Date Released: February 4th, 2014
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure, RPG
Rated: M for Mature
There have been a lot of HD remakes lately flooding store shelves and I always believed this to be a good thing; being able to relive nostalgic gaming moments in a higher fidelity has a certain magic to it that is undeniable. Fable Anniversary on the other hand doesn’t just up the texture resolution; it is completely remade using the powerful Unreal Engine 3 to make Fable look more gorgeous than ever before, and like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary before it, the difference from the source material is monumental. But after a decade being away from you all, do Fable’s core elements still hold up today?
A young boy, born in the southern seaside village of Oakvale, dreams of one day becoming a Hero and that his deeds of heroism or villainy will be recognized all throughout Albion. But one fateful day a band of ferocious bandits descended on the poor hapless village and covered the streets in bodies and blood, slaying everyone in sight. The boy managed to hide from his attackers until a Hero named Maze found him and took him to the Hero’s Guild. The young boy will train for the remainder of his youth, and seek those who took his village and family way from him, unbeknownst to his role in the grander scheme to come.
As a Hero you are free to make your mark in Albion in whatever way you wish, but a Hero is nothing without Renown. Once you leave the sanctuary of the Guild you can take on many quests to build a reputation of your own through your good or evil actions. These choices will be reflected by the people’s reaction to your presence and even your physical appearance will transform as you lean more towards righteousness or wickedness by way of a lovely halo or a pair of horns.
Combat is sorted into three different categories: melee, ranged, and Will (magic). As you cleave your way through all types of creatures you will gain general experience inside Experience Orbs dropped by killing it; giving your target a good lightning bolt in the face will gain you separate experience for Will and so on. Once players accumulate enough experience they can head back to the Guild to spend it to purchase new skills, spells or to increase your health or Will bars. After each subsequent upgrade your Hero’s abilities will further increase in effectiveness.
The appeal that Fable always had was the fact that you can play the game however you saw fit. If you want to play as a heroic warrior that protects the innocent and appreciates his adoring fans, and will find love one day or an evil hulking brute that doesn’t care much for friends, loved ones or the affection of Albion’s inhabitants. You can mix and match any combination of combat like being a Spellsword, using magic to improve your melee prowess, or maybe a Ranger, picking off foes from afar and finishing them with swift sword strikes. Join all three skills together and become the most fearsome Hero to ever walk the earth.Fable Anniversary also includes The Lost Chapters expansion that adds plenty of extra side quests, new activities to partake in and a new island in the Northern Wastes that expands upon the original game’s ending.
Lionhead didn’t simply just slap high-res textures on the game; they gave Fable a complete overhaul. Using the Unreal 3 engine Fable beautifully transitions onto the 360 and rivals that of the last two Fable titles. Not only that, the character models have also gone through a redesign; the models are a huge improvement over the original, except for your own Hero’s. His large head and abnormally chiseled chin is quite disturbing when you begin your adventure, that is until you become larger in stature, then it suits him just fine. Even the UI got some well-deserved attention; everything from the menu setting to equipping items have been specifically designed to make navigating these screens easier than ever before, eliminating the cumbersome UI of the original.
There were several instances of bugs and glitches that were not there before however. I have encountered residences of South Bowerstone walking in 30° angles numerous times that thankfully resolves itself. I also got married to Lady Grey (for the dowry… I’m not evil like that, just materialistic), but I saved inside her bed chambers with her inside, turned off my console, reloaded the save, and like that she no longer existed! I tried loading the save again, checking North Bowerstone during the day and checking the bed chamber multiple times, but apparently the constellations were aligned just right to make my bride vanish from the face of the world.
Fable Anniversary allows for two control schemes. The original is for those that can’t help the muscle memory of kicking chickens for far too long. The Fable 2/3 inspired option is exactly that; if you started your inaugural introduction to the series with the second and third Fable games then this option will map each type of attack to an assigned button. This control scheme is makes combat flow much more smoothly without the need to actually unsheathe your weapons first. The main deciding factor for some players is how Will spells are mapped. As aforementioned, the Fable 2/3 inspired scheme streamlines combat, but only one spell can be used at one time. You can assign more than one spell to use, it’s just that you have to select it first which really interrupts that sweet flow. The original on the other hand allows players to assign three spells at a time where you can combine any as many as you want.
The changes with the audio is more subtle, but definitely noticeable if you have played the original release. The score for Fable has been redone in 5.1 surround mix; the music is much more booming and lively. The dialog receives the same treatment with a cleaner sound with exceptions of some instances where it seems that some audio comes out distorted.
When you try to remember something it’s through the shades of nostalgia. Fable Anniversary is just how you’d imagine all the things that you loved about the original while recreating the magic of playing the title for the first time. Sure there are some queer bugs that tend to turn up a little too often; luckily there wasn’t anything game-breaking. If you’re new to the series, missed out on the first game, or just want to relive a classic, Fable Anniversary is the best way to go.
Overall Rating: 4.25/5