Sunday, 5 December 2010

Enslaved & Medal of Honor

Right - it’s been a while, but I’ve been busy with work and the complex construction of snow penises. So here’s a little update with my opinions on two games I managed to finish recently; Enslaved and Medal of Honor.

From the get go Enslaved is impressive both stylistically and visually, from the futuristic menus that prefix gameplay to the rich and colourful world you crash into in the games opening - you won't find a prettier apocalypse. This is not the post apocalyptic wasteland of fallout, it’s more akin to I am legend or twelve monkeys. It's an interesting refreshing alternative to the dreary wastelands that we have become accustomed to; it’s colour palette is vibrant and the environments varied. I feel it’s also worth calling out the stunning quality of the character models, particularly Pigsy (whom I believe is the star of the first DLC pack).

The gameplay is extremely similar to Ninja Theories previous title, “Heavenly Sword” - short exploration segments separated by some of the nicest cutscenes you're going to see this console generation (as I briefly mentioned back in July). This time around, the QuickTime events have been replaced with a limited platforming sections, where the game unfortunately falls a little flat. It's impossible to fall from ledges, the player can jump from specific marked up areas of the environment (yes, that means you can run against an edge hammering the “A” button until you find a valid jumping spot), and this is how the majority of navigation plays out, hammering the “A” button. It's a small price to pay to remove the frustration of constant failure (and it almost always looks pretty aside from the aforementioned issues).

The combat feels a little simpler than heavenly sword - with stances removed you've got a heavy and light attack with some combos to avoid monotony. It's very simple but not without depth entirely. You can block, reverse and pull off an attack that can dizzy your foes for a short period. It's a step in the right direction allowing for accessible gameplay and some depth without bloating the combat system as found in Heavenly Sword.

Other than some design inconsistencies, regarding HUD use/objectives it was a really solid experience. It's not going to blow you away by any means, but it's got a good story and it's a fun ride along the way. If you’re looking for a good, solid, albeit short single player game, then I recommend picking this up.

Now onto Medal of Honor.


My first impressions of this were excellent. After hearing the controls were more or less identical to Modern Warfare 2, I jumped into the multiplayer and had a blast. I particularly enjoyed the objective based Assault mode – quick to learn and quick to master. The level design was solid, sporting some amazing visuals and very impressive environmental effects. Most importantly, the weapon damage felt spot on – I was able to compete and rank quite highly in a very short amount of time. Very positive, and a refreshing change from the beating I usually receive in the Modern Warfare 2.

And then I tried the single player…

What happened?

It's been quite some time since I've seen the unreal engine looking this rough. First off the combat felt clunky - this is difficult to explain, but I felt as though firing my weapon wasn't actually inflicting damage on my opponents, but playing a scene whereby the enemy died… I felt like I was playing a rail shooter where someone else was holding the gun. Then I began to witness invisible walls between objectives, and other invisible walls surrounding me, funnelling me through the environment, models popping into place before my very eyes, enemies floating, friendly AI walking through walls, and worst of all show stopping scripting bugs (I'm looking at you DSHK mission).

I like what they were trying to do, being so current and at times, edgy. There was a single brief moment of genius, where I felt they actually nailed an atmosphere and did something ballsy in the meantime. I refer to the mission at a midpoint of the game where you and your squad are pinned down in a hut attached by waves of Taliban from all sides, the walls literally falling from their rockets and even one point a car (which couldn't be shot) that hurtles through one of the ruined walls. Though this drama was diluted somewhat by my random death (without being shot) that was seemingly issued for not following the objective to the letter – though it would not surprise me if this was a bug, not sure....

Buy it if you don't own Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and enjoy multiplayer, but if you're looking for single player, pick up enslaved instead.