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Enclave Review

publisher: Vivendi Games
developer: Starbreeze
genre: Action Adventure

PIII 600, 192MB RAM, 16MB Video Card , 2.2GB HD
ESRB rating: M

release date: Mar 10, 03
» All About Enclave on ActionTrip

The gaming industry has in many ways changed since the release of the Xbox. That is especially true of the PC gaming market. Since the Xbox has hit the scene, scores of PC games were becoming "Xbox titles" seemingly overnight. And for good reason - the Xbox needed more games, and many developers needed a more stable platform to work on. Unfortunately, the rather sudden switch brought on by Microsoft's desire to conquer the field of interactive entertainment, brought with it many side effects as well. The fact is that we, as gamers, must now deal with the phenomenon of Xbox ports - games that were originally intended for the PC, but were ported to the Xbox mid-design. One of these mid-design ports is HALO, and Vivendi's Enclave is another. And while HALO became a major best seller, Enclave has suffered a less favorable fate. Its console version never got the praise it truly deserved, as people had all sorts of problems with the clunky controls and camera work. And for this and other reasons, Enclave didn't do too well on the Xbox.

Luckily for us, Vivendi had the good sense to continue to develop and publish the game for the PC as well. Enclave is hardly what you'd call a PC port, since as soon as you fire up the game, you realize the game was originally intended for the mouse and keyboard combo, rather than the gamepad. The core of this title is its fast-paced medieval fantasy combat action, and whatever functionality the game was missing in the Xbox version is now corrected and improved by the usage of the PC control interface. Enclave doesn't have a multiplayer option, but it still offers plenty of value in the single-player mode. The game gives players the option to choose between two different campaigns (Light and Dark). The two campaigns feature stories that are in many ways interconnected with local NPC's that often overlap. In this way, the developers have managed to tell a coherent story from the viewpoint of two different sides, and, at the same time, save a lot of time by not having to design the levels twice. Our readers will be happy to know that Enclave includes over 27 levels and 6 bonus mini-games. In addition to that, there are 12 different character classes in all, plus 4 bonus characters. There are also traces of RPG elements, with the option to buy better equipment and weapons for each of the available characters, but this aspect of the gameplay hasn't been fully developed. Consequently, it doesn't increase the game's replay value in any way. In addition to that, certain mission will require of you to choose a stronger character (like the Knight), so don't think that you can easily finish the game with any single one of the given characters.

Besides offering a decent amount of content in terms of the characters, weapons, and level bosses, Enclave also provides a very nice backdrop for the action by telling an engaging story. The plot and the foundations of the game world are good enough to give more meaning to the combat, and add a bit of background to the mindless hacking and slashing.

In the fantasy world of Enclave the people of Light and Darkness are divided by a bottomless rift that split the earth many millennia ago. The lands of light are prosperous and rich, an Enclave of truth and order, surrounded by the twisted and barren lands of the dark, war ravaged plains known as the Outlands.

Over the centuries the rift has started to close, and skirmishes along the border have become more and more frequent. It is only a matter of time before these altercations turn into a full-scale war.

Here, it is up to you to choose. Will you lead the desperate people of Celenheim and save them from destruction, or will you ally with the dark hordes of the Outlands and overrun the Enclave to get back what you claim to be yours?

The gameplay itself is pretty simplistic. Different weapons behave differently in combat (a heavy mace takes longer to swing, but it delivers more damage when it hits the target), and depending on the character you choose, so will your fighting tactics (the Huntress will use her speed and agility, and the Knight will stand his ground and take the blows). What is important, however, is that the interface and the controls are as smooth as they get, so the action will simply flow as more and more enemies line up to feel the sharp sting of your blade. The designers have done a solid job on the levels, but again, it's nothing too spectacular. Some of the levels are a little less linear, but most of them boil down to getting to the next checkpoint before you run out of energy. There is no mid-level save option, which makes the game more difficult, but it also gives it a greater sense of urgency. This linear and basic approach to the gameplay and level design is not necessarily a bad thing, however. After all, this is an action game, and not an action adventure. Likewise, the puzzles are very undemanding and designed so that they won't slow down the action. My only beef with the level design is that several of the mission sites felt too repetitive. The quality of the maps was simply not consistent enough. Even though, as I said, most of the levels are linear, some are more so than others, and those levels are just too monotonous to let you fully enjoy the game world. Then again, on many other levels, I felt as if the designers have managed to create an illusion of non-linearity, which is a commendable feat given the game's genre...

The enemies will act believably for the most part, and their battle tactics will largely depend on their size and style; if you use a bow against a melee warrior, he'll run after you and try to engage you in hand-to-hand combat. Conversely, the archers will try to back away and hurt you from a distance; and if you get too close, they'll unsheathe their sword or battle-axe. A few times they would exhibit some less than dignified behavior (like getting stuck in small spaces), but this occurrence isn't frequent, and doesn't overly affect the gameplay.

Finally, as you can see from the screenshots, the 3D engine can render some very nice environments, and some mighty pretty water surfaces, too. Our main heroes are expressive and well modeled. The battle-hardened Knight has visible scars on his arms and a nice Maori-like tattoo covering his upper arm and right shoulder, and the female models are curvy and pleasing to the eye. The world of Enclave is brimming with eye candy, and the code that powers it is quite capable of rendering the nicely detailed textures, both interior and exterior, while keeping steady frame rates on a decent PC rig, with all the graphical details maxed out.

The sound effects are pleasing and professional, and so is the soundtrack. The audio experience doesn't stand out in any way; it rather blends in with the gameplay to create this intense atmosphere of fantasy medieval combat.

Obviously, the developers of Enclave put plenty of work into it to make it the best possible Xbox title they could. Somewhere along the way, some of the nagging drawbacks of the console interface got in the way of the game's path to success. But, that's no reason for us PC gamers not to enjoy the fruits of their hard labor now that the game has received a much-needed overhaul. Enclave doesn't advance the genre in any way, nor does it come without its faults. Still, the PC version is very playable, has a good story line and will give you plenty of bang for your buck. It is because of this that we give Enclave two thumbs up and recommend it to anyone who's in mood for some thrilling 3rd person medieval combat.


8.2   Very Good

Graphics are well done, Action is straightforward and to the point, story is very engaging, It is apparent that this game was a PC game from the get-go;

Some levels are too linear and repetitive; AI can get stuck in certain situations.



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