" [You'll] question whether or not Siren is worth finishing... "
Title: Siren by Sony
Format: PS2 Horror Survival
Reviewing Monkey: Mojo Jojo
The Hype: Survival horror games--once a gimmick that mainstream gamers often shunned, now a quintessential genre in any console's lineup. Sony, perhaps a little late to apply their phenomenal puzzle and adventure abilities to the idea, has finally brought a bit of home grown fear to the PS2. But are we looking at Mark of Kri with a terror slant or just another "me, too" title in an increasingly clogged horror market. Well, rather than tell you, I think I'm gonna just sit here and bask in my abject superiority. [Ed. Note: Mojo was soundly beaten until he decided to continue]
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: No one knows their way around the PS2's graphical capabilities like Sony themselves, and games like Siren really remind us of that fact. Gorgeous, detailed, and unquestionably designed to integrate beauty and ambiance with each other, visually Siren maintains a cannibalistic feast for the eyes. The models are lifelike and rich, the backgrounds actually work to enhance the atmosphere, and the character designs are appropriate. That being said, we were a little disappointed with the graphical interactions within the level, but it wasn't a big enough deal to detract much from our overall enjoyment. 4.5 out of 5
Playability: : Sony, rightly, came to
the conclusion that you couldn't make a horror game in today's market without
a strong gimmick, and so created what they call "sight jacking". Sight jacking,
in short, is a special ability that the playable characters on the island the
game is set on have been given which lets them see through the field of vision
of any character around them, whether friend or foe. This ability is combined
with a very well designed, but straight forward, stealth engine that encourages
you to hide behind an object, jack a bad guy's sight, and then stay hidden until
you know it can't see you.
Definitely a cool concept and very engaging the first dozen times you use it, it quickly becomes not only the hook but the raison d'etre of the entire game. Lost is the horror feel, that at times seems to be so carefully orchestrated into the game, to be replaced by a very methodic and completely un-frightening level trudging stealth gameplay. It's depressing, and must have been very frustrating to the designers, but unquestionably the game moves from "how do I survive this nightmare?" to "how long do I have to sit behind a desk before the zombie can't see me any more?" Eventually you spend so much time sight jacking and strategizing that the entire feel of the horror game is lost into some kind of Metal Gear hybrid.
Add to this ambiance loss continual and ever-frustrating control issues that range from general bugginess to compensating for an overly complicated interface, and you end up with what starts as an interesting game to play degenerating into a bit of a trudging chore. It's not enough to ruin your gaming experience, mind you, but it's certainly enough to make you question whether or not Siren is worth finishing. 3 out of 5
Story and Drama: Without giving too much away, Siren has a fun, though what we've affectionately come to call "Japanese-quirky", story that involves a group of people who've lost their memory stranded on an island surrounded by zombie-like creatures. These creatures want you dead, you want to live long enough to get off the island, and so the game rolls on. More involved than most games, but still lacking the appeal of a typical horror movie or book, you'll enjoy the story without getting overly involved in it. 4 out of 5
Multiplayer and Replayability: No multiplayer, and because of the trudging manner of play you'll probably fall short of beating it once, much less playing it again. 2 out of 5
|All in all, Siren's not a bad game by any means but it falls short in some key areas from being a good one, either. Unfortunately, its overly methodical and strategic game play detracts from what would otherwise be a pretty effective story and atmosphere, turning the game from survival horror to repeating puzzle.|
The Good: Great graphics, nice feel
The Bad: Bad controls, wholly undramatic gameplay
The Overall Ugly: I wanted to like it but it wound up being easily forgettable
What it's Worth: Rental if it still sounds interesting.