Fable: The Journey Xbox 360 Kinect
Xbox 360 Kinect
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Released on 12-Oct-2012
Fable: The Journey is inspired by the action-packed and critically acclaimed “Fable” franchise that has captivated audiences worldwide since 2004 and sold more than 10 million copies.
Fable: The Journey includes the following:
- A captivating narrative. “Fable: The Journey” immerses you in a role-playing experience like never before with a deep storyline and a slew of compelling characters and creatures. In this action-packed adventure you’ll develop a lasting bond with your horse through an emotion-filled journey that will uncover the mystery behind Theresa, who has appeared in all previous games in the franchise.
- Heart-pounding action. Thanks to the controller-free experience of Kinect, you’ll be able to quickly wield magic in ways you never dreamed possible. Use your power to create deadly weapons to obliterate your enemies, leverage spells to slow your enemies’ attacks, or heal your beloved horse with the power of your hands. Pick up the virtual reigns and race against the clock in your horse and carriage, battle your way through a barrage of enemies and attacks, and collect items throughout your journey to improve your skills and power.
- An all-new Albion. Built on the Unreal Engine 3, “Fable: The Journey” breathes new life into the world of Albion with stunning graphics and vivid detail. Explore uncharted realms and learn more about the history of Albion along your way.
And so another year gallops to a close, thundering through the ribbon into January on a wave of good cheer and over-eating. And what a cracker of a year it's been for gaming, with all the major platforms delivering some absolutely stonking exclusives along with some truly spectacular blockbusters spread across all formats, like warm butter on the crumpet you're hopefully eating right now to ward off the December chills.
For Xbox 360 owners, it's been the year in which Master Chief finally returned to the gaming stage. Absent for five years - an eternity in games terms - his triumphant return in Halo 4 not only kickstarted the new Reclaimer Trilogy, but also introduced new developer 343 Studios to the series. 343 immediately put its stamp on Bungie's universe, crafting a game with sumptuous visuals and a distinctly personal spin on storytelling, as Chief battles not just to save the galaxy, but his AI companion Cortana, whose code is deteriorating. Add in an exhaustive suite of multiplayer modes, a full co-op campaign, and the ongoing Spartan Ops bonus missions and you've got one of the best games of the series, and of this year.
Halo wasn't the only Microsoft legend getting a makeover in 2012. Forza Horizon took the imposing racing simulation and gave it a funky mainstream twist, combining developer Turn 10's impeccable vehicle physics with an open world underground racing vibe. Everything from drift racing to hardcore rallying is covered as you roar around a virtual Colorado racing festival, looking for events and opportunities to show off your talent behind the wheel.
The wonderful land of Albion also showed off a new perspective in Fable: The Journey. This Kinect-fuelled spin-off from the superb RPG series puts you right into the action as a young boy, separated from his tribe and forced to travel across this magical land alone as dark forces gather against him. Using precision motion control, you steer your wagon, fire off spells and even look after your loyal horse. It's an unusual game, offering an experience far removed from the other Fable titles, yet it's also one of the best Kinect games. Immersive and packed with genuine challenge, it's a good sign that motion gaming doesn't have to just mean simple mini-games for little kids.
Definitely not suitable for little kids was The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Previously a well-deserved smash hit on the PC, the game crossed over to consoles exclusively for Xbox 360. This was no mere half-hearted port either. Czech developer CD Projekt went out of its way to recreate the game specifically for a console audience, adding four hours of fresh questing content, as well as new cinematics. The result was one of the best role-playing games, not just of 2012, but of all time. A thorny, challenging adventure set in a bawdy, complex world torn apart by racism, political strife and class war.
On the digital frontline, the Xbox continued to thrill. World conquering epic Minecraft came to consoles just for the 360, allowing a whole new audience to experience the genius of Mojang's communal block bashing and building. No surprise that it quickly became one of the most popular online games, challenging even the heavyweight shooters. Indie hit Fez got critics hot under the collar too with its mind-bending puzzle platforming action, and knockabout motocross romp Trials Evolution offered gamers the chance to punish their ragdoll rider in the year's biggest highs and most hilarious fails.
Xbox owners weren't left out when it came to multi-format releases either. The brilliant Borderlands 2, with its lunatic mix of co-op action and loot-swapping mayhem, is what your Xbox LIVE Friends List was invented for, while the online action of hits such as FIFA 13 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted made the most of Microsoft's ever-evolving digital community. Even the biggest game of the year had something extra special for Xbox players, as Activision announced that all the DLC maps for Call of Duty: Black Ops II will be exclusive to Xbox 360 for a limited time.
And that's just this year. Where will Xbox be in another twelve months? Will there be a new console to save up for? How long will we have to wait for Halo 5? And what will developers do next with the controller-free Kinect? One thing's for sure, it's going to be an amazing ride finding out.
Set 50 years after Fable 3, Fable: The Journey offers a completely new way to experience developer Lionhead's long-running role-playing series. For a start it has been built from the ground up exclusively for Kinect, meaning you can't play it with a regular controller, although you can sit down while using its motion controls if you wish.
It also ditches many of the series' traditional moral choices and mature moments in favour of a more accessible take on the fantasy world of Albion. Presented from a first person perspective, it's an on-rails cart-and-magic escapade that often resembles a theme ride version of the Fable universe, complete with a mine cart section.
You play as Gabriel, a young man separated from his tribe by a series of catastrophic events. While trying to relocate his convoy, Gabriel rescues Theresa (who has a recurring role in Fable games as a guide to the hero) from a black formless evil called the Corruption, but in doing so his trusty steed Seren suffers near-fatal wounds.
