Review: Fable Anniversary Takes An Old Tale And Throws On A Nice Coat Of Paint
The original Fable released in 2006. Ten years later we are treated to a re-release with a fresh coat of paint and improved controls - is it ultimately worth it to revisit Albion?
- Worth The Time?If you're looking for a reason to jump back into the world of Fable, this remake is worth the time to revisit the first adventure in Albion.
- Things LovedImproved visuals; Improved control scheme; Fun combat; Lots to do; Woo-ing the ladies; The ever present less serious take on the traditional RPG story in between the more heavy segments; Binge-drinking; Terrorising the townsfolk; Great soundtrack; Inclusion of The Lost Chapters content; Chickens.
- Things HatedFinicky lock-on mechanic; Plenty of loading screens; Freakish looking characters; unimproved animations; Strange difficulty curve.
- RecommendationFor those who have yet to experience the original Fable game and those who are searching for a reason to revisit the world of Fable.
- Name: Fable Anniversary
- Genre: Action Adventure / RPG
- Players: 1 player
- Multiplayer: No
- Platforms: Xbox 360
- Developer: Lionhead Studios
- Publisher: Microsoft Studios
- Price: R399
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Fable now joins the high-definition re-release stable with Fable Anniversary alongside the likes of the DOOM 3: BFG Edition and Painkiller: Hell and Damnation, but ultimately with a relatively toned down hellish vibe. How does it hold up after all these years?
Fable released for the original Xbox in 2004 and mostly received positive reviews across the board. It took the standard role playing game route and added a little bit of humour, charm and a dash of frivolousness (in a good way) to a rather bleak back story of our hero. Fable Anniversary includes the original Fable as well as the The Lost Chapers which released afterwards.
Moral choice systems make for an interesting game mechanic, but the choices between good and evil are so drastic that, as a result, your character is either loved by everyone who is constantly cheering you on and throwing rose petals your way or they empty their bladders at the mere sight of you as you chase chickens or steal books from their homes. The extremes can almost always be seen as your character either appearing as the knight in shining armour or the devil himself. The choices are nicely varied in Fable Anniversary, but the appearance factor is as described above. It has been ten years since the game’s release so hush my mouth about the moral choices I guess; they cannot change too much as it wouldn’t be the same game that released all those years ago, but we’ll delve into the fine details shortly.
Our adventure begins in Albion as a young boy gallivanting around the peaceful town of Bowerstone in an attempt to earn enough money for his sister’s birthday present. Here you are tasked to earn enough gold by either doing good deeds or approach scenarios with a more malicious approach. For example, you may choose to help a man by keeping watch over his boxed goods for a specified amount of time or you may be convinced by another young one to smash it open and take the goods. You are rewarded either way, but your reputation is affected as you progress. You end up either having a good or bad character “alignment” and as a result your appearance changes alongside the world’s perception and behavior towards your character. The front doors of houses may stand ajar if your character is of a heroic nature, but when your alignment tends toward the infamous bastard of Albion, inhabitants will lock their doors. You may walk past or smash the door to smithereens and loot the house for belongings and/or Snickers bars.
However, at the beginning of the game when playing as a young one there are quite a few happenings to witness, but things turn real sour real fast and our young hero or scoundrel is forced to flee the town. Depending on your moral choices the plot can go different directions and there is a total of four different endings. I’d rather not delve to deep into the plot as some of the scenarios are fun to experience yourself. (Yes, I am indeed avoiding spoilers for a ten year old game.)
The gameplay mechanics are solid and make for a fun time. You’ll no doubt feel at some point that this still has a touch of “old” to it despite the convenient changes made to controls. It handles a lot more to the control schemes we have become accustomed to in Fable 2 and Fable 3 and while it handles a lot easier now, the controls are still not without faults this time around. Pretty much every aspect of the controls are functional and fun, but the lock-on mechanic is a little bit wonky. You are granted the ability to lock onto an enemy by holding down the left trigger to lock onto the nearest enemy and switch between enemies using the analog stick, but my gripe with this comes in when it locks onto an exploding mushroom instead of the steadily approaching bandit wanting a hefty helping of my thigh. It’s not a deal breaker, but it can lead to your physique being pummeled more than it needs to be.
