Format: PS3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Ninja Theory’s Enslaved is an epic sci-fi adventure set in a post apocalyptic USA some 200 years in the future. Co-written by Tameem Antoniades (Heavenly Sword) and film writer Alex Garland (The Beach and 28 Days Later) the story line is as epic as anything produced in Hollywood.
Players assume the role of Monkey (voice and performance courtesy of Andy Serkis), a brutish loner, who must team up with the geek-chic Trip, a tech savvy partner who is trying to return home. The game begins with both Trip and Monkey imprisoned on a slaver’s spaceship. Trip manages to escape and, as the ship plummets to the ground, an explosion serves to hand Monkey his freedom too.
Monkey’s escape from the ship acts as a tutorial as well as an introduction to the game – allowing the player to acclimatise to the climbing mechanics and combat system – while also providing a first taste of the game’s story.
Escaping from the slave ship sets the pace for the game; it’s a frantic dash to the escape pods as the exploding ship smashes into the crumbling skyline of New York. Glorious scenes of fire, water and smashing concrete litter the screen as the escape pods descend into the derelict city.
When Monkey finally comes it’s to the realisation that Trip has fitted him with a slave head bands (used to keep control of the slaves). Bound to her, he must obey her commands or experience extreme levels of pain and, most importantly of all in terms of the plot, if she dies he dies. This means protecting her from the huge mechanical slaver mechs hell bent on killing anything that still moves.
There’s a nice variety to the enemies you’ll encounter throughout the game. Different mechs have different abilities; some purely reliant on brute strength, others equipped with shields, machine guns, electronic pulses, in fact anything to give Monkey problems. Then there are the boss mechs, such as demolition mechs, rhino mech’s or the most dangerous, the dog mechs. Each requires a different tactic to take down, often involving some kind of interaction with the immediate environment.
The story is brilliantly told and, along with the excellent voice work, serves to really draw you in to the gaming world; it really carries the torch for games which want to tell an involving, memorable story. The graphics are stunning as well, not far off the stunning Uncharted 2 even in the beauty stakes. Gameplay is excellent too, although not without a slight misstep or two.
Hitting the ‘X’ button for jumping – while at the same time using it to dodge – can be very annoying, often resulting in a jump or dodge when you’d have rather dodged or jumped. This issue is compounded by the fact you can only jump from ledges where the game lets you. The game’s general approach is very linear too, there’s one way to go and bar a few side corridors which yield additional power-up orbs or ammo there is little else to explore.
The total length of the game is not that long either and though very enjoyable while it lasts there isn’t much of an incentive for a second play through. Once you know how the story plays out there’s little new to learn. It lacks any online play at all and amazingly it offers no co-op, despite the Monkey/Trip co-journey through the game seemingly tailor made for two-player shenanigans.
Still if you’re looking for an engaging, solid adventure we’d recommend picking this up. Sure, the lack of any online means its life span is severely cut but in a way it’s nice to see a developer sticking to its guns to produce the best single-player experience possible. There’s a great story, Andy Serkis, and loads of giant robots to decapitate – what more could you want?