Tech News on G4
'Enslaved' to platforming
Nov 10, 2010
By John Powell - G4 Canada
'Enslaved: Odyssey to the West' has perhaps the best opening level of any video game, ever made. As the agile, burly Monkey, you are an inmate aboard a crippled prison ship that's about to crash into what was once New York City. The Big Apple is now the Big Jungle due to a nightmare scenario reminiscent of 'Terminator'. The machines have risen and the human race is now obsolete.
As the plummeting, smoking ship clips the Statue of Liberty, you reclaim your weapons, reduce some guard bots to nuts and bolts and swing on the outside of the ship, leaping from wing to wing, support structure to support structure; racing to grab one of the last escape pods before you go "Splat!".
The outrageously thrilling sequence is pure 'Game of the Year' material. Regrettably, the rest of what follows doesn't quite measure up to the magnificent opening.
That's not to say 'Enslaved' is dissatisfying. It isn't. It just could have been so much more. Monkey's journey through a desolate, apocalyptic Earth is driven by Trip, a techno whiz who was torn from her village and enslaved by the mean-ass Tinker Toys. Through some manipulation, Trip "convinces" powerhouse Monkey to escort her back to the village. As they travel through the rubble of what was once a great metropolis, Monkey and Trip are drawn closer and closer together as mystery after mystery unfolds.
The cutscenes chronicling Monkey and Trip's story are exceptional storytelling sequences. The detail in the facial features and the tiniest expressions of the characters themselves really brings them and the story to life. The jungle scenery is lush and colourful. The robots, scratched, rusted and dented to perfection. Enslaved's graphics are picture perfect.
Although it is a sophisticated platformer, 'Enslaved' is still a platformer nonetheless. When you trek to the next area, the setting may appear different but the objectives remain the same throughout the game. Much like 'Prince of Persia' - but again on a more complex level - you are presented with an area to maneuver and battle through to reach your goal or objective. Some of the goals are really puzzles such as shifting hanging platforms up and down so they line-up properly or leaping onto the blades of a wind turbine to adjust the gigantic machine. Some of the goals require you to take out all the automated turrets and clear the area of robots before Trip can proceed without getting shot full of holes or ripped to shreds. Some demand a bit of both.
'Enslaved' also pushes the platformer boundaries by giving Monkey some cool toys and Trip some remarkable abilities. Above and beyond his trusty fighting staff which fires energy, stun blasts and can emit charged attacks, on some levels Monkey has access to a floating hover board and can rip mounted guns out of robots or turrets and use them to light up his enemies. Trip is useless when it comes to battling the bots, however, she can use her EMP blaster to act as a decoy or stun the robots, taking the heat off of Monkey. She can also use her scanner to find enemy's weak points or ID special areas. Monkey will often be required to carry Trip out of danger or boost her up to out of the reach areas.
Developers Ninja Theory do try to keep things interesting by inserting a gunboat level and a sequence in which you must shadow an armored vehicle as Trip puts the pedal to the metal while turrets fire away. There are just not enough of these levels though to distract from the shear amount of platforming you must do. "Enslaved" needs variety and needs it badly.
'Enslaved: Odyssey to the West'
Rating: 7 / 10
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.