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Monday, January 24, 2011

Monkeys, Murder, and Birthday Cake

I had a great birthday weekend. As expected, I spent the bulk of my time playing games, watching movies, eating, and drinking. Not great from a physical health point of view but my mental batteries are feeling recharged after a weekend of self-indulgence and sloth.

I was able to finish off Enslaved: Odyssey to the West on Saturday. The game took me about 10 hours from start to finish. It was an incredible ride filled with some great visuals, great voice acting (for the most part), and some nifty set-pieces and action sequences. But the game itself was not perfect.

There were a couple things that prevent Enslaved from being a great game. First off is the story. I thought Enslaved's story was pretty good if a little obvious and cliche at time. That's nothing new to video games and easy to accept as part of the package. But I was not a fan of how the game wrapped up: quick and strange. It's not that the ending is completely ridiculous but it feels like a missed M. Night Shyamalan moment (see The Village or Lady in the Water). There's nothing worse than an unnecessary twist popping up towards the end of a movie that is neither wanted nor warranted. It's okay to have a standard feel-good ending once you're invested in the story's characters. I think I could have written a much better ending to the game. For example:

Monkey pulls his staff out of Pigsy's bloated and lifeless body. Trip had placed her trust in Pigsy and he failed to live up to her expectations. Pigsy failed to realize just how much Trip meant to him, slave headband or not.

"So what do we do now?", asked Trip while helping Monkey to his feet.

"I don't know about you but I could really go for some BBQ right now.", said Monkey with a playful glimmer in his eye.

With that, he lifted Trip onto the back of his motorbike and they rode off into the sunset.

Cue credits and Styx's Mr. Roboto.

Man. That would have been a great ending...

My other pet peeve is with the Pigsy. Basically, I hated the character. I thought I'd like him but I didn't. He was annoying, mean, ugly, and useless. I realize that he was introduced as a form of comic relief but even that falls flat, likely due to his mean-spiritedness at certain key moments. He entered the game far too late and never did anything to endear himself to me. I couldn't have cared less whether he lived or died. I was really hoping that he'd just take a stray bullet from a random sniping Mech. I guess that's one birthday wish that didn't come true.

One last thing about Pigsy: his accent was off. Unlike Andy Serkis, Richard Ridings couldn't put on an authentic North American accent. He sounded very much like a British guy trying hard to not sound British. It doesn't work. The end result is a voice that does not match the character. It's really off-putting because the both Andy Serkis and Lindsey Shaw do a tremendous job as Monkey and Trip.

I was planning on getting Pigsy's Perfect 10 (DLC) but I changed my mind upon completing Enslaved. The last thing I'd want is more Pigsy.

Enslaved is a solid action game with a half-decent story. I loved the visuals and voice acting (save for Pigsy). I think with a slightly longer script, some work on the ending, further development of relationship between Monkey and Trip, and some comic relief besides Pigsy (perhaps a funny robot or something?), Enslaved could have really been incredible. Overall, I'm happy to have played Enslaved even though I come away from the experience a little disappointed.

With Enslaved finished, I've updated my Year of Gaming post accordingly. Feel free to check it out if you'd like to see how I plan on keeping myself busy in the coming months!

As for me, I'm off to finish up CSI: Fatal Conspiracy (great game if you like the CSI-series of games). I finished up four out of the five cases over the weekend. If real forensic work was as easy as it is in Ubisoft's game, I might be tempted to switch careers. Mind you, seeing blood and guts is probably not something that I'd want to do on a daily basis...or ever...

Have a great day!

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