PS3 Reviews: Saw II: Flesh & Blood Review

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Saw II: Flesh & Blood Review

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Graphics:

 

6.5

Gameplay:

 

6.1

Sound:

 

6.9

Control:

 

5.8

Replay Value:

 

5.6

Overall Rating:       6.3

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

Konami

Developer:

Zombie

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Survival/Horror

I’m really not into horror movies but I enjoy the occasional survival/horror game, and the original Saw was on the verge of being a decent, satisfying puzzle-based adventure. One would hope the developer would take the next step; they’d fine-tune and refine their approach, make quality additions and in general, flesh out the entire experience. Hence, I was hoping for something better from Saw II: Flesh & Blood. I really expected a solid mid-7 title that would appeal to fans of the films, and one that offered plenty of challenging puzzles and freak-out situations. Unfortunately, while many of the technical aspects have indeed been upgraded and I enjoyed the slightly – emphasis on “slightly” – more open-ended gameplay, the rest of the production went backwards. Zombie opted for a new combat mechanic that just doesn’t work very well, repetition soon replaces fear and foreboding, and the story is seriously lacking.

In comparison to the first game, Saw II boasts similar visuals that are sometimes oversaturated with what is supposed to be grime and muck, but character detail can be impressive at times. The background is sufficiently unappealing and provides the player with a dark, scary atmosphere, and some of the gory special effects are pretty darn horrid. But beyond that, the overall presentation lacks in quality and some of the character animations are stiff and even ridiculous. We see this most during combat encounters and the result is disappointing. The design isn’t bad although I kept thinking Jigsaw could’ve done a lot more with his terrifying environment, and before long, you feel as if you keep entering the same busted-up, bloodstained room over and over. It’s just a little uneven. One minute, you’re going, “well, that looks pretty good” and the next, it’s “oh…oh no.”

As was the case with the original Saw, the highlight of Flesh & Blood is the sound. Ambient effects in the environment, while not used often enough in my opinion, really help to instill the player with a sense of trepidation. There is no greater terror than what we can create in our imaginations, and catching glimpses of something awful before it fully registers, or hearing a far-off scream or groan of agony is essential. In the sound category, the game comes through, despite the almost entire lack of a soundtrack and some inconsistent voiceovers. Jigsaw’s voice is the best of the bunch but I never once believed the main character. There’s also a balance issue between effects and voices that is most obvious during cut-scenes but that’s only a minor issue. All in all, the game sounds as it should and correctly enhances the fear level. I will say that some of those gory effects aren't crisp enough or…rich enough.

The gameplay is fairly straightforward. It consists of a blend between puzzle solving, exploration, and reaction-based combat and challenges. Jigsaw is a sadistic hypocrite who seems to preach morality and likes to talk in philosophic circles…all the while torturing and killing for the sake of his own self-glorified ego. Well, that’s my analysis of the freak, at any rate. He will place you in a variety of situations that can require quick thinking or quick acting. You will have plenty of time to deal with certain puzzles, while others have time limits that almost seem too taxing, and there’s always the threat of rowdy enemies. The enemies are after you because you’re the son of a prolific cop who put a lot of bad dudes behind bars and apparently, Jigsaw has dropped a lot of ‘em into his devilish playhouse. He also has plenty of traps set up that will put a permanent end to your escape quest if you aren’t careful.  So look the hell out.

So yeah, the setting is just about right. Let’s start with the good- some of the puzzles are well-designed and they offer different sorts of challenges, and the time-based ones always have that terrible sense of life-or-death urgency. The pacing is decent, as you don’t face foe after foe, or deal with puzzle after puzzle without a bit of looking and exploration. The game also encourages you to go slow and take your time. As you’re always barefoot, running over glass or acid can hurt you, and pieces of the floor will fall out beneath you at random intervals. Jigsaw has also rigged certain doors with deadly traps so you always have to pay attention. Furthermore, some of the puzzles require that you look around carefully for valuable clues, and exploring will yield useful items that can open optional doors. In other words, the game requires attention to detail, and I happen to like that.

But the significant problems really start to mount up after the first hour. The first issue is the combat. Instead of a standard albeit unfulfilling third-person hacking mechanic, we get a QTE-based system this time around. You can never swing your fists or any weapon you have equipped; you have to dodge an incoming blow, wait for the option to attack (designated by the Square button), and then press the appropriate face button that flies across the screen. The issue is that it’s tough to see the latter face button; it would’ve been far better to just flash it on the screen ala God of War III because when it’s sliding, it’s difficult to see. They should’ve just worked on polishing the regular mechanic from the first game. The special effects attached to a devastating attack aren’t satisfying, either; putting a nail bat in someone’s head should result in some sort of nasty wound, right? Not just nails sticking into a plastic head?

