PS3 Reviews: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Review

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Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Review

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Graphics:

 

8.3

Gameplay:

 

8.6

Sound:

 

8.8

Control:

 

8.1

Replay Value:

 

7.9

Overall Rating:       8.4

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Namco Bandai

Developer:

Ninja Theory

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/Adventure

Ninja Theory’s Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is fun. Perhaps if we were allowed to provide the public with one-sentence reviews, I’d just leave it at that, because it’s pretty darn accurate. “Fun” implies worthy interactive entertainment; one looks forward to playing, enjoys playing, and when finished, is happy that he or she played. At the same time, “fun” isn’t as strong as other adjectives like “amazing,” “unbelievable,” or “memorable,” and almost implies that the description omits some shortcomings. All this being the case, Enslaved really fits the “fun” label. It’s not as technically proficient as it should’ve been, one may question the built-in ease of certain aspects of the gameplay (i.e., hand-holding), and there can be camera and frame rate issues. This is what keeps it from being an elite production. At the same time, the characters, story, atmosphere, design, presentation, and acting make it a must-try.

As you may have gathered from the many trailers – and perhaps from the demo if you played it – this game is very bright and colorful. It’s rare to find a post-apocalyptic setting that is this pretty and pleasant but then again, maybe it’s wrong to assume even nature couldn’t survive our own stupidity and inherent self-destructive drive. Character and enemy design is also nice, although not quite as refined as I would’ve hoped, and animations are smooth and numerous. Overall, the coloring and lush vibrancy will likely remind you of Uncharted, even if the graphics fall well shy of such a lofty goal. I did notice that this multiplatform Unreal-powered game isn’t anywhere near as slick and polished as the PS3-exclusive Heavenly Sword from the same studio, but…whatever. No beating dead horses here. Yeah, there’s a bit of screen-tearing but all in all, the vistas in Enslaved are borderline beautiful and even epic.

If it weren’t for the technical hitches – in one scene, the voices totally missed the movement of the mouths – this would be one of the best-sounding games of the generation. The soundtrack is beautiful and apt; it’s never overpowering and it always seems to play just the right role, and the effects are fantastic. Combat effects are just downright stunning, and even simple movement and platforming maneuvers benefit from well-implemented audio and ambient environmental effects. As for voice acting, it’s some of the best we’ve heard, as Monkey (Andy Serkis) and Trip (Lindsay Shaw) are so good together, they provide the backbone for the adventure. The acting is top-notch and although Trip’s comments during gameplay are too often repeated and there are some slight balance issues, the sound category is definitely a big highlight.

Monkey and Trip escape from the slavers and team up to survive. It’s 150 years in the future and the mechs have taken over, although apparently not due to some higher AI’s desire to control humans. As Monkey says, the mechs were built for battle and when the war ended, “nobody told ‘em.” But there’s more going on beneath the surface, as you will discover throughout the course of your quest, and obviously, the twist to this game is Monkey and Trip’s connection to one another. If she dies, you die. Now at first, I was very skeptical about this, because I despise babysitting and escort missions and the like. I don’t like having squad-mates I have to control in shooters, either. I’m just a lone wolf in that way. But thankfully, Trip never feels like a burden and even when she’s screaming for help, I don’t feel frustrated or annoyed. I’ll explain exactly why in just a moment, but first, let's go over the gameplay basics.

For the record, you only control Monkey. He is a nimble, powerful fighter who uses an attack stick of sorts (for some reason, I was reminded of Donatello in TMNT), and is capable of brutal Takedowns. His staff can also fire various pulse blasts, so there’s actually a third-person shooter element to parts of the gameplay. Trip provides support. She can upgrade various aspects of Monkey’s development, including Combat, Health, Shield and Staff; upgrades are gained by spending the orbs you find laying around the landscape. She can also be commanded to “come” (…you guys are going to have fun with that line, aren’t you?) and provide a distraction for Monkey by utilizing her Decoy technique. Then there’s the EMP blast, which is also quite valuable. Communicating with Trip is as easy as pressing and holding the L1 button and selecting from a simple radial menu; L1 also spots Trip in the field and finds objectives.

