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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.1
Graphics 8.5
Sound 8.4
Value 8.0
Distributor: Namco Bandai
Review Date:
October 2010
Peter Bourke


Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is a game that I wasn't really that excited for but when I started playing, I was quite pleasantly surprised of how entertaining the gameplay, graphics and story unravelled. It may not challenge the world of first person adventure games but what it did offer was competent gameplay that although on the easy side, was just right.

The story of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is based on the Chinese story of Monkey Magic or more specifically, Journey to the West  but unlike the original, this version is based several hundred years into the future. Mankind has conquered the stars but unfortunately in their conquest of not only the stars but war itself, these mechs which were once their helpers have now become a dire threat to humanity. The main protagonists of the story include Monkey (Andy Serkis) and Tripitaka (Lindsay Shaw) or Trip who have a love hate relationship and watching these characters grow as the story progresses is almost as entertaining as the gameplay itself.

The story begins with Trip breaking out of her cell on a futuristic prison ship that is headed towards Earth. Unfortunately her interference for freedom has caused the mechs of this ship to be activated and before you know it, World War IV has broken out which also forced Monkey to be freed from his cell. Although Trip successfully navigates herself to an escape pod, Monkey is forced to fend for himself in other ways which creates an interesting tutorial for the player.

To make matters worse for our brutish hero, Monkey manages to escape the wreck of the slave transport but is knocked for six but when he regains consciousness, Trip has connected a futuristic headband to him. This headband is a slave bracelet that prevents Monkey from harming her and preventing him from going against her wishes… just like the awesome TV series, Monkey Magic. From here, Trip is using Monkey to her own needs but as more snippets of the story are revealed and without spoiling it, the two are more similar than they believe.

At it's heart, Enslaved is a third person action adventure game with many of the missions require you to accompany and help Trip to different parts of the gaming environments. Protecting her is your main objective. If you stroll too far from Trip, you will die and if Trip dies… you will die which was quite frustrating at the start as you get your head around the controls. Thankfully the developers have incorporated some great AI for Trip who actually works with you as opposed to against you.

Combat plays a large role in the game as Monkey uses his "power" staff to take down the mechs and other enemies. There are also turrets which can be controlled by Monkey and as you progress, you can upgrade a variety of statistics for Monkey and also equipment. Trip also creates some whacky futuristic technology for Monkey like attaching radar and cameras to dragonflies and you can issue Trip some basic orders such as decoy or the EMP weapon which knocks out mechs for a short time.

Although the controls are mapped well, Monkey doesn't always walk where you want him which can be a little annoying if you are walking through a mine field or some precariously perched ledge. Fighting also at times gets a little repetitive but something about these characters are so damn engaging. Perhaps it was their lifelike animation or voice acting but I wanted to know more about them which helped force me to finish the game. And then you have a variety of cool upgrades for Monkey and just around the corner, another awesome new environment and some strategy like Lost Vikings but you can only control the other character with basic commands. It worked well as you climb, explore, piggy back Trip across dangerous areas and kick lots and lots of mech ass.

Graphically, the world of Enslaved is drop dead gorgeous with amazing environments of Earth taken over by nature as cities are covered in plants but dangerous mechs roam the country side. The character design is pure eye candy and it also helps that Trip is kind of cute to look at. This game has parallels to Uncharted in terms of environmental design and this is easily the best looking game out at the moment. The only downside is the frame rate which sometimes drops. The soundtrack is just as lush as the environments and the stars of the game are the actors Andy Serkis and Lindsay Shaw who really get into their characters and provide some good banter.

In the end, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West had some bugs but for me, it was like watching a painter unveil his masterpiece, section by section and before you know it, the climax has come. From loveable characters to gameplay that works and an environment that is worth exploring, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West may be the sleeper hit of this month and also... the game has a great checkpoint system! Check it out!


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