Written by Sebastian Edgington-Cole.
HD remakes were something of a popularity in the gaming industry shortly before the announcement of next gen games. Landmark series including Hitman, Metal Gear Solid and Devil May Cry all received a makeover.
This month was Fable 1’s turn. Around 10 years after its well received release on the original Xbox, it too has received a rerelease with improved graphics, gameplay, and the addition of those (all important for some) achievements. It contains the original game, the additional missions and some extra content, as well as the usual retailer exclusive content.
It is worth noting at this point that I never played the original game, which is also why I chose to buy the Anniversary version. Therefore I can only review it as a game in its own right, not as a comparison to its original. I have played Fable 2 and 3 at some juncture or another and I will therefore be comparing FA to them.
You start off this tale as a young boy (gender selection only came in the next game). After running a couple of errands for your father, your village is attacked and destroyed by bandits. You survive, but the rest of your family is either killed or captured.
You are rescued by a mage named Maze (top marks for originality) who takes you to the Heroes Guild. There you become a literal hero, a person that mixes swordplay, archery and magic to help others.
Once your training complete, you are left to journey the land of Albion more or less freely to help people, including farmers as well as bandits, should you choose to do so. Interestingly and somewhat weirdly, your guild masters don’t seem to care whether you save a farm or pillage it.
A fun feature of the series is that your actions will affect your appearance. Be an evil monster and devil-like horns will start to grow on your forehead, whereas if you are a paragon of good a halo will eventually pop up above your head.
There is of course a main campaign with a story line, but at the spoiler free point that I have arrived at time of writing that hasn’t developed much yet.
However the main point of the game is to do all the side quests as well, to advance your character both in abilities and morale.
There are no major issues with this. You can easily change from attacking with a weapon, bow or magic thanks to the one button for each and a fourth for blocking system. The game also makes you either prefer a method of attack early on to upgrade it quicker, or you mix it all up but therefore have to upgrade your character in his entirety, which takes longer.
The movement controls can sometimes be a bit sluggish, where the character turns in an arc rather than an angle. You’ll also be using the teleport feature often, so having to press a button down for 3 to 5 seconds every time also get tedious.
Beyond that Fable Anniversary is a fun one to play, the only really boring times being when you’re one on one with a weak enemy, but as soon as you face multiple enemies or a boss you have to change the strategy a bit.
The main problem with FA is that even though it is a remastering, and it has had one title update at time of writing and I installed it on the HDD, it is still very technically challenged.
It has long loading times that are no longer expected in this day and age as well as frame jumps when walking around.
These may be minor issues and could be fixed later on in the game’s lifetime, but they are still unexpected in a game that we may start soon referring to as being for the previous gen.
This has always been the Fable’s strong point. They are funny, slightly over the top stories with a caricatural and cartoon like visual to match.
The fact it comes from a studio in Guildford should help explain its quirky, light hearted Monty Python like approach to a medieval fantasy story.
Although that has continued and also outmatched FA in Fable 2 and 3, it’s nice to see where it all came from.
In conclusion Fable Anniversary will be enjoyed by newcomers to the franchise (a trilogy purchase is available). Its fun combat and setting also make it a worthwhile game by itself. What brings it down is its technical imperfections and the fact it still doesn’t match up to Fable 3 even after remastering.