|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Access Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
When doing game reviews, more often than not you have a good idea of what you are in for. Whether it is Mortal Kombat, Mario, or Madden