This interaction between the two works extremely well, with only a few exceptions. Sometimes, Trip gets a little confused when “coming” and doesn’t quite reach you for some silly reason, although I did like the part where I accidentally told her to follow, and she yelled, “there’s no safe place for me to hide!” The good news is she’s not constantly in trouble; she typically stays away from the scene of battle, and there aren’t many instances where you grow frustrated with Trip’s vulnerability. For Monkey’s part, much has been made about his responsiveness, and I want to make something clear: in terms of combat, he couldn’t be more responsive. Everything flows and works well, with the exception of an occasionally wonky camera. And when he starts to run, there is a small delay but as I’ve explained in the past, that’s just momentum physics, in that no human just magically kicks into a full-on run from a dead stop. It’s not fair to explain that delay as a flaw.

But it is fair to claim the control is just a tad loose, as I never felt as if I always had solid, reliable, 100% control over Monkey. It’s a little difficult to explain but you know how controlling Drake just felt completely and entirely stable…? Monkey sorta lacks a bit of that stability in my eyes. The camera can indeed pose a problem depending on the situation and on top of which, the fact that the game won’t let you die when platforming is, at the very least, a questionable design decision. Essentially, you can only move to the next spot; you can’t accidentally fall or jump in the wrong direction because the game won’t let you. This is what’s known as hand-holding. But there are two angles, here- on the one hand, it obviously detracts from the challenge, but on the on other, there are so many quick jumps and leaps, I can see where one would be falling to his death a lot without the assistance.

Let’s just stick with the negatives until they’re exhausted: in addition to the above, the combat can feel a little repetitive. You can probably use the same strike combo throughout the entire game, and there aren’t enough in the way of big boss fights. The staff bursts are mostly for long range and you perform a Takedown (where you can control a turret or rip a mech to shreds) just by pressing the Circle button after applying some heavy abuse. But hey, it’s fun. It’s fun because it works and the production is put together well. The landscape design is great and although some will complain about a lack of exploration, I’m not really seeing that. Not every game needs to be Fallout, and I don’t recall being able to explore much in Uncharted 2 or God of War III or whatever. Besides, you do need to prowl around the environments and look for hidden orbs, and there are also multiple paths through larger areas.

But let’s get back to the production to finish. The pacing is good. You don’t feel as if you’re moving through the same environments over and over, and you almost always want to play the next chapter because you wanna see what’s there. The balance and variety is good. Monkey doesn’t have useless upgrades; just about all of them prove to be very helpful, and this drives you to search for more orbs. The layout of most every level is good. Some mechs have armor, some are turrets, some are active, and some are just sleeping…until you accidentally break their pulsing boundary, which you can see as blue rings on the screen. There are mines to avoid, huge structures to scale, co-op elements that have you carrying and throwing Trip, and lastly, something I think too many reviewers missed: strategic situations. You don’t find such situations that often in straight-up action/adventure games and it's well worth mentioning.

See, you can bash your way through, sure. But you can also opt for Trip’s Decoy and get closer, thereby allowing you to save valuable pulse or stun ammo. You can create a diversion so Trip can reach you safely. You can stun from afar in order to reach a certain location. It’s hardly deep strategy, but it’s there, and after Trip’s handy dragonfly scouts any given area, you’re immediately thinking about the best way to approach it. Yes, there are times when there’s only one way, but actually, it’s not that often. And lastly, there’s the story, characters, presentation, and overall aura, which I find to be fantastic. If you’re more artistic-minded, you will appreciate this game more than others, as you will be more willing to overlook the technical misgivings. There’s no doubt that technically, it’s not top-quality but me, I kept playing for all the aforementioned elements. The story gets better and better, that post-apocalyptic world can be mesmerizing, and the relationship between Monkey and Trip is well-written.

