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Enclave – Army of Heroes [RETRO – 2003]

RETRO – Heretic 2, Drakan, Rune, Severance: in so many 3D fantasy hack’n’slash games, we’ve had the chance to control many heroes: a mage, a hot, big-breasted Amazon, a Viking barbarian and a big, burly barbarian. What else is new in this area? What if you could mix it up with countless new heroes from mission to mission in a single game?

 

 

That’s what the team at Conspiracy Entertainment has done with the highly impressive Enclave, which was a decent hit on Xbox last year. When the game was out in 2003, it was one of the hottest fantasy TPS in recent times. What’s extra about it besides the multiple heroes?

 

Biztos vagyok abban, hogy sokan nem is akarnak szöszmötölni a nyilazással, hanem inkább a kézitusát preferálják – szerencsére jól oldották meg a játék ezen részét is.

 

Well, not the story…

 

Before I go into the game’s virtues, I’ll start with my most significant problem… I just can’t understand why they can’t find decent fantasy writers for these games? Even the story of Enclave is so dumb and meaningless that it’s tedious even to write it down. The goal is to free the peaceful city of Celenheim from the clutches of the evil Dreg’Atar (sometimes I wonder if RPG/action game developers don’t have some sort of “randomly generating arch-villain names” program…), who has divided the world into “Darkness” and “Light”.

The presence of the story becomes less and less “distracting” later on: every now and then, some good or evil power figure appears (depending on which side you’re on – more on that later), who gives you a bit of a talking to, until you solder the word “escape” on his throat. Occasionally we get some walkthroughs, but these are the usual cozy but terribly boring book page-turning themes – I don’t know why the developers push them so hard…

At first, it was a bit confusing that there was no real justification for our heroes joining the good or evil cause. Still, later on, the story was reduced to the “and then we arrived at Whatever city, which was overrun by demonic hordes” type of lofty twists, so after that, it was all the same anyway… So the story is not one of the game’s strengths, to put it mildly…

 

Biztos vagyok abban, hogy sokan nem is akarnak szöszmötölni a nyilazással, hanem inkább a kézitusát preferálják – szerencsére jól oldották meg a játék ezen részét is.

 

Money, no horse and weapons

 

After the boring introduction, the action parts start very well. Right from the start, you can choose to play the campaign of “Light” or “Darkness”. I played both, and the “Light” missions felt a bit more focused, while the “Darkness” felt a bit like an ad-hoc series of training sessions. In “The Light”, we start with an imprisoned warrior who, as it turns out later, was only there because he didn’t pay his taxes. His detention castle is under attack by evil forces, and while most of us would leave him in the lurch if the IRS offices were destroyed, our hero is a good guy and stands up to the besiegers. At first, we don’t even have a small knife, but soon we can pick up an abandoned sword from the dust, a torch a little further away, and then a shield. Surprisingly, that’s all: later on, we don’t find any weapons or armour, which is common in fantasy TPSs… Enclave has a different system: lying around the maps or on the corpses of dead enemies, we find gold, which we can then spend on more powerful weapons or armour between missions. If you’ve been raised on RPGs, you’ll be used to it: after a while, you’ll have enough money to buy the most brutal dream items and still be able to splurge – but forget that: even after later missions, the biggest problem you’ll have when buying is spending your hard-earned money on a medium (!) armour or a brutal weapon or a magic wand.

 

Biztos vagyok abban, hogy sokan nem is akarnak szöszmötölni a nyilazással, hanem inkább a kézitusát preferálják – szerencsére jól oldották meg a játék ezen részét is.

 

The dirty dozen

 

A considerable strength of the game is that you can control not just one character but twelve (split into “Light” and “Dark” warriors). In “Light”, you start with the warrior, then you meet a pretty huntress, an even prettier druidess (whose shapely backside the graphic designers have obviously taken particular care of…), a mage, an engineer and a half-elf. On the evil side, we start with a real-life Nikita (assassin), then a half-naked behemoth orc warrior, and later a white-painted “Marilyn Manson-esque” sorceress, an artificer, a goblin and a lich (undead mage) to lead the armies of darkness to victory. As these are really different types of characters, each with their own attributes and abilities, you have to choose carefully who you take on a mission.

 

Biztos vagyok abban, hogy sokan nem is akarnak szöszmötölni a nyilazással, hanem inkább a kézitusát preferálják – szerencsére jól oldották meg a játék ezen részét is.

 

When the mouse is right

 

Compared to the console version, the most significant change in the PC version is in the controls, which are significantly better than on Xbox. Using a mouse and keyboard this time around, I somehow found it easier to control my characters, even though this hasn’t been the case with the various conversions lately. Also, there seems to have been some improvement in the camera views, although I’m not sure about that; maybe it’s just the more manageable controls.

