Enclave (Sniper)
Genre: Third-Person Action
Developer: Starbreeze Studios
Publisher: Conspiracy Entertainment

Enclave is a technical wonder, making full use of pixel/vertex shader programs and high texture resolutions. This is not all though: Enclave is, aesthetically, the coolest game I have ever seen. It has the coolest menus in any game, ever. Atmospherically, it has some of the coolest looking maps, ever. It even has, by far, the coolest company "splash" videos at the beginning of a game, ever. In a word, the graphics are... cool!

The theme song is absolutely unforgettable, and the stage music is dynamic and amazingly well composed and atmospheric. The sound effects follow suit- stunning! The clang of swords and axes slamming into shields, the *whoosh* of arrows zooming past, all so clear and vivid, particularily with a nice Dolby 5.1 system. Like the graphics, truly an outstanding effort! To say that Starbreeze Studios has artistic talent oozing out the ears is an understatement.

If only Starbreeze could continue on this rampage of top-tier scores... alas, the gameplay does not hold up to the aesthetics. The flow of the game begins with character selection, character equipping, and then, finally, fighting your way through the next level. The maps, while being beautiful, are somewhat bland, and feature only ordinary objectives and the menial item fetch routines that we all know so well.

Beyond the glitz, Enclave is truly mediocre for two reasons. The first is the map design: the stages are very difficult, and have no save spots except on a few boss levels. Die and you replay the whole map, a mechanism that is horribly antiquated, and for good reason. Second, straight up action titles are, simply put, redundant; would I rather play a sorceror in Enclave, or in a vast, open-ended universe such as that in Morrowind? Easy decision. This title isn't all bad though, and is still worth picking up if even for only a couple of hours.

Sniper's verdict: