Sunday, 10 October 2010

Enslaved: Odyssey To The West

From the mind of Alex Garland and Andy Serkis comes a new take on an ancient tale. But is it an odyssey worth taking?

Ninja Theory made one of the best PS3 titles ever in my opinion, Heavenly Sword. For such an early title, it mixed up some cutting edge graphics, engaging story and some great gameplay and luckily, Enslaved ticks the same boxes but just not as well.

Enslaved follows the exploits of Trip and Monkey as they try to get Trip back home, but that's just the beginning. She has enslaved Monkey to do her bidding using the same technology the 'mechs' use for other humans to help her out, and if she dies, you die.

The graphics again look quite remarkable, yet for some reason aren't quite as cutting-edge as I was expecting. Sometimes, it looks glamorous yet at other times all the greenery makes it look rather boring. The gameplay is varied and fun, but sometimes it felt like a poor man's Uncharted with all the jumping around - generally if you press up and jump, you'll get to wherever you need to go. The fighting works and isn't the button bashing Heavenly Sword was, it takes a bit more skill and really, it's the only time you'll die if ever. But that's the main issue - it's just too easy at times.

The characters are well fleshed out and Andy Serkis as director definitely helps the motion-capturing to give a realistic fluidity to not only the cutscenes but the in-game engine. The dynamics work well yet the frustrating platform nature of the game can get a bit much, when you want to jump off onto a tiny platform knowing you can't then you realise when you do jump off a platform, it's definitely the way you need to go, making it very linear. The only times you go off-track are to collect tech orbs which are dotted around so that you can upgrade, or collect a 'mask' that shows a weird piece of the past (our present day with Andy Serkis hanging around), but really it's not worth getting too obsessed about unless you want to unlock achievements.

There's some chase scenes on a 'cloud' (like a hoverboard from Back To The Future II) which isn't used nearly enough and really, you don't get to kill enough mechs. It's definitely more of a platform piece with the odd puzzle and action scene thrown in making it a decent all round game. However, I just found it a little boring at times, and I just wasn't that bothered about the story, it didn't quite delve enough into the setting and really not even that much into the characters themselves. I don't know the original Chinese story, (yes THAT Monkey) but this plays out more like a road movie and essentially that's what it is. I felt like it only touched upon something that could have been so much more. The end might have been somewhat satisfying and suddenly quite strange, but I would have liked there to have been more of a plot rather than just getting from A to B all the time.

Overall, it's a solid game with some decent gameplay and enough to keep you sated for a weekend, but once it's completed you won't return to it. A nice little break from the boring 9 to 5, but this won't be something you'll have to tell your mates about. If you've got nothing else to do, give it a go, but there's going to be better games coming up so maybe hold on for a bit longer if you're short on cash.

Rating: 7/10

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