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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Game Review - Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

     I recently got my hands on Enslaved: Odyssey to the West(courtesy of my good friend VVB) and thought I'd share my thoughts on the game.  For a quick overview of the game's story, check out our previous Enslaved article.  To check my review of the game, jump down past the break.

  • Gameplay: 6/10
     The game's combat mechanics are pretty straightforward; two different melee attacks, a shield that absorbs bullets, blocking and dodging, are all there, but combo attacks are almost nonexistent.  One redeeming factor is some of the mechs you fight may be flawed, and if you can disable them instead of killing them outright, you can use them to stun or destroy other nearby enemies.

     The climbing system can be a little annoying, and I've seen a few reviews comparing Enslaved to Assassins Creed.  This may be a little misleading, considering Ezio and Altair don't typically dangle from crumbling objects hundreds of feet in the air.  What you may come to realize is that Ninja Theory designed the game this way: you're in a hurry, you need the quickest route to get to the next part of the game.  Not making the jump isn't annoying like in AC, its suicidal.

  • Characters & Story: 9/10
     The story is set to a background of a post-apocalyptic America, where mechs used to fight our wars for us have turned against us.  The real focus of the game is the relationship between Trip and Monkey.  In the beginning, Trip is actually scared of Monkey, while Monkey hates Trip.  As they interact throughout the game, they both begin to understand the other.  Monkey realizes that Trip just wants to return to her home, something he has never had.  Trip finds that Monkey is a complex and resourceful individual who has never had the luxury of friends in his time in the wilderness.  Both gradually learn that without the other, they may not survive, and both see in the other something they lack themselves. The only thing I didn't like about the story was it was too short - it took about 10 hours to beat the game on the Normal difficulty setting.

  • Visuals: 10/10
     One of the best things about Enslaved was the time Ninja Theory put into its art.  The views of the city turned to jungle are truly breathtaking.  The mechs, though limited in variety, move remarkably fluidly and look like they were made to kill.  However, what sets the game apart are the characters expressions.  Ninja Theory called upon the considerable talents of Andy Serkis, having used his voice and motion-capture methods in Heavenly Sword(and, more famously for Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings films, where he portrayed Gollum).  This time, they made him director and writer of the game in addition to voicing Monkey and doing the motion capture work for his face.

Whether the camera shows Trip fearful and wary of Monkey  as she tells him about the headband, or Monkey enraged when she places them both at risk by freezing when a sentry turret opens fire on them, they make the characters even more believable and add weight to the story.  When (SPOILER - - - - STOP READING IF YOU DONT WAN TO KNOW) Trip deactivates the headband and tells Monkey she doesn't want him to do anything because he has to anymore, he tells her to turn it back on.  The way they look at each other during this cinematic sequence tells the viewer more than a hundred lines of dialogue. 

     All in all, I enjoyed the hell out of the game and would recommend it to anyone who likes a decent story.  Moreover, I'm hoping that Enslaved encourages other game developers take a look into using motion capture for their characters.  I'm also hoping for a sequel.

SLG scores this game:   8.3/10

Posted by SLG_J

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