2002 Reviews

Enclave

  • Review Date: 2008-10
  • Release Date: 2002-07
  • Developer: Starbreeze Studios
  • Rating: 8.0

I nearly wasn't going to play Enclave. I got it anyway, but upon installation get a blank screen when loading the game. A month later I decided to come back to it and check some forums for a solution. Turns out if your monitor is 60hertz it won't work. A rediculous problem, but easily fixable as I pumped my monitor up to 75hertz.

Having played through the entire game in two days, the second half in one sitting, I really struggle to think of a game, at least action game, that looks this good up until 2002. The level design is top notch all the way through - to the point of absolutely inspiring me to make my own levels. The levels are fairly small and cramped, with a theme last scene in Wheel Of Time. Only WOT was rather bland throughout most of the game, whereas Enclave is brilliant the entire way through. There are many different design styles from villages, castles and citadels to more creative islands, mines, hell-like outlands, woods and even a haunted house. The game engine is good, but doesn't allow the visuals to depend on fancy engine features for its looks. Instead what we have in Enclave is great architecture and design matched with wonderfully intricate textures. There appear to be only two level designers for the game - one of which was JF Gustafsson, creater of two of Quake 2's best custom releases, Age Of Panic and 1964. So it's no wonder we've got a visual feast from Starbreeze.

Only nitpicks with design would be that there are a few levels used twice in game. The reason why they're repeated is because you play this game in two halves. The first half of the game your playing the good guys, while the second half you return to the beginning of the story and repeat it as the bad guys. It was an interesting way to play through the game, but ultimately lead to a short and uninspired story.

Also one major glitch was the final two levels in the first half were harder than any of the levels in the second half. In fact the finale at the end of part two was dead easy.

While much of the game play was great fun, it was very unbalanced. As you progress through the game you get the choice of different characters to play, with different weapons. I attempted to play most of them and found that the Druid/Sorceress was easily the most dominant character with her long range spell attacks. Any close-range melee combat with many of the other characters was poor and very difficult. Even on easy, I'd die in no time trying melee combat with the large strong characters. While as the Druid/Sorceress it was breeze as enemies usually couldn't even get to me in time. So playing Enclave as any melee based characters is likely to be far too frustrating.

The other problem is no quicksave. If you die, you start the level again unless you've found a checkpoint. In that case, whenever you die you respawn at the checkpoint. It doesn't restart the game at the checkpoint, it simply respawns you. Which basically means you can just keep respawning until all enemies are dead, which makes it even easier than a quicksave. Frustratingly, sometimes checkpoints don't come soon enough, and some levels don't have them at all. The penultimate level in the first half was badly needing a checkpoint and I think some people may give up on that level.

If you only play first-person-perspective, you can switch from third to first very easily in Enclave. I couldn't figure out what the key was, but I accidentally pressed it at some stage. I'm a FPS fan, but for Enclave it actually seemed better as third person, especially when you get to play as the scantily clad Druid. More third-person-perspective games need the option of allowing first-person.

Enclave isn't perfect; the checkpoint feature and lack of quicksave is frustrating and the characters are not well balanced. But with gorgeous level design, its not a game you want to miss. Sadly, I think many players have skipped it.