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Enslaved may be one of those games that flew under your geek radar or you always find on the shelves but have no idea if it is good or not. While the game has different creative talents behind such as Andy Serkis, Nitin Sawhney and David Garland, Enslaved was never going be the game to rival other blockbusters.
Based on the Chinese epic saga, Enslaved is set in a ravaged future dominated by Mechs (Robots). Monkey and Trip, our two protaginists, met by accident and the latter had Monkey enslaved through a headband which makes him totally dependant on the survival of Trip and even he gets far away from her, he will die. Monkey has to protect and reach Trip to her camp by eventually fighting loads of mechs with a combination of staff and long range fighting. With brain and brawn combining together, the game allows interaction between the two humans so that they can move from one place to other.
Odyssey to the West is interesting in the way Monkey and Trip interaction and relationship are progressed through the game and this is where credits have to be given to the voice actors for elevating the scenes to a realistic level.
On the other hand, the gameplay does not offer any novelty even though Monkey can upgrade his weapons by collecting orbs around. The fighting are almost repetitive interpersed with some puzzling, boss fight and platforming. My main concern is why developers decided to make the gameplay easy even though they know the story is short. Monkey can climb ledges that are always glowing and will never fall down if he jumps to a wrong direction.
Overall, Enslaved is a relatively short game which suffers from repetitive enemies but has some good voice acting and talent behind which may or may not attract you to the storyline.
Total Rating : 3*
In many respects, Enslaved comes to embody the best and worst of what gaming has so far had to offer during the HD generation. The game's beautiful, elaborately designed jungle vistas are testament to what can be achieved with artistic vision and effort, whilst there's something distinctly Hollywood about its action set-pieces. The bangs and whistles are so effective that, at times, it's easy to overlook the fact that the gameplay itself is fairly thin on the ground. A failure to get many of the basics right and the restrictive nature of the adventuring leaves it feeling like a case of style over substance.
A third-person action adventure set 150 years in the future, Enslaved pits you as staff-wielding Monkey who, after fleeing an aircraft transporting slaves, crash lands to earth on an escape pod. When he comes to, he has rather inconveniently been fitted with a slave headband by Trip, a woman who seeks his protection from the mech presence as she wishes to return to her village several hundred miles away. Protecting her is paramount; if she dies, the headband will terminate Monkey, the same being the case if he strays too far from his captor.
Developer Ninja Theory deserves credit for devising a new intellectual property that offers such a pretty, distinctive envisioning of a post-apocalyptic Earth. Not just because of how good it looks, but also that it avoids the generic template of arid dustbowls and sandy landscapes the film industry has become so fond of in the last decade or so. Mankind is scare, hiding from or imprisoned by robots that maraud around the jungle canopies, whilst tell-tale signs of a past war are in evidence through mines and the dilapidated remnants of manmade structures nature has long since reclaimed, whilst mechanised dragonflies flit around the treetops. It's very evocative.
Whilst the story isn't anything overly memorable in itself, the chief reason for sticking with it is that both Monkey and Trip are excellent and very likable protagonists. They're well-voiced by their respective actors Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw, and make for a classic "opposites attract" pairing, trading some fun dialogues. Furthermore, they manage to carry the majority of the narrative on their own, which makes for quite a refreshing change in an era of questionable side-kicks and pantomime villains, and the ending is also surprisingly well-handled.
In terms of visual design, the game is first-rate. Within minutes of the start, you'll be running across the wing of a slave ship that is plummeting to a nasty end. At one point, the ship turns on its side, leaving you to scramble desperately up before the wing catches a skyscraper that all the while looms closer in your periphery vision - a genuine "wow" moment. The water effects are great, and the vibrant use of reds, blues and greens make the environments glow with vitality. There's little variety in the robot design, but they still look the business, whilst the bosses are suitably menacing, particularly the Dog with its giant metallic gnashers.
It isn't as technically robust as it should be however, with that all-too-familiar air of a multiplatform title not built to the strengths of the PS3. It doesn't produce as much graphical clout as the likes of Uncharted 2 or Resident Evil 5, and yet struggles to run what it does produce with consistent smoothness. The frame-rate lags now and again, whilst some of the scenery, particularly in cut-scenes, is slow to display its textures, as you see layers of scenery hastily appearing over green blobs.
To encapsulate Enslaved: Odyssey To The West's troubles in one sentence, it's that it's more fun to watch than to play. Purely to look at, the adventuring hijinks and setting share traits with similar such games as Prince of Persia and Uncharted, which you could argue is no bad thing. The problem is, the gameplay itself isn't in the same league. The platforming is dull, as jumping between poles and ledges is so regimented that it requires almost no thought; there aren't any red herrings, very few danger points and as Monkey never jumps in a direction whereby there isn't something for him to directly grab on to, it's virtually impossible either to die or indeed go anywhere except where the level is taking you. Apart from a couple of instances late on that require some degree of timing, you feel a passenger to a game that frequently gets carried away on a wave of spectacle - as if many of the sections were designed with the mantra of "what looks cool" rather than "what plays well". On the ground, Monkey is clumsy to control thanks to an extremely suspect turning circle and a propensity for getting snagged on scenery, whilst standard leaps are pretty unresponsive too. Monkey is apparently very selective with where he wishes to climb/dismount ledges which is an enduring annoyance in locations that give the illusion of being freely explorable.
