'Enslaved: Odyssey to the West'
Robert Errera, Crispy Gamer
'Enslaved: Odyssey to the West'
I can't quite figure out why people are raving about "Enslaved." Though it's an entertaining adventure game and the characters interact well, I feel like I'm the only one bothered by the fact that the game is a post-apocalyptic "Uncharted," with elements from "Prince of Persia," "Resident Evil 4," "God of War," "Jak & Daxter" and "Gears of War" thrown in like some sort of "Will it blend?" video. And though it does blend well for the most part, it often feels as if a beefed-up
Based loosely on the 16th century Chinese novel, "Journey to the West," the game is more about climbing, leaping, and fighting than it is the spiritual journey to retrieve Buddhist scripture as highlighted in the ancient source material. Developed by Ninja Theory (best known for 2007's "Heavenly Sword" and the upcoming "Devil May Cry" reboot), "Enslaved: Odyssey to the West" utilizes the company's action/adventure style and high animation quality on the PS3 and Xbox 360. The environments are highly detailed even in the distance and facial movements are smooth, captivating, and believable, though these things are soured by the obvious "homage" to other games.
The story begins as Monkey, a large man with numerous scars and bulging muscles (wand ho never discovers the need for a shirt) is being transported on a slaver airship. A female hacker who goes by the nickname Trip sabotages the ship, and in a very "Uncharted 2"-like opening full of climbing and jumping over collapsing debris, Monkey follows her to an escape pod and actually holds on to the outside of it as it ejects toward the ground. As it turns out, the area their escape pod crashes in is a post-apocalyptic
Unfortunately, we never really get any backstory except for what can be inferred (there was a crazy war using mechs and after the world was decimated the mechs remained, maintaining their programming to kill humans). I suppose this is to be expected from 28 Days Later writer
The gameplay is entertaining enough to make up for the lack of information, but don't go in expecting anything more than a well-made conglomerate of other popular games. Monkey will leap from shining brick to shining pipe making inconceivable jumps and throwing Trip to platforms she can't reach. Trip is able to get into places Monkey can't fit and through a command system Monkey is able to instruct her through the headset in his headband to pull levers, run, or help him out by creating a holographic decoy while ensuring she isn't killed. This adds a layer of strategy and puzzle-solving, as you have to follow her commands as well as command her yourself in order to create a path and continue onward. She's not a fighter, so her only defense against mechs is an EMP blast that temporarily stuns them and allows her to escape while you protect her. She's helpful in other ways, though; a master hacker who can reprogram any computer system, security door, etc., comes in handy and early on she reprograms a robot dragonfly to act as an airborne scanner. When she launches it, the dragonfly's camera connects to the slaver headband and allows Monkey to see the sensor radius of land mines and mechs that are on standby. Being that Ninja Theory is based in
Robotic animals play a large role, as each of the boss fights are with a gigantic mech animal of some sort. Unfortunately, there are some critical moments in the game in which you'll need to pull off a jump quickly and Monkey doesn't respond to your controller properly, continuing to hang on to a pipe as fire bursts out of a vent in front of him or not allowing him to dodge enemy attacks. There are glitches in the graphics here and there, as well, and though noticeable, nothing I encountered hurt my experience.
Several of the boss fights require Monkey to ride his Cloud, a device that creates an energy-based hoverboard that acts and feels like Jak's hoverboard from the "Jak & Daxter" series. Adding insult to injury, the game rubs in the fact that it has no intention of answering any questions. When Trip asks what the Cloud is, Monkey tells her that all he knows is it works sometimes and other times it doesn't. Thanks for that.
I enjoyed the later half of the game most, as the "jump here, attack that mech, scan this area" routine was getting stale. Pigsy, a weapons specialist who lives in an old mech factory, is introduced, and the game becomes more lively from there: the fights become more varied and interesting, the interaction between the characters is more fun, and the pacing picks up overall.
The dialog between the characters is well acted and feels natural, with Uncharted/Prince of Persia-esque banter during gameplay. This is probably due to
If you didn't like "The Matrix" or the end of "Assassin's Creed II," you may not enjoy the ending, and it was brief after so much build up. However, it probably would have satisfied me just fine if there had been more of it.
After going back and forth in my head I never truly decided how I felt about the game. For most of the first half of the game I was wishing I was replaying the "Uncharted" series, and for the second half of the game I was craving some back story to the world or the characters. In the end it's a game that's worth playing for the adventure, though you'll often be spamming the jump button because you can only jump on a path and never fall to your death, and spamming the attack button because there are so few moves and combos. Give the demo a try and if you feel you want to play more then you'll most likely enjoy it through.
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Video Games: 'Enslaved: Odyssey to the West'
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