SIREN: Blood Curse(PS3)
Sony Computer Entertainment has been making that extra effort to differentiate its own Playstation Network from its competitors (primarily Xbox Live). Currently free to all PS3 owners, it certainly beats the tiered pricing of Xbox Live. With the recent introduction of “Trophies” and in game XMB, it addresses one of the biggest disadvantages the service has had under Live (provided that support for trophies is at least provided on all future releases). Sony has also seemed to adopt the approach to download games of “quality over quantity”. They hope this becomes reality with the promises of yet to be released Home, casual games that hold a higher artistic value (flow, pixeljunk eden, flower, echochrome, etc), and fuller more robust download games that could be easily sold in stores (Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, Socom Confrontation, Tekken 5, Warkhawk, and Siren: Blood Curse).
Siren: Blood Curse has been heralded as Sony’s online experiment as to whether or not PS3 owners are willing to download games episodically as opposed to all at once (though available) or purchased on Blu-Ray disc (not available in North America but everywhere else). The game itself is a re-telling of the survival horror PS2 game titled “Siren” which received mixed reviews upon its release. The remake takes us back to the Japanese village of Hanuda re-told from the eyes of an American Television Crew and other visitors who have stumbled upon the events unfolding. Split in to 12 “episodes” the games allows you to guide a number of characters through various missions allowing you to see, play, and experience all points of views to this very atmospheric horror tale.
The game does a very good job of immersing yourself in a Japanese horror ambiance. From the eerie theme music, to the detailed character design of the different “Shibato” (the zombie-like enemies). Siren establishes an atmospheric mood throughout that’s subtle yet very uneasy. The thorough graphics of the character expressions and the environments around them contributes greatly to this.
The story telling of each character and point of view is also done very well. To assist in each character’s story, Siren: Blood Curse has included an archive system that includes various reference articles (that you can collect throughout the game) from voice mail messages to personal diaries that help contribute to the back-story, mood of the game and compliments the cut scenes very well.
With the game being split up into 12 episodes, with multiple characters and story lines, the structure of the game ties surprisingly well with one another. Each episode begins with a re-cap of events you’ve already played through with the different characters and ends with a trailer of the next episode. This makes the whole episodic approach much more appealing giving you the feel of playing through a gripping TV Miniseries of sorts.
As with the original Siren, each visitor to this strange town is granted a gift of the “Sight Jack”. This is the ability to see through the eyes of anybody (friend or foe) allowing you to track and find your colleagues, or help avoid and sneak past the Shibato. The game also provides various weapons that can be used by specific characters each with their own finishing maneuver. Every different weapon can be tracked and charted creating the incentive to try all the weapons (and discovering all the finishers) in the game thus increasing the replay.
With this being a download only game in North America, the whole game is about 10GB altogether making it nearly impossible to hold all 12 episodes at once in your hard drive, especially for an active gamer. A lot of download management has to be taken in to consideration. Even if you purchase all the episodes at once, you still must download each episode separately.
Siren: Blood Curse (especially in the first half of episodes) can also get very linear. The game play leaves no room for exploration. It also provides you with an automatic checklist of things to do in the mission with generally only one specific path to get there and do the action. In some segments of the game, even if there is only one specific way to complete a task (i.e. “Hide” or “Go there”) in a mission, it can get a little frustrating as the certain point of action can be difficult to find resulting in various trial and error scenarios.
In addition, even though the game looks like a next-gen console game graphically, the engine does seem a bit dated. With games these days having full 3D environments to allow you to walk anywhere you please, it gets annoying when you try to walk certain paths outdoors with no obstructions to block the way only to walk into invisible walls.
Here’s The Deal
Siren Blood Curse is a great survival horror game that does well to differentiate itself from mainstays such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill. The story has a Japanese atmospheric horror approach and is intriguing and enveloping in its own unique way. Even the episodic approach adds an extra quirk to the whole story.
The game play can at times get a little frustrating sometimes leaving you with the feeling of just following the games orders by pressing “X” where they want you to, to allow for the game and story to progress.
However, if you’re patient enough and/or have enough room on your PS3 hard drive to at least manage the download process, this game is more than enough to hold you over until the next survival horror game comes along.
SEAN CAPISONDA for www.consolecreatures.com YOUTUBE: consolecreaturesTV