Monkey isn’t a muscle-bound idiot. He may have a bit of a sarcastic nature and hot temper, but you quickly start to feel something more for him as time goes on because he’s not one-dimensionally scripted. And I just found Trip adorable. Earlier, when I said I wasn’t annoyed at protecting her, it’s because of two reasons: 1. she’s actually useful, and 2. I like her. You feel thankful for her technical capability and sympathetic towards her susceptibility so when you hear her cry for help, you actually want to get the hell over there. If Trip wasn’t drawn so well by the developers and writers, I’d more often just be responding with something like, “oh my God; just die already, bitch!” But I would never think that about my traveling partner in this game. We’re in this together and that concept and mechanic works throughout, which is the main reason to play.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West often stumbles on the technical side. In one cut-scene, Monkey wasn’t even there. Another time, as mentioned before, the voices missed the mouths entirely. There are minor frame rate and screen tearing problems. The combat can feel repetitive, control isn’t as stable as he could’ve been, and not all commands work perfectly all the time. But the entire scope of the production vastly outstrips these drawbacks; in other words, this one is greater than the sum of its parts. The character development, superb performances by Serkis and Shaw, nicely written and engaging storyline by Alex Garland, beautiful soundtrack, excellent effects, pretty vistas, and great pacing/balance kept me happily entertained. I suppose the best way to sum up is this-

If you’re one of those people who are very tech-oriented, in that little bugs and hitches and glitches really get to you, and such faults can really hinder your enjoyment, you’re going to be at least slightly frustrated with Enslaved. If you’re more of an artistic person and you value the things you feel more than the things you see, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t like it. I hope this final explanation is helpful.

10/2/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (44 posts)

Lawless SXE
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 10:25:42 PM
Reply

It actually sounds very good. I easily get annoyed when things aren't quite right in a game, but yes, it is easy to overlook most minor flaws. That last paragraph seals it in my mind: Enslaved has become a purchase, as soon as I can get it.
Peace.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 10:26:27 PM
Reply

After playing the demo, I wanted this game.

After reading Ben's review, I'm still wanting this game.

Now, I gotta go run back to GTA4 since I've only got a measly 52 hours in it so far.

Last edited by BikerSaint on 10/2/2010 10:28:29 PM

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Shams
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 10:38:27 PM
Reply

Nice read, Ben. Will wait for the Lord of Shadows review to decide between the two. Just got Valkyria Chronicles and MNR through Amazon, so that should hold me over. Unfortunately, I'm swamped with work, and i had guests over, so this weekend is all work and no play...

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 10:41:33 PM
Reply

Wow, well I don't think I've ever seen you overcome so many negatives for such a high score but based on this review I believe I will place Enslaved on my Xmas list as it would probably make me a bad gamer to ignore the experience entirely. It still gives me the willies, but if it isn't my money it should be okay.

Appreciate these hard worked reviews as always.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 10:46:01 PM

I think the reason is because while I noticed the negatives for review purposes, I had no problem ignoring them when playing for fun.

That rarely happens because the flaws impede my enjoyment, but the artistic stuff and underlying creative factors just makes it great for me.

Agree with this comment 8 up, 4 down Disagree with this comment

Shams
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 11:04:45 PM

My 5 year-old nephew used an interesting term for video games tonight: "controller-movies".

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 11:11:33 PM

That's a great point Ben, if one can separate the reviewer from the core gamer it is a lot easier to have fun. That's why the scores here are usually justifiable, because they find middle ground between the nitpicks and the crap nobody really notices when they are having fun.

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Shams
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 11:34:51 PM

I appreciate how he concludes most/if-not-all reviews by mentioning whom the game will most likely appeal to...even when the game doesn't suit his own tastes.

