It has been ten years since Lionhead studios first launched Fable and to celebrate they have remastered and reissued the decade old classic, turning it into Fable Anniversary. Fable has had several iterations already, including the version released for PC years ago, called Lost Chapters. Lost chapters is also included within Fable Anniversary along with a few user interface changes here and there. The good news is that the Fable everyone knows and loves is for the most part completely intact. This applies to the annoying issues like an unhelpful camera and a fickle lock on system. Once more you step into the shoes of the well known Survivor of Oakvale with his unkempt looking rat’s tail and his vacant goofy gaze but this time round, everything’s cleaner.
Before I begin discussing Fable Anniversary in-depth I should probably clarify that I recall none of my original play through of Lost chapters. Due to this, my review will treat the game for the most part as though I’m going through it for the first time. I’m also playing on Heroic difficulty but that should have no baring on the review. Heroic difficulty is one of the new additions that for me make the game worthwhile. I will try and point out the differences with this and the original wherever I can recall. For the most part though, the game is just Fable: The lost chapters. The controls are fairly straightforward and not altered from the original at all. It is worth noting though you can also choose to use the control scheme from fable 2 and 3 should you be so inclined. My play through currently is using a wired 360 controller but I’ll cover both sets of controls as well for those using a keyboard.
For those that don’t recall the control scheme from a decade ago, here’s a refresher course. In Fable Anniversary you move around the field using the left analogue stick and control the camera via the right stick. Pressing up on the right stick causes it to zoom in on your character while pressing down zooms out. The left trigger allows you to lock onto enemies and NPC’s who have a red aura around them. After locking on you can tap right button to draw your sword or the left button to draw your bow. Pressing X button allows you to swing your sword or launch your arrows in the direction of the person you’re locked to. Y is to block as well as dodge when used in conjunction with the left analogue while the B button allows your character to run while held down. While locked on with the left trigger you can hold the right trigger and select from any of the four lettered buttons to use a will spell quickly. The directional pad is for items and social interactions and can have anything mapped to the four directions.
The PC controls for Fable Anniversary however are a bit more complex. Movement is controlled through the usual WASD setup, with the E button to draw the bow, while Q button draws your sword. Holding the right mouse button allows you run and left mouse button is to attack. Middle mouse button seems to be dodge but it can be awkward and I’d recommend remapping it. Your items and character emotions can be mapped to all the number buttons for quick and easy access. Holding the shift button accesses the spells menu which you scroll through with the middle mouse button and activate with the left mouse button. My personal preference is using an Xbox 360 controller with the original Fable control scheme. It makes the game far more easier than it was years ago when I finished it using the keyboard controls. The map has been tweaked to allow you to highlight people and get information from the map on those people’s functions and names. The Microsoft smartglass system can also be used to navigate the map but it seems kind of gimmicky. I will point out I don’t have a smartglass compatible device so this judgement is just from videos and word of mouth. Achievements have also been added to Fable Anniversary. A thousand gold’s worth in fact.
Sad to say the story for Fable Anniversary hasn’t been changed or improved on much. You still play as the young boy that survives the raid on Oakvale and begins his quest to find his twin sister. Throughout the game you uncover clues as to who has orchestrated all this from the beginning before being confronted with one of the most vile off-putting villains since Kefka Palazzo roamed the world of Final Fantasy VI.You still help various people along the way in side quests that help flesh out the story. You also still continue to age, growing up through the tutorial along with any battle scars before the game’s story proper. You can start a family and have a wife, living out your old battle-scarred age. Aging takes far longer this time round so you don’t feel like you’re watching Adrian Toomes regress after having absorbed Peter Parker’s youth now. It’s still great but it’s nothing groundbreaking.
The first thing you will notice about Fable Anniversary is how much darker everything is. The shading is far more detailed compared to the Xbox and even the PC version. It’s using the Unreal Engine 3, just as Fable 3 did. The game supports widescreen this time thankfully and the detail on individual strands of hair and the leather-gloved hands of NPC’s as well as the reflections on glassy and liquid surfaces shows a marked improvement. The scars that you will acquire on your journey look downright nasty now. The trees and the sky look really beautiful and you can almost lose yourself staring up at it. Anti-aliasing this time is definitely at work, while they seem to have dialed back the bloom. There’s very little sheer jagged edges and the shading helps provide a more textured surface to everything. Certain surfaces look like they have physicality to them, like you can reach out and touch them rather than appearing flat. The user interfaces for the save screen and the inventory system, maps and loading screens are far cleaner. The save system to me feels more efficient. I recall a few times auto saves made it really hard for the first time I played The Lost Chapters. This time I felt as though the auto saves were more plentiful and more forgiving, even on Heroic mode. The loading screens seem faster as well as the new overlay which I think looks breathtaking.
Almost all of the sound in Fable Anniversary has been remastered apart from the voice acting. Sadly, Fable Anniversary still has the different voice actor from The Lost Chapters, so “Mr Blades” doesn’t sound as sinister as I’d have liked. The sound has been optimized for surround sound setups and the sound design is fantastic. The ambient music or noises on animals in the trees really help pull you into the game. Spells firing off make loud bassy sounds and the aural design keeps you fully aware of your surroundings. The music as always is appropriate whether trudging through a dungeon or even back tracking to retrieve one of the legendary weapons from behind one of those sentient doors. The whole ensemble compliments the gameplay and the world of Fable Anniversary in a very positive way.
This brings us to my final evaluation overall. I’m having fun with it still. Fable Anniversary has shown that the combat hasn’t aged much and it’s still on par with the new next gen games coming out. It’s gloriously pretty, and very smooth. The loading screens are much improved and the detail can make the world feel downright ghoulish at times, especially near the headquarters of that dark cult where you sacrifice little chicks. I’m not very far on heroic, despite having played more than twenty hours. The camera issues are still present during the combat and lock on still leaves much to be desired. I personally wish they had removed the ability to lock onto friendly NPC’s. Heroic difficulty quite frankly is kicking my posterior all over the shop. I’m spending most of my time fishing because it’s addictive and also fish provide free health restoration. Fable Anniversary is worth a purchase for those who never played the original or for those with disposable income, wishing the graphics would improve. As it stands though, Fable Anniversary is a very accurate revamp of the original game for the newer consoles and is sure to delight fans old and new. However long time Fable fans will likely see Fable Anniversary as too expensive to warrant a purchase just yet. The upside is that Fable Anniversary is still the same great old title it always was. The downside is it’s still the same great old title it always was.
The upside is that Fable Anniversary is still the same great old title it always was. The downside is it's still the same great old title it always was.