Game Over Online ~ Enclave

GameOver Game Reviews - Enclave (c) Conspiracy Entertainment, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Enclave (c) Conspiracy Entertainment
System Requirements Xbox
Overall Rating 60%
Date Published Friday, August 23rd, 2002 at 01:14 PM


Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

It is said that in Christianity, history is a form of linear progression, from beginning to end, from dark to light, from good to evil, whatever your future outlook may be. But the pre-dominant view of history before Christianity was what Boethius called the wheel of fortune. What dominates today will wither tomorrow. Curiously, that's how the world in Enclave works where swords, magic and sorcery all mix together in humanity's quintessential struggle, that between light and dark, good and evil.

In the land of Celenheim, the evil was exorcised by a wizard in ancient times through a rift that pushed the antagonists to the outer parts of Celenheim. That rift protected the forces of good as they lived harmoniously for a few millennia but that very same rift is shrinking, protracting and will eventually resume a conflict that was started long ago. The time calls for new heroes as you assume one of several role playing style classes in a quest either for the forces of darkness or that of the light. With two single player campaigns, Enclave provides a lengthy and prolonged battle for both sides.

Despite a solid grasp of the good versus evil premise, Enclave is unsure of itself in terms of what game it wants to portray. The various classes and character development denote a work that befits a role playing title. There are giant vistas to discover and the world you embark on is not only visually stirring but also has an interesting history behind it. Giant machines and preternatural contraptions can dominate the landscape. Unfortunately, Enclave offers very sparse commentary on some of the more interesting parts of the title. Why are these machines there? What purpose do they serve? Enclave's story reminds me a lot about Bungie's Myth franchise but the difference between that wheel of fortune and this one was the narration, depth of story and strong characters, especially the villains. In Myth, you were given hints as to what you were doing, why the evil overlord was actually the great hero from the last good versus evil battle. Those types of epiphanies and plot twists are missing in Enclave because after the backdrop was crafted, the developers went on to focus on combat instead.

Regrettably, the combat it throws at you is schizoid by nature. The controls you take up are complex and the skills you are provided with can be used tactically to disable foes. Deficient AI has made that rather useless so somewhere along the line the developers decided to simply throw numbers at you, much like a scaled down version of the hordes you faced in Hunter: The Reckoning. The trouble with Enclave is the camera system. It seems geared toward exploration, one-on-one combat and not mass combat, therefore allowing even a group of lowly enemies to inflict significant damage from 'cheap' shots. Enclave challenges you with working the camera to aim at your foes, rather than the smart use of your character's skills.

The truly difficult parts are predicting scripted ambush sequences that are only figured out on first try if you were on the development team of this title or you were plain lucky in selecting characters. Each level lets you choose a different character, so unlike Hunter: The Reckoning, you'll get a chance at trying out and improving each character class. Which character performs best in which level, unfortunately, is a hit and miss process. You don't know until you've been stabbed by five assassins or shot down from a hail of arrows at a certain juncture. Then, in lieu of any save game function in between levels, you'll have to select the correct character and go through the combat once more. It's an artificial way of extending the longevity of Enclave but it works against the title so much that it becomes an annoying exercise of paper, rocks and scissors.

It's rather a pity because Enclave is so imaginative in other ways. Visually, it provides some terrific and sublime landscapes, especially as you progress through the depths of evil. However, the most stunning pieces of work are in the effects. The Xbox came on to the scene claiming it had Dolby Digital encoding for its titles. Unfortunately, not all Dolby Digital titles are equal and the extra hardware persuades players to expect a certain home theater, cinematic quality from the audio. Sub-par effects, therefore, sound worse and are disappointing. Enclave, however, is exceptionally well done. The effects are crisp, not distorted and possess a high enough fidelity with enough bass to make them convincing. I've played certain titles like Blood Wake where the sound is absolutely abysmal, whereas titles like Jet Set Radio Future create a world in and of itself merely from the audio component. Enclave is definitely one of the latter. Its soundtrack is punctuated by light operatic chants, though not as dramatic as say Hans Zimmer. Now, if only the mechanics of the title were as creative as the technical portions, Enclave could be the sleeper summer hit we were all looking forward to.

Graphics and sound are not the only things that are needed to create a compelling piece of entertainment. Enclave's heart appears to be in a role playing title but what results in the end is a lot of mindless combat that it's not prepared to handle, with its anemic camera and deficient AI. The lack of multiplayer also makes it difficult to overlook these deficits. If it had convinced itself it was only going to be a Gauntlet-style title, it should have taken the Hunter: The Reckoning route and fixated its camera. That would've been, ironically, its saving grace. Unfortunately, an identity crisis makes Enclave a less enjoyable game than it could have been. Schizoid in its execution, this is a title that puts its best skills to work in the wrong areas; like incorrectly choosing a character class to pass a certain level in Enclave.

 

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Rating
60%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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