posted 5/26/2004 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: PS2
Once again the designers of the game have opted for the forklift style controls, rather than the 3-D relative controls, up moves you forward, left and right turns you and so forth and so on. This isn’t of course a bad thing, but after playing a good amount of Onimusha 3 I must say I prefer its style of control. The fighting in this game is downright atrocious at times though, hold the R1 button to ready the weapon and press X to attack, fair enough, but your character swings with such a lack of effort it’s a wonder how the shibito ever go down at all. Basically fighting boils down to whoever takes the first hit is at a severe disadvantage because all you have to do is take another step forward and swing again, and thanks to the regenerative properties of the shibito they never actually die, and you don’t want to be around them when they get back up. Of course this doesn’t cover the shibito who get to have guns. Those are a different breed of shibito altogether and they have AMAZING accuracy for hobbling zombies. It can be pitch black out from their point of view and they can still tag you from across a bridge, and they like to be positioned in the worst places, and if you forget to sight jack them and just try to run wantonly through a stage prepare to get picked off a number of times. Unfortunately for you, your characters are not blessed with such skills for firearms and can miss at practically point blank range if you’re not careful.

One of the most impressive aspects about this game is the amount of facial motion capture that is present in this game. The characters look frighteningly realistic and facial movements blend together superbly, same goes for the shibito although they just seem to have the strange contorted look that is just disturbing. Outside of that the game is reasonably good to look at even if most of takes place in the dark, with a drab color palette that begs for more than just a few colors. The sound team did an excellent job with this title, atmospheric sound is now the way to go in a horror game and the shibito also can make the most disturbing sounds that will really throw you off if you’re playing in the middle of the night. HOWEVER the person on the localization team that decided that there should be British voice acting in the game wins my award for worst mistake of the year. It really takes the player out of the element to hear British voice acting from Japanese people, almost to the point that it is laughable. Seeing as how Sony sells their games at the 39.99 price point they could have saved money by simply leaving in the Japanese language track and just add subtitles. It would have made the game much more enjoyable in this reviewer’s eyes.

I really wanted Siren to be a good game, and I am so disappointed with how it turned out. Everything seemed to be in place for a superb horror game but with the gameplay speed at that of a snail’s pace, instantaneous deaths, and worst of all the voice acting being the way it is, this game so far is the front-runner for my “Let Down of the Year” award. If you actually make it far into the game and you want to finish it then you’re in for a reasonably good tale of macabre, but you’ve really got to love the subject matter if you want to see this game through. Otherwise pay the extra ten dollars and get Fatal Frame 2 or save ten dollars and get Silent Hill 3, either game is a much more viable choice for a good fright.

Sony’s jump into the survival horror genre takes you on a mind-bending journey, one fraught with out of place voice acting, dumber than mud zombies, and a story that’ll have you scratching your head for weeks.

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