Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Obscure 2: The Review

Obscure 2
Released: September 2007
Platforms: ps2, pc and Wii
Developer: Hydravision
Genre: Survival Horror
Review: The sequel to the hard to find cult classic obscure/mortifilia. The sequel , which will be released next year in the states as Obscure 2: The aftermath, Continues the nightmarish story of the students who escaped leaf Moore high.Unfortunately for them the horrors they thought they left behind 2 years ago are back with a vengeance. The sequel takes some of the past characters and a good deal of new ones in a similar situation at Fallcreek University.
It starts simply enough, the frat boys of delta theta gamma are throwing a kegger and the protagonists decide to go and indulge in some binge drinking and teenage hijinks. Yet the crowd on campus has been experimenting with mysterious black flowers that induce hallucenagenic effects which have been growing on the grounds and as the party gets in to full swing all hell breaks loose.
To begin this review I must point out that this game was quite lucky to make it onto the shelves at all. Including theme’s on STD’s, unprotected sex, drug use and the usual gore and violence. Obscure 2 also includes the play stations first teen suicide and as such has been taken off GAME’s shelves altogether so unless you can find a game station, forbidden planet or mom ‘n pop style game store id say your luck is out on this one.
Now onto the game play. Right off the bat the creatures are no longer photosensitive. So any attacks based on light are largely useless, whilst light grenades and torches do still hurt them, this does not make your projectile weapons do any more damage. As well as changing how they attack without a cover of darkness the developers have also vastly expanded the creature repertoire for the sequel. One of the biggest disappointments of the fist obscure was the lackluster 5 enemy types, this has been remedied in the sequel and there are now 10 different types, ranging from hulking ,tumorous blobs to flying banshees or even scuttler spawning “womb” monsters that all have different attack methods and ,as such, different tactics to dispatch them. whereas the original was just a shoot till they drop afair. You can now utilize tazers to stun the enemy and let the other player, computer controlled or a friend, move in to finish them off.
The characters have lost there “press square” abilities in exchange for new forms of character traits. Gamer Mei can hack into security systems to open doors, and Amy’s no ‘dumb blonde’, as her puzzle decrypting skills will attest These range from lock picking to feats of strength or acrobatics. All must be used to fully complete the game and are so well balanced it never feels like a gimmick and allows for move variety than the resident evil gameplay style of “walk and shoot your way from point a to the end” which is a breath of fresh air into what has become something of a stale sub genre. The camera, when walking or aiming is controllable by the right thumb stick, though can be left to drift on its on if you so wish, and when aiming with the gun it goes into a 3rd person mode a lot like ghost hunter or silent hill 4 which is another improvement over the poor, and at times confusing camera angles of its predecessor.
Plot wise this is something unique. Its predictable, yet at the same time its done in such a way that it doesn’t make you roll your eyes, but rather pulls you in to the story more and I commend the writers for taking a chance and doing so. The characters personalities are slightly bland, but all well balanced and genuinely seem like kids stuck in a horrifying situation than the likes of Leon in resident evil 4, a hardened government agent who reamins capable in any situation. With this believability comes a greater amount of emotional attachment to the characters and a higher scare factor as the characters genuinely seem less likely to survive, even though the protagonists now number 8 instead of 5. Though larger. this group is never all concentrated at one location, in fact one major feature of obscure 2 that gives it a greater feeling of the teen slasher movies it is homaging is that characters can become isolated and different events take place at different locations at the same time. As the original was slightly odd with 3 characters staying put at the meeting point rather than helping there friends find a way out. In fact you could complete obscure using only 2 characters, yet in the sequel you must and in fact do use all 8 in equal measure to complete the game. This gives the game a much more fluid and complex atmosphere and adds more variety to the games events, yet another improvement over the original.
The graphics are, to say the least, very impressive, they push the ps2 to its limits, rivaling games like indigo prophecy/ Fahrenheit or Tony hawks American wasteland with ease. The characters are far more detailed and the locations are incredibly varied, ranging from a bloody frat house massacre or an abandoned university complex to crossing highways and fog laden woodland and exploring abandoned tunnels and even heading back to leafMoore high itself, The locations are varied and all have a character and charm that seems genuinely like the set of a Hollywood horror film.
The sound, like the original, is again a joy from start to finish and the artist has even been good enough to allow you to download it for free from his site http://www.olivierderiviere.com/od/flash/ ranging from soft rock guitars to a haunting French choir backed by violins and cellos to orchestral music this game has it all and whilst maybe not on par with the fantastic work of akira yamoaka for the silent hill series, it easily out does the bland and uninteresting music of resident evil. It helps set the scene allowing for the perfect mise-en-scene in a cutscene or particular location and it just wouldn’t be the same game without the soundtrack.
The game does suffer from a few faults however. The are no extras to speak of, nor is there a choice of difficulty, though there was always enough ammunition and health packs to make it through. I did have to reset the console about 4 or 5 times through the game from dying, though this means its just a fair challenge.
My biggest fault was the fact that save points could only be used once and were at some points 30 mins between each other which meant replaying a section a few times if you kept dying, this could have been remedied, however aside form that I can find no other major fault with this game.
Obscure 2 is much lengthier than its predecessor and should clock in the best gamer at around 7 hours, compared to the 3 and half for the original obscure this means essentially more bang for your buck, with more locations and horrific situations to survive in.
To surmise Obscure 2 is a fantastic horror game that I hope will not live up to its name like the original did, the story is intriguing, if a little cliché’. The game play, graphics and sound are all superb, the characters are average enough Joe’s to be more memorable than a hardened action hero and the co-operative multiplayer game play mode allows for more replay value than if you played it alone and it was simply a joy from start to finish that I can give a hearty recommendation to any gamer for.
If you like movies like the faculty or scream, and like games like silent hill or the suffering Obscure 2 and its predecessor might be the games for you.

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