The lights are on
Score: 5.25 / 10
Xbox Live Arcade
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Release Date: May 2nd, 2012
isn't the first venture by Lionhead Studios to craft an Xbox Live Arcade
title. The previous Fable Pub Games brought early access to a few
mini-games that were genuinely entertaining, while also netting you gold
to carry over for Fable II. Fable Heroes tries the same thing, but
instead of a simple minigame, it is a full fledged 2D side scrolling
beat em up. The result is a game that takes everything that made Fable
so great, and tosses it to the wind for an uninspired, bland adventure.
There Once were some Dolls...
Despite an established lore that is three games
in, Fable Heroes has no real story. There is no dialogue or cinematic
cutscene to introduce anything of importance. You simply pick from one
of four default Heroes and drop into a 2D world. You essentially take of
tour of iconic cities or areas from the Fable universe, hacking your
way through waves of enemies with no real purpose. Fans of Fable will be
quick to recognize the hero doll inspired characters and themes from
the previous games mixed into this title, but there is little reason
behind all the adorable bloodshed.
Visually the overall detail of character models and environments
falls short, but the toy influenced ambiance works well
for the game. Cartoonish figures explode into coins and Hobbes with
Santa hats blatantly charge toward your swings. The generally childlike
style melds with the upbeat soundtrack, giving off a Saturday morning
cartoon feel. Oddly absent is the renown villager humor that makes Fable
so entertaining, and I found myself yearning for the classic one-liners
of a garden gnome.
Fable: Heroes is simple to pick up and even
simpler to master. Like all classic side scrollers, you navigate a map
from stage to stage, making your through waves of mobs to your goal.
There is one button for a regular attack, one for a flurry or charged
attack for increased damage, and one area attack at the expense of a
sliver off your health. Depending on your character your base attacks could be ranged or melee distance, as magic users and pistols are best utilized from afar. If you've ever even glanced at a side scrolling
beat em up, you will quickly get the hang of things.
Enemies range from the notorious Hobbes, to Balverines, and even
Hollowmen...but each one acts exactly like its predecessor. A wave will
spawn, charge toward you, die, and then spawn again. There is no real
tactical approach besides gauging how much health you have available for
an area attack, as dodging completely nullifies any damage that can
come your way. After leveling up and bringing a few friends along, even
on the hardest difficulty Fable: Heroes is laughably easy. Especially since death only results in your ghost still being able to attack, but unable to pick up coins.
In each level you collect large sums of currency which add up to
rolls. These are carried over to "leveling" your character. You roll
dice, which can land on a square that pertains to either combat,
specific enemy types, or a rate on how much currency you gain from
killing monsters. You can purchase one ability per turn and have the
potential to teleport around to different squares or save your turn for
later. It's an interesting way to level up, but can be irritating when you are missing one upgrade but cannot land on the desired space.
Fable was all about choice, and Fable: Heroes
somehow manages to utilize it in the worst manner possible. Near the end
of each stage you are given a choice to travel one of two paths. One
will always lead to a boss fight...which is basically a good 4 minutes
of you hitting, dodging, and hitting again. The bosses do not ever
change pattern, as they always telegraph their moves, spawn minions, and smash
The other option is always a minigame, and even these prove bland
and uninspiring. Most involve either mashing a button continuously or
running around in an arena trying not to die...which turns out to be
easier than it sounds. I never thought I would actually miss the job
minigames from Fable III, but I would much rather have a pint pouring
contest than suffer through kicking chickens into a goal.
The other big element of Fable was morality, which again proves
pointless. You will find chests marked with a good or evil sign that can
have a positive or negative effect on a random team member that wears
off after a minute. That satisfaction of crafting a hero as a noble warrior or heartless vigilante are all but a distant memory.
Tag Team, Back Again
The friendly AI in the game border somewhere between completely idiotic
and blatant jerks as they run gleefully into a boss's attack or steal
all the health and gold they can find while you fend off the never ending hordes. If you are going in solo, expect to carry most of your team to the finish line, even if they are maxed out in their abilities.
Needless to say, Fable: Heroes is a better experience with three fellow
human counterparts, and luckily the game does offer drop in/drop out
local multiplayer in addition to an Xbox Live option. Though the hosted
sessions can be fairly laggy depending on the game, you'll be glad to
have someone competent at your side. Unfortunately the human competition also means less coins and dice rolls to level up your AI team.
There is a harder difficulty, stage medals with leaderboards, and
"Dark Albion" feature that makes the few levels offered a bit more
challenging, but it's not enough to save Fable: Heroes. The boring
gameplay and uninspiring level design makes the game tolerable at best
for even the most diehard of Fable fans. If anything I found myself
wanting to play Fable III so I could remember what fun I actually had
with the franchise. A few years ago this could have been a decent
spinoff but compared to the other games out there...these are the lamest