I finally managed to play the first game in the Fable series in its updated version Fable Anniversary. It’s exactly what I hoped it would be – a fun fantasy game with a witty sense of humour and an overall prettily designed Albion. It still feels like it hasn’t quite reached its full potential, but in a way that is what the sequels do, so there is no need to complain at all 🙂
You start as a young boy and it’s your sister’s birthday. Your father sends you to get a present for her. But when you go to her to give it to her everything goes wrong – your peaceful village Oakvale is ambushed by bandits. Your father is killed and your mother and sister abducted. You however are saved by a mysterious man with magical powers who takes you to the Heroes’ Guild and gives you the opportunity to train to become strong and in time take revenge.
All in all Fable Anniversary has a very strong storyline, beautifully illustrated by cut scenes. It’s there in Fable II and III as well, but the story in this part makes it very personal as well and I really liked the main antagonist they came up with, Jack of Blades. As usual the voice overs were great and added a great deal to the immersion in the game. However I have to say that some main characters didn’t quite work for me (Whisper, Thunder, Briar Rose), as I somehow never really connected. But that’s okay.
I have one small point of complaint – the controls. I know that every game has a different way of approaching this, but comparing Fable Anniversary to its successors I felt like it had some developing to do. The spell-changing felt quite clunky and I never really got behind how to nicely use the raged weapon. To be honest, that is never my strong point, but I found it even harder in this game. The range of weapons, tools and items was quite limited compared to the other titles as well, but that is not a negative point as such. Despite there being fewer things (I believe), I found the menu harder to navigate as well. Nothing major to spoil the fun, though!
Fable Anniversary sets the tone for the whole series. High Fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously – and that sets the Fable collection apart. They give you a great and touching storyline in that wondrous setting of Albion with lots of magic and swords, but they never lose sight of their very own sense of humour. I loved the fact that I could call my Hero “Arseface” – it’s delightful when people in the game shout it back at you. Also this part seemed particularly fond of epitaphs, as the others as well, actually – basically all gravestones have a cheeky inscription. “Here lies a man once called Ned. Now more properly called dead.” is just one example. The runes for the ancient oracle are of course “Y.M.C.A.” and you won’t be able to stop playing chicken kicking once you’ve started.
I was glad they added The Lost Chapters in this version right away. This final part of the game feels like a proper ending and made the whole narrative come together in my opinion, especially with the choice you are left with at the end… I really enjoyed the final boss fight. While the “original” first one took me 4ish attempts, I first tried this one. It was an awesome and intense battle, but when you stick to your strategy you can win easily. I think that made it work for me – I felt challenged, but I could finally manage to win without panicking – I could finally fight like a Hero 😉
So all in all I would still say Fable II is my favourite, probably closely followed by Fable III and Anniversary. All of them are great Xbox 360 titles and I can completely understand anyone preferring one or the other (especially if Fable I was your very first game). Fable II is vaster and more elaborate than the other two titles I think. But they are all linked by that beautifully witty sense of humour. The series is a very special collection of games and I will definitely be playing all of them again to go back to Albion and relive the wonderful epic stories of the different Heroes.