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'Fable Anniversary' - A new facade can't conceal ten year old flaws

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'Fable Anniversary' (Xbox 360)

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To keep the fan's favor in your corner when creating a high definition remake of a title released more than ten years ago it needs to age well. Halo Anniversary managed to do so but likely only because of the gorgeous environments which were vastly overhauled. Wind Waker HD then released hitting the nail on the head, receiving positive reviews across the board. But Fable Anniversary fails to meet either of these marks. It's a struggle at times with aged mechanics, interactions, and dialogue that only serve to remind us of how good Fable was when it launched on the original Xbox.

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The Fable series itself has had its fair share of ups and downs. Each and every title has been susceptible to criticism regarding the direction of the series, and as such it has come to be known for that struggle to find its identity. Fable: The Journey and Fable Heroes certainly weren't any help and returning to a title that was perhaps sturdiest of the entire franchise only brings light to that debate.

It was back in 2004 that we were first introduced to the world of Albion as a young boy, seeking to do his family proud. When your home village is ransacked and overrun, you are one of the few to escape due to the intervention of the Heroes Guild who take you in, train you, and ready your return to the country seeking answers and your destiny.

Most of the content remains untouched including the content from The Lost Chapters expansion, a welcome addition to those who failed to pick it up last time, which is great until you realize how writhingly painful Fable has aged.

In our exclusive interview with Lionhead Studios, the developers talked about overhauling the controller scheme to be more like Fable 2 and less like the original title. One of the few areas that is genuinely on spot doesn't do any good when it comes the wonky camera or the menus that remain a cluttered mess of icons. Full of statistics, inventory, and logs, an interface that may have once invoked a sense of wonder and fascination now only offers frustration.

Interacting with the world through combat and decision making only serve to further your good or evil track in life. It's almost laughable how difficult the combat can be at times due to the lack of evolution. Hitting the left trigger should function as a means to lock on to your target, no? Well it does, but it also enables the attacking of villagers. Any aiming at all immediately endangers everyone around you, civilians included. The combat feels more like a roll of the dice than calculated intent and that's a huge issue when it comes to some of the larger fights. With the possibility of massive 180 degree turns each and every mission that focuses on protecting someone - a common theme among the Heroes Guild quests - and the experience can quickly become frustrating for someone trying to walk a fine line.

Many of the bugs and glitches resulting in freezing and hardware lockups have also made their return. It's hard to believe that in ten years, Lionhead hasn't had the time to reduce the number occurrences to a more acceptable range.

Everything that made the original Fable shine in our minds has been dulled and clouded by our return to Albion. We're sure there was (at least some) good intent in the announcement of the remake but instead it's just reminder that the franchise has failed to cash in on a swath of potential.

The first ten minutes of the title brought us back to the wonder filled days of yesteryear. While we can only continue to hope that the franchise finds it's stride with the upcoming Fable Legends, Fable Anniversary merely serves as yet another misstep.

Pros

  • High definition uncompressed soundtrack.

Cons

  • Crashing and freezing issues.
  • Missed opportunity to fix many other quality of life problems.

A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

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