|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ninja Theory||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct 5, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
There are a few ways to make the fights easier. With some mechs, you can perform a takedown, which not only kills the mech but helps you kill the others, too; you either take the mechs weapon, use the mechs body as a shield, or rip the mech apart, stunning the surrounding mechs with electricity. Also, some mechs are turrets, and you can have Trip distract them while you flank and destroy them. Further, by collecting the orbs that are strewn throughout the world, you can save up currency and purchase upgrades to your health and combat abilities.
There are also some puzzles here, but theyre a little too easy and clichéd for our tastes. They usually involve flipping switches, raising and lowering bridges, or finding your way from point A to point B. We can honestly say that we never really felt challenged, even when the puzzles required cooperation between Monkey and Trip. This can make the game accessible to players who arent good at problem-solving, but it makes the game a little boring for the rest of us.
Another mechanic youll encounter is the cloud, which is basically a hoverboard that works only in certain sections. We felt it was a bit underused, but it makes for some high-speed, white-knuckle chase scenes and boss fights. If theres a sequel, we expect to see more of it.
We also expect a sequel to make better use of teamwork. Surprisingly enough, Enslaved doesnt require a whole lot of it beyond the aforementioned basics (switch-flipping puzzles, distracting turrets, etc.). Trip isnt in danger very often, and she doesnt even fight alongside you. Essentially, the game doesnt do anything interesting with the fact that its basically one big escort mission.
Then again, perhaps this is why Trip seems to function so much better than most AI partners. She doesnt get herself killed, get stuck while walking to the next part of the game, or block your way in close quarters. Sure, wed have liked to see a little more cooperative play, but given how abysmally most AI partners perform, we were glad just to have her stay out of the way.
The graphics here are terrific on a creative level, but leave something to be desired on a technical level. The developers brought out the colors and life of a green, overgrown, post-apocalyptic world, and the facial animations are terrific. This is especially evident in the cutscenes, which are brief but advance the story convincingly nonetheless. However, the framerate drops from time to time, textures pop in, some animations are overused, and periodically the game will freeze and load for a second. Enslaved utilizes the Unreal engine, so theres really no excuse for it not to run smoothly, but these little glitches dont detract too much from the overall experience.
The developers also did a good job with the sound. Some fragments of dialogue are used too often, but the voice acting is superb, and the music enhances the atmosphere of the game without distracting any attention from it. The sound effects feel completely natural, and gunshots reverberate thunderously in big rooms.
One last minor complaint: the checkpoint system is irritating. They developers were generous with what well call mini-checkpoints -- checkpoints that you return to when you die, but that disappear when you turn off the game (or opt to restart from the last checkpoint). Checkpoints that actually save, meanwhile, occur considerably less frequently, and sometimes its hard to remember when the last one even was. This forces you to keep playing for a while after you decide to stop, just to avoid losing ground. Its a small thing, but it would have been easy to fix.
Enslaved takes about ten hours to finish on Normal mode, which is challenging here and there, but overall manageable even for the non-hardcore. Unless youre an achievement hound, theres really not much of a reason to go through it a second time. Theres no multiplayer, either, so most gamers can get their fill by renting it or borrowing it from a friend.
Nonetheless, we had a lot of fun working our way through the campaign, and we highly recommend other action fans do the same. It may not be Game of the Year material, but its definitely a good game with which to spend a weekend.
CCC Freelance Writer