Then there’s the repetition, which starts to become painfully obvious as time goes on. The lock-picking was interesting at first but it quickly got boring; arranging wires in circuit boards to open doors isn’t exactly exciting or engaging, and you start to expect a trap through every door. And given that you typically have plenty of time to hit the two buttons needed to avoid the trap, we lose a lot of the tension we need. Also, no enemy will leap at you from out of the shadows; you always know they’re coming, and as they all have to be human, we don’t have the benefit of freaky supernatural monsters to amp up the fear factor. I did like that some of the areas were more open and you could sample a half-dozen doors of your choice before moving on, but the gameplay just got too mechanical. There’s also a control issue: when running into something immovable, your character just stops dead; he doesn’t keep moving or anything.

Saw II: Flesh & Blood takes one step forward and two steps back. The story isn’t well done and although you will find some of those infamous traps found in the movies, there’s little in the way of plot development. The scary, tingly sensation dies out way too soon when the repetition and predictability kicks in (and that doesn’t take long), and although there are plenty of collectibles (puzzle pieces, case files, etc.), you have no big incentive to grab them all. The combat is just absurd and there’s an overuse of QTEs in general. The presentation isn’t bad and it can be effective but it all wears thin during the first few hours of play, which means any longevity takes a serious hit. Horror fans might want to give it a rent but beyond that…eh.

The Good: Decent character detail. Some solid and intriguing puzzle designs. Jigsaw is appropriately creepy. Control and camera are competent.

The Bad: Uneven technical presentation. Repetitive and predictable gameplay. Bad combat design. Fear and anxiety gives way to boredom. Story does nothing for player involvement.

The Ugly: Seriously, no corresponding wound effect at all when a nail bat lodges in a skull?

11/2/2010 Ben Dutka

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Comments (23 posts)

X_shadowkilla_X
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:02:31 PM
Reply

Nope not buying it. Never even heard of it till you put up the review. LOL

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:03:06 PM
Reply

Kind of reminds me with the horrendousness that happened with The Ring game.

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ace_boon_coon
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 1:51:35 PM

there was a ring game?

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DazeOfWar
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:06:11 PM
Reply

I can't believe you even wasted your time with this Ben. i figured it was going to be crap just by hearing its name.

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AcHiLLiA
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:09:24 PM
Reply

kind of off topic: the movies are not even scary just some of the traps are disturbing to look at. Saw 3D looks interesting though.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 11/2/2010 10:14:53 PM

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McClane
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 12:05:13 AM

Gore is not horror, despite of what the MTV generation says.....

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:10:02 PM
Reply

The first one really wasn't bad. I thought this one might be pretty good for Saw fans.

But whatever.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:21:51 PM

Hey at least we can finally say goodbye to the Saw series.

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Alienange
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:21:07 PM
Reply

LOL @ “oh…oh no.”

How many times throughout the years of gaming have I said that? I don't know, but it was terrifying every time.

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Alienange
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 10:39:26 PM

In case you don't read crazy, that's LOL @ "oh... oh no."

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OverBerg
Tuesday, November 02, 2010 @ 11:10:10 PM
Reply

Not really a surprise. The first game was not as bad as I thought it would be, but definitely didn't leave any lingering impressions. It is a shame they couldn't improve on the obvious flaws of the first game and then decided to make the combat aspect even worse for Saw II.
Oh, well. Already forgotten.

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___________
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 3:34:00 AM
Reply

since when is saw a survival horror?
its not, never has been never will be!
saw is torture porn simple as that, which more or less is what every "horror" game or movie is these days, either that or zombie based.
i mean the hills have eyes, hostel, saw, resident evil, everything "horror" related has turned into either torture porn or zombie infested!
so sad to see my favorite genre take such a decline, the ps2 and ps1 era offered so many fantastic horror games!
this gen, the best horror game ive played is dead space by far!
and thats not a horror game, its a shooting action game!
horror games are suppose to scare you, dead space is far too predictable to do that.

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Underdog15
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 8:38:54 AM

That's not torture porn. You want torture porn? Go see LV in his basement. HE'LL show you torture porn.

