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Enclave

Developer: Starbreeze | Publisher: VU Games
Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 03/10/03 | Genre: Action

Starbreeze Studios and Conspiracy Entertainment have recently brought Xbox owners an action game set in a medieval fantasy world. The game is Enclave, and despite the fact that it looks like another D&D RPG title, it actually has very few RPG elements and relies heavily on action and combat to keep players immersed.

The story of Enclave tells of a great war waged long ago. Just as the end seemed to be upon the good folks of the land, a mighty wizard thrust his staff into the ground and unleashed a powerful magic that split the Earth and sent the demon king plummeting to his demise. Unfortunately, the wizard also disappeared, but at least the fair city of Celenheim was now protected by the vast rift created by his magic. However, in present times, the rift is healing and the Enclave is in danger of falling to the dark forces that have roamed the lands beyond the rift since the great war.

When the game begins, you assume the role of a knight of Celenheim who has been imprisoned for helping citizens avoid paying heavy taxes. The dark forces suddenly assault Celenheim, and in the confusion of battle, you are able to escape. As you progress through the game you'll be able to control several other characters as well. Each has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and you'll often want to take these into consideration when deciding which character you will take into battle. For instance, the knight is a powerful fighter and is useful for melee combat, and the wizard uses powerful magic to take down foes, but he is also physically more vulnerable than the knight.

While fighting your way through the various levels, it is important that you take some time out to explore as well. Often you'll find bags of gold lying off the beaten path, and these are very useful as you can purchase new items in between missions with the gold that you have accumulated thus far. There is a counter in the upper portion of your screen that tells you how much gold is hidden in the level, and how much of it you have found. The screen also displays your health/magic meter, the items you have equipped and how many potions you're currently carrying.

In terms of graphics, Enclave is definitely a step above the competition. Simply put, this game looks gorgeous. Everything from the green fields and wooden villages to the huge, stone castles looks amazing. You may at times find yourself wondering around a level just to take in the scenery, and the fantastic lighting effects only add to the visual splendor of Enclave.

The game's audio is also fairly well done. Characters have spoken dialogue, swords clash in battle and the music to the game seems to fit the mood for the most part. The fantasy style setting of the game allows for some unique sound effects, and the developers have taken full advantage of this.

Unfortunately, the game does have its share of problems. The most obvious of which is its tendency to crash in the middle of the action. Once, I tried to pause the game during a battle with a few orcs only to have the game come to an abrupt end. Another time, the game froze up while trying to launch into a cinematic sequence. Also, a slow down in performance was not all that uncommon, and character animations were often rather choppy. Another problem the game suffers from is the fact that there is no way to save your progress during most of the missions. Some of these can last quite a while, and having to start from square one every time you die gets old quickly. Also, the fighting in the game boiled down to mindlessly pressing a single button to attack your opponent, and became more of a chore before long.

To its credit, Enclave does feature a second campaign in which you take on the roles of several dark minions and try to bring the city of Celenheim to its knees. Overall, the game is certainly lacking in some areas, but then again, a select audience will probably thoroughly enjoy what the game has to offer.

By Ryan Schaefer - 08/19/02
ESRB Details: Blood, Violence
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Screenshots for Enclave

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