It has been 10 years since we first traveled to the kingdom of Albion on the original Xbox console. Now, Fable Anniversary takes us back there on the Xbox 360, with HD graphics, a new save system, and perhaps most important of all – achievements. Fans of the action RPG would be glad to know that beneath the new coat of paint the game retains a lot of its original charm, with every new addition doing just that – adding to the overall experience. Fable Anniversary also presents a great opportunity to see where this famous and notorious series started, in case you weren’t around when Microsoft’s first console launched.

If you happen to be one of those people who never played the original, here is a short summery for you: when Fable begins, you are a young boy living with his family in the small village of Oakvale. After a charming tutorial and one very traumatic event, you become a Hero, tasked with one, not-so-simple mission – either save or destroy the world. From there on, it is up to you to choose your path in life: to be a hero to the people of Albion, or an evil bully. Your journey will force you to face your past and discover the roots for your heroic powers, as well as determine the fate of the entire world.

Being an action RPG, Fable puts great emphasis on combat. The Hero is trained in all sorts of weapons, both melee and ranged, and also in the art of magic (or “will” as the game calls it). Each of these weapon types has its own skill tree with its own experience bar. So killing enemies with a sword grants XP towards the Strength tree, bow kills grant more Skill XP, and magic use provides Will XP. There are also neutral experience points you can use as a supplement for any of the dedicated ones; you get those by doing pretty much anything, including defeating enemies and completing quests. Basically, the way you play and do combat has a direct effect on how your character improves. If you never use magic, don’t expect to be able to cast powerful spells towards the end of the game.

The way you fight also has an impact on the way you control your character. Fable Anniversary features two different control schemes – one reminiscent of that in the first Fable, and one from Fable 2 and 3. Naturally, players will drift towards the scheme they are used to from the previous games they played, but new players might need to experiment a bit before deciding with which one to stick. Generally speaking, the newer control scheme, the one from the Xbox 360 games, is much more suited to players who play as fighters, since you can attack quickly with just a push of a button. Magic users, however, will probably find the classic scheme more comfortable as it allows for the creation of multiple spell sets for quick use. Either way, it’s possible to switch between the two schemes pretty much on the fly.

Apart from this new combat system, the new Fable introduces other improvements; the most obvious are the new HD graphics. While the game doesn’t look like anything that was released in the last two or three years, the graphics are indeed a big improvement over the textures and character models we had in 2004. Fable’s unique visual style is preserved, so characters and monsters still look like oversized cartoons, but now they look more rounded and smoother than before. The game’s sound remains unchanged, as far as the human ear can detect. The ridiculous voice acting, with its various accents, is very much present, and the bland background music is still as bland as ever.

Alongside all of the original content from the first game, Fable Anniversary also comes with The Lost Chapters, a sort of DLC for the original Fable, making it the “complete Fable experience”. The Lost Chapters include more quests, characters, items, areas and other fixes and tweaks. This may not seem like much, but it means Fable fans that never got to try the DLC two generations ago might consider giving it a go this time around.

Fable Anniversary is still every bit as fun as the original Fable was back in 2004. It’s clear that this action RPG holds up after all these years. The HD graphics would probably help modern day gamers warm up to this (frankly) ancient game a little faster, and once they do, they’ll realize just how rewarding it can be. True, the meager improvements don’t really justify getting this new edition if you have already played the game before, but the fact it’s out on a new console might just be enough to add it to your collection. All I can really say is that after ten years – it’s good to be back.

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