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Enslaved just might have the best story in all of videogaming
Editorial by 
November 15, 2010, 20:07:29
Probably a bad idea to bury my pseudo-review in the demo thread. Pasta time.

Okay, so I rented this game and actually beat it on the rental, which is something I very, very rarely do. Why? Because I actually wanted to find out what would happen! Pretty bizarre, for a mechanics purist like myself.

Especially since most of my gameplay quibbles with the demo are still there, plus some more. The Platforming is finicky and mostly a matter of finding the next glowy bit to jump to, which is seldom rewarding, but often frustrating. It's generally kind of automatic, but making it otherwise, within the game's design, just would have been irritating. I also hit one jumping-related bug, which I spent thirty minutes of my life trying to 'puzzle through'. The art design is nice, but the environments are mostly kind of samey. Still, at least it's a colorful kind of samey. The framerate is kind of atrocious at times, and it DOES occasionally affect the gameplay. So does the squirelly camera. And so does the horrible response time (which might be a product of the heavy animation). Annnd the combat system is merely decent, breaking down with large groups of opponents (hand-in-hand with our old friend, Mr. Camera). But at least it offers a bit of choice, which is more than you could say for any other aspect of this repetitive, repetitive... repetitive game.

There are also some basic design decisions which really rub me the wrong way. Once again, glowing orbs are scattered around the levels. They aren't even disguised or explained. They're just orbs mysteriously present in nooks and crannies, and you've gotta grab 'em to buy moves, and such. But I don't care about the lack of context (although they could've explained that they were energy that indigenous bugs shat out). I care that they are totally at odds with the supposed URGENCY of the story. Every single area where time is supposedly limited and matters are dire has random orbs strewn about. Characters will be screaming at you to hurry, and you'll just be like, "Shut the fuck up! I have to take this side path and grab orbs before coming back! I'm not sure if the game will ever let me back in here!" I really resent that type of design. I resent having to turn 180 degrees at the beginning of every level and after every cinematic to grab magical doodads before moving in the correct direction. That childish game of hide-and-seek bugs me in any game, but it is even more out of place in a game with an urgent linear narrative. I also resent the slow movement speed of the main character, especially since it doesn't come with any added precision. I hate, hate, hate when I can immediately identify the negligible, perfunctory task I'm supposed to do in a game (hit that switch!), and it still takes me minutes to slog through all of the steps. I hesitate to use the phrase 'execute the task', because there is seldom any skill involved. The emphasis on animation over responsiveness also annoys me, even though I could consciously account for the delay. And some of the checkpointing is irritating, especially given the Dragon's Lair nature of some scenes.

NEVERTHELESS, the narrative is awesome. You know how most video game stories, including Metal Gear Solid, are absolute horseshit that wouldn't pass as a Tim Thomerson vehicle? Well Enslaved's is actually GOOD! It's written by Alex Garland, the writer of 28 Days Later (who also apparently had some input into its integration into the game) and, for once, it shows. If it wasn't for the story, I literally would've given up on this game after one level. If I could've just watched a movie of the cutscenes, spliced with small bits of game, I totally would have. And you know what? I would have enjoyed it! It isn't Crime and Punishment, but the character development (something that usually doesn't even exist in games) was great, the dialogue was pretty good, the facial expressions were subtly impressive, and the story was well-planned, with a decent, if not particularly original, payoff. It may have been super-linear story, but it was a GOOD super-linear story, with a tiny cast of well-drawn characters.

So after two solid paragraphs of bitching, I am going to recommend that all of you play through this game (although renting might be a better bet than buying (and maybe play it on Easy and ignore the stupid orbs)). Because it might have the best story I have ever experienced in a video game. Definitely the best narrative story. This is one game I actually WOULD watch the movie of.

Hats off to Ninja Theory, I guess.

However, they are the worst, worst, worst possible candidate for Devil May Cry. But, as crazy as this is, coming from me, I'll probably play it for the story.

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Posted: 11/15/10, 20:07:29  - Edited by 
 on: 11/15/10, 21:54:38    
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You're right, I did not do any of the combat challenges. Certainly didn't need any kind of skill to get through the combat in the main game though.

The combat challenges fell by the wayside after spreading the campaign out over a year. I chose to move on to another title in my crushingly large backlog instead.

I always enjoyed myself while playing Arkham and would have a hard time putting it down, but then after I'd turned it off, I'd have no compulsion to go back to it for some reason. It would sit for months in between play sessions. Each time I'd forget what all the buttons did and have to relearn stuff like how to permanently take out a stunned enemy. Fortunately the combat was simple enough that it didn't matter.

Posted by 
 on: 12/14/10, 21:50:37
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