More time ago than most of you remember, there was a game called Fable. And lo it was an RPG and Peter Molyneux did most waffle about it.
In September 2004, the game finally came out and it was… grand. While the truly epic elements Molyneux had promised failed to materialise (a event which has become increasingly familiar with his games) Fable was a big and impressive world, with decent combat and a refreshingly English sensibility.
10 years on, we’ve seen two proper sequels (one of which was rather good. And I’m not talking about Fable III) as well as an XBLA game and the weird Kinect experiment which was Fable: The Journey. And now, to celebrate that decade anniversary, we’ve also got a spit-shined remake of the very first game.
Fable Anniversary is HD reissue of the 2004 game, with updated graphics, a streamlined interface and the addition of ‘The Lost Chapters’ DLC. Otherwise it’s the same game – front to back, left to right and all the little bits inbetween.
As such, it feels hopelessly dated from the off, including terrifically low resolution cinematics, stiff controls and gameplay that often feels antiquated. The only significant new addition is Smartglass implementation, linking the game to your smartphone via the app. Its supposed to show you an interactive map and even screenshots of what the original Fable looked like and while it works, performance is so sluggish its next to useless.
You can only polish up a really old game so much and while the resolution and fidelity of the graphics might have been spruced up that does nothing for the ancient animations and stiff, rigid faces. Object interaction is awkward and the new graphics feel hopelessly dark. Add in laborious loading times and touches like having to return to the Guild every time you want to level up and things certainly don’t start well for Anniversary.
And yet, there’s a strange thing which happens as you play. Once you get used to eccentrics of the game, the charming elements start to bleed through. The world still looks decently detailed for such an old game and the real-time, fast flowing combat was revolutionary back in the day – and still works fairly well now.
The game also works hard to keep your sense of morality to the fore – something more recent titles have done with more subtlety but it adds an extra layer of intrigue to proceedings. This world really does respond to your every action, though it was all accomplished better in the 2008 sequel. And then there’s the bizarre, risqué and very British sense of humour – a far cry from the enforced seriousness of most of this genre.
If you completely missed the game on its original release (on account of being young or something) its well worth investigating if you’ve got a hankering for a laid back Action RPG. Nostalgia seeks might have some fun as well, though a lower price tag would have served this re-release better.
Ancient, awkward and full of flaws, Fable Anniversary still has plenty of charm for the patient player