ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Fable Anniversary - Review

Updated on February 25, 2014

If video games are complicated to a non-gamer, then RPGs are downright impenetrable. Elemental weaknesses, damage multipliers, about thirteen statistics to be monitoring, it's easy for people familiar with the language of video games to underestimate the complexity of an already complex genre. Enter Lionhead's Fable, a game that, when it was first released in 2004, more than anything else, attempted to streamline and simplify the console RPG.

Now to some RPG fans, this is outright blasphemy. Talking of dumbing down a role-playing game potentially robs the genre of one of its core attributes: their incredible depth. Fable was, and still is, a weird mix of ideas, some of which work and many that don't. Game designer and Lionhead chief Peter Molyneux is known for hyping up his games, only to fail to deliver on a lot of his promises, and Fable was a prime example of this.

Fast forward to 2014 and we've now had access two Fable sequels as well as a dodgy Kinect spin-off. However, for many long-time fans of the series it's this latest anniversary edition of the original Fable that has them the most excited.

It's unfortunate then, that the experience is such a disappointing one. On the back of the case there's the usual marketing spiel about this being the definitive Fable experience. Rarely however, has this seemed so misplaced.

For starters, this anniversary edition comes with some appalling glitches and bugs. On several occasions, the game crashed simply for attempting to interact with a character. The only solution in most cases was to restart the Xbox and hope that the problem didn't occur again. Then there were the performance issues, towns and other populated areas would stutter and freeze as the frame rate jumped about. Worse, the camera would sometimes become stuck to my character's back, ensuring that I'd be unable to see what the hell was going on as he proceeded to be mobbed by bandits or werewolves.

Similarly, many of the game's claims are somewhat false, or at least incredibly misleading. Loading times were meant to be shortened; the original, especially the Xbox version, had some hefty load times between areas and cutting them down would certainly make the adventure feel more seamless. In reality, they seem no shorter in the Anniversary edition that they did in the original game. In fact, many loading screens were actually longer than the PC version that was released way back in 2005.

Maze is your tutor through the early stages of the game, acting as the go-to quest-giver.
Maze is your tutor through the early stages of the game, acting as the go-to quest-giver.

The combat has also undergone something of a change. Again, the marketing tag-lines state that this a great thing, as the interface has been "acclimated to fans that loved the play styles of Fable II and Fable III". What this means is that you have the option of forcing Fable 2's control scheme onto the original game. Why you'd want to is anyone's guess, especially since doing so means that certain combat elements, such as casting multiple different spells in the heat of combat, becomes downright impossible. Again, this is something that could have worked but the fact that what you're left with is almost useless control scheme will have you dashing into the options menu in order to switch to the original layout.

This leaves the graphics to be the only actual improvement over the original. It's a nice touch, and it's not just a simple graphical improvement but one that brings the game's aesthetics more in line with the series' sequels, making the entire trilogy feel more cohesive. Not that it manages to completely succeed in this aspect thanks to the many annoying visual hiccups; the most prominent being textures not loading properly.

It goes without saying that all of these problems manage to ruin what could make the game potentially fun to play. Fable never had the most deep combat, with many skills ranging from being useless to game-breakingly overpowered. However, when you can't even enjoy the basic pleasure of casting a fire spell because the game's frame rate will collapse, there's something seriously wrong.

Setting the technical issues aside, how has Fable aged? Overall... not very well. Its story of a boy who grows up to either become a evil-doer or a hero still thinks it's far funnier than it actually is. There's numerous comparisons to Monty Python and Terry Pratchet's Discworld and claims that the game has a truly "British" sense of humour. If by British it means an abundance of fart jokes, annoying accents, and every NPC calling the protagonist Chicken-Chaser then that doesn't bode well for British comedy.

The wide selection of attacking options is still great. It's just a shame that they're poorly balanced.
The wide selection of attacking options is still great. It's just a shame that they're poorly balanced.
Get used to these menu screens, you'll be wading through them for quite a while...
Get used to these menu screens, you'll be wading through them for quite a while...

Likewise, the good/evil morality was all the rage back in the early 2000s, but now Fable's choice to be either good or evil doesn't carry much weight. Again, this is where the writing injures the gameplay. While the game makes a stab at comedy, it also backtracks occasionally and asks us to take a moral decision; requiring is to take the story somewhat seriously. Do we kill someone, or spare them? It's rather awkward to attempt that kind of thing when you've already established that your world is rather silly, you can't have it both ways. In many cases, your choices never seem to have all that much of an impact, either on the story, or on the way you play the game. Sure, some spells are easier for a good character to cast and vice versa, but in many cases the morality system and the actual gameplay fail to connect.

By far the biggest issue that should have been rectified in this overhaul was the menu system. In the original it was a nightmare. Trying to find the sword you wanted to equip amidst the abundance of mushrooms, apples, pork pies, and stolen trousers you'd accrued became a major pain. It's been simplified slightly, with each item being given it's out menu list: spells, weapons, items and so on, but it still results in a ridiculous amount of menu navigation just to do the most basic of things.

The most disappointing thing about Fable Anniversary though is that it's the really devoted fans that'll be the ones to suffer, since they'll want to rush out and buy it. The myriad of technical issues ruin a lot of the enjoyment that you could get from the game, and will likely having you hankering for a standard definition version to play. Lionhead are supposedly working on fixes to a lot of the glitches but the fact that the game was released in the state it is, does leave something of a sour taste in the mouth.

Fable may have not quite been the fantasy RPG that some made it out to be, and since its release it's definitely been eclipsed by more well-rounded role-playing games that make better use of their different features. As a gateway into the genre however, Fable is up there with the best of them, simplifying the genre for the lay-person. It's a shame then, that this anniversary edition fails to do it justice.

Fable Anniversary was released, in the UK, on February 7th for the Xbox 360.

© 2014 LudoLogic

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • LudoLogic profile imageAUTHOR

      LudoLogic 

      4 years ago

      @brutishspoon: Yes, this remake in its current state doesn't paint Fable I in a good light. I'd recommend getting a hold of the PC version: Fable: The Lost Chapters, if you can, to experience the original Fable at its best.

    • LudoLogic profile imageAUTHOR

      LudoLogic 

      4 years ago

      @JohnGreasyGamer: Thanks John, much appreciated. Totally agree with the Skyrim call, it's definitely the game I'd recommend for newcomers to RPGs and captures that sense of epic scale better than most other games.

    • brutishspoon profile image

      Amy 

      4 years ago from Darlington, England

      I got my copy on release day as I have played II and III before but never played the original as I had a PS2 not an XBox at the time. I've always loved RPG's and fell in love with Fable II. I was not that impressed with III and Fable Journey was a waste of code. I had herd that Fable was the game that changed RPG's and was interested in finding out how. However I was disappointed by its dark graphics, there are times I cannot even see what is going on on screen and I end up dying.

    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 

      4 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      Brilliant review, LudoLogic. It's a shame this 'remake is so bad and I want to believe otherwise because Fable is one of my first RPG experiences long ago. I thought it was ahead of its time with housing, relationships, morality, dynamic combat and some really funny dialogue (this is one of the few games that hits the silliness chord perfectly in my opinion). But is this game enough for this day and age, even if it is simple for newcomers to the RPG genre? Nope. I would strongly recommend Skyrim for those who want a fairly easy to pick up and play RPG literally bursting with content, plus its community is so large you'll have trouble avoiding all the help that's available.

      As always you get a Useful, an Awesome and an Interest, with a big dollop of upvote. Keep up the good work! ^^

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)