Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
If you ever want to believe that games can be compared to films—and legitimately so, not merely because the comparison pool is so diluted—then Enslaved (X360, PS3) is as close as the industry has ever come. Primarily, this plays like the popular God Of War series—run around, beat up robots, solve puzzles—but there’s more, and it’s not just the plot. The developers landed contributions from novelist/screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later) and actors like Andy Serkis (Smeagol in Lord of the Rings), yet the resulting story would be nothing without the game’s facial animation tech. The main character Monkey’s face lights up in ways that some of Dreamworks’ dead-faced films could learn from, and Serkis’ turn as the beastly hero is a complete performance—makes sense, since he helped with the motion capture, too.
Modern games wrestle with how to combine a great story with a game—maybe the actors should talk during the action, so as to not interrupt play, for example. Enslaved laughs off gimmicks and instead proves that when you bring a game character to life the right way, players will delight in wearing its virtual skin.