ranger5000's Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (Xbox 360) review

Ninja Theory knows what they are doing!

Enslaved Odyssey to the West is a third person action game similar to Ninja Theory's second game Heavenly Sword for the PS3.   Enslaved plays differently then what Heavenly Sword in that Enslaved is an action plat former.   Does Ninja Theory have the talent to accomplish what they are trying to do in Enslaved or does it fall short?

Enslaved takes place in a post apocalyptic world where you play Monkey.   The game picks up on a slave ship that is transporting slaves to a place called the Pyramid and is ran by mechs.   After your containment pod gets jolted loose and you eventually escape the pod.   Off in the distance you see a woman named Trip.   After the first mission of playing ketch up, you meet up with Trip and while you are knocked out she puts a slave headband onto Monkey that Trip has modified to be able to control him.   She has the headband setup to kill Monkey if she dies or she can even communicate with Monkey through the headband if he gets too far away from her.   All Trip wants is to go back home and she needs Monkeys help to get her there safely.   This is how the journey begins for our two main characters.   You will explore post apocalyptic areas that have been over grown with vegetation and are now occupied by deadly mechs.   The main story line is easily enjoyable.   The ending is kind of disappointing but the best part of the story is watching the relationship between Money and Trip.

Game play is mostly made up of plat forming, combat, and boss fights.   The traversal system they have setup in Enslaved is top notch.   There are a lot of games out there that should sit down and look at this game and see what they were able to accomplish.(I am looking at you Tron Evolution)   The smooth transitions from jumping from cliff to pole to ledge flows and you really never get stuck trying to figure out where to go next.   The game highlights the next thing you are able to interact with.   I don’t think I ever died from a missed jump.   Which may make it sound like it is easy but you don’t ever get frustrated at the game.   This makes for a more overall enjoyable experience.

Monkey for the most part only has his staff and his fists for weapons.   His staff when not in use collapses into its self and when you press the attack button it telescopes out to full size.   His staff acts as his shield whenever needed.   He is also able to shoot fire a stun round or a plasma round out of the end of it.   Melee combat is the main focus in the game, where Monkey uses his staff and his fists to beat down any mechs.   The combat system is really basic you have a weak attack and a heavy attack that you are able to combo into several different variations.   Some enemies after you weaken them you are able to perform a takedown which depending on the enemies type you are able to do a specific type of attack afterwards.   Like if you do a takedown on an enemy with a shield.  A stun effect comes out of the fallen enemy that stuns any mech in the close proximity.   The combat system in Enslaved is definitely not its strong point but it is fun and different enough from other games that make it feel fresh.

The boss fights can get pretty epic in Enslaved.   The bosses are designed after animals like a rhino, scorpion, and a dog.   I have to thank Ninja theory for not putting in a giant robot spider, that’s one robot mech I am tired of seeing.   I enjoyed the boss fights and they never got overly complicated.   Like most plat formers there are collectables.   In Enslaved there are floating orbs that you can collect or collect from dead enemies.   The orbs then go towards any upgrades you wish to purchase that can increase your health and combat abilities.   So if you are playing, collect every orb you see because you will not be able to buy everything in one play through.     

Ninja Theory paid attention to what Uncharted 2 did with its motion capture techniques; it’s pacing and its storytelling.   Enslaveds’ cut scenes definitely make the story more believable and help pull you into the experience.   The way they pull this off is with the characters interacting with each other and the facial animations.   It is crazy to see how their mouths move when they are talking and the way they use their eyes to help show emotion is great.   They took a page from Uncharted 2 and with the help of Andy Serkis who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies helps bring the characters to life.  

In the end Ninja Theory did a great job of putting this game together.   I have to admit when this game came out I did not have this on my radar.   I was shocked about the high praise the game was getting but it did not sell unfortunately.   I would love it if Ninja Theory was able to come out with a sequel but that probably will not happen, since it didn't sell to well.   The game would of sold a shit load if it came out in the summer or in the spring but if it had came out then I sure the game would not be as polished as much as it was.      

Enslaved offers one of the most satisfying third person action game this year.   Everyone should play this game!  Between the great story, amazing cut scenes that pull you into the lives of Trip and Monkey, and pretty good combat this game doesn’t fall short.   With the game lasting six to eight hours, it is not very long but the chapter lengths are not overly long, they feel the perfect in length.   The game does offer some replay to go back and collect all the orbs in every level or to play it on a harder difficulty.   I enjoyed my time with it.  From the second I put the game in I was hooked and couldn't wait to see what would happen to Monkey and Trip.   You should play this game, if you are on the fence about it don’t be, you will enjoy the Odyssey this game takes you on.    


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