Review by OutOfRange

Reviewed: 09/04/07

Forget The First Game Ever Existed And Play This

Having played the first one and really not liking it to the point that I can quite easily say it’s one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever played, it’s safe to say I was cautious about playing this. Thus I only played it because I found it available for rent, and was curious to see how much they’d changed. Fortunately, this game is nothing like the previous one, and above all else is actually a whole lot of fun to play.

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Storyline (7/10)
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The story telling of this game is very similar to the previous game in that its split up between a variety of characters. The main problem I had with this in the last game is that the transition from one character to the next didn’t seem to make much sense and just felt completely random. This has been address to a certain extent in this game as there seems, at least to me, to me a more logical flow to the game. For instance, as one level you play a schoolgirl on a ship who gets rescued by a policeman, and in the next level you play from the policeman’s point of view. The characters also act like their occupation far more in this game, such as schoolgirl crying and screaming about not knowing what’s happening, and the office thinking far more logically and on his feet.

Thus with the point of how the storyline is presented resolved, you can actually discover what the storyline is far more easily. I like the fact that you aren’t spoon-fed facts and left with very little to think about like in most games, but it does take it too far at times and just hints at the storyline rather than actually explaining it. Overall, the storyline has improved a lot just with the better way that it’s told, whilst essentially feeling the same game as the previous title.

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Gameplay (8/10)
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With sightjacking being the game’s core unique feature, in the last game they jumped far too quickly into teaching you how to use it. This game takes the time and instead you don’t even have the skill for the first couple of levels, which gives you the opportunity to the game’s basic controls first and then progress onto it later. I found it a lot easier to get to grips with the controls in this way and found sightjacking itself a lot easier to use. The game uses this technique in a lot more interesting ways in this game as well, for example; having to use another person’s view to watch as they lock a gate with a padlock so that you know the combination and therefore can open it yourself. Another impressive use is that with some characters you can sightjack and then hold their perspective and move the character around, which is something you have to use when controlling a blind man using the viewpoint of his guidedog. I’m not sure now if the previous game had a map feature, but you certainly weren’t told about it if there was, which is something this game rectifies, thus making it a lot easier to find out where enemies are using sightjack and thus plot their paths.

The missions are essentially the same as ever; “get to point X”, but they are set up a lot better, with a cutscene to begin with that sets the scene. The level design is also a lot more thought through, which makes the “get to goal” targets a lot more obvious in terms of working out where you’re expected to go. You’re also given sub-missions, which explain how to get to your goal, which is something you didn’t have in the last game. The biggest change here though, is the addition of a second mission, which is only activated when you pick up a certain object during the first mission. These second missions can open up a new pathway for the game and help explain certain events. Although you’re left wondering which was supposed to be what actually happened, these extra missions improve the game and mean that since you spend a little longer in each level, you can get the feel for the level a bit easier. Even better than this is the inclusion of levels where you just go through with a gun to get past the zombies, as it does get rather tiresome just waiting for enemies to move out of the way.

The biggest improvement of all however, is the speed you move at when crouching! Previously when crouching, you moved painfully slow that it made it practically impossible to get past people when crouching simply because their movement patterns were quicker than you could get past by crouching. However, now you move almost just as fast as when walking, meaning you can get past enemies before they look round and therefore infinitely decreases the frustration with the game. The subtitles are also a lot bigger and therefore readable, unlike the last game, which means that you don’t skip through information just because you don’t want to sit right next to the TV to read it.

Basically, the game has just improved on a lot of the problems the previous game had, and the result is a far more enjoyable game. As well as just fixing problems, they found new uses for their sightjacking and also just gave the characters far more abilities and interaction with the environment. The game is just far more enjoyable to play and if you haven’t played the first, then this game is better to start with simply because it’s more fun to play and much better explained.

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Graphics (8/10)
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The game’s visuals are extremely good, with all the characters looking really well designed and detailed. As mentioned, the level layout has improved a lot, and the environments themselves look a lot better and actually look like the things they’re supposed to be, such as a village having more than three houses. The grainy filter put across the screen during cutscenes doesn’t detract from the visuals and enhances the tension. The use of light is also improved a lot as you no longer have a stupidly thick layer of fog hampering your vision no matter where you turn, as in the previous title.

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Sounds (6/10)
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The last game had laughably poor voice acting, and while the game doesn’t have the best voice acting ever, it’s still pretty good. A nice touch is the fact that they get all the Japanese names pronounced correctly, as it’s painful to know how things are supposed to sound only to have horrible American voice actors butcher the language. Also, they don’t sound nearly as british as the previous game, and most actually sound vaguely Japanese, so maybe they did the clever thing of actually using Japanese people to do the audio. The sound effects are pretty well done, but there’s still a real lack of music, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but means that any music that does feature needs to at least sound good, and the only song I can think of is the intro song, which is pretty poor.

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Lifespan (8/10)
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The game takes a decent amount of time in itself just to finish on one difficulty, taking about 20-25 hours. This is a pretty respectable time for any game, but there are also a variety of difficulties to try the game on and unlockables to get depending on the difficulty you play at, therefore an incentive to play it at the harder difficulties. Thus, with quite a lot on offer, this is something that’ll keep you coming back and worth the price tag.

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Summary (8/10)
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There are very few things wrong with this game, which is rare to find nowadays. Practically everything that was wrong with the first game has been fixed here, making the game a lot more fun to play. It retains it scare factor and to be honest can still be a bit frustrating at times, mainly when you have an AI ally who you’re relying on following you, but just end up getting in the way. However, this is a well balanced game, that will give you a lot to think about while playing it and quite frankly is just an experience you’re not likely to find anywhere else. While there are a lot of survival horror games available now, there isn’t one I can think of that, in terms of gameplay, plays anything like this.

Rating: 8

Product Release: Forbidden Siren 2 (EU, 08/04/06)

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