Good versus Evil, an age old battle waiting to be fought, are you up to the challenge? In a world where its people are separated by a bottomless rift, the division between light and dark grows ever smaller, slowly forcing together those on the side of light known as Celenheim, and those on the Dark side known as the Outlanders. One day, those in the darkness will cross the rift and take what they believe is rightfully theirs, can you stop them as they clash in a struggle for survival?
Enclave is primarily a one player, third person (though you can put it into first) fantasy role-playing game in which you take on the role of various characters, 12 in all (6 of light and 6 of darkness). At the beginning of your first game you only have the choice of playing on the ‘light’ side and the beginning character of ‘knight’, i.e. the good guy. However, one of the rather cool aspects of Enclave is that you gain new characters as you progress and once you’ve played through the light campaign you can then choose to be on the dark side. This gives you great glee as you take revenge on behalf of the Outlanders and systematically go around killing all the people you previously fought for.
First impressions of Enclave were really good. The graphics are stunning and even the menus seem slick and well thought out. When the intro sequence is over and you’re straight into the action it’s easy to be impressed with the high res textures and effective lighting. The scenery looks grand and the characters are highly detailed however one noticeable flaw with regard to all these spectacular textures is the fact that there is little interaction with your environment. You may find yourself swinging wildly at what looks like stereotypical breakable barrels but absolutely nothing happens. This takes away from the overall realism of the surrounding graphics and you find yourself wanting to find a hidden health potion in a smashable barrel as you would in most other games of this ilk. Even on the later levels when entering the water and swimming, this lack of realism becomes more apparent, as there’s no wake in the water, the smooth gorgeous ripples remain unbroken. There were however a few windows to be smashed but this was too little too late.
Another gripe, ok a pretty major gripe has to be the ‘jerky’ camera as your character gets stuck on scenery making the game appear more than slightly buggy. At times if you jump or move into a certain area the screen appears to have some sort of fit and you’ll find yourself, or in game enemies, walking through or disappearing into apparently ‘solid’ objects. In fact, the camera overall can be slightly irritating, it sometimes flicks into first person mode when you are fighting, leaving you confused and bewildered as enemies disappear out of line of sight.
The sound supports the game well enough but is nothing outstanding. It comes with the expected moody background music and standard orc/snotling style grunts and squeals. Overall the sound is good but this aint no Halo. The music in Enclave doesn’t go very far in adding to the atmosphere of the game, it is background music and ‘background’ appears to be the word that describes it precisely for the most part because that’s where it remains.
Now down to the nitty gritty, what it’s all about: Game play. Lack of clarity when playing Enclave leaves the game floundering a bit. Your run of the mill third person hack and slash approach can be fun at times and by all means it’s not all bad, but you can’t help but feel removed from the action. At times you may swing wildly, completely missing your enemy (since there’s no auto aim on melee weapons) yet they will react as if hit. The addition of the hit points above your enemies in battle is sometimes the only way you can tell if you’re making headway in your fight. One of the good points however is the addition of being able to build up your character’s equipment using gold found in the game. This comes into play at the start of each new level when you can spend the spoils you’ve gained by upgrading weapons, armor, health etc. You also get ranged weapons as well as the usual array of melee weapons.
BE WARNED: There are no save points other than those at the end of the completed level and if you die before making to the end of the level that’s all folks, it’s back to the start of the level for you. While this extends the lifespan of the game it can be so frustrating that you may not want to restart the level.
All that said, if you’re looking for a fantasy rpg for your Xbox this is better than previous offerings (also available on PC). It’s not all completely dire and can be fun when you overlook the obvious technical glitches and slight annoyances that plague the game. This game could have been so much more and it is a shame that it just doesn’t live up to the pre-release hype. It’s fun and worth a look but keep in mind that it is let down by far too many bugs and appears to have left the studio far too early.
Review by Angela