Fable: Anniversary Edition
It’s hard to believe that Fable is ten years old. It seems like just yesterday that I was taking my first steps towards becoming a great hero in Albion, performing good deeds, killing wasps and…kicking chickens. Though the Fable series has arguably strayed from its roots, both Fable II and Fable III shared the same love of adventure as well as the themes first established in the first Fable.
To celebrate the anniversary of Fable, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios have recreated the original Fable in glorious HD resolution, which is being sold as a standalone title and in the recently-announced ‘Fable Trilogy’. Sticky Trigger was lucky enough to receive a copy of ‘Fable Anniversary’, and it has been an absolute blast playing through Peter Molyneux’s iconic open-world RPG all over again. If you’re an experienced hero or a Fable newcomer, Fable Anniversary is well worth checking out, it’s a piece of gaming history that thanks to efforts of Microsoft and Lionhead, looks better than it has ever before.
Fable tells the story of you, a small boy or girl (the ability to play as a girl has been added into Fable Anniversary) who is living a normal life in a small village. It’s your sister’s birthday and you are yet to get her a present. Your father informs you that he will reward you a gold coin for every good deed you perform in the village. Conveniently, there is a travelling merchant who just happens to have a box of candy for sale for three gold.
Upon attempting the three good deeds needed, the player is presented with shortcuts, or ways to earn money by misdeeds, such as taking a bribe for a man caught cheating on his wife. These choices once felt very fresh and important, though by today’s standards, feel like cartoonish parodies of direly-important decisions in games like Bioware’s Mass Effect series. Fable though, does contain a ton of humour, and (in my opinion) the game is an extremely light-hearted approach on the normally overly-serious RPG genre. Being dared to pick on a homeless person with a bully, or smash a warehouse owner’s stock may sound like pretty serious crimes, but these are presented to the player in a laughably silly way. Any more silly and you would have a cartoon angel and devil on either shoulder attempting to coerce you, like in an old episode from The Simpsons.
It’s not long after you give your sister her present that your village invaded by bandits. Your parents are murdered, and you are just barely rescued by Maze, the leader of the Hero’s Guild. While he may seem harsh at first, Maze takes the protagonist in and trains him to be a great warrior, who’s choices will affect their lives and the lives of many other of Albion’s inhabitants. For those of you new to the Fable series, or who haven’t played the original Fable, I won’t be going into any more specific detail with the game’s story, so as to preserve it for the inexperienced. I will say though, that it is a humorous and fun-filled story, that offers unique missions compared to other role-playing games such as The Elder Scrolls series and Diablo III, which are both mature and somewhat darker.
The real beauty of the Fable series (and indeed Fable Anniversary) is how accessible the game managed to be. Other RPGs such as the Final Fantasy games and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (also released on the Xbox Original) can seem intimidating to an inexperienced RPG gamer, but Fable really was a lot more “user-friendly” than these games, and almost felt like a more mature Legend of Zelda game.
The combat in Fable Anniversary, is extremely simple to get the basics of, though more advanced tactics like dodging and flourish strikes (carefully-timed skillful blows in combat) will come with practice. All weapon strikes are initiated with the X button, all archery and ranged attacks are initiated with the Y button, and all Will (magic) attacks are initiated with the B button. Players can attack in any direction (similar to the Batman: Arkham games of Assassin’s Creed games) and can also lock onto enemies by holding the Left Trigger. Thanks to these simple controls, all players, regardless of skill levels are able to enjoy Fable Anniversary, and most importantly, stand a chance against bosses, the often annoyingly-hard element of RPGs.
Quests though, not combat, are the heart of every RPG. They reward experience, progress the story, and give one a chance to demonstrate the strength of one’s character, particularly in Fable, where players are tasked with making decisions with world-changing ramifications. Quests can be engaged by either talking to a quest vendor (a person in need, or a person of otherwise importance) or by reporting to the Hero’s Guild and accepting requests made to the guild. Quite often, the guild-related quests will give you an opportunity to explore a new area, which will then give the player access to a number of additional, smaller requests. This is a good thing because it makes the player feel as though they are truly exploring and experiencing Albion, without overwhelming them with a flood of quests.
The quests themselves, can range from a simple wasp-extermination mission, to joining an underground fight club, or assassinating a particular person. You can also take on a quest in a different number of ways, such as defending a farm from a bandit party, or leading the bandit assault itself against the farm. Quite a refreshing change from other RPGs that still holds up well today.
It would be quite rude of me to not mention Fable Anniversary’s fantastic soundtrack and unique voice acting. The Fable theme itself, was composed and recorded by Danny Elfman (yes, the Danny Elfman) so needless to say, it is a brilliant piece of music. The rest of the game’s soundtrack is equally as good, and Russell Shaw (who composed music for Syndicate, Theme Park, Populous, and more) does a fantastic job at creating an atmosphere with his music that few games have come close to.
As previously mentioned, Fable Anniversary is an Hd remake of Fable meaning that the game is more defined and presented in widescreen. Unfortunately, sometimes the game can take a while to render its textures, even when you install the game to your Xbox 360’s hard drive. This wouldn’t be so bad if the game looked as good as it can be, but if I’m going to be 100% honest, I’d say there are definitely times where the game (solely from a visual perspective) looks as though a few shortcuts were taken. Textures are blurry, and some things looks eerily similar to they original Fable on the Xbox Original. With that being said, the game does look better than it has ever before, and it has seen a drastic improvement, I just know from playing other games (and indeed, other Fable games), that the game could’ve looked better, and at the very least, sharper.
So what else is new about Fable Anniversary?
For those of you well-versed with Fable, and are curious as to the revamp’s new features, allow me to mention them briefly:
- 1080p widescreen graphics
- New lighting, fidelity and special effects
- All new engine, built on the Unreal 3 Engine.
- New save-anywhere save system
- More seamless and fluid gameplay
- User Interface and menus have a nice new book design
- All the Fable: The Lost Chapters extra DLC.
- Smartglass app (which helps in quests, as well as detail maps and take screenshots!), and of course,
Overall, Fable Anniversary is a fantastic modern version of a classic RPG. The game runs brilliantly, and contains all the extra DLC from Fable: The Lost Chapters too. The new lighting and effects are brilliant, I only wish the game looked a little sharper. For what it is (and its price) Fable Anniversary is a great game for Fable newcomers and experts alike. If you’re looking for a fun, light-hearted RPG, don’t hesitate to check out Fable Anniversary.