By Peter Carmody
The morbidly fascinating world of Saw returns with yet another addition to its gore-porn franchise. This sequel to Saw: the video game was released little over a year from its predecessor and was most likely meant to cash in on Halloween fever for the second year in a row, and while the joint effort between developers Zombie Studios and publishers Konami will almost certainly take advantage of Saw fan loyalty, the game will undoubtedly be a bit of a disappointment to those who are simply looking for a bit of horror and gore.
Read our full review, after the jump.
The story follows Michael Tapp, the son of the previous games central character as he investigates the mystery surrounding his father’s demise, only to find himself the unfortunate victim of another one of Jig saw’s â€œgamesâ€. This survival horror will have your bare foot protagonist painfully making his way through a maze of poorly lit rooms and corridors, all the while collecting case files and puzzle pieces in an attempt to stitch together a cohesive storyline, which for the most part will be lost on anyone who is not a passionate follower of the never ending Saw-ries.
Admittedly, exploring a scantily lit deserted apartment block, filled with nasty contraptions and angry junkies, brandishing a torch that only shines about a meter ahead of you, has the potential to keep you on edge. It is unfortunate then that the established tension is effectively destroyed when you realize that the most threatening aspects of the dark and downright chilling environments are porcelain thrones filled with hypodermic needles and the randomly scattered shards of glass on the floor.
As you make your way through the repetitive settings, you will be expected to solve equally monotonous puzzles and problems which are at times intertwined with the destiny of other victims. These main set pieces are made slightly more difficult to solve with environments that are riddled with vicious traps and rotten ceilings that will attempt to make short work of your efforts to advance.
In the beginning, becoming accustomed to the quick time events and mini games that most of Flesh and Blood is built around, could have you frustrated and frantically pushing buttons to avoid listening to Billy the puppet’s aggravating laugh, while you’re zipped back to a badly placed check point. Sadly, once you have died a couple of times and figured out how the traps and puzzles work, you can move through the rest of the game fairly unobstructed, considering it is a lot of the same thing. In an attempt to make the recurring pattern of traps and mini games slightly more difficult, it feels as if the designers at Zombie studios decided on unreasonable response times to QTE’s, and some of the stories larger puzzles, which unfortunately did not work either taking into account how quickly the game becomes predictable.
Like most of the game, the combat is also built around QTE’s, which to be honest, helps to remove any modicum of potentially frightening situations you may have had with an attacker wielding a baseball bat. Not only is it easy to dispatch any would be assailant by simply pressing the appropriate prompted buttons, but the angry chap will generally give you fair warning to prepare yourself by announcing his presence with a barbaric war cry or shouting out a few threats before approaching you.
Flesh and blood does well in recreating the source material in both the sound and visual departments, and although the character models and dialogue could use some more work, the good use of lighting and textures not only add to what is otherwise a pretty average looking game, but also help in the establishment of the familiar grungy look and feel that the films are well known for. Saw fans will be happy to hear that the Score is true to the movies and Tobin Bell returns to lend his voice and likeness to the Jig-saw character
Unfortunately while the game is not bad looking, the story line seems to be written exclusively with the Saw fans in mind, which means that unless you have an incredible memory or watch the Saw films on a regular basis the plot is likely to escape you. Overall the game becomes painfully repetitive after the first 2 to 3 hours of play, and any apprehension that Flesh and Blood does well to instill is lost due to the silly QTE based combat and sheer predictability of the game.
Game play: 4.7
The game does not have much in the way of a challenge or a scare, which is disappointing considering its genre. While fans might jump at another opportunity to immerse themselves in the begrimed world of Saw, everybody else is likely to be disappointed with the recurring traps, mini games and set pieces, not to mention the dreary combat system.
It is unfortunate that where the tone and environments of the game are clearly built around careful attention to the source material, other elements, such as the dialogue, character models and trap designs feel like more of a rush job.
Besides the occasional stock screams and the routine piano jingle that triggers every time you successfully avoid getting your head blown off, the score and voice acting are some of the games better qualities, even if they are used quite sparingly.
Flesh and blood may take varying amounts of time to complete, based on the player’s ability to pick up on the monotony. While there are collectables for those who really want to apply themselves, more than one play through seems pointless considering how the game would only become more predictable the second time around.
Overall: 5.5 (not an average)
Maybe it’s unfair to expect intense play or at least a few good scares from a game based on popular horror films, but there was very little about this game that gripped me.
[Reviewed on Playstation 3]
Last Updated: November 22, 2010