|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Lionhead Studios|
|Release: May 2, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Fantasy Violence|
The strangest thing about Fable Heroes, to me, is that a series founded on the premise of freedom, of being able to define one's own experience through the course of a grand fantasy adventure, has given birth to a stunted, would-be party game such as this in the downloadable sector.
That isn't to say that even the Fable games under Molyneux had a particularly good history—Pub Games was pretty atrocious, feeding on the hype surrounding the second Fable to get people interested—but this seems like a real project, like it really wanted to be something interesting and enjoyable. While there are some good concepts here, and each level does branch at the end, either into a minigame or a boss battle (either of which is unlocked on the map upon completion), it feels overly rigid and barren. Its content demands replay if one actually desires completion, since its score requirements for level grades are impossible to achieve without gold-gathering upgrades and the levels must all be replayed at least once if one wishes to see every boss battle and minigame. (Though, the minigames aren't generally worth it, extremely simplistic and rough around the edges. That said, the game does not tell you which path, at level's end, leads to a boss and which leads to a minigame, so you'll probably have to replay at least a few.)
And, in general, a lack of polish is the takeaway here. It's probably best illustrated in the Gravestone level, in which my co-op buddy and I played through and found the end-level minigame to be an endless survival challenge; last player standing won the top prize (all of the minigames were competitive in the manner, and gold collected during a level is not shared, much like rupees in the Four Swords Zelda spin-offs). After our A.I. partners were knocked out, we spent almost four minutes of dreadful monotony slaying pumpkin-headed Hollow Men until, finally, one of us decided to commit suicide against an exploding pumpkin head. A game should have compelling enough gameplay that a standoff is tense and enjoyable, not dull and monotonous to the point of drudgery.
Date: May 1, 2012