits the game quite well.
You start out as a young boy in a small town that is eventually burned down to the ground. Your sister and mother are kidnapped, and your father is killed. You are eventually brought to the Hero's Guild, and taught the basics of the game through "training." During this period of the game you instantly notice the totally amazing control... so tight, perfect for the game. The way the developers use just about every aspect of the Xbox controller works quite well. To tell the truth you almost notice there are enough buttons and such that it should be for a keyboard (cough... port to PC soon... cough).
Anyway, as soon as you're done with training your character slowly reaches his late teens, and you notice obvious physical changes. When you're put into the "real world" your hero's main base of operation remains the hero's guild throughout the game. Here, you can gain new quest cards, upgrade your attributes, and interact with the guild's characters. Once a quest is chosen, it is added to your menu, where you can view it by pressing the back button.
When playing Fable you notice just about every quest is very similar throughout the game. Sometimes it feels like you're playing a simple beat 'em up game... but let it be known, that doesn't mean the game isn't fun! The formula is simple: beat up a bunch of bad guys, buy weapons/items/clothes from traders on the way, then kill some boss, rescue somebody, or get some item. The side quests remain the same, but they happen to be mostly the "rescue" missions. One thing that I found annoying was when "rescuing" these character your enemies instantly try to kill him/her. The only way you can accomplish these missions is by making use of your "follow" and "wait" commands.
It's quite simple to become either evil or good. To become evil you kill everyone in sight, steal anything you can, never spare anyone in a fight, and basically help out the bandits whenever you can. To become good, you should never kill non-enemies, rescue/protect people, never break any laws, etc. You'll notice that using certain spells or making your character look a certain way will pull you in the direction of either good or evil. Interaction with the characters in Fable plays a big part of the game. You'll notice that depending whether your evil or not, how scary you are, or how attractive you are, townsfolk with either run from you in fear, or come up to you congratulating you for your accomplishments.
Your choice on whether or not to do "everything" in the game is what makes the difference in play time. You can go to different towns, get married, own houses, rent out houses, find treasure, or if your nuts about things like that, upgrade your character to full capacity before facing Jack of Blades. Some people are saying "why the heck was the game in development for four years?" Think about it... originally an online game, so much voice acting, coding the options for good or evil (every action has a consequence), insanely beautiful graphics.. .I mean c'mon!
Finally I would just like to say I definitely had a lot of fun playing it. If your one of those collectors or someone who plays games over and over... buy it now. If you're a "casual" gamer maybe it's only a rental, one helluva rental if so. Either way, give Fable a spin in your Xbox disc drive before it breaks on you.