The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Enslaved lives up to its namesake both with its conceptual hook of
robots enchaining mankind and through the unnecessary shackles tied to
gameplay. Developer Ninja Theory spends far too much time holding the
player’s hand, and in the process removes any sense of escapism to this
intriguing tale of humanity’s last gasp for life.
The game starts
off with a bang reminiscent of Uncharted 2’s introductory train
sequence. A robot-infested slave ship is sabotaged by a resourceful
female prisoner and starts plummeting toward the skyscraping remnants
of a lost metropolis. Your first goal is to survive the crash. This
feat takes you through exploding corridors and out onto the ship’s
hull, where breath-stealing leaps must be made as debris passes
overhead and every second wasted brings you closer to impact.
exciting sequence concludes with an unlikely partnership being forged
between the female, Trip, and a protagonist who never reveals his true
name, yet insists on being called Monkey. To no surprise, Monkey is
ape-like in appearance and possesses the uncanny ability to swing
across poles just like a simian. Monkey is brought to life aptly by
Andy Serkis, Hollywood’s resident primate expert (he played King Kong,
the ape-ish Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, and will play Caesar in the forthcoming Planet of the Apes film).
relationship that develops between Trip and Monkey is fun to watch. It
doesn’t follow the path you think it would. Their personalities clash,
yet neither could survive in this harsh climate without the other.
Thanks to sharp writing by Ninja Theory’s scribes, I cared about the
fate of both characters. The banter between them is emotional at the
right times, filled with smart jabs and amusing sarcasm, and their
chemistry shows noticeable progression as their journey family takes
them farther west. The resonance of the tale, however, is undermined by
Most of the platforming sequences showcase
action-packed moments, such as a bridge falling apart as Monkey
shimmies along. But rarely do these tense set pieces offer a real
threat, as Monkey can never fall or miscalculate a jump’s trajectory.
If he isn’t lined up correctly and you press jump, he won’t jump. He
just stands there until you move him into the correct position. Toward
the end of the game, he has to avoid flames and spinning gears but up
until this point, most of Enslaved’s platforming is simply an exercise
in basic movement.
Combat, while offering a great sense of brutal
physicality with each of Monkey’s staff strikes, lacks depth. I used
the same combo sequences from start to finish. Ninja Theory also fails
to offer interesting adversaries. The largest foe, a robot dog, looks
cool, but is easy to snuff out with repeated EMP blasts. Watching this
beast rise from the ground only to knock it down again with another EMP
shot feels like cheating, but as far as I could tell, it was the only
way to destroy it.
Enslaved also lacks a sense of exploration.
Whenever Trip enters a new area, she must first scan her surroundings.
This extensive fly-by of the level details all of the enemies and
points of interest along the way. Trip’s findings are digitally
broadcast to Monkey through his slave headband. He can see the distance
at which he’ll alert an enemy, as well as all the objects with which he
can interact. One platforming stretch toward the end of the game even
has Monkey following a dragonfly that is discharging a sparkling trail
for fear that the player may not know where to go next.
amount of hand holding, I’m surprised this game doesn’t play itself.
The lack of immersion and knowledge that every jump – no matter how
perilous it is – will land without fail saps Enslaved of its
entertainment value. You know a game is troubled when you find solace
in its extensive orb collecting.
This experience is also marred
by a lack of polish. Ugly textures frequent most environments, the jump
command is touchy, the framerate skips like a lopsided record in
certain areas, combat controls lack responsiveness, and the camera
often clips into the environment, hiding cool takedowns or cinematic
sequences. With the gameplay being such an unwanted distraction, the
story is the only attraction. The plot delivers a cool science fiction
twist in its final moments, but ultimately serves as a slave to
mediocre gameplay for eight to nine hours.
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Not every action game needs to be composed of larger than life
action sequences or feature some world ending threat. In a game where
the world has already ended, Ninja Theory has told a story that focuses
on character. I was immediately drawn into the small but animated cast
and grew to actually care about their well-being. I only wish the rest
of the game had so wholly captured my imagination. The game’s combos
don’t evolve throughout the course of the game and neither do its
enemies, but its fast-paced action is engaging, and Ninja Theory’s
camera work helps escalate the tension. The animation work during the
platforming sections is fantastic, and Monkey pulls off some remarkable
feats, but you never have to worry about getting lost or falling off
your perch while clambering through the environment. This diminishes
the climber’s high you might have received from pulling off these
otherwise impressive ascents. Enslaved may not innovate, but it’s an
engaging tale through the apocalypse, bookended by some of the most
exciting action sequences I’ve seen in a game.