Ninja Theory was responsible for one of the first great PlayStation 3 exclusives; Heavenly Sword showed us what the next generation of cinematic-based storytelling could be like and also provided us with a flame-haired vixen of the blade. To this day, we at PSXE say we’ve never seen such slick blending of animated mouths to the words spoken and if you’ve played HS, you likely agree. Fantastic acting and decent writing combined with a game that also featured a solid – although relatively simple – combat mechanic and we’re really hoping the team’s “top secret” project is a sequel. It probably isn’t, but we’re allowed to dream, right? In the meantime, let’s take a look at their other game: it’s Enslaved and it should be on store shelves towards the end of the year. While Heavenly Sword was an exclusive title, Enslaved will be available to both PS3 and Xbox 360 owners. And correct me if I’m wrong, but couldn’t Trip be Nariko’s sister…?
But let us start at the beginning. The game places us 150 years in the future and it’s hardly an environment where technological superiority has benefited humans. In fact, after a series of catastrophic conflicts, humans find themselves on the brink of extinction as both biological warfare and mechanical drones have taken over. But instead of the standard post-apocalyptic setting, you needn’t expect the cold, stark, barren atmosphere one might find in an adventure like Fallout 3. Instead, we’re faced with lush, vibrant locales because as the great cities crumbled, nature obviously wouldn’t be denied. This immediately makes the game more appealing in my eyes, as I’ve always been partial to beautiful, natural environments (it’s one of the reasons I was so happy to get to Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII). But anyway, humans have only managed to survive in small tribal communities scattered throughout the world; in total, only about 50,000 people remain in the US.
They remain at war with the Slavers, who can drop out of nowhere, slap a helmet on their head that controls them through pain, and disappear. And actually, this is how the two main characters come together- Trip once survived in a small community that used old technology to get by and as a result, she’s pretty handy. Therefore, when she encountered Monkey, who found himself trapped by the aforementioned headgear, Trip was able to rewire it and…well, Monkey is still “enslaved,” but only by a much nicer master. Now, because Monkey is very powerful but ain’t none too bright, he can benefit from Trip’s intelligence and the two will work together throughout their harrowing adventure. You will actually control only Monkey although Trip will always be by your side, so it’s not like Trip is controlling Monkey’s very movements. In short, it reminds me of a cooperative mechanic we found in the likes of Resident Evil 5 and Prince of Persia. But if Trip goes down, the game is over; in PoP, Elika couldn’t die, so this is a new obstacle.
If you’d like to protect Trip, you can tell her to stay put and clear out a particularly dangerous area but always remember that Trip can be very useful. She can provide you with valuable information and details on both your enemies and your surroundings, and if you want to risk it, she can act as a decoy and take some of the pressure off Monkey. According to time IGN recently spent with the game, the combat will be challenging and Ninja Theory reinforced that fact by stating that battling “is supposed to be quite hard.” Monkey gets a staff with which to beat on enemies and if he finds certain ammunition, that staff can be turned into a long-range weapon. Light and heavy attacks will be at your disposal, along with a variety of special abilities and a few QTEs will be implemented for certain moves. We’re not entirely sure if Trip can deal direct damage to foes or if she merely acts as an outside supporter but either way, she’ll always be there and she must be protected. Based on the screenshots, we’re definitely liking the look of this one; it could be a real feast for the eyes.
Lastly, Ninja Theory will once again place a big emphasis on the story and they’ve hired Alex Garland, who wrote “28 Days Later” and “Sunshine," to handle the script. Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies and also voiced King Bohan in Heavenly Sword, will do motion capture for Monkey. Our expectations are indeed very high for Enslaved, especially now that we’ve learned more about the gameplay, premise, and environment. Now, about that other game…
4/1/2010 Ben Dutka