Monday, May 9, 2011

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (360)

Play time: ~1 hour

What Happened:
So I played the 1st 15min twice because the power went off the first time I was playing it. :) I like Journey to the West type stuff (mainly Dragonball), and I like the concept of games where you help a partner AI character survive (Ico) so I've definitely been interested in this game for awhile.

I played it for about an hour on Sunday. The story is that you're.. some guy (who sort of has a NY accent that you don't notice for awhile) who was imprisoned on a ship for some reason gets busted out when this girl destroys the ship. While escaping you find out about these devices that kill people when they disobey the rules (one of the workers on the ships talks to you to tell you he can't talk to him, and the computer kills him). After the ship goes down, you wake up to find that the girl has attached one to your head, so now you must obey her and keep her alive. She wants you to take her to a colony to the West (hence the title).

Gameplay is mostly traversing terrain - the ship is breaking apart, so I need to jump from here to here before it falls off, or there's a robot with a laser over there, so I need to go take it out before it kills us. It's broken up by occasional sections where you have to fight many robots at once (like most action/RPGs), which is something I never like so I'll talk more about that below. :)

What I Liked:

Concept. I love the idea of working together with another character. I also really enjoy the mystery in this game - you don't really know what's going on. Why is NY city rubble? Who is this woman and what can she do? Who are you and why were you locked up in that ship? This is the sort of thing that actually might keep me playing.

ANIMATION. The animation on the main character is amazing. I have fun just making him run around. There are some handling issues though (see below), but I really enjoy the animation in this game more than any game I've seen in awhile.

Characters. I like the character designs, and I'm pretty happy with their personalities, although they don't have very big personalities... basically the main character's personality is "angry" and the girl's is "scared" but I think there's been some really strong acting in there to support that.

Traversal. I think that my favorite things in a game is when you're in a big, beautiful, alien environment and you're exploring it in ways that you normally can't - and this game has that. I can't just jump into a tree, or leap through the air impossibly far. ;) I like that the main character is a monkey man, who can get anywhere, and it's really fun to feel like I'm exploring (even though the game is very linear, I'm constantly rounding the bend to something that seems new).

Environment. The environment is beautiful! Sure, it's just more rubble and wreckage like most games nowadays, but it's still done very well and I enjoy it. Because it is so cool looking it makes me that much more excited about exploring (obviously, that's the thing about exploring - finding cool looking things).

What I Didn't Like:

Handling. We always talk about games like this as animators, and now I'm finally playing one - the animation is fabulous in this game, but your super agile monkey man character does not handle very well! The most obvious example of this (and really thinking about it, maybe it's the only one and it's just made a HUGE impression since you see it so often) is that when you stop running, you get the "run_to_idle" transition animation, which you feel every time because it handles differently than you would expect.

Tedium. I'm so close to putting combat into the "What I Liked" section, except for the fact that it just felt like guys took a couple too many hits to take out. Particularly since you seem so powerful! I'm like, smashing the crap out of this machine, which is apparently beaten up and sort of ancient looking, and it's still taking me like, 10-12 hits to take him down. I really don't think that anything is added by making the enemies last longer than 1-2 hits - particularly since this game seems to primarily be about traversing. Example, there are 2 robots way off on the other side of this valley shooting at me. I need to have the girl cause a distraction, and then climb all of the way over there without getting shot. Getting there is where the challenge and fun live. I think some satisfaction is to be had from beating on them, but it just takes a little too long for them to explode.

Combat Cameras. This is almost really cool, but doesn't quite make it - they tried to make the combat really cinematic, so you get some dynamic camera cuts and cool angles when you fight - but then every time I stop fighting I'm completely disoriented.

Also on the note of Tedium. Sections where you have to fight like, 20 robots, 2-3 at a time. They're not particularly challenging to kill, so I'm really just then button mashing for awhile...

Animation Stretching. I think it's the result of level design - but you get some of those weird spots where the character has to jump a huge distance which the animation wasn't intended for, so the character has to travel a farther distance over the same length of time (since it's the same animation), so he goes super fast for just a second. It's a picky polish thing, but I noticed it. ;)

Where to Go? For the most part traversal paths are made apparent by a shimmering effect which runs over parts and pieces of things that can be used as handholds, but I think that this is sort of a weak solution to this problem. Also there are places where it's still not apparent where to go at all - like when you have to jump a distance that seems impossible.

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:
I will definitely pick this game up again. Despite any of the shortcomings I mentioned, it's definitely intriguing enough that I want to see more. That being said, I would be very surprised if I actually finished this game - I sort of suspect that I'll get tired of it after one or two more hours. (I know... so pessimistic. I hope I'm wrong!!)

No comments:

Post a Comment