Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

December 8, 2011 at 1:47 am | Posted in Articles, Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews, XboxLiveAddicts | Leave a comment
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Click here to see review

Possibly one of the most overlooked games of 2010. Namco Bandai’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West fell under many a radar in the thunderclap of top video games which came out last year. So with a little down time before 2011 picks up, is Enslaved worth looking into?

The story loosely follows that of one of the four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature ‘Journey to the West’, however like most ‘modern renditions’ it uses the names and general story to use as more of a bass line for something a little different rather than following the original story word for word.

The game is set in the future following an apocalyptic war between humans. The remainders of the population around the world live in the ruins and safe areas under the constant fear of being kidnapped by mysterious slaver ships, but major cities and areas are still filled with mechs left abandoned after the war. After a pair of prisoners escape a slaver ship in an explosive decent into New York. Our character Monkee finds himself under the orders of fellow escapee Trip, with the use of a slaver headband. The two must embark on a journey to the west to find Trips home and safety from the slavers and mechanical creatures that now roam the earth.

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For those who haven’t played the Playstation 3 exclusive title Uncharted, then this reference is rather moot. But Enslaveds game play, especially on the adventure side of this action/adventure title, is very similar to Uncharteds in its sense of scale, level design and simple ‘one button traversing’. Meaning, as long as you’re pushing in the right direction, tapping just the one button will generally get you across everywhere. It’s a nice way to get you to see the environment, but it’s adventure sequences aren’t always as demanding as they should be. If you cant see where you should be climbing to, its a simple task of pushing the stick until Monkee reaches out, making it painfully easy and numbingly linear Monkee cant even jump off things if he‘s not actually supposed to, often raising the question, why bother have these large set pieces if we’re to be baby sat throughout it all.

If Uncharted was the perfect number 5 on a Adventure controls scale, the perfect balance between using all your techniques, physics and skills to traverse the world. Enslaved is probably at the bottom end of the scale. With simple, but relatively effortless adventuring. For those who want a full scale to work with. Yes, that damn Lara Croft gets the top spot. Any of the original TR titles will do. With her running, jumping. HOLDING DOWN THE BUTTONS TO GRAB. ‘Damnit Lara why wont you go where I‘m pressing!!!’ You all know what I’m talking about.

Monkee is incredibly well behaved in this sense. Thank Fu…

Combat is limited to your staff and just generally whacking the hell out of things. Early on you get the ability to fire energy rounds from your staff which can either stun or kill. Monkee is fully upgradeable from the start with the Tech Orbs which you find along the way being the payment for the upgrades. There are a few issues surrounding the upgrade system, like Tech Orbs are hidden around the entire game, but are also a collectable. Meaning, you can only get a certain amount of tech orbs from each level, guaranteeing you wont be able to fully upgrade yourself in one play through. The second issue is that the upgrading system is rather unbalanced as you’re able to upgrade Monkee with health regeneration right from the start, making the majority of Enslaveds harder combat sections a little easy just as long as you’ve given yourself maximum health and other regen perks early on.

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Surprisingly, Enslaved is an incredible feat on the eyes. When you read the story synopsis and see those words ‘Post-apocalyptic world’ you’d expect endless seas of sand. And a million different shades of beige and boring. Yet Enslaved is the exact opposite. After plummeting from the sky at the beginning of the game, we’re thrown into New York City. Ravaged by time and nature, the decaying buildings, wrapped in wildlife and plants, bring a great new look to New York, later levels leave the city and whilst going into wastelands, the barren deserts are filed with junk, scrapped mechs and vehicles, still coated in bright and alluring colours. Its provides for some stunning settings and more importantly, a whole new palette of colour to the term Post Apocalypse. Fallout, I hope you’re reading this.

With voice acting from Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw, the characters come across really well, they’re hard not to like but can be a little confusing at times, with Monkee often coming across as dark and mysterious and then sometimes just sounding like he’s been spending his early life as Mowgli where his strengths and emotions can often conflict. Trip (despite now being a female rather than a male monk from the original story) also has some strange moments, like why bothering with continuing to order Monkee around with the slave headband when Monkee seems to happily oblige from the get go.

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Enslaveds story travels across 15 chapters. The chapters are of a good length and can be quite challenging at times. Being a single player experience, to get the most from it, you’ll want to try and finish the game perhaps a second time on the hardest difficulty. There are Tech Orbs and Masks to collect hidden in the levels, and combat and health upgrades to max out on the way. Single Player downloadable content is also available as a prequel with a character introduced around the mid point in the game. The content also comes with new achievements.

With more blockbuster titles on the way in the near future, Enslaved is a good adventure game to pick up, with the fact its been out for a fair amount of time. The general price for sale will be more than reasonable for a game which will give you not only something fantastic to look at, but a well rounded story and adventure for you to get yourself involved with.

7.0

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