Enclave Review

Enclave originally appeared as an Xbox game, and at times its genesis as a console game is obvious.  However, those who turn up their noses at console action games should not let their prejudice get the best of them.  The game is more than a straight console port and has undergone a few changes on its way to the PC - most noticeably the move to a FPS-friendly mouse and keyboard control scheme - and the result is a game that can hold its own in the computer gaming world.

A magic sniper sends a bolt from above.

Enclave is set in the land of Celenheim, a magic land of good people long surrounded by the forces of darkness.  The people of Celenheim decide to try and make contact with their ancient ancestors in the land of Meckelon in an attempt to join forces against the darkness.  Meanwhile the forces of darkness are attempting to raise an ancient demon so that they can lay claim to Celenheim.  Enclave comes with a campaign for each of the two sides of the conflict, and you can choose which path to follow at the start of the game.  The dark campaign is a lot harder than the light campaign, though, so the game recommends that you start with the light.

The game is played from a third person perspective.  You'll begin each campaign with a single character, but as you progress through the story you'll encounter other characters who will then be available for play.  As you make your way through each campaign, you'll eventually have your choice of six characters on each side of the conflict.  At the start of a mission you'll be able to select your character and spend any gold collected in the previous mission on weapons, armor, and ammo for bows or crossbows.  While you could certainly select the same character throughout the entire campaign, some missions are better suited to the skills of certain characters so its best to use all of the characters as you make your way through the story.  Each of the six characters available to each side has a specialty such as melee or ranged combat, spell ability, or even demolition.

Once you enter the game you'll be immediately impressed by its excellent visuals.  The textures are very detailed and imaginative, giving the game's world a great look that goes a long way towards bringing its story to life.  The lighting effects are top-notch, especially the flickering glow of torches.  Water effects are also impressive, and the surfaces of pools realistically undulate and swell as you wade through them.

The character models are also well done, with smooth and realistic motions.  The cutscenes are all rendered in-engine and the characters appearing in them all have emotionally expressive facial animations and the lip-synching is excellent.

The game camera works well with its third person perspective, always staying close to your character and never leaving you blind to the action in narrow corridors or around corners.  When in tight quarters, the camera automatically swings upward to give you a top-down view of things.  It can take a little getting used to especially when it occurs in the midst of a fight, but it works well enough in keeping the action on screen.