Friday, December 10, 2010

Saw II: Flesh and Blood

Dark, gritty, plenty of blood, and moral dilemmas, our spare time for the last week has been devoted to the new Saw game, Saw II: Flesh and Blood. Like any good sequel, there were integral improvements over its predecessor. Graphics, combat, and puzzles are the main improvements we experienced.

As is always appreciated when a new game comes out for a franchise, the creators of Saw II made sure to clean up and enhance the visual aspects of the game. Tobin Bell as Jigsaw is a remarkably impressive graphic. Another change was how you monitor your health. Rather than an ugly health bar hanging out at the bottom of your screen, your character has a bandage on his arm that becomes bloodier the more damage you take. Eventually, a vector heart monitor line appears at the bottom of the screen and an annoying beep start up The new setting is a run down hotel which allowed for some interesting floor plans and room layouts. Although questionable lighting meant that I never was able to decide if the hotel was once a super posh nice hotel or a dingy rent by the hour one. Decidedly creepy either way once it became a playground for Jigsaw.

A major issue in the first game was the slow to react and dodgy combat moves. This was fixed in the second game by just making combat into a mini game dependent on timing your button pushes well. These are similar to the mini games that save you from a well placed shotgun blast to the head from opening the wrong door. Weapons last you exactly 1 fight sequence. NO more. No less. So, if your opponent comes at you with a better weapon, don't miss your buttons and take his crap when you kill him. The joy of looting a body never ever gets old, by the way. But don't let them three times or they break their weapon and you are screwed.

The puzzles this time around were a little more forgiving but the big puzzles were a lot more vague. You don't necessarily know what is going to happen or how to solve the puzzle until you have blown yourself up once or twice first. They removed the gear puzzles (with the exception of ONE in the first level) and they reformatted lock picking puzzles(be prepared to sway with your screen). There are moral decisions you can make for some of the people you run across, but they have no bearing on the overall ending of the game.

HM COMMENTS: For the balance and the crawling sections, don't follow the onscreen prompts. Just spam your buttons and hope you keep your balance.

Unmentioned above, is the improvement to story quality. Sadly, if you are not a fan (and I mean a fervent devoted follower of the movies), then this gets tricky. There are 50 case files scattered throughout the game. If you aren't one of the aforementioned devoted followers, then the information is kind of disjointed and without context and consequently is meaningless. However, without the case files or having played through the previous game, then without them the game makes very little sense. The people you save and why some of them might try to kill you later...yeah it all gets dicey. So, while WE at NGSW are raving fans of the franchise, we can't really suggest it for everyone.

So, if you aren't sitting there wondering "Hmmm is the new Saw game any good?" you probably can skip this one. And we recommend renting over buying. It can easily be played through in a few days and if collectibles are your thing, there are a few handy guides to make it a one shot deal.

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