Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: February 7, 2014
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Originally released in 2004, Fable was a hotly anticipated action-adventure game that quickly became one of the Xbox’s most beloved and recognisable franchises. It was a game that didn’t take itself too seriously, that was able to push the boundaries of its genre and employ a sarcastic, comic tone that endeared itself to gamers.
After the success of the original, Fable II and Fable III made the leap to the Xbox 360, and were received warmly by fans and critics alike. Each new outing sought to reimagine itself with additional charm and brevity, and this mostly worked. It comes as no surprise that Fable Anniversary manages to uphold all the good things that the series stands for, and the lucidly touched up graphics simply make the game feel more alive. The remake takes the original Fable and adds just enough spice to make it worth going back to.
At heart, Fable Anniversary is a moralistic adventure quest, based around the choices you make. It charts the story of a young boy, who becomes a hero fighting his way through the lands after his family is ruthlessly murdered in a bandit attack. What makes it so different from other fantasy based heroic games is its unique sense of humour. Running around the world and just listening to what villagers say is worth the price of the game in itself.
Fable was fond of the ridiculous, and it is good to know that this hasn’t been tampered with for the remake. You can still have a game of “chicken-kicking”, annoy people with dancing, farting emotes and listen to the eternal and sometimes depressed demon doors. The Fable universe is a place that you want to be involved in, and it is recommended that you take your time in completing the game, as you never know what comedy gold you might miss. The story rewards the explorer, so dive in and be adventurous.
Fans of the original will remember that the true beauty of the game laid in its fantastical setting of England in the Middle Ages, known in the game as Albion. Fable Anniversary has adapted the settings quite magnificently, and you have never felt more at home in the lush and pleasant land. The textures are fuller and more complete, and the game comes with widescreen support that allows you to fully appreciate them. Visually, Fable was excellent in 2004 and it is delightful to see this version looking so beautiful. There are the odd flaws, as character design can sometimes look odd, and nothing has really been done about the old looping animation. But none of this really matters, as the colours of the land and the vibrancy of the non-playable characters distract you from the slight flaws.
The music of the game is another standout. Russell Shaw, the original score writer has remained at Lionhead Studios, and has tweaked his original compositions into surround sound. The music is synonymous with the series, and everybody has their favourite Fable compositions. It really adapts well to the point in the game you are playing, becoming dark and foreboding when fighting off Balverines, and taking a lighter tone when in the hero’s hometown of Oakvale. The combat mechanics as well have been rendered closer to the style of the later Fable games, using the one button system that works so well. This makes it easier to use all available skills, strength and will in fights, therefore giving you more choice during fight scenes that often became repetitive in the original version.
Of course, it is difficult to talk about the remaking of a game when the original was so iconic. Fable Anniversary comes without the overloaded promises that Peter Molyneux, lead game designer of Lionhead Studios until 2012, had made before the release of the original. It therefore thrives on individual merit, and feels less of a remake, more of a remastering. Although still quite expensive at £25.00, the simplistic purity of the game makes it well worth the price tag. For fans of the original, or for new-comers to the series, Fable Anniversary is well worth the investment.