A lot of reviewers confuse "reviewer's tilt" for personal bias, and then use to it madly exaggerate a games overall quality or flaws. But they (Ben & Arnold) keep it real, here.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 12:01:26 AM

Thanks. The score is only part of a review, IMO; we have to say who might appreciate it, even if it isn't us. ;)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 1:48:35 AM

I love "controller-movies"

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Qubex
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 8:40:54 AM

World, have to agree with that, I thought Ben would have scored it a little lower. But I get what Ben is saying about taking an artistic view on the game as a whole.

I did watch some of the video reviews... they always seem to use the 360 version. The game seems ok, but I can't help comparing it to Heavenly Sword. The presentation in general is good from what can be seen, but still would have preferred another Heavenly Sword rendition.

Anyway, I am a technical whore, so I was interested in the Digital Foundry strip down and, like so many multi-platform games, the PS3 comes short unfortunately. Incredible un-going frustration...

I won't be picking up the title, there are others that I am keeping my money for...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

Last edited by Qubex on 10/3/2010 8:41:26 AM

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Temjin001
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 11:18:37 AM

Qubex, yeah, I love DF, too. There's also the Lens of Truth guys. While they're not as in-depth as DF, their process of overlaying PS3 and 360 images for comparison is very cool. Sometimes they point out things that DF may miss. Like the self shadowing in Enslaved is better on 360. PS3 has this lower quality method (think Dead Space for PS3) where 360's is smoother.

I do think the PS3 version comes out a tad clearer in fine texture detail. Check out monkey man's whisker stubble.. you'll notice on the PS3 you can make out each whisker a bit better.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 7:45:25 PM

I'm sorry guys, but if I get hung up on those minute, ridiculously anal details, I'd never have any fun playing any video game.

There is such a thing as over-analysis and in all honesty, I find such sites to be utterly worthless. "Oh, I didn't see a shadow"......holy sh**, how boring must your life be where that actually matters?

It's just one of my pet peeves, that's all. This is about fun. Let's not do everything we can to kill that.

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johnld
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 10:44:32 PM
Reply

i'm not gonna bash enslaved, i actually liked trip from what i played from the demo. I'll probably even try it if i run out of games i want to play. the thing is, this arent really the type of games i like playing. i havent played god of war game until the third one came out. i wasnt drawn to it at all when it came out but i did play 1 to 3 straight. as i dont really care about technical flaws on games, as long as its not clearly "breaking" the game experience, i'm fine with it. if i keep hearing positive feedback from it, from which it could be proven, not just "this game was great so you should get it" then i'll try it later.

Anyways, what i find hilarious is that antoniades went out of his way to comment on how to do motion capture and voices but they end up with a game where the voices miss their lip movement. maybe he shouldve focused more on polishing their game than commenting/bashing on other developers on how they do things.

on a side note, i wonder whats their target for sales to call this game a success this time?

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 10:46:38 PM

Just for the record, Enslaved isn't really much like GoW.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 11:14:43 PM

Enslaved isn't anything at all like God of War. Lord of Shadows probably will be though, so stay away from that. I, personally, prefer my action games to be in the vein of GoW, Heavenly Sword, Dante's Inferno, etc ad infinitem. So Castlevania is a LOCK for me.

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johnld
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 5:13:47 AM

@ben
I meant the type of games like god of war was, action/adventure type of games, at least during the ps2 days. something about the light/heavy button combos kinda puts them in the same genre for me.

@world
I didnt mean that i didnt like god of war. i actually like it, just not how some people are way into it. My gaming preferences kinda changed from ps2 to ps3. with my ps2 i prefered fighting, racing, and rpg type games. i only had about 2 shooters which was killzone and FF7 dirge of cerberus. i used to buy games where i can enjoy with people in the same room, hence the fighting games. looking at my ps2 collection i had DOA2, dragonball z games, soul calibur 3, and of course marvel vs capcom 2.

