In a time of ‘Lord of the Rings’ idolization, adventure games are in great demand; anything to give gamers a taste of sword fighting goblins and orcs. Many gaming companies have attempted to cater to these needs, but to no avail. Adventure games for the PC in the last year have been rather bland from the third person point of view. To add to the woes of the adventure hungry gamers, those adventure games that are published, attempt to follow in the footsteps of the once holy grail of adventure games, Tomb Raider. Well no more, Lara Croft make room for a new heavy weight contender, Enclave.
A third person adventure game from Starbreeze Studios, Enclave is set in a medieval type world of dragons and magic. In a time of good versus evil, the lands of the once peaceful world were separated into two factions. One, of darker intentions was led by the demon Vatar, the other, with more noble intentions was lead by the great wizard Zale. As tensions grew it all came down to a battle between the two factions. The bloodshed ceased when Zale, using his staff, created the “rift” separating the land, and sending Vatar to the fiery depths below. For centuries after, the “Light” and “Dark” factions lived on in their own little worlds. As time went on, the rift began to close, brining the once rival factions together again. It is left up to you, the player to determine the fate of both factions.
After installing and setting up the game, it took a few minutes to get my video card tweaked to provide the best results in-game. Unlike the console ports of Enclave, the PC version offers the Light and Dark campaigns right off the bat. Starbreeze Studios cleverly incorporates a short tutorial into the first mission of each campaign, sort of guiding the player through the various aspects and character abilities in the game. The game takes about five minutes to get the hang of, after that it is just pure fun, no frustration with absurd puzzles, or overly difficult boss characters. Included are three skill levels, “easy”, “medium”, and “hard”; unlike most games, the skill levels are accurate and are expertly designed to correspond to a player’s competency. In some games, the easy skill level is still impossible to play, and that is why Enclave’s skill levels were a pleasant surprise.
Each campaign has a total of six characters to choose from. Every character has his/her special abilities, from archery to magic, there is a character in this game for every type of gamer. With every character class is a variety of different weapons. From bows, to bombs, to staffs, the variety is quite satisfying. An interesting feature in the game is the shields, which can be used to block enemy arrows. In certain missions, siege weaponry is also available to use, including ballistas, catapults, and canons.
The 26 included missions are split up evenly into the two campaigns. Unfortunately, in the missions lies one of the game’s few downfalls. The objectives in the thirteen missions per campaign are a little bit repetitive. A little more variety would have been nice, like maybe a mission similar to the large battle at the end of ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’, where you could play as an archer or knight defending/attacking the keep. Objectives like that, things that are out of the ordinary would have made the game perfect.
Enemy AI in this game was quite well done; a challenge to play against and that is what Starbreeze Studios needed to do with this game, is make a challenging AI. The AI is quite clever. Enemy archers will draw their blades for close quarters combat and take cover during reloads. Enemy soldiers will draw their shields to defend against your arrows. Overall the AI provides for challenging opponents in the game.
One thing that most games don’t achieve these days is the design of flawless hit box systems. Usually, the hit boxes for the legs and arms don’t include the gaps between the arms/legs and the body. In Enclave, the hit boxes were done with such precision that a shot right below a characters armpit or crotch will miss. The hit boxes are molded perfectly into the character models. Just a neat little feature that the game takes advantage of.
From a detail standpoint, this game was a visual masterpiece. From the environments to the weapon models, the game couldn’t have looked any better. The character models were expertly crafted, the faces in particular. The eyes and mouths were articulately skinned models as opposed to the animated textures used in some games. Environments in the game were vast and full of energy. Shadows were quite well done, cast perfectly to reflect upon the sun/light source’s position. Weather conditions were excellently crafted in this game, providing beautiful clear, overcast, and night skies. It would have been nice to see Starbreeze Studios take more advantage of the cinematics they used at the beginnings and ends of each campaign. Some cinematic battle scenes would have been a great addition to the game.
The animations really added to the feel of the game. Characters moved smoothly and realistically across the screen as though as they were real. Fluent leg and arm movements added to the magical atmosphere created by the game. Not only were the character animations exquisite but the environmental animations were to die for as well. Trees blowing in the wind, buildings collapsing, and the ground splitting open as cannon balls impacted it, all of this made the game that much more fun to play. A little detail included with the game that was quite pleasing was the arrow models. After being shot by an arrow, the arrow sticks out of the characters body instead of disappearing like in most games.
As a player, you can’t ask for much more as far as audio is concerned. The soundtrack accompanying this game was truly amazing. Tracks were created to generate the right moods at the right times throughout the game; some of the music for this game was Oscar quality. The magnificent audio doesn’t stop at the soundtrack though; the weapons sounds were very crisp and only utilized the lower frequencies when it was needed. Environmental sound effects made the atmosphere in this game. Running water, trees blowing in the wind, and the sounds of lava flowing through the caverns in the depths of the rift, make the player feel as though he/she is actually embarking on the epic campaigns of Enclave.
Enclave is the cream of the crop; the quality of other adventure games is belittled by the greatness of this game. Starbreeze Studios made use of all of their assets and put together possibly the greatest adventure game of all time. Stunning visuals, a classic soundtrack, original campaign ideas, what is not to like. Falling short in only the lack of diversity in mission objectives, Enclave fell a few steps short of perfection. In a genre that has been darkened by poor attempts at adventure games, Enclave is the light.
Score: 9.2 / 10
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