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Genre = 3rd person survival horror Developer = Surreal Software Publisher = Midway Players = 1 Player Online = No Age = 18+ Released = 2005
The Suffering 2: Ties That Bind is the sequel to The Suffering (surprise!) in which you play Torque, an oddly named prison inmate accused of the brutal murder of his ex-wife and kids. Throughout the original game, Torque had to use an array of weapons to fight his way through a host of horrific creatures in order to make good his escape from Abbott Penitentiary on Carnate Island.
In Suffering 2: Ties That Bind, we pick up the story shortly after Torque's escape and arrival in his home town of Baltimore. Sadly for Torque, he finds his every step is still blighted by the same types of monsters that plagued Carnate Island, along with a sinister organisation known only as 'The Foundation' set on capturing him in order to study the supernatural creatures that manifest themselves in his presence. It looks like Torque's gun-toting days are far from over...
Whilst Torque fights for his life, we learn more of his back-story and the events leading up to his incarceration at the start of the original game, much of which revolves around his relationship with his wife and a shadowy underworld figure called Blackmore.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The game looks and sounds just like the original, which is no bad thing given that the first game looked and sounded fairly realistic, dark and grim, which pretty much ticks all the boxes for a survival horror. Whilst it's not outstanding, it's solidly good, both in-game and during the occasional cut scenes. The voice acting is pretty good too and even includes a couple of well known names - Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under) as the voice of Jordan, head of The Foundation and Michael Clark Duncan (Green Mile) as the voice of Blackmore. I was sure that Colm Meaney (Star Trek Next Generation) was the voice of an Irish soldier working for the foundation, but I can't find anything on the net to confirm it.
As with the original game, it's mostly fast paced, gun toting action. The controls are simple and responsive and remain unchanged from the original setup, which makes it easy to pick up and play after the playing through the first game.
At first glance the answer to 'What's new?' would appear to be, 'not much', but that's not entirely fair. Some of the enemies you'll encounter are the same as those in the first game, most notably Slayers (guys with all 4 limbs ending in blades), who are your first and most commonly occurring opponent throughout the first game and the sequel. However, there is also an array of brand new creatures, or malefactors as the game terminology would have it. As in the first game, these creatures are manifestations of some form of murder or grisly, blood-soaked event, e.g. triggermen, which are the embodiment of street gun crime and appear as arachnids with shotguns for limbs and skorpion machine-pistols for mandibles!
In addition to a new roster of enemies, there is a new and much larger selection of weapons with which to dispatch them. There is now a choice of melee weapons (knife, metal pipe, baseball bat and axe) and a selection of handguns, shotguns, automatic weapons and heavy weapons (grenade launcher, RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) launcher and the very tasty M60 heavy machine gun), all of which adds a little bit of variety. Furthermore, Torque is no longer the walking arsenal he was in the first instalment, when he was capable of carrying a knife, pistol, shotgun, machine gun and more all at once. Instead, the sequel adds an element of realism (ignoring the monsters for the moment!) by reducing your weapon capacity to a choice of only 2 at any one time, plus grenades. This adds an extra layer of strategy to proceedings, leaving the player always considering how much ammo is left in their current weapons and whether it's worth switching to each new weapon you find (and frequently running back to grab ammo for your new gun that you left earlier).
The main feature of The Suffering which set it apart from other games in the genre was the choice of moral path. In the first game, Torque was in prison for the brutal murder of his wife and children, but did he really kill them? The player answered the question for themselves by either helping or slaying the various people encountered during the game, leading to either a) the good ending, where Torque is a nice guy who was wrongly committed, b) the monster ending, where Torque killed his family and is a monster to boot, or c) the neutral ending, where Torque accidentally killed his wife and one of his sons killed himself and his brother.
When you start a new game of The Suffering 2 having first completed The Suffering, you get the option to continue from whichever endings you saved in the first game (other than the monster ending, since that one doesn't lead to Torque escaping the island). I'm not entirely sure to what extent this choice effects gameplay because I've only played through once, but I can only see one point that would definitely be different, which is right before the end scenario. Either way, it's a nice feature and whichever moral standing you begin with, I'm fairly sure it's possible to finish with any other ending you choose to aim for. Furthermore, as you kill creatures you fill up your 'insanity gauge' which, when full, allows Torque to transform, for a limited period, into a monster with devastating attacks, as in the original. This time though, the monsters appearance and abilities will be altered slightly depending which moral path you're heading down. Not a particularly big deal, but again, a nice touch.
This is a decent game that never threatened to be world beating. There's not really enough in there for it to suppass the original experience, but it's a good addition and the background ought to be of interest to people who played the first game. However, I wouldn't recommend it to anybody who hasn't already played The Suffering. I won't be playing through it again because it would be pretty monotonous, so in that sense there is little or no replay value, even though there are various endings to the story.
I would have given this game 4 stars, but I've deducted one star for two reasons. The first reason is that the game is less impressive than the original, simply because it's no longer a new and interesting concept. The second reason is that the end boss is so damn tough that I've still not yet beaten him! I really hate reaching the climax of a game, after putting many hours into it, only to find that I can't defeat the boss. Maybe I'm just a naff gamer*, but if I've battled all that way, I should be able to take the last step given a few (or even a lot) of tries at it! If I ever manage to finish the game then I'll update this review with any extras you unlock for your efforts. That said, the fact that I can't find any mention of unlockables on the net doesn't fill me with high hopes that my efforts will be richly rewarded!
The RRP is £19.99 (£21.99 on PC) but it's available from amazon for £9.99 on PS2 and £16.99 on Xbox. I'm not sure why the price differs so much, but if you've played the original, then the sequel is worth a tenner of anyone's money! It's also available from £7.50 through amazon traders, which is at least as good a deal as you're likely to find on ebay.
*NB. I'm not a naff gamer, I rock! ;-D
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A great games review, plenty of factual info, and opinion on the game. For some reason I've never even picked this game up in the shops, I'll have a look at it now though I think. Rachel x
clownfoot 12.08.2006 20:52
Hmm, do you really need unlockables to make the game worth playing? I would have thought thesatisfaction of completing the game would provide a sense of achievement enough. I've never seen the point of unlockables much myself... Alboy
charlsayslol 11.08.2006 13:40
hey great review :D i don't have plastation 2 or xbox and i hate playin games on pc so i won't get to try it but sounds good :)