The major update is the visuals. The game’s graphics have been given an overhaul and it shows – the environments as well as the clothing and armour your character is wearing do look much better than the original release, but there is a downfall to the graphical overhaul. Some of the NPC’s and even the young and teenage version of our hero have a freakish look. From what I can gather, this is due to the characters given a more “realistic” look instead of the traditional fantasy-esque style of the characters in the Fable games. Most of the main NPC’s stand out in an odd way and paired together with the old animations, this does end up looking very strange. Once again, not a deal breaker, but will certainly put those off that are looking for an extreme graphical overhaul and top notch animations we’ve become used to in recent video games. I said for a second time that this is not a deal breaker, because the game is still ultimately fun to play.
The combat, besides the lock-on mechanic’s issues mentioned above is fun. You have a melee weapon in the form of a sword or variable sharp object on the end of a stick, your ranged weapon in the form a crossbow or more traditional bow and arrow and your magical powers granting you to shoot lightning from your hand. The changes in controls make for a much more fluid experience. You’ll feel overwhelmed at first as numerous enemies would like a taste of your hero salad, but once you’ve leveled up a few times, the encounters become less stressful. Some say it is easy from the get-go, but I disagree. Boss battles keep you on your toes and make for some challenging and fun times.
Speaking of leveling up, you are able to upgrade three different character enhancers namely: Physique, which will increase the amount of power you are able to swing a weapon as well as an additional ability to use heavier weapons (your character becomes more muscular when leveling up this trait – a nice touch), Health, which will lengthen your health bar and lets you take more damage before kissing your behind goodbye and Toughness, which will decrease the amount of damage taken by each blow. All of these traits aids to complete quests with ever increasing demands. Each completed quest rewards you with experience points, gold and points that make you more renown among the people of Albion. A nice spin on the quest aspect is the ability to boast. Each main quest will provide you with the option of playing with or without boasts – when tackling a quest with these boasts you’ll be challenged in different ways like playing the quest without clothes, not taking any damage and other assorted/ridiculous ways to make the quest more difficult and equally interesting. You will be rewarded for completing a quest and succeeding to fulfill these boasts.
You may only level up and initiate a quest from the Heroes’ Guild; this makes sense and doesn’t require you to back track an awful lot thanks to a fast travel / teleportation mechanic activated by simply holding down the down button on the D-pad and as a result it will take you back to the Guild in a flash. Fast travel points also becomes available when arriving at a previously undiscovered location/town. When accepting a quest, a blip will appear on the map to tell you where to proceed, but side quests offer no such thing; you have to manually search for the items you’re looking for without any indication besides the quest giver’s word. It is more organic and adds reason for you to explore, but a blip indicating these locations wouldn’t have gone unappreciated. Traveling isn’t a chore for the most part, but my other major gripe comes in with the loading times. There is an insane amount of loading time when moving from area to area and even sometimes between segments of a larger area or town. This was an ample opportunity to either remove these loading times or simply optimise the loading times to a shorter time. It doesn’t take that long for the game to load an area, but if you’re going back and forth across a few areas this does become an annoyance.
There are lots of little things to do along your path that are not needed to progress the story; you may partake in binge-drinking at a tavern, rent a tavern’s bed for the day or night in the pursuit of gaining a chance to visit the barber, trader or tattoo artist whose stores are closed during nighttime. Speaking of which, you are able to customise your character to a certain degree with clothes, armour, tattoos and / or hairstyles and facial hair. These options affect your attractiveness and scariness factor which results in citizens either laughing at you or shaking in their boots.
Your inventory consists of different tabs such as Quests, Map, Logbook, Skills, Stats and Equipment; each with its own sub-categories. All of these aiding you in your adventure be it by checking on what you want to do next or stripping down to give the people of Albion a reason to laugh, because you can.