The action takes place over a meager several levels featuring locations from the series such as Millfields Town, Gravestone and Hobbe Cave. Each level is played in time-honored brawler fashion, kill all the enemies in each section before being allowed to move on to the next. At the midway point your players get an opportunity for a break with a Street Fighter II style ‘break the themed object’ for rewards, it is fairly fun and a good opportunity to argue over who stole the most coins. Towards the end of each level you come across a signpost which offers the choice of a boss fight or a mini-game.
The boss fights are essentially the same as each other, the majority stand towards the back of the area and perform fairly basic patterned attacks. I would have liked to have seen some more variety, boss fights should be extravagant and exciting, not a chore! The mini-games are slightly more varied with basic racing games involving pressing correct button sequences and a game of chicken football. The mini games are quite fun with a few friends but don’t expect to get more than thirty minutes replay out of them.
There are several puppets to choose from, split in two classes, mêlée or ranged attacks. The Hero for example wields a sword for close range damage, while Reaver carries a gun and performs long range. As seen in the Fable series, combat is a simple affair with a simple two button main attack which uses different strengths, a third special causes area damage but uses one of your health hearts. Combat works well enough but you can easily lose sight of your character in combat and find you are not even facing the enemy when the action clears up.
Using the coins collected from dead enemies and barrels, you can choose to spend them on upgrading your character via a board game. At the end of each level you visit the board game and can roll the dice to find out which tile you land on. Each tile represents an area of your character to improve on, for example their attack and defense skills, special attacks or damage against specific enemies and unlocking new characters or weapons. It sounds fun, and initially is, but as you progress through the game you start to find that you have less to unlock and it can take forever to land on a tile that you want. It is frustrating, though to be honest by this stage you won’t be bothered as your character will probably be powerful enough to deal with any enemies.
Playing the offline mode brings a few of its own problems, mainly the CPU AI, which seems like the rest of your team of puppets are along for the ride. They will often get stuck in scenery or take their time to catch up with you. They are not active enough when collecting coins, and it seems they are allergic to chests so these are always left to yourself to open.
The multiplayer mode solves the above issues but introduces some very poor camera angles. If the other players move too far out of the screen then the action follows them and your player is left out of the screen. You can enable a marker via the options screen but this only serves as an indicator and won’t help you navigate scenery. The worst example can be found in the boat race mini game, you must press the correct sequence of buttons to make your boat go faster, if you are too slow then you leave the screen and are unable to see which buttons you need to press!
Graphically the game fares well. I liked the distinct designs of the levels, especially the Dark Albion versions of them which you unlock after completing the game. The Dark Albion levels are reskinned levels, the Aurora desert transforms in to a lush forest for example. The music choice works well and accompanies the theme of the level, Christmas style music for the snowy wastes and so on. Sound effects are somewhat lacking, I would have liked to have heard more apart from the sounds of battle, maybe some voice over work which the Fable series is famous for.
Fable Heroes is a tricky game to summarise. The game is average if you are playing offline by yourself, but improves to an extent if you play online, the camera angles do cause a lot of frustration though. My main concern is the length of the game, you can breeze through it in a couple of hours and for the price of 800 :MSPoints: I feel that there is not enough when compared to other games at this price, it just misses the mark. I would definitely recommend at least playing the demo as it shows what to expect. While the game lasts it is good fun, enough to see off a rainy Sunday afternoon with the family or friends.
A short game taking only a couple of hours to complete, fun while it lasts. Poor camera angles in multiplayer are frustrating.
Each location has a distinct theme which looks good, especially the Dark Albion version of them.
The music for each location works well with the theme. But no voice over work!