The bad news is that most people will be a little tired with Fable Heroes by that point. In fact, there’s a chance that you might be sick of it. Don’t get us wrong: Fable Heroes is fun for a while. It’s very easy to pick up and play, and a little of the Fable feel comes through in the locations, the eccentric collection of non-standard monsters and the use of good and evil chests, the one delivering a perk to a random hero, the other delivering a nastier surprise. Some of the mini games are fun, with monster-bashing challenges and races that will have you hammering the buttons Track and Field-style. Most of all, it’s a game that thrives in multiplayer, with that classic mix of cooperation and competition as you scramble for gold or chuckle evilly as your friend/rival gets hit by the Small Hero power-down in the middle of a battle. It’s even better if those other players are kids, and it works best as a family game.
But Fable Heroes is undeniably slight. The combat lacks interest. The boss battles are tedious. The upgrades aren’t exciting enough to keep you playing long-term. There are none of the fun cooperative puzzles that make a Lego Pirates of the Caribbean or Disney Universe so entertaining, and no features that really encourage cooperative play. Arguably the most interesting thing about Fable Heroes is that loot can be transferred to the Kinect-ready Fable: The Journey when that launches, and that certain characters can only be unlocked through playing that game. The more time you put into Fable Heroes – and we’re talking minutes rather than hours – the more it all starts to get slightly dull.
Now, we can forgive this a little when the game costs just 800 MS Points (or around £7) but the problem Lionhead faces here is that we’re getting spoilt by Xbox Live Arcade. 800 MS Points can also buy you Fez - one of the year’s most startling and imaginative games - or The Splatters, or two episodes of The Walking Dead. Whack the budget up to 1200 MS Points (or roughly £10) and you’re looking at Trials Evolution or Alan Wake: American Nightmare. Any of these choices will give you more entertainment than Fable Heroes. This is a shame, because there are some nice ideas here and there’s no reason why a family-friendly hack-and-slash RPG shouldn’t work. As it is, though, Fable Heroes is a bit of a disappointment: a game that eventually feels about 50 per cent less brilliant than it looks.
Fun in the short-term but ultimately forgettable. Play it with friends or younger family members and you’re in for a couple of hours of cartoon hack-and-slash entertainment, but there’s just not enough meat in the gameplay to hold your interest for long.