‘Fable Anniversary’ Review

Platforms: Xbox 360

Developer: Lionhead Studios Publisher: Telltale Games

Genre: Action/Adventure RPG

When it comes to remakes of games, I fit in with the crowd who appreciates them.

Remakes of games not only take us back to a nostalgic time when things were simpler – in other words, the times when we were in a care-free state of mind as kids, or perhaps teens – but it provides gamers the chance to look at how far video games have evolved over the years.

As one of several examples, I thoroughly enjoyed 343 Industries’ Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. It managed to dab HD prettiness over the game’s original aesthetics while maintaining, well, everything else that made the game so special. It may have aged a little in terms of gameplay, but you could see how revolutionary it was for its time, and it was still truckloads, rather Warthogs, of fun to play.

Admittedly, I never played the original Fable because, according to my mother, my youthful eyes were not ready to witness the more mature offerings on store shelves. But as I played through Fable Anniversary, a remake of the original Xbox exclusive title from 2004, I certainly appreciated some of the innovations the original game offered. Unfortunately, I also witnessed how Fable has aged as well.

Fable Anniversary centers itself around a nameless male protagonist simply named the Hero (quite the contradiction indeed). After the Hero’s village is raided and destroyed by bandits who kill everyone he knew and loved, the Hero is taken in to be trained as, well, a Hero in the Heroe’s Guild, a league acting as a form of justice in the fictional fantasy world of Albion.

The story is fleshed out quite well. You will be wondering about the mystery of the Hero throughout his journey, and it’s great to see how, when times passes, your personalized character makes his changes through age. Some of the twists are a bit predictable though, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Part of this is thanks to the choice system.

From the get-go, players are presented with two basic choices to make throughout the numerous story and side quests the game offers: good and evil. Though these choices are primarily here to effect the story’s ending, it’s amazing to think about how these options were at the player’s disposal 10 years ago on a consoles game. Have you wanted to know what it’s like to raid the defenseless farm instead of driving back the tyranny of those whipper-snapping bandits? Options like those are there for your twisted curiosity. If you never played the original games though, the choices probably won’t impact as much today after hugely innovative titles such as Mass Effect have released since then.

Still, experiencing Fable in its entirety requires at least two playthroughs, which will take up much time as you mow through the game’s plentiful side quests and the included The Lost Chapters DLC. Quests are primarily accessed through the Heroes’ Guild and simply talking to the citizens of Albion. They can range anywhere from hunting down the nasty Hobbe creatures to kicking chickens in a contest. The quests allow you to really experience the lush and rich world of Albion and its quirky, primarily English-accented citizens.

Venturing through Albion, however, is one of the areas where the game starts to show its age. The loading times between areas can make exploration a drag rather than a fulfilling adventure, and with many smaller areas, it’s more of a reoccurring problem than it should be. It’s even worse when you have to inconveniently go out of your way to go back to the Heroes’ Guild to accept certain quests or level up your character instead of being able to do it on the fly. There are pads allowing players to warp to different areas, sure, but sometimes you have to travel quite a way to get to one, which in turn forces you to experience the long loading screens.

What makes this anniversary truly strange though are its technical aspects. Every remake I’ve played, whether it’s been Sony’s simple 1080p/60 frames upgrades for its PlayStation 2 titles or games remade from the ground up like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, has not only had improved visuals, but character animations and frame rate get a welcoming transformation as well. That is not the case here. In Fable Anniversary, the visuals understandably get a much-needed face lift, but for some reason, the character animations and framerate are sacrificed in exchange. I can’t remember the last time I saw such robotic animations from NPCs in both physical and mouth movements.

Want to see me do the robot baby, and I don’t mean the dance move?

While not quite as bad as the strange visual downgrade, the original Fable‘s combat has not aged particularly well either. No matter which melee weapon you are using, they all feel heavy, slow and sluggish. I focused my physical upgrades on my ability to swing melee weapons faster but it didn’t make much of a difference. However, I love how many different magic spells there are, as there were not as near as many in Fable II, and it’s always great to see such a range of options.

Though the experience has certainly aged in noticeable ways, I still had fun during my time with Fable Anniversary. It’s one of those games that allowed me the opportunity to realize how far gaming has come in the past 10 years and showing me some of the creative aspects. If you never played Fable when it came out, I would probably suggest making the move to Fable II because it feels like the game the original title was trying to be, but couldn’t due to technological limitations. For fans of the original, and perhaps those wanting to appreciate the history of gaming in general, Fable Anniversary is certainly worth your time, and you’ll have tons of things to do as well. Just don’t expect updated animations or framerate though.

The Good

+ Albion is a rich world both in design and its inhabitants

+ Plethora of quests, story or not

+ Good story with twists

+ Nice visual update, but…

The Bad

– Visuals are the only upgraded part

– Character animations

– Noticeable framerate dips

– Aged combat is sluggish

– Inconveniences in traveling|

The Score 6.9