Fable: The Journey preview (new screens and hands-on)
Microsoft has been showing an extensive playable version of Fable: The Journey behind closed doors at E3 2012 and Pocket-lint has now had a hands-on with a couple of levels that we haven't seen before... Literally.
Purely a Kinect title, this new chapter dispenses with the role-playing mechanics of former games in the franchise and focuses strictly on action adventure. Its adoption of the Unreal Engine to run the show graphically is testament to that, but also has the side benefit of making Albion look utterly incredible.
Unlike many Kinect games - which either add support as an off-shoot gimmick, or slow down the pace to pedestrian levels in order to allow the device to keep up - Fable: The Journey is played mostly at breakneck speed – at least, the levels we've seen.
First up, the main character – a gypsy named Gabriel – has to race ahead of a sea of corruption that is continuing to take over the land (remember Fable 3?) and so you have to guide a horse and cart using purely your arms. We've driven and, indeed, famously killed the horse previously, but hadn't actually played this section for quite as long (or as successfully).
The best part about this, and the game in general, is that you play it sitting down. We've been waiting for a decent Kinect title that you play seated for a while, and Lionhead Studios was keen to point out to us that it wanted this Fable game still to feel like a hardcore experience, even though you're using your arms and upper body. It's also a 10-15 hour game, so standing up for the entire game could be hazardous for those who strive to complete titles in a few sittings as possible (so to speak).
Combat was the focus of the second level we played. After calibrating the spell- casting element of the game through a non-intrustive door opening section, you get to fling spells around the screen while battling hollow men and, eventually, a massive boss in the shape of the rock troll from Fable 2.
Spells are cast by pushing and flinging hands and arms, both left and right. Depending on your dexterity, the right hand is used to fire offensive spells, such as lightning and fire attacks. While the left is for more defensive actions, such as holding and blocking.
One of the most satisfying of these comes when you hold out your left hand to halt hollow men in their tracks; if you subsequently throw your hand upwards, you pop their heads off into the sky. They still attack, but less effectively. You can also rip their arms and legs off. Remember, they're undead (and cartoonified) so it's not too gruesome.
From our brief play, we can certainly see where Lionhead Studios is coming from. This is a game in the Fable universe, not a Fable game. It's designed to reward fans of the franchise (with call backs and character revisits) but not alienate newcomers.
Where it may have a problem is with Fable fans who aren't converted to Kinect. As it relies so heavily on the Xbox 360 accessory, it's useless without it.
We're not so bothered about that here on Pocket-lint as, from the time we've spent with it so far, Fable: the Journey could well be the game Kinect has been waiting for.
Knock knock. Who's there? Star. Star Who? Exactly!