posted 5/26/2004 by Matt Mirkovich
other articles by Matt Mirkovich
One Page Platforms: PS2
If a commercial for a game is so scary that it can no longer be aired in Japan then the game must be outstanding. Turns out it was just a good marketing campaign for Sony. After playing Siren you’re left with a slightly bitter taste in your mouth, leaving you with so many instances of you saying they could have done this or that to make the game better. Well sorry they didn’t, so instead you’re stuck with a sub par horror game that can’t hold a candle to the Silent Hill series and definitely doesn’t come anywhere close to that of Fatal Frame. From the British voice acting (BRITISH?!), to the frustrating bang and you’re dead moments of this game nothing seems to come together properly for what could have been a really good horror game.

Gameplay takes place in the isolated Japanese town of Hanuda, a town deeply rooted in the occult religions and very cautious of those who would dare to come and try to disrupt their practices. The timeframe of the game is spread out over three days and involves ten individuals who are trying desperately to resist the call of the siren that consumes the villagers and turns them into the grotesque shibito. The ten individuals who you will be playing as are all connected in some way and playing as each one will affect another character in some way shape or form. This would be all well and good if the game did a better job of giving you background information on some of the people. Instead you are treated to case files of each person that won’t be viewable until some time later in the game. One character early on, an old man with a rifle, says “There’s something in the air,” and that’s it, you begin his stage. So you really have no idea what you’re chasing or why you need to get to a certain part of the village until way later in the game, and even then it isn’t a clear cut explanation, at least with Silent Hill and Fatal Frame you were given a place to reach and a reason for going there.

In your effort to reach a given place you’re going to run into a number of the shibito who are out patrolling the town in an effort to find anyone who is not possessed by the evil presence. Your main weapon against the shibito is a skill known as “Sight-Jacking” which gives you the ability to see through their eyes. Now this is an interesting gameplay mechanic and for the most part it works out very well. It is done by pressing the L2 button and then using the left analog stick you search for a suitable pair of eyes and using one of the four face buttons you can hot key it to that button which makes it less cumbersome to have to constantly search for a target. You’ve got a limited range on how far you can sight jack so you have to make sure you do it often. While using this feature you are also clued in to your position relative to the shibito and it appears as a blue cross hair this is incredibly useful when trying to sneak around by going say under a window that is being patrolled. Of course the shibito won’t track you on sight alone, you’ve got to walk, run, and sometimes crawl past them in an effort to get by undetected. There are going to be times though where you’re going to get spotted and in that case you better run like hell and find a safe spot because the shibito will come after you with a vengeance and of course will promptly lose you and return to their rightful patrol. Or if you’re really in a pinch you can always fight, which is also a subject of bad design.
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