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Enclave

Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:   Starbreeze Studios
Publisher:   Conspiracy Entertainment
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Action
ESRB:   Mature
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Unit
Date Posted:  

9-10-02

The hack-and-slash styles of games are almost always intertwined with fantasy settings. Enclave sets to repeat this trend. Traditionally, these types of games are either very good or very bad. Enclave actually manages to fall in the middle of the two extremes. Curious as to how it manages that? Read on.

Enclave is one of the better graphical titles out right now. Character models are detailed and the world looks great. I did not experience any slowdowns while playing this game. In the levels that go into the underworld, the lighting effects are pretty good. Red hues from the fires cast all over the dark world and the character models giving it an eerie and flame-lit effect. However, the only downside is the graphical tones are fairly dark and you may need to adjust your television to adjust for that in certain stages.

The basic story of Enclave is the struggle between two sides separated by a rift in the world. The side of light has characters like knights, archers, halflings and druids while the dark side has ogre warriors, assassins, liches and goblins. Combined, both sides have 12 playable characters with different strengths and weaknesses. Players only start off with one character in the beginning and the others are unlocked as you find them in the missions of the game and can buy better equipment by spending gold that is found in the missions.

The levels set this game apart from many others like it. They arenít exactly the longest levels out there but they become increasingly difficult. To add to the difficulty, there are very few checkpoints in the game. Actually, they are so rare that they do not even seem like a part of the game. Checkpoints are absent in most levels except for boss levels and that makes this game extremely hard. While Baldurís Gate: Dark Alliance would have several checkpoints per level, this one has almost none. This makes the difficulty spike up tremendously. To add to that, there are many times where you will battle through a half-an-hour level only to be killed by an exploding wall or an ambush 10 feet from the exit. This makes it extremely frustrating and may make many gamers throw the controllers across the room. Also, many levels have one character that will make it easy to get through. While this is expected to have something like this, it makes it near impossible to take any other characters through the level. There is no level up system for the characters in the game and character skills only increase by purchasing new equipment. New equipment is added to the store after each level, but some equipment takes a while to buy initially (armor) and there really is no indicator on how the various melee weapons compare to each other. All of these factors add up to players having to go through a level several times with several different combinations of equipment to find the proper one.

The enemy AI is laughable. They see you, they charge you and they attack you. There are pre-set ambush areas in the levels that may feature things like exploding walls, bridges and floors with tons of enemies attacking you. The basic, never fail strategy to Enclave can be summed up by "Move in, attack, move back, drink potion if necessary, repeat." While most hack-and-slash games are not known for their AI, this gameís is sporadic. One level may seem fairly easy, but the difficulty jump to the next one is tremendous. There were times where I had to sit back and check to see if I had the best equipment (which I did) and then wonder how I was supposed to exactly beat a certain level because the enemies overwhelm you or something similar.

The music and sound is the typical fantasy adventure style. Epic sounding music plays in the background while the various characters grunt, groan and yell. It is nothing special, but nothing terrible either.

The one glaring downside to this game is the lack of any replay value at all. The dark campaign is initially locked and is unlocked when the light campaign is won. Somehow I doubt many people have the patience to get that far in the game because it is so frustrating. As for any form of multiplayer, donít bother looking. They didnít see fit to include it. How any designer can make a hack-and-slash game and NOT include multiplayer options is completely beyond me. Many of the levels seem to REQUIRE two people to clear. Multiplayer may have actually made this game enjoyable to more people, but the lack of it makes it a game that can only be enjoyed by the stubborn few due to the difficulty and frustration levels.

Highs:

  • 12 playable characters
  • Decent hack-and-slash action

Lows:

  • Frustrating gameplay
  • No way to tell what melee weapons are better
  • Very few checkpoints
  • No multiplayer

Final Verdict: 

Multiplayer could have saved this game. The ability to have more than one person dealing with the levels and their sporadic difficulty level would have actually made this game a must buy. Sure, it is a decent game, but there are too many flaws present for me to recommend this to everyone. This is probably a decent rental for 80% of the people out there. If you want a hard hack-and-slash that you can play alone, buy this. If you want a good game in this style that you can play with others, either buy Hunter: the Reckoning or wait for Baldurís Gate: Dark Alliance.

Overall Score: 7.0

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