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1 Reviews

Enslaved

A fresh, polished and colourful adventure...

Ninja Theory's adventure looks a bit like Uncharted 2 - and plays a bit like it too - but it's just not quite as polished, or quite as pretty.

Enslaved is set in post-apocalyptic New York 150 years from now, and Manhattan has mutated. The streets have become organic canyons, thick with vegetation. The crumbling skyscrapers are wrapped in vines and foliage, and strange animal calls echo through the air. Civilisation is no more.

But there are survivors: Monkey, the big guy, and Trip, the girl. The pair have to work together to battle murderous mechs, solve puzzles and make their way through the ancient city to Trip's home village. While this is a co-op game, you can't play with a friend. You control Monkey, while the AI remains in charge of Trip. Monkey deals with the fighting and climbing, while Trip scans the environment for danger, distracts enemies and hacks security doors.

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MONKEY MAGIC
Monkey looks lumbering, but he's a skilled climber with lots of Uncharted-style clambering
through levels. It's a shame the path is always so clearly sign-posted by patronising glowing lights.

Monkey's animation is fantastic, but he doesn't feel quite as weighty or as connected to the environment as Nathan Drake does.

Combat is smooth and responsive, and rewards a tactical approach, forcing you to make good use of the dodge and evade buttons. Mashing r and w gets you nowhere, especially later in the game.
Still, there's less combat than you might expect.

Ninja Theory have done an excellent job keeping the game textured and varied. There are high-intensity action scenes, sure, but also quieter ones where you'll explore and solve leisurely puzzles, like starting up an enormous mechanical windmill by clambering around its blades a mile in the air, or navigating a maze of complicated rising and falling bridges.

HEAVY METAL
The twist to the duo's relationship is that Monkey is helping Trip against his will. She's controlling him with a special headband, forcing him to escort her safely through New York.

Monkey, voiced brilliantly by Andy 'Gollum' Serkis, has a fiery temper, and initially fi nds this infuriating, but the two grow fond of each other as the game progresses - but not in a clumsy, hokum way. The story and character development are beautifully done, which makes sense as it's co-written by established author Alex Garland, of The Beach fame.

Mechs are your primary foe - the remains of the war that destroyed civilisation over a century ago - still powered and programmed to kill.

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They're a formidable enemy, pursuing Trip and Monkey relentlessly, and come in various shapes and sizes, with unique behaviour and abilities.
Handily, Trip can upgrade Monkey's health, shields, combat skills and his weapon, a retractable staff.

Orange orbs are scattered around the environment, and dropped by enemies, which can be traded for upgrades. Cleverly, large pockets of these orbs are often hidden in hard-to-reach places, giving you an excuse to explore the environment for a way to reach them. This'll appeal to completists, although they're completely optional.

In some sections, Monkey uses the Cloud; a hoverboard-like device that lets you bomb around open areas at high speeds. The first time you use it is to surf across the surface of the East River, below the ruins of the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a bit twitchy to control, but gives you a nice sense of freedom.

Enslaved's key problem is the way it constantly tells you what to do. Before you have time to think, the solution to a puzzle, or path through a climbing section, is revealed, either by the camera zooming in, a button prompt or an illusion-shattering shimmering light.

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