When our people (or goblins, orcs, undead, etc.) get into a specific position, the camera obediently switches to an internal view – they could have tweaked this a bit more because it’s still not perfect, but overall there’s not too much to worry about. It’s worth learning the ins and outs of combat because the enemy AI is surprisingly good. The bastards fight, defend and dodge quite cleverly – especially when it comes to their long-range archery units. It’s often futile to try and hit them from a distance because they keep dodging while they keep shooting at you, but with a bit of practice, you can take down almost anyone. If you’re using a bow or a magic wand, the trick is to aim for the head as much as possible so that you can kill your victim in one shot.

But of course, if they are always flanking, it’s not so easy, so we prefer to use this tactic against slower opponents. The two-handed fighters are less tricky, but they are very aggressive in their rushes, and arrows are difficult to hit fast-moving targets. However, for characters like the slender assassin, melee is out of the question, so we’ll have to be clever… I’m sure many people don’t want to fiddle with arrows but prefer to use hand-to-hand combat – luckily, this part of the game is well handled. The makers didn’t fall over the edge in their use of combat wiles, as they did a bit with Severance and a lot with Die by the Sword: swordplay is pretty much the simplicity of Drakan. We must also mention the AI of our own companions, which is unfortunately not as Einsteinian as that of our enemies…

Right at the beginning, we meet a girl archer who follows (or doesn’t follow) us as she diligently shoots arrows at the enemy. It’s okay that she sometimes misses them, but more annoying is her inability to follow us normally: she keeps getting stuck in something, and when I pretend I’ve gone into a castle, she just stays outside. (What’s more, I laughed so hard at him that on Xbox, he would even try to get in and follow us up the stairs – unsuccessfully, of course, because he kept getting stuck in something – but on PC, he just stood there staring, as if the task was too much for him.)

 

Biztos vagyok abban, hogy sokan nem is akarnak szöszmötölni a nyilazással, hanem inkább a kézitusát preferálják – szerencsére jól oldották meg a játék ezen részét is.

 

The “light” and “dark” side…

 

Unfortunately, despite its excellent solutions, Enclave is not perfect… As enjoyable as the constant hack’n’slash, key and gold collecting is at, first, it gets a bit boring after the first few levels. Although there are some original ideas in some places: for example, at the beginning of the Light campaign, you can use a cannon, and later on a stone-throwing machine, in a Defender of the Crown kind of way, but unfortunately there are very few of these brilliant ideas…

I was also annoyed by little things like the lack of controller support: I couldn’t wait to try Enclave with my Saitek force feedback gamepad, only to find out that the game doesn’t support any such device!

All in all, Enclave is a bit better than Severance: Blade of Darkness, which was released exactly two years earlier, but unfortunately, it didn’t make it into the pantheon of the best fantasy hack’n’slashes…

-BadSector-(2003)

Pro:

+ 12 characters, two campaigns
+ Spectacular graphics
+ Matching enemy AI

Against:

– Silly ally MI
– A bit boring in the long run
– Graphical bugs


Publisher: Vivendi Universal

Developer: Starbreeze Studios

Style: Action-RPG

Release date: 2003

RETRO - Heretic 2, Drakan, Rune, Severance: in so many 3D fantasy hack'n'slash games, we've had the chance to control many heroes: a mage, a hot, big-breasted Amazon, a Viking barbarian and a big, burly barbarian. What else is new in this area? What if you could mix it up with countless new heroes from mission to mission in a single game?     That's what the team at Conspiracy Entertainment has done with the highly impressive Enclave, which was a decent hit on Xbox last year. When the game was out in 2003, it was one of the hottest…
Unfortunately, despite its excellent solutions, Enclave is not perfect... As enjoyable as the constant hack'n'slash, key and gold collecting is at, first, it gets a bit boring after the first few levels. Although there are some original ideas in some places: for example, at the beginning of the Light campaign, you can use a cannon, and later on a stone-throwing machine, in a Defender of the Crown kind of way, but unfortunately there are very few of these brilliant ideas...I was also annoyed by little things like the lack of controller support: I couldn't wait to try Enclave with my Saitek force feedback gamepad, only to find out that the game doesn't support any such device!All in all, Enclave is a bit better than Severance: Blade of Darkness, which was released exactly two years earlier, but unfortunately, it didn't make it into the pantheon of the best fantasy hack'n'slashes...

Enclave

Gameplay - 9
Graphics - 8.4
Story - 8.6
Music/Audio - 8
Ambience - 8.9

8.6

EXCELLENT

Unfortunately, despite its excellent solutions, Enclave is not perfect... As enjoyable as the constant hack'n'slash, key and gold collecting is at, first, it gets a bit boring after the first few levels. Although there are some original ideas in some places: for example, at the beginning of the Light campaign, you can use a cannon, and later on a stone-throwing machine, in a Defender of the Crown kind of way, but unfortunately there are very few of these brilliant ideas...I was also annoyed by little things like the lack of controller support: I couldn't wait to try Enclave with my Saitek force feedback gamepad, only to find out that the game doesn't support any such device!All in all, Enclave is a bit better than Severance: Blade of Darkness, which was released exactly two years earlier, but unfortunately, it didn't make it into the pantheon of the best fantasy hack'n'slashes...

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