Release Date: May 2nd, 2012
Developer: LionHead Studios
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: [Reviewed: Xbox 360]
Rated: E +10
Not sure if I’m the only one who thinks this, but Fable Heroes is straight proof that LionHead looks to cash out on the Fable franchise. In what otherwise has only a little to compare with its big brother titles, Fable Heroes delivers itself as a slightly above average multiplayer hack and slasher.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Fable Heroes is a good party game which I would definitely recommend playing this strictly for its multi-player value; however. I did not have such a luxury while reviewing it early. I met one person other then myself playing so I have yet to experience a real group “raiding” in Fable Heroes. The AI is pretty dumb at times, so for certain, a few humans players would make it an even better time had.
While on the game’s fundamentals, let’s talk about the art style. This game makes use of the ever popular cell-shading. It’s not done in an extreme nature, but done so with just the right touch. Graphics are what you would expect in an arcade title. Character selection seems to be pretty decent as well. You start off with four main heroes and are allowed to unlock new ones as you progress in the game. The abilities of the heroes will differ with each character. Some are range based while others are suited for close quarters combat. There are even a few characters who can do both ranged and close quarters attacks!
Controls are pretty simple, if not too simple. Various buttons will allow you to do things from quick attacks, flourish attacks, special attacks, and even change your facial expression or allow you to dodge enemies. One can’t help but feel like the flourish attack was a waste. It takes too long to charge up and the damage given for all the hype and build up just didn’t feel worth it. Fable Heroes felt more of a need for combos in the game as well as providing an alternate attack in place of the flourish ability. Just because flourishing is cannon to the Fable games, doesn’t mean you HAVE to force it in the game, LionHead.
The good old goodies chests make an appearance in this game and some even give you a chance to be naughty or nice. Opening these chests within the environments can grant rewards such as slowing time, donning you with a disguise, making you super fast or even super huge. Be warned, with every good thing comes a price to pay. In as much as you have a chance to collect a reward, you could also be punished by shrinking your hero and even unleashing the wrath of a man eating chest upon you. The variety and surprise displayed by the chest system makes good for combating monoteny in Fable Heroes.
Another cool feature notable to the game is ability to continue playing on, despite dying. When you are struck down in the heat of battle, in other games you would have to wait until either the level was over or a checkpoint had been reached, to spawn back in. When you die in Fable Heroes, you become a ghost. You are still allowed to fight but you cannot collect gold while in a ghost state. The only way to gain your body back is to collect a heart item within the level. Speaking of collecting, money is very important in this game. Don’t stay dead for too long or you will miss out on some huge cash!
Now you may be wondering, “what do I do with all this money you speak of?” Well, that is where the mini-board game comes into play. Based upon how much gold you collected in the previous level, or if you collected a +1 dice roll token, you will be given a certain amount of dice rolls. When you roll the die you will move to the space in which the die directs you. There are several spaces and each grant their own upgrades/rewards, or perhaps will allow you to redirect to a new space of your choice. Within these spaces you can customize your character, unlock characters, increase gold drops, increase weapon damage, increase damage against a certain enemy, etc, etc. The customization and upgrade options have a good amount of depth to them overall. You must simply play the game, in order to advance your characters.
Fable Heroes provides a good variation of maps and even a new “Dark Albion” re-imagining each level you play after beating the regular levels the first time around. There is even a place to transfer gold into “Fable: The Journey” upon its official release and a place to perhaps share a little gold with your buddies. Upon completing a level or the sum of all levels, you can return to them at any time and replay them either solo or with friends. There are a few mini-games that are quite fun such as “Chicken Soccer”, mine-cart/sled racing, and a few others. There also a few bosses in this game that you can choose to go back and fight if perhaps you are feeling the need. As said before, this is a game that best enjoyed with friends. Co-op is a big focus.
Fable Heroes is a pretty pleasing spin-off when you sit down and examine it. It does give that slight “Fable” feel with appropriate settings, the inclusion of will abilities, monsters from the universe, and such. That being said, it is clearly a step in another direction then what Fable is normally known for. Do we recommend this game? Yeah, but only if you have a few friends willing to slap down that 800 MSP too. It will get somewhat tedious if playing alone, so make the most of it and grab a friend!
Overall Rating: 4/5