I'm going to try to do this as tactfully and diplomatically as humanly possible.
First, let's get something established: I really liked Heavenly Sword . I really like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West . For most gamers, I would recommend both. For the Enslaved review, I was forced to make mention of the technical misgivings but preferred to focus on the positive and outlined my reasons for doing so. Other reviews have done something similar, as you can see at Made2Game , TQCast , and File Front . It's about the adventure itself; the drama, the emotion, the characters, the atmosphere, the performances, and the world design. It's great that so many have appreciated such effort by developer Ninja Theory; I certainly appreciate it as well, but I would've been remiss had I not mentioned the obvious technical flaws.
I also believe that some gamers unfairly persecute Ninja Theory for going multiplatform, without actually giving Enslaved its just due. That all being said and established, I believe the game is a great example why studios with truly cinematic and ambitious visions should focus entirely on the PlayStation 3. Many note similarities between Enslaved and Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves , which is arguably the best game of the generation and was recently dubbed the Greatest PlayStation Game by a group of UK pollsters. Now, studio talent aside – because I can't comment on that – one looks at Uncharted 2 and notices none of the bugs, hitches and glitches found in the Unreal-powered Enslaved . Naughty Dog's production is polished to a high-mirror sheen and is almost entirely flawless, and those guys have repeatedly said they simply couldn't put it on the Xbox 360. It just wouldn't work.
Now, one may say, "oh, Ninja Theory is no Naughty Dog; even if they did focus on the PS3, they probably couldn't produce something so amazing." Fair enough. But is it accurate…? Heavenly Sword came out in 2007 and critics and gamers still point to it as an example of overall slickness. The voice/mouth animation syncing is still the best of any game out there. Enslaved …not so much. Granted, we shouldn't sugarcoat HS's technicals; they do show their age if you look at them now, but that production did not have the technical foul-ups we see in Ninja Theory's latest. Can we possibly draw any other conclusion based on the evidence? Is it anything but 100% accurate to say that if Ninja Theory had stuck with the PS3, and had stuck with utilizing a specially-designed engine for the system, Enslaved would be AAA quality on a technical as well as artistic scale?
Honestly, I think too much is made of the argument that the Xbox 360 is holding designers and developers back but in this particular case, I can't see it any other way. Lastly, if you look at PS3 exclusives – or really, most any top-notch exclusive for any platform – you don't see bugginess or glitchiness. God of War III ? Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots ? Uncharted ? Heavy Rain ? There may be a few very minor glitches here and there but for the most part, they're about as polished and stable as one could hope for. Same goes for Halo: Reach . It just seems as if the multiplatform projects suffer more, and it also seems clear that the PS3 is the only machine capable of delivering the sort of experience Ninja Theory wanted to deliver. Maybe I'm missing something but I've tried to think about this from most every angle…and this is what I have to believe.
Related Game(s): Enslaved: Odyssey to the West