Trip can be issued commands that are promising enough to begin with, like instructing her to distract droids whilst you move to a better vantage point. But beyond a couple of instances of telling her to pull leavers or flick switches, nothing especially adventurous is ever made of the buddy system. Trip's best feature involves her being able to upgrade Monkey's health, shield and combat abilities, something the player benefits from through the collection of tech orbs found all over the levels. In fairness, Trip's not the liability many A.I. controlled allies are, and for the most part she stays out of trouble, but the rinse and repeat nature of having her distract turrets whilst you run in behind, hijack them and shoot everything in the area gets dull pretty quickly.
The combat is similarly competent but rather run of the mill. If you wish, you can "go Kratos" on the droids and hammer the square button for awhile as you beat them into submission with a limited range of staff combos, or use the staff in its more interesting and fun guise, as a bow. This supports stun ammo (for taking down shields) and more lethal blasts, useful at a distance for bagging headshots and the like.
The action unfolds over 14 chapters that generate a reasonably uniform modern adventure game lifespan of around ten hours or so. There's the occasional boss, the most entertaining of which being the Rhino mech, which must be coaxed into charging at Monkey in such a manner that it instead crashes into various bits of hazardous scenery. Three difficulty settings offer a broad radius of challenge, though most will be discouraged from going for the Platinum trophy due to the ludicrous challenge of collecting every single last tech orb (of which there are hundreds, possibly thousands within). Such incentives aside however, one play-through will likely be enough for most, as due to the extremely linear nature of the levels, it's unlikely you'll witness anything of note second time around that you didn't spot to begin with.
Enslaved: Odyssey To The West is an okay adventure set within a very appealing game world. Purely for the spectacle and a great cast of characters, it's worth a go. However, the gameplay itself is unlikely to live long in the memory, as though a few new concepts are tentatively ventured, there isn't the conviction or complexity of design to really make them work, whilst elements gamers will already be familiar with have been done to a considerably higher standard elsewhere. The combat works fine but is unremarkable, the platforming unadventurous and without challenge, leaving it trailing in Uncharted's wake. Good, but not great.
Enslaved tells the story of Monkey and Trip, two survivors in a post-apocalyptic world some years in the future, as they travel West to discover the fate of of Trips family and to take revenge on the people who enslaved them. The game starts as Trip (a female who is skilled at manipulating electronic devices) and Monkey (a male brute who excels at combat) escape from a slave ship. Trip enslaves Money as she could not survive her planned journey West to find her family alone. Thus begins a touching and sincere relationship between the two main characters that proves most of the games appeal. There are some touching cut-scenes and dialogue and you become emotionally invested in the characters. You play the entire game as Monkey, basically clearing the way for Trip.
Outside of this releationship the game is lacking in crucial areas. Firstly, the single player is very short at around 6-7 hours to complete and with no multiplayer, there is little to keep you playing.
Combat is decent and though becomes a button mash at times, other fights require you to carefully string attacks together. You use Monkey's staff for both melee attacks and to fire orbs which can either damange an enemy or break its shield. You have to combine these attacks when surrounded by different types of enemies, though only after about half way through the game; until then you just hit the melee button as fast as you can. There are also some good looking finishing moves to smash enemies to peices when the time is right.
Platforming sections are acceptable, but bring nothing you havent seen before, though environmentss are beautiful and fun to move around in. The movement is a little loose and sometime you feel you dont have perfect controll over Monkey.
Absorbign characters are at the centre of this journey, but other gameplay areas are lacking and it is very short. You could do worrse than to pick this up pre-owned for a few quid.
Enslaved is an interesting game to say the least. The plot features the main character (Monkey) and his captor (Trip) as they fight for survival in post apocalyptic America against mechanized war machines known as 'mechs'.
The Gameplay is fairly fluid, with a good control scheme that requires the tapping of the X button to perform any form of climbing, jumping or rolling manuveurs. I found the controls easy to get to grips with, as they are similar to those of the 'Uncharted' franchise but occasionally Monkey will decide that he will roll against a wall rather than climbing it. The game also relies heavily on your ability to upgrade your kit via trip (see below) using the L1 button and directional keys.
As for the storyline, it is very varied and offers suprises and amusing scenes in each level, it is quite linear and leaves you with the sense that you are fairly challenged, particulary on the harder difficulties. The points system on the game revolves around 'Tech' Orbs, which are glowing red spheres situated around the map that can be used to purchase upgrades via Trip. You can purchase Health upgrades, Staff Upgrades, General Combat upgrades and Shield Upgrades. As well as these orbs, the game contains hidden 'Masks' which are in secret locations similar to rewards in games such as Tomb Raider. All becomes clear towards the end of the game but I won't reveal any spoilers here.
Combat within the game consists of Heavy attacks (Triangle) and light Attacks (Square). when used in combination against mechs, they are devastating and will dispatch enemies fairly quickly. Some Mechs do have shields which can be disabled by holding and releasing a stun blast (Square held) or by firing a stun blast at the mech (L2 and Square). Finishing the last enemy with a Square attack will trigger a nice slow mo close up of the takedown. There are a variety of enemies, in all shapes and sizes with various modes of attack which you will have to exploit to take them out.
There is a DLC connected to this game called 'Pigsy's perfect 10' which offers additional challenges and PSN trophies.
Any questions please post to the comments,