Enslaved (2010), video game review.

Based loosely off a 16th century Chinese novel, Enslaved tells the story of a future in which you can’t go twenty minutes without running in to a malevolent machine wishing to kill you, or slavers ready to kidnap you. The world has been taken over by mechs, and the few survivors that aren’t slavers or the enslaved are scattered across the world in small pockets, desperately trying to survive. You control Monkey; Monkey is a loner. Moving form one place to the next he never stays in any one place for too long for fear that he might be attacked bymechs, or picked up by slaves. Unfortunately no one can avoid danger for long.

The game opens with Monkey waking up in a slave pod aboard flying slave carrier. Through the small glass window he sees a girl climb out from her pod and dash over to a computer terminal. After a few seconds a voice over the intercom warns of a crash. The girl runs off as the ship starts heave to and frounnervingly and minor explosions move closer and closer to Monkey’s pod. Despite all his yelling and hammering on the wall the explosions reach Monkey’s pod and throw it off the wall and onto the floor.

The level continues with Monkey finding his staff which is equipped with a shield for deflecting bullets, a stun attack, and few other useful things. Not long afterward he finds himself clinging to the outside of the carrier as it plummets towards earth. Luckily he earns his namesake by being an excellent climber and easy moves up the ship. The platforming is fun, but presents little challenge as all of the things that Monkey can grab onto a flash and glow, and it is rare that you find a platform that lets you walk off it unless you are meant to. Occasionally though this caused some problems I either wasn’t in the right space to jump across a chasm, or I did encounter a time when the game thought that I wanted to walk off a bridge. And of course that was the one time that I could walk of a ledge. Despite all this the platforming is fun as long as it isn’t in one of the handful of sections that have you backtracking.

Continuing on the carrier Monkey has to fight a couple of mechs. The combat is easy enough to grasp but lacks any sort of depth; which means that there is only one real combo, and must of the fight will be spent mashing the attack button. Once in while mechs will have some kind of defect that Monkey can exploit, and the game feature a pretty basic upgrade system, but both of this felt underdeveloped and weren’t all that exciting to use. The combat works but isn’t going to keep you hooked, and often it seems like encounters were just thrown in as filler.

As Monkey run towards the escape pods, which the intercom keeps tell him are depleting, he encounters the girl who started this all again. This provide this first real glimpse at how amazing the facial animation is in Enslaved. Monkey and the girl, who is soon revealed to be named Trip, both sport some of the best facial animation in video games. The characters are brought to life by great acting, great animation, and great writing. Characters in video games giving performances on par with those in film are nearly unheard of, but Enslaved manages to do just that. The characters have a relationship that unfolds naturally and contains real emotion. Enslaved is one of the best written video games that I have had the honor of playing.

Along with the facial animations the motion capture is also quite good. Not as good as on the face but still very good. Andy Serkis, the man behind Gollum in Lord of the Rings, and Kong in the newest King Kong, lends himself to the game in so many ways. He does the motion capture for Monkey, also his voice, he directs the cutscenes, and he helped write the story. If you’ve seen either of the aforementioned movies then you know that he knows how to do motion capture. Even though Monkey’s character looks a little weird and disproportionate, the way that he moves looks very smooth and natural. As it does for all the characters.

Later levels defiantly didn’t grab me like the earlier ones didn’t as they began to get more and more repetitive, both visual and from a gameplay perspective. But even when the gameplay was lackluster the story and characters were good enough to pull me through.

Enslaved has problems, but it what it does right mostly out shadows its faults. If you’re looking for a game to play through on the week Enslaved is a great choice, but if you’re looking to buy I’m not going to say “don’t” just keep in mind that the game has faults.

Visuals:
Most of the time the game looks good and the animations look great, but the was some graphical pop-in here and there.

Sound:
I liked the score good enough, but it was hard to not let the voice acting steal the show.

Gameplay:
The platforming is mostly fun, but the combat quickly got repetitive. With the combat not a main attraction I didn’t feel any shame in putting the difficulty on easy, I’d suggest you do the same.

Worth the Money?:
Mmmaybe. If you like the game enough to support the company then yes. But the game isn’t all that long (about 8 hours) so you might want to look in to rental.

Console:
Xbox 360 (reviewed), and PS3.

Developer:
Ninja Theory.

Parental Rating:
T/13+

Final Score:
8/10

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Posted on October 11, 2011, in 2010, PS3, Review, Video Game, Xbox 360 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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