Friday 4 August 2006
Oh Japan. We love your video games, we really do, but for every amazing idea that makes it through, there's often an inexplicable irritation not too far behind.
More specifically, Forbidden Siren 2 is very nearly the greatest survival horror game yet made, but every time we start to fall in love with it, the game trips over its own shoelaces and leaves us somewhat embarrassed to be seen with it.
Like the original, it centres on the idea of 'sightjacking' (seeing through the undead's eyes) and a gruesome plot that pinballs between multiple characters along a detailed timeline, in a story so complicated that it could only be told through a videogame, so as not to cause your brain to phone the police.
Unlike the original, there's a good helping of tutorials (essential, really) and the option of subtitles instead of the ill-fitting English language dub that cursed the original and returns here.
It's crucial because the characters have photo-real Japanese faces - so real that they waver between being looking unbelievably striking and, rarely, just a bit daft - and having the original voices involved adds to the effect immeasurably.
But, thanks to some clunky, outdated controls (why not let us use standard twin-stick options, like everyone else?) along with some sticky character movement, it veers between accomplished, hair-straightening terror, and hair-pulling frustration, which can be very annoying.
Still, it's got more atmosphere than Jupiter and the fact that it can manage to scare us after all the many survival horror games we've played means that fright fans would be dumb to miss it.