Its basically the complete opposite from right now. i rarely buy fighting, racing, and from the looks of it rpgs. Now i have a bunch of different genre of games. now i mostly have shooters, action/adventures, and others. right now i'm trying to balance my time with MAG, Bad Company 2, Killzone 2, uncharted 2, demons souls, and sports champions.

by the way, i started to play MAG again after 2.0. it seems like the visual aspects of the game has improved and the game seems to play much faster too.

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tes37
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 11:30:22 PM
Reply

I'm glad to see this get a good review score. I'll definitely pick this up by the end of November.

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thanossurfer
Saturday, October 02, 2010 @ 11:34:41 PM
Reply

I was very impressed with the demo from many perspectives. The platforming elements were very well executed and the controls were extremely smooth. The combat is simple and not overly complicated with easy block and evade moves. The graphics were above average and characters are intriguing. Ninja Theory's strength is story and character development and combined with the other positive aspects; this is looking like a winner and day one purchase for me.

By combining Heavenly Sword's story and characters with Uncharted's well executed platforming sections, Enslaved is definitely my kind of game.

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Ben667
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 12:34:07 AM
Reply

Elephant in the room... is the 360 version more technically proficient?

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Deleted User
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 1:51:39 AM

According to IGN's Arthur Gies, the same issues Ben mentioned occur in the 360 version but aren't as common. However, they don't really affect the game much.

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aaronisbla
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 1:23:11 AM
Reply

ok, i may have to check it out during christmas

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frylock25
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 2:24:34 AM
Reply

i look forward to checking this game out. the problem comes up is that i may only be able to buy 1 maybe 2 more games by the end of the year, if that. so while id love to play this i might have to wait for the money. i think i will wait for a price drop as most games are usually $40 within a few months. some of these tech issues might bother me if i pay full price at launch for it.

Ben, what is there to replay it for? not to be rude or whatnot but is there any other reason to replay it besides liking it? you noted the replay pretty high.

Last edited by frylock25 on 10/3/2010 2:26:19 AM

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ABUrabad
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 6:16:49 AM
Reply

its such a game that ill buy for sure but still it have to wait a little bit more since there are couple of exclusive games i will not be able to keep my self away from like GT5 which im sure it will need more than 100 hours at offline campaign without mentioning the online part
i think i may buy this game as a second hand

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___________
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 6:21:50 AM
Reply

cant wait to get this, from the reviews im reading the combat is not very good, its the art style and characters which draws you in.
thats exactly what i expected, NT may not do combat perfectly, its not shabby but its far from perfect.
its character design, and story which is really what sucks you in and keeps you interested from the get go.
no one does character development better than NT!

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Vivi_Gamer
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 6:38:01 AM
Reply

Great review, I'm still interested in getting Enslaved day 1. Sure the combat is simple, but then i'm not getting this game for the combat. I want sense of an adventure, it seems to have more platforming elements than combat. You would have thought they'd polished off a few of those hitches though i'm not put off in the slightest.

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Mamills
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 7:26:21 AM
Reply

yea, ill wait till i can get it cheap.
not paying $60 for a game i can beat in 10-15 hrs and no replay value

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Siege
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 8:14:53 AM
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Thanks for the review, Ben! I look forward to picking Enslaved up later this year!

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Ergi
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 9:34:44 AM
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Interesting, great review. Personally, I was quite impressed by the beauty of the demo and I'm a big fan of the artistic approach that ninja theory has. I was however dissapointed with the combat in the demo and expected it to become repetitive, so I'm gonna have to wait for a price drop.

For me it's a bit harder to look past repetitive combat than past small technical issues.

Definitely seems like a game i'll enjoy though and I like the bit of strategy implemented in combat (sure am glad I found out about it, leave it to PSXe), maybe there's room for more strategy in the future for these types of games.

