Fable: The Journey review
Despite selling millions of Kinect sensors worldwide, it could be argued that Microsoft is still as far away as ever from creating the perfect showcase for its controller-less interface. After numerous broken promises and some poor excuses for entertainment software, the final throw of the dice is here in the shape of Fable: The Journey. Does it make up for the terrible Kinect games we’ve been made to suffer so far, or is it merely another crushing disappointment to add to that sorrowful litany? Grab the reins, because we’re about to find out.
Microsoft is clearly taking no chances here, and has given this Kinect title the freedom to explore the boundless world of Albion. Lionhead’s Fable series has been an ever-present franchise since the original Xbox was first conceived and remains one of the format’s key exclusives. Unsurprisingly, the lush and vibrant game world feels suitably ancient and steeped in lore, making for the kind of backdrop that other games designers would kill for.
Fable: The Journey is being promoted as the most graphically impressive entry in the franchise yet, and it’s hard to disagree as you trot past awe-inspiring vistas and take in the impressive sights. The motion-captured characters are also the most expressive in any Fable title, although the script and voice acting can sometimes become a little overbearing.
Most amazingly of all, Fable: The Journey actually boasts gesture-based controls which work – most of the time, anyway. Kinect has always struggled to accurately marry your real-world motions to in-game commands, but here the success rate seems to be much higher than usual. This could be because Microsoft and Lionhead have finally cracked the secret to making the interface work properly, or it could be because the actual set of gestures has been kept deliberately small – and the numerous tutorial screens make it abundantly clear that you must use large, exaggerated movements at all times.
Despite offering one of the most convincing uses of Kinect yet, Fable: The Journey isn’t without its problems. Although it has the hallmarks of an RPG, it’s totally linear – you are forced down a set pathway and cannot turn around or move off in an alternative direction. Optional side quests grant a certain sense of variety, but it’s just an illusion – once they’re complete, you’re back on the path the developers want you to be on.
It also has to be said that while the world of Albion lends the game a grand scale, the use of Fable’s setting isn’t as far-reaching as we’d like. The adult tone that permeates the three main Fable titles is almost entirely absent, replaced instead by a family-friendly fantasy theme which is a lot less interesting. Indeed, at times it feels as if this is a Fable title in name only; there are welcome nods to the storyline of main trilogy, but for the most part, it as if you’re in an entirely different environment altogether.
Finally, the motion controls can grow repetitive. Though casting spells is great fun, the horse-riding segments of the game outstay their welcome, and within the space of an hour you find yourself wondering exactly why you’re putting yourself through this arm-aching punishment.
The bottom line
To say that Fable: The Journey is the best use of Kinect yet is surely to damn the game with faint praise; outside of Rare’s Kinect Sports titles, the motion-controlled platform has failed to find its killer app. Fable: The Journey isn’t it, but it shows promise. Kinect is maturing, and no longer just a platform for stand-up mini games, and we can’t wait to see what action adventures follow.
With some travelling elements that are literally painful, The Journey could have been even better, but as it is you’re looking at a fun way to pass a wet weekend, if not much more.
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- Far Cry 3
- Halo 4