[7 January 2011]
So much of what made Enslaved: Odyssey to the West a great game was its characters. Its story would be a close second, but the relationship between Trip and Monkey was easily the most engaging aspect of the game. It’s odd then, that the first major piece of DLC for Enslaved focuses on the only supporting character in the game, the junkyard mechanic Pigsy.
Pigsy is a great supporting character. He has a completely different personality than the other two characters, which allows for new situations and conversations to arise that wouldn’t normally happen. He’s a little lecherous, but endearing in his commitment to help. However, he doesn’t work as a central character because he’s really just the comic relief. He has a couple somber moments in the main game, but for the most part, Pigsy brings some welcome humor after hours of seriousness.
Pigsy’s Perfect 10 is therefore much more lighthearted than Enslaved. This change in tone is necessary given Pigsy’s status as comic relief, and it’s nice that the developer doesn’t try to shoehorn the comedic character into a forced dramatic situation, but this new tone also holds the DLC back from greatness. The story revolves around the lonely Pigsy who decides to build himself a friend, a female companion who’s a “Perfect 10.” From the beginning, this seems like an odd motivation because Pigsy already has a companion, the adorable flying robot Truffles. It’d make more sense if Pigsy set out to make a sexbot (too bad New Vegas is on the other side of the country and in another game) and that would fit his lecherous nature, but at no point does his narration mention any sexual motivation. He wants a friend, not a lover, and this distinction results in a sad afterschool-special style story of a guy looking for a new friend until he realizes that he’s had a friend all along. It’s clichéd, and as an extension of the well written and emotional Enslaved, it’s very disappointing.
You’d think the game would end once Pigsy learns his lesson, but it doesn’t. There’s still a lot more game left and thankfully none of it feels forced. Pigsy’s Perfect 10 is a surprisingly substantial piece of DLC that constantly introduces new gameplay mechanics. Pigsy isn’t as fit as Monkey, so there’s no real platforming. Instead you’ll just use Pigsy’s grappling hook to get across gaps. It’s easy, but so was the platforming in Enslaved, and easy doesn’t mean that it’s not fun. It’s actually quite funny watching Pigsy fling himself throughout the world.
As fun as the platforming is to watch, combat gets the biggest overhaul. This is no longer an action game. It’s a stealth game. Pigsy can’t fight a mech head on. He gets killed in just two quick hits every time, so every enemy encounter is a puzzle. The game is clearly split between platforming sections and enemy arenas, and every time that you enter an arena the game trnsitions with a cut scene of Pigsy crawling behind some cover, so you’ll never accidentally turn a corner and run into a mech. This clean separation between platforming and stealth goes a long way to easing potential frustration since you’ll run around lots of blind corners and open lots of doors without knowing what’s on the other side.
All combat takes place from a distance. Pigsy has a gun and four extremely helpful gadgets: a Distract grenade, an EMP grenade, a Friend mine (that turns any mech to your side), and a normal mine. This selection allows you to approach each arena in a variety of ways: Set a mine and use the Distract grenade to lure enemies right to the mine or use the grenade to lure them all into a clump and then throw an EMP. Each gadget works off another, and every time that you unlock a new toy, the game becomes exciting.
However, the final stretch of gameplay is the antithesis of everything that has come before: Pigsy is stuck in a narrow hallway with little cover, where he must fight off three waves of mechs. As soon as the mechs spawn at the end of the hall, they rush towards you. There’s so many of them, and they’re so spread out that it’s extremely difficult to destroy all of them before at least one reaches Pigsy. And if just one gets through, Pigsy is toast. Whereas every other combat scenario in the game allows you to take things at your own pace, this last hallway is pure twitch-action, which feels out of place.
Enslaved had mediocre gameplay, but its characterization and storytelling were so well done that they made up for such flaws. Pigsy’s Perfect 10 has better gameplay but not enough to make up for the poor characterization and clichéd story. It’s impressive that the developers were able to turn Enslaved into a stealth game, but that final stretch of gameplay leaves a sour taste. It’s a frustrating end to a somewhat disappointing piece of DLC.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/135535-/