[As Read on GIO.]
Ten Years Can’t Keep the Game Down
But they can Certainly Hinder Progress
Though each successive Fable game has had its strong points and weak points, and I’ve liked certain additions (such as regenerative health in Fable 3), this faithful retouching of Fable 1 is still pretty nostalgic and refreshing to see back in action. Despite its own flaws, I’d say Fable 2 is my favorite game in the series- from story to extra content, however, the original Fable has always been a close second. I’m pleased that Fable Anniversary now allows new players to experience the magic of the first game without the detriment of poor visuals and controls by today’s standards. While at the core the adventure remains mostly unchanged and the gameplay is for the most part untouched, some tweaks and honest additions have gone a long way towards improving and modernizing the game- even if it gets a poorer score for it (due mainly to it being ten years and not much having improved).
Fable Anniversary is a faithful recreation of the main game’s content as well as the downloadable expansion The Lost Chapters, released the following year after Fable received mostly critical acclaim. As in any other Fable games, your character is a so-called hero- though ultimately you can choose to bolster your resume and legendary status through good or evil acts, or simply a neutral mixture of both. Your deeds, combative prowess, and progression through the story (in addition to your archery, magic, and swordsmanship skills) all add up towards your infamy or fame, and as a result your renown. The main story has its quirks, and for the most part remains unchanged- which is pretty good, as it was a decently received story to begin with, and certainly better than some of the other storylines in the series. As for The Lost Chapters, like some of Fable 3’s content, it takes place after the main story, and continues your hero’s legacy after he has established his own legend. (I say he for simplicity’s sake, but you catch my drift.)
Though with all things taken into account Fable Anniversary is basically a high definition recreation of the original game, that isn’t to say it hasn’t tweaked a few things or made gameplay a little more accessible as well. The visuals have improved greatly, and are now roughly on par with those of Fable 2, and closely behind Fable 3’s graphics. There are a few Xbox Smart Glass features tied into gameplay which allow for some extra menu options and interesting gimmick-related content. And there are also one or two optional control schemes which can be perused in combat and locomotion, in case the archaic yet slightly updated one doesn’t quite do it for you. All in all, these various minor additions to gameplay and interface quality improve the overall polish of the game in several ways, however minimal many of them may be. An improvement is an improvement in my book.
Now, I’ve spent the first half of my shorter than usual review talking about the bonuses and good portions of the game, so let’s go ahead and talk about some of the pitfalls and problems concerning it as well- both of the original and of the refurbished edition. For the greater part of the game, Anniversary performs much like the updated version of Tomb Raider 1 did- aptly named Anniversary as well: performing decently, but with a plethora of issues. While it is always nice to have updated visuals and lighting performances, the fact that many parts of the game are laggy, buggy, and downright atrocious at times sort of balances that out to the point that it’s not really worth the hassle. It’s hard to appreciate animations that would be fluid if it weren’t for the poor framerate, textures, and system crashes that litter the landscapes of Albion and are as potent and tyrannical as your brothers’ initial rule in Fable 3.
For a supposedly “updated” high definition refurbishing of a decade old game, Fable Anniversary may sport a new coat of paint but it still feels pretty “old” and out of touch in many ways. It isn’t a terrible game to be sure, but there are many avoidable quality issues that plague it and could’ve been removed with a little extra fine-tuning. Luckily, that still isn’t out of the question if a major patch or two is released, however I feel that is unlikely to be- as it would’ve been mitigated altogether before the game was released if the developers felt like doing so was in their best interest. The issues that consistently ruin the otherwise excellent experience thankfully aren’t constant happenings, though they occur often enough to be annoying and to impact my review score- and most likely those of others as well.
With the additions of said aforementioned ‘tweaks’ to the original game’s formula, truly not much has changed aside from the smattering of downloadable merchandise available alongside the game at release- most of which includes slightly better weapons and gear, and seems to simply be another way of getting as much money as possible from fans of the series through Dead Space-like monetary transactions. I’m glad that the developers remained pretty faithful to the core project on hand and didn’t change the experience much, opting instead to simply update it- however adding some minor additions to story, gameplay, or other facets of the game would’ve gone a long way indeed in terms of excitement, freshness, and interest.
There is no denying the fact that Fable Anniversary is a fun, faithful recreation of the original title, and definitely beats its predecessor in terms of quality and graphics, if retaining many of its same issues. Though Albion has gone back in time, and may still be different yet in the forthcoming Fable Legends, it is always intriguing to see it shown in a new- or even recast in an old, light. Just don’t get your hopes up thinking there will be a ton of additional new content added in, as this is essentially the same material packaged together from a decade ago, sans a little update to the current/last generation of consoles.
Concept: Retrace your footsteps through your hero’s first adventures in Albion, ten years later, in this nostalgic adventure where everything is as it seems and as you remember it, because literally nothing has changed. It’s one of those ‘for better or worse’ things…
Graphics: There are a few new looks, but for the most part everything is the same as it was, just given a lot better lighting and graphical update. Can’t complain about that, except when it lags or experiences other animation related issues.
Sound: It’s the same old soundtrack, which is one of the things that can’t be ruined or marred in any way, as it works elegantly and perfectly to match the tone of specific story moments each and every time.
Playability: The option to utilize several different control schemes is a wise choice to give players, as it offers the opportunity to play the game as it was originally intended, as well as how Fable 2 and 3 were meant to be played. Take the time to play once with both control schemes in order to ascertain which you like the most, and which works the best for you.
Entertainment: It isn’t the greatest game, and is far from the greatest even in the series, but it also is a faithful update of the original, and far from the worst in the series- yes, I am looking at the poor Kinect titles which can barely be counted as “a part of the series” even if they are associated by name.
Replay Value: Moderate.
Overall Score: 7.0