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AcHiLLiA
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 2:52:38 PM

Hahaha, so that explains it.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 11/3/2010 2:53:06 PM

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Highlander
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 4:16:56 PM

You know, I have to agree, I hate the current fashion for torture porn or zombies. There was a time when suspense was part of horror. the original Alien movie was a horror movie with a science fiction setting. But it was not a science fiction movie. Alien was full of suspense, surprise and veiled or hidden horrors that hinted at what was there, but let your imagination fill in the horrifying details. These days, the villain tells you the unspeakable thing he/she is about to do, and they they do it. Thanks to the ridiculous effects we can do these days, there's no more implication of the deed, now we simply see it happen (well, we think we do, obviously there are limits).

How times change...

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McClane
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 12:08:41 AM

@TheHighlander:

Try Session 9 for a really good psychological horror movie....

"I live in the weak and the wounded..........doc........."

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___________
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 6:34:48 AM

thats the problem, what makes movies scary is the persons imagination.
that is what horror is all about, that is what psychological thrillers are all about.
i recently read about a PC game by a indie developer which sets you out in a house set in darkness, you have to search rooms and fine pieces of info on why your there, the history of the house, how you got there, ect, ect.
there are ghosts throughout the house, though you rarely see them, and when you do you cant fight them you can only run.
now THAT is how you do a horror game!
honestly reading just that small description excited me more than playing any horror game since the ps1 days!!!!!
sadly i have not been able to find it here, if i did i would of grabbed it hell on high water!

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Highlander
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 10:12:25 AM
Reply

ROTFLMAO!

This review is posted at the same time as the California supreme could is hearing testimony about video game violence in a case that will decide whether California's rather broadly worded law governing the sale of violent games to children is constitutional.

Personally I can't stand Saw in any of it's forms, so not my cup of tea at all.

Somehow very appropriate.

Regarding the California thing. Why is it so hard for video games to be treated the same way as DVD/BluRay movies? Games rater M should be restricted in the same way that R-Rated movies are. T rated games are the PG ratings and below that they're generally available. Hold retailers and manufacturers of games to the same standard as DVD/BluRay and be done with it.

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 3:41:55 PM

Yeah Highlander, I've been following the hearing & was really surprised that Justice Scalia's questioning was so right-on.


Anyway, for those who are interested in their rights, here's the whole "oral arguments" transcript from yesterdays California vs ESA hearing. The final outcome is supposed to decided anytime between now & the end of March 2011, so far.

FYI, here's just a slight excerpt for the transcript....

California deputy attorney general Zackery Morazzini started today's one hour session at the U.S. Supreme Court saying that the "deviant level of violence that is presented in a certain of category of video games" requires legal restrictions to protect minors.

Morazzini's opening statement was almost immediately interrupted by Justice Antonin Scalia who pointed out that Grimm's fairy tales are very violent as well.

"Are you going to ban them too?" Scalia asked of the attorney general.

Scalia, one of the court's most conservative justices and most vocal in the questioning of the state today, repeatedly and often with humor questioned Morazznii about the California law and its effects on the first amendment.

"You are asking us to create a whole new prohibition, which the American people never ratified when they ratified the First Amendment... what's next after violence? Drinking? Smoking? Movies that show smoking can't be shown to children?," asked Scalia in the hearing.

"I think what Justice Scalia wants to know is what James Madison thought about video games," Justice Samuel Alito joked.
No one attending ventured a guess.



The full transcript is a damned good read!

http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/08-1448.pdf

Last edited by BikerSaint on 11/3/2010 3:45:34 PM

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Deleted User
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 11:22:09 AM
Reply

Well isnt your review bias. Yawn, "Control and camera are competent. Seriously, no corresponding wound effect at all. Repetitive and predictable gameplay. Story does nothing for player involvement." Those are my exact, tearful feelings I have with God Of War.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, November 03, 2010 @ 3:05:22 PM

...that makes zero sense.

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McClane
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 12:11:32 AM

GOW3 is a true masterpiece, this game, my Saw die-hard fan, IS NOT,,,

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McClane
Thursday, November 04, 2010 @ 12:14:28 AM
Reply

"IJigsaw is a sadistic hypocrite who seems to preach morality and likes to talk in philosophic circles…all the while torturing and killing for the sake of his own self-glorified ego."

My main gripe with the character itself as well....

"The sequel still goes backward"...

Exactly what happened to the franchise after Saw 3, just pure trash....

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