Reviews// Fable the Journey

Posted 16 Oct 2012 16:54 by
There's one thing we can all agree on. If we were in a room with Peter Molyneux's Kinect frontman Milo we'd all smash his stupid little face in.

He represented hope for a new way to interact with video games. But behind his childish, dead eyes was a skull of lies and false promises. Yes, Kinect seemed like real innovation but has turned out to be nothing more than a new way to dance and get fit.

So, it's at least refreshing to see Fable: The Journey try to be more than that. It tries to take the original concept of Kinect and turn it into a reality. In some way it succeeds, but more than anything it serves only to highlight the limitations of the doomed peripheral.

The Journey
Fable: The Journey sees you take control of lazy sod Gabriel. After falling asleep while riding with his tribe he wakes up alone just as the The Corruption - a sort of dark lava of death ? devastates the land of Albion.

Gabriel must grow a pair and, along with Fable favourite Theresa and your beloved horse, Seren, he must save the world and join the seemingly never-ending list of heroes that Albion has to offer.

Gameplay is split in two. Part of your time is spent in control of Seren. As you ride along in the cart she pulls, you hold the reigns and can steer her from left to right by pulling either arm back towards your body. You can get her to gallop by whipping your arms or slow down and stop by pulling both arms back towards your chest.

At times Seren can be almost impossible to control and she'll take damage through no real fault of your own. She'll also spend a lot of time hugging outside walls on corners, like a five year-old nephew playing Ridge Racer.

The game also actively encourages you not to bother during parts of your journey as Seren can just steer herself. Although a bit of a cop out, it does let you rest your arms when they get tired.

However, when it works it feels great. Cracking the reigns is as satisfying as you can imagine and for the few moments the steering seems to work it certainly gives off the impression that you are guiding a horse from a cart, though granted that isn't the most exciting of things to do in a videogame.

When on foot you control Gabriel's magical powers and this is where the game gets fun. It's limited ? think Time Crisis with magic ? but once you start to get used to the motion controls it's a blast. With your right hand you control Gabriel's bolt attack, firing orbs of power towards enemies that can be later curved with an 'after-touch' motion. Your left arm is used for counter blocks and a spell that mimics the whip from Bulletstorm.

One flick of your left arm and you'll lasso onto an enemy or piece of environment. You can then fling the object or enemy to either inflict damage or stun. Coupled with your right hand attack you can really mix things up. Flinging bad guys from bridges while shooting another, for example, feels as powerful as it sounds.

The combat certainly works better than the horse steering but there are still moments where Kinect detaches you from the experience, removing that feeling of being a powerful magician and reminding you that you're just a nerd in your front room waving your hands in front of a telly.

And that's the problem with Kinect. It's just not accurate enough. Aiming your attacks can be really hit and miss and that's after and extensive calibration set up. There are times where you're asked to open a door or whip some scenery in order to move on with the game, but when Kinect doesn't pick up on what you're trying to do it's simply frustrating.
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