by Josh Vollmer
Fable Anniversary, recently released by Microsoft for the Xbox 360, celebrates the (almost) 10 year anniversary of the original Fable, released in September of 2004 for the original Xbox console. Anniversary is a faithful HD remastering of the original game, including all of the additional Lost Chapters content, along with a few updates such as the addition of achievements, SmartGlass functionality, and a new save system.
The first thing you will notice, and only because they make a big deal about pointing it out every time you load the game, is the SmartGlass functionality. For those not aware, SmartGlass is an app for Xbox 360 and Xbox One that allows Android, iOS and Windows capable devices such as tablets and smartphones to connect to a console to provide a number of functions. Usually SmartGlass just turns my iPhone into an awkward to use Netflix remote, but with Fable Anniversary you can use it to compare on screen images to the original Xbox version’s graphics, take screenshots, and peruse the map. It can also be the key in revealing some hidden items in the game, and an easy 25 point achievement.
Once you get past the initial SmartGlass splash screen/advertisement and actually start the game, the next thing you will notice is the graphics overhaul. Fable Anniversary is downright beautiful, and it’s not hard to see where the 15 months Lionhead Studios spent developing this game went. The world of Albion and its familiar environs are brought to life with updated lighting, high definition skins and textures, and all around improved graphical fidelity. So good in fact, I ran into some framerate issues more than once. Whether that was due to my machine, the disc I was playing, or just a whole lot of extra pizzazz dumped on a 10-year-old game, still remains a question.
If you’ve played Fable, Anniversary will definitely be familiar. Aside from the graphics and audio overhaul, the game itself remains essentially unchanged. Fable Anniversary is definitely not a reimagining of the original game, but more like an update. Fans will likely be pleased that the mechanics, story and side content remain unchanged, but those that haven’t played the original will find an ‘open world RPG’ that doesn’t feel very open, voice acting that is passable but dated, and a Fable game that is less feature-rich than Fable II or Fable III.
That’s not to say there isn’t a lot here. As the Hero of Oakvale, and a card-carrying member of the guild, you’ll have plenty of questing to do. There are still houses to buy and move into or subsequently rent out as a source of income. There are titles to earn; no one wants to be known as Chicken Chaser for the whole game after all. Oh, and you’ll have to decide if you’re good or evil of course. Will you be a hero to the people of Albion, or will you save them from themselves by ruling through fear and intimidation?
The game’s not perfect. Aside from the occasional graphical slowdown, it would have been nice if the crew at Lionhead Studios had allotted maybe one of the fifteen months they spent on this game towards reconstructing the arcane menu system or reducing loading times. The graphics are nice and all, but maybe not worth waiting for 15-20 seconds every time you switch areas. Still, if your only exposure to the Fable series is II or III, this is absolutely the best way for a 360 owner to get a glimpse at the roots of the franchise. At the budget-minded price of $39.99 new, Fable Anniversary is a no-brainer pickup for diehard fans of the series. Casual fans and achievement chasers will find plenty to keep them busy here as well. Look for it at your local Slackers today.