Fable Anniversary – Game Review and Analysis
By Dan Maurer
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Fable Anniversary is the HD re-release of the 2004 game, with updated graphics, a streamlined interface and the addition of The Lost Chapters DLC. Otherwise it’s the same game from front to back. In a way, it feels dated in game-play-along with its low resolution cinematics, stiff controls and gameplay that often feels “antique”. The only significant new addition is Smartglass implementation, linking the game to your smartphone. Its supposed to show you an interactive map and even screenshots of what the original Fable looked like and while it works, performance is sluggish. Object interaction is awkward and the new graphics feel overly dark. Along with horrendous loading times and touches like having to return to the Guild every time you want to level up, this feels like a sloppy update to a classic Xbox game.
When Fable was first released, it was a good-looking title. Naturally though, what was impressive back then isn’t as hot now, and it doesn’t look too great nowadays if you take a look at any of the original’s screenshots. Thankfully, Lionhead’s HD remaster does wonders to the title, bringing it up to speed with visuals that rival what’s seen in the sequels. Albion and its inhabitants look as vibrant as they did ten years ago, colorful and fresh and cartoonish. Everything looks fantastic and pleasing, though a little more work could have been paid attention to NPC’s faces, which are mostly blank and occasionally muddy. While the remaster does everything possible to make Fable look great again, the animations in the game are the same ones seen in the original. This leads to some jerky movement, combat, and NPC’s that move and behave erratically when walking around towns and beaten paths.
Disappointingly, however, there are some noticeable frame-rate issues, particularly early on in the game. The colorful and cartoonish style is a good fit for a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s nice to see the world of Albion benefit from an injection of color and smoother edges. It’s not a game-breaker and isn’t persistent throughout, but considering the HD visuals are one of the Anniversary Edition’s biggest selling points, it seems rather sloppy. Elsewhere, the controls have also undergone a transformation and have adopted the same scheme used in Fable 2 and 3.
Thankfully, the game is mostly very easy. There are some instances where the game borders on madness(the rock troll stage in the Arena is a key example) but this is due to the sluggish controls making targeting enemies a hassle. For the most part, Albion is wondrous and a joy to inhabit, brought to life with humor and its new HD appearance. There’s a ton of stuff to do, including unlocking Demon Doors, collectible silver keys, and even the decent Lost Chapters DLC.
While areas of the game could have benefited from a bit more polish, Fable Anniversary Edition is a decent attempt at trying to reinvent a classic game from the original Xbox days. In some ways it succeeds while in other ways it feels like more time could have been spent to bring out the original beauty of Albion.
PunchDrunkGamer.com FINAL SCORE: 7 out of 10
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