Theresa guides them to a sacred temple to heal the horse, where Gabriel acquires a pair of powerful gauntlets that allow him to cast spells and grapple enemies. He may never have dreamt of wielding great power, but it's now down to Gabriel to fulfil his true destiny and save Albion from the all-consuming Corruption.
Horseplay / Horsing Around
The gameplay is split between cart riding and on-foot magic sections. The former sees you trotting through a series of gorgeously crafted locations - from mountain roads to forests, fortresses, caverns and swamps, the most recognisable Fable trait in this spin-off is the distinctive world of Albion, which has never looked as beautiful.
The motion controls are intuitive, with flicks of your horse's reins controlling its pace, which is tied to a stamina bar, while you haul back with your left or right hand to steer your cart. It's a largely sedate experience in which you journey along a predefined path, occasionally stopping to converse with people or take in the lovely scenery.
There's no real scope for exploration, although your path will occasionally branch and there are collectible skill orbs which count towards spell upgrades to locate. There are also some natural dangers to swerve around and enemies to outrun or repel with magic, but most of the action takes place on-foot.
Live Action Role Playing
In these sections you can use the powers of Push (thrust your left arm forward to fling objects and enemies), Bolt (thrust your right arm outwards to fire missiles), After-touch (redirect Bolts in mid-air) and Shield, which block projectiles and rebounds attacks when you hold a hand across your chest.
The motion controls are smartly designed and tightly implemented, and as the game progresses your primary bolt attack is supplemented by other spells, including the ability to unleash fireballs and crystal spears, introducing a layer of strategy as you're challenged to identify the best way to target your opponent's weaknesses.
At their best these spell-casting combat sections offer some thrilling set-pieces that act as a great counterbalance to the more relaxed cart riding. Magic wielding can feel fluid and genuinely rewarding, particularly once you start stringing attacks and defensive moves together in dual-handed synchronisation.
Fable: The Journey is the best example yet of Kinect's ability to immerse players in a universe, although there were a few moments when the game had difficulty tracking us properly, and we wonder if the experience would have been equally fun - and probably more accurate - played with a regular controller.
Ultimately Fable: The Journey is a fairly simple on-rails action game which offers fresh ways to interact with the series, as well as the most beautiful depiction of Albion yet. It's a great entry point for series newcomers, and if current fans can overlook its limitations it's a decent enough excuse to get re-immersed in Fable's charming world.
- One of the best motion control games.
- The world looks gorgeous.
- Nice balance between blasting enemies and cart riding.
- Fable fans will need to adjust to the on-rails gameplay.
- Kinect still doesn't work 100% of the time.
- Might have been even better with a controller.
Developed by series creator Lionhead, Fable: The Journey is an action role-playing Fable game - but not as we know it in the open world sense. There are plenty of familiar elements such as spells and moral predicaments as you develop a protagonist in the fantasy nation of Albion, but the title has been built from the ground up for Kinect and its motion control nature dramatically impacts the gameplay.
In the place of the open world freedom older Fables afford, The Journey offers a combination of more tightly controlled horse-drawn exploration and on-foot action. To series veterans this reworking of the structure will take plenty of adjustment, as the inability to freely explore the gorgeous world is initially a little frustrating.
Set 50 years after the events of Fable III, you take control of Gabriel, a young member of the roving Dweller tribe. As the game begins the Dwellers are making their way to Albion's capital Bowerstone, but Gabriel gets separated from his convoy by a mysterious lightning storm which forces him to take the long way round via mountain roads, forests, caverns and swamps.
On his journey he has a fateful encounter with Theresa, who has served as a guide to the protagonist as well as the custodian of the Fable narrative since the original game. Theresa has been wounded by a formless evil called The Corruption which is threatening to take over Albion, and Gabriel must take her to a magical tower called the Tattered Spire to restore her power.
The game can be played in its entirety whilst seated, and much of what has been shown off to date takes place on horseback. The horse's reins are flicked using a motion similar to shaking out a towel, which coaxes the animal into a trot. Another flick prompts a gallop and a further one a five-second speed boost which eats into your horse's stamina bar, while you haul back with your left or right hand to steer.
It's simple, responsive and satisfying, but there's a concern that the horseback sections could grow monotonous after a few hours. With this in mind, Lionhead is endeavouring to create a world in which every corner brings something interesting into view. There are people to converse with, enemies to outrun or repel with magic, natural dangers to avoid, and skill orbs to collect which count towards upgrades.
You'll sometimes leave your wagon armed with a fistful of magic to brave danger-filled dungeons, where caves play home to angry crabs, giant trolls and other enemies. Like the horseback sections the on-foot combat ones are on rails, meaning that while sometimes you can choose which path to follow you're then unable to deviate from a predetermined route and events.
The on-foot gameplay is more challenging than cart-driving but still highly accessible as the motion controls are extremely well designed. The basic goal of combat encounters is to stop enemies reaching the foreground of the screen. To do so you'll use a combination of spells like Push (thrust your left arm forward to fling objects and enemies) and Bolt (thrust forward your right arm to unleash missiles). You can also deploy a shield by raising a hand to your chest, which can be used to block projectiles and rebound attacks.
There's no denying that The Journey is out of tune with prior games in the series, but once you look beyond the shackles Kinect places on exploration and embrace it for what it is, you'll likely agree that it has plenty of potential to become a great contribution to the Fable universe. The Journey doesn't put an entire world in your hands, but it looks set to be a highly accessible title that proves Kinect can play host to accomplished combat and engaging story-driven gameplay in a charming yet simultaneously threatening and mysterious world.
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