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hellish_devil
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 9:46:37 AM
Reply

LOL @ Ben screaming to the screen when playing a game that is not Enslaved "oh my God; just die already, bitch!"

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piratedrunk
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 11:05:36 AM
Reply

Great review. I wasn't terribly impressed with the demo but now I am quite interested and might have to pick this one up after or around Christmas.

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KNG201
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 11:21:51 AM
Reply

it feels good to see new ips' im getting a little tired of playn old franchises. bring on the new franchises. oh wait there is one franchise im feenin to play.....MAX PAYNE 3

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Jawknee
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 1:09:01 PM
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Good review. That last bit does help quite a bit though I already new I wasn't going to get this for those reasons after playing the demo. If your going to do something do it right I always say. If I was a developer, glitches, hitches and screen tearing would always be the first things to be fixed if present. No way in hell would I feel comfortable presenting my work to the public with glitches like that. It's akin to me releasing a record with out of tune guitars, bass and drums.

Last edited by Jawknee on 10/3/2010 1:09:57 PM

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chucknasty
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 4:22:18 AM

Looking at your post's message coupled with several glaring spelling and grammatical errors I can only give a slow, ironic clap. Keep doing it right:|

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Temjin001
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 2:50:04 PM
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I'm tech oriented for sure. It's the old PC gamer in me that would go from site to site comparing performance measurement readings between ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards.
BUt at the same time, I really do appreciate great art design (FF, ME, etc) it's just the best when I can have the best of both worlds... rather than just one world =

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DazeOfWar
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 3:43:12 PM
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I'll pick this up someday when it's cheaper. I wasn't that impressed with the demo. It just didn't make me interested in the rest. Maybe if it would of been more than just a training level. Good review though Ben and someday I will play it.

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tlpn99
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 7:09:12 PM
Reply

After playing the demo I decided to get this game.

Ben's review was good and made me still wanna get the game so im still gonna purchase this. It looks like a very beautiful looking game and I cant wait to try it once it is released. Day 1 buy for me.

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Teddie9
Sunday, October 03, 2010 @ 8:20:36 PM
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Keeping my pre-order and looking foward to the great narrative, but I don't want to continue to put up with these technical issues in the future.
Simple combat, light and heavy attacks, screen tearing, what will become of their DmC reboot...

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RebelJD
Monday, October 04, 2010 @ 8:44:17 AM
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I'm artistic and a fun game is a fun game. I know I'll have fun with Enslaved because a good game is a good game.

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hadouken
Tuesday, October 05, 2010 @ 6:58:10 PM
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I don't care about the technical issues. Nothing is perfect, not even uncharted 2 (my favorite game ever.

I'm getting this because I love the world they created and the characters seem amazing.

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Jotun
Wednesday, October 06, 2010 @ 10:39:27 PM
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This is one of the few games out there that seems to live up to the hype of the world it was trying to create. I'm extremelly excited to find out the story gets the focus for once in a game of this genre. We already have GoW, Bayonetta, Castlevania, Darksiders, etc etc. I don't need more hack'n'slash.

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Libertarian
Thursday, October 07, 2010 @ 1:16:49 PM
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Enslaved surpassed my personal hype. Superb game. Love Ninja Theory.

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Lairfan
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 @ 2:45:25 PM
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I still can't get past the fact that Trip acts like a complete bi*** when you're chasing after her on the ship, then she puts that headband on Monkey and expects him to serve her without any questions asked (sure she apologizes, but it feels kinda heartless after seeing what she had done to Monkey throughout the first level). That still makes her seem like a bi*** in my eyes, no matter how much her character is developed throughout the game.

Still getting the game though. One character won't ruin a game full of Uncharted-like moments for me.

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OPHIDIAN
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 @ 12:13:32 AM
Reply

Man, this guys reviews are bloody good.

Just played this and would not write a word different from the above.

This game is for people who can become emotionally encapsulated into a game. In other words the balance goes more towards rpg fans rather than fps.

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