Published on October 25th, 2010 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Saw II: Flesh and Blood Review
Saw II: Flesh & Blood
Release Date: Oct. 19, 2010
Genre: Horror / Puzzle
Platforms: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PS3
This is a horror movie franchise that over the years seems to be more about generating dollars than quality, around a franchise that started with a solid premise. 2004 launched the craze over jigsaw, and his horrific traps and puzzles that gave audiences around the world butterflies in their stomachs. 2009 spawned the first video game in the franchise to average reviews , and average sales numbers. Here we are in 2010 and we get a sequel that almost feels like a rushed product that was trying to hit the market in time for the latest film release. You play as Michael, who is the son of Detective Tapp from the first game and movie. Michael is a newspaper reporter who used unconventional methods to get his stories, and jigsaw captures him and places him in life threatening scenarios. The game is a third person action game that uses the Unreal Engine for the eerie environments and textures. If you were a fan of the first game, beware. This release is a step back from that game last year.
The game’s story is not very well told. This is a series that praises itself on it’s story, but sadly this is a game that seems to focus more on the puzzles than they do story progression. You walk eerie hallways, enter through combo locked doors, and crawl through broken walls, saving others, and solving puzzles to save your life. Some of the puzzles in the game are well thought out, and implemented well. Sadly Saw II reuses many of the same puzzle solving mechanics from earlier puzzles to solve. Certain traps that have been set for you, such as shot guns attached to doors, can be bypassed through the games button prompts. The combat is handled in much the same way.
If you remember the first game, you can set clever traps of your own to defeat your enemies. In Saw II, those mechanics are gone. Now they are quick time events and button prompt mini games. There is even a guy you have to beat that has a spiked helmet that you have to dodge and hope he is stupid enough to fall off the platform, or take a nose dive into a empty elevator shaft. There is no other combat mechanics. No weapons to pick up and fight with, or melee combat. It’s all QTE or a game of “Tuck and Roll”.
Visually the game is not bad. It does, however hinder on many other developer faults using the Unreal Engine that textures seem to render very late in the scene. Although they re-created the eerie feel of the jigsaw “warehouse” very well, the environments do get a little bit redundant. Some cases I thought I had revisited a room that I left earlier in the game, but found out it was a different section of the house. Some areas of the game throw you into a old hotel, or subway station, but sadly feel as if you never left the house. The game does look decent, and will creep you out in some areas, just don’t expect variety here.
Some creepy sounds, mixed with some eerie visuals can lead to a gut wrenching experience. That seems to be a big misstep in the development cycle. Voice over work, and acting are horrible. Simply that. It’s upsetting to see character animations not matching up with sound effects or voice overs. The dialogue never seemed to be in sync with facial animations and sound effect seemed to also be missing from background effects and even up front effects. The life meter is also a bit of a nuance. When your life begins to run low, not only does your screen begin to turn shades of red, but you hear this constant heart beat monitor effect until you re-heal.
Saw II is a sequel that could have benefited from a longer development cycle. It begs me to ask the question of “Is this going to be a yearly release title like the movies”? After playing through this one, and yes I played through the first as well, I really hope not. Much like the movies, the game franchise is showing set back after set back every release. Even though this is only the second game in the franchise, I can just see things this time around that could have been better had they had a longer development time table. Mechanics could have been fixed, and they desperately need to reschedule the studio sessions for sound effects and voice acting. At this point in the fall I can say that your $50 will see much, much better titles in the coming weeks, and hot titles already on the market. Fallout: New Vegas released the same week, just keep that in mind.
[xrr label=”Rating: 4/10″ rating=4/10]
+ Creepy Environments
+ Puzzles are interesting (at first)
– Redundant puzzles
– Texture issues
– Combat is a mess
– Story is weak