Fable Heroes Review (XBLA)

When talking about spin-offs, be it games, television or movies, it’s usually a love it or hate it situation. There are those that believe spin-offs in total are a bad idea, but there have been a small number of successes. Despite this track record, I was keen to play Fable Heroes, which is a break away game from the famous Fable franchise.

The spin-off developed by Lionhead is set in the same world of Albion, but on a smaller scale than it’s big siblings. The 3D world is portrayed in a cartoon like style with characters that resemble puppets. I’m not sure if the intention was to make these puppet characters cute and cuddly, but thats what they look like. There is a certain amount of customisation available as well as the ability to change their facial expressions. However I can’t help but smile when I see them running around, even if they look angry, kind of like when my 6 year old daughter gets angry.

With Fable Heroes you can have up to four players, either fighting as a team or competing against each other. This can be with friends in the comfort of your own home or online. If you are a Billy-no-mates however, don’t worry as the other three characters will be controlled by the computer, although there are certain aspects like upgrades that you will need to organize for your fellow troops but more on that later.

After you have selected your character you are taken to the world map that consists of various regions linked by tiles. As you progress you move along the tiles to the next region. There are also points along each level when you need to choose which path you want to take.

The game itself follows a fairly predictable format – you and your intrepid band follow the path until you are intercepted by the bad guys, who mostly pop up out of the ground and descend upon you. You then embark on an epic battle not seen since, well the last one. Your fellow characters will fight beside you to defeat your enemy but they will also want to collect all the gold coins that appear, but more on this later as well. The rest of the level and indeed the subsequent levels are kind of rinse and repeat. At the end of the level you encounter a big boss, which again has a repeated scenario. This is the dissapointing thing for me, the game could have been so much better had they mixed things up a bit for each level. The predictability makes Fable Heroes a rather dull game which is such a shame because I really wanted to like it.

At the end of each level the total amount of coins collected by each team member is shown and the top three take their place on the podium. This is why there is such a scramble for those coins along the way. The puppet in first place gets two throws of the dice in the upgrades game board – which reminded me a little of Monopoly for some reason. Anyway, you take turns to throw the dice and you land on a specific upgrade. You can then scroll through and select the upgrade that you can afford. Here you will also need to throw for each of the computer controlled characters and buy their upgrades. This is a bit hit-and-miss for me as you can easily land on an area you don’t want or need or simply not be able to afford. You then have to wait until the end of the next level to try again, which can be frustrating , especially as the game progresses.

Graphic wise this game is smooth and the cartoon style is appealing, but it doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before, and there are Xbox LIVE games with better graphics than this, although it is by no means the worst.
The gameplay is smooth but again a little predictable, there are a few basic moves that if combined will almost certainly keep you out of trouble. But then again, if you do lose all your lives, the consequences aren’t exactly what you would expect. In essence you become a ghost and are no longer able to pick up those precious coins, well at least until you pick up another life. But you are still able to fight and kill the enemy, which really, for me cheapens the experience. This is especially true when it comes to the big bosses as you can just carry on swiping at them until they die with no real consiquence to you.

Overall I was dissapointed with Fable Heroes, It had a lot of potential and could easily have been a very good game. The sword fighting and enemy slaying is good fun at first, but you soon long for a change, for something that keeps you on your toes. Unfortunately, Fable Heroes doesn’t do that and as I said earlier, that is such a shame.

Fable Heroes is now available to download on the Xbox LIVE Arcade.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

About the Author

I'm based in the UK and I have been writing about games for quite a while now. I like most types of game which helps, but I especially love management games.