By Hadyn Green
Remember 2004? Facebook launched, the Athens Olympics opened, George W Bush gained his second term in office, and Franz Ferdinand's 'Take Me Out' was top of the Triple J charts... in the middle of all of that, Fable hit retail.
Now, ten years in the future, Fable Anniversary has been released, and the question has to be asked - why? Replaying Fable on the Xbox 360 reminds you how much the original was innovative and at the same time, how far games have come since.
Your hero's appearance and experience is altered by his choices, an idea that designer Peter Molyneux loves. Since Fable, this mechanic has shown up in literally hundreds of RPGs. What Fable didn't have back in 2004 was any ability to change your character yourself. In-game, you can find new hair and beard options and some tattoos, but really that's it. It's funny that we now expect a character creation screen.
I also wasn't aware that there was a huge following for Fable, craving to see it on a newer (but not the newest) console. Having missed the first one and only played the second, all I had heard about Fable was that it hadn't reached the heights that Molyneux had promised.
Playing it now, I see how I would have loved it... ten years ago. Now it feels lacking.
Even with The Lost Chapters extras and the new SmartGlass companion app (with its unreadable map), Fable Anniversary feels like a ten year old game. It's nothing amazing - more of a look back at what we used to play.
For those who have never played Fable, you take the role of a young boy, the sole survivor of your village. You'll be trained and sent into the world, learning secrets about your true calling. Fable wasn't the first third-person, epic RPG, but its story still stands up today in a world of Mass Effects. Combat is real time and pretty simple.
Each bad guy you defeat drops XP in the form of glowing balls that you'll need to collect. You can choose to upgrade your hero in various ways that boil down to fighter, archer, or spellcaster types. You can mix these up a little to create your own character over the course of the game.
While the game falls short of Molyneaux's grand vision (a real life inside of a role-playing game), it does allow for you to do a lot of things that other games don't. You can get married, buy a house, and do things like fart, belch, and kosack dance to change how NPCs react to you. When they do react though the conversation is one-sided as your character has no voice. It happens in many RPGs and it always bugs me.
If you want to relive the experience you loved ten years ago, get this game, but prepare to feel that crushing weight of nostalgia. If you've never played Fable, then playing it now is going to be an odd experience. The story is still compelling but you may feel confused, as I did, about why the game was considered so amazing at the time. Sort of like looking back and wondering how the hell Shrek 2 could be the highest grossing film of 2004.
As a side note, Star Wars Battlefront was also released in 2004, can we have an HD re-release of that, please?
:: Publisher: Microsoft
:: Developer: Lionhead Studios
:: Format: Xbox 360
:: Rating: M