STAFF REVIEW of Enclave (Xbox)

Friday, August 16, 2002.
by Queasy Buddy

Enclave Box art There are two different campaign modes in Enclave: the Light side and the Dark side. This is one of the first games on the all mighty Xbox that allows you to play either as the ?bad guys? or the ?good guys? and I?m very happy for the much-needed change. Each side has a variety of characters to choose such as the Huntress, Wizards, Knight, and Druid to name a few. Each of these characters has particular abilities and you will have to play it smart by picking the right character for the right level. A lot of people have been complaining about the inability to save the progress you have made, however, I personally liked the save system for it gave me a challenge to play strategically and to master my skills to the maximum. It is upsetting to die at the end of a long level but I just grind my teeth, take a deep breath, and start all over again. It has been awhile since I have had a game that does not allow me to move on to higher levels without beating the previous ones. It is, however, a challenge that I enjoy. The story line of this game is very captivating and grabbed my attention right off the bat. The levels, for the most part, correspond to storyline. Yet, the player may get the odd ?survival levels? where the objective is to kill an assortment of enemies while managing to stay alive. The point system is a great help; numbers pop up telling the player how much damage the hit inflicted upon the enemy. Also, when you target an enemy a bar pops up at the bottom right corner which says the name of the enemy and how much more health he has left. Furthermore, the way the menus are designed give the game a middle-aged feel; they are all very original and intriguing. Before each level the player can purchase weapons, armour, potions, arrows and more. I like that system because it helps you prepare to face long and torturous levels. Of course, one needs to find gold to be able to buy these items and this gold is hidden in each level. Sometimes, gold is awarded at the end of a level for completing various objectives. Also, if, by accident, gold has been left behind, the player may return and search for it at anytime.

The first level is designed quite well and features a good amount of balance. The player has a lot of time to adjust to the control scheme. The way the control scheme is set up is pretty much like Halo; the left thumb stick to walk around and the right to look around. The right trigger is used to attack with your weapon and the left for drawing out your shield. White and black allows you to switch from first person to third person view, which is a great option to have, especially when you try to snipe enemies. The ?A? button is used to scroll through your weapons and the ?X? button is for scrolling through your misc. objects. The ?Y? button also plays an important role for it allows the player to drink potions that have been purchased or found on the battle grounds. Of course, there is some added depth to the controls such as holding down on the left thumb stick to crouch down or the right thumb stick to jump. The limited amount of slowdown and choppiness I?ve experienced are barely noticeable and it did not affect the gameplay whatsoever. While battling enemies, some of which are very short, you might have a hard time hitting them with the Knight or other tall characters, which gets really frustrating after a taking few hits (stupid goblins). The A.I. are not the most intelligent characters in this game and here is a perfect example of what I mean: In the second level where I met the huntress, I was in the heat of the battle fighting for survival when I saw an arrow sticking out of my back. I therefore turned around to kill whoever shot me and was surprised to see that my ?loyal? partner - the huntress- was the culprit. She shot me three times and I wasn?t very impressed at all. Thank goodness it only happened to me once. Another example of the A.I.?s lack of intelligence is the fact that, as they follow the player around, they often get stuck behind barrels and walls. This is frustrating because the player must always go back and help them out.

High resolution graphics could have easily been left out of Enclave because of the sheer depth of the gameplay. But, obviously, Starbreeze Studios wouldn?t do that to the most dominant system in the world. Yet, they might have to leave a bit of the high resolution graphics out of the Gamecube version of Enclave. Enclave dazzles the eye with real-time lighting effects, soft-skinned characters with unrivalled animation routines, unique architecture in each level, as well as super-sharp and detailed texture. Starbreeze graphic designers did a bang-up job creating convincing societies of creatures with their own culture and behaviours. The most detailed enemy according to me is the stonegnome in the lava levels. There are well-defined veins of lava flowing through their bodies and therefore each time one is hit with a melee weapon, small damage (due to the extreme heat) is inflicted unto the player (pretty cool feature eh!!!). One thing that did not appeal to me is the fact that the weapons available to the player are invisible when the game is being played in the first person perspective. But, other than that, Enclave is a fantastic looking game. The last and most impressive graphical feat is the vast and detailed animation. Each character?s actions are exquisitely animated and different animation sequences correspond to the different weapons that the player has in his possession. There are also a wide variety of environments to battle in, such as the all-too-familiar lava levels, about which, by the way, I heard were illegal to not have in an adventure/platform game.

If you love indulging in medieval-beats, listening to the Morrowind soundtrack, and you're inspired by the weary thumps of yesterday's ancient DJ?s, well, then chances are you're going to like the soundtrack of Enclave. The songs are all very fitting, which bring the medieval atmosphere to this particular title. On another good note, sound effects and voice-overs are also to be appreciated. Everything is above average, but certainly not on par with something like Morrowind. Most of the sound effects, even in their mediocrity, do a wonderful job of complimenting the amazing visual effects. Everything is well placed and punctual. My one real complaint is that your melee weapons do not do clinging sounds when you hit different objects. The voice acting that overlaps during gameplay has its good points and bad points. What is bad about it is the actual acting. In most cases, it's very monotonous and has little energy. On the plus side, a lot of the enemies yell during the levels, which keeps the player good and angry. But one minor flaw that only happened to me three times was that the music skipped violently for a few seconds for unknown reasons. Weird!!! But other than that the sound is top notch. The cut scenes in Enclave really work because of the accompanying sound samples. They're so clear and so natural (unlike the in game voice-overs) that you'll be drawn in to the point where you forget to pick up your controller once the game action starts again.

Starbreeze should have kept going according to plan and added a multiplayer mode which would have given a much more reasonable score by the official XBOX magazine and pretty much every other site that reviewed this game. Hopefully they will add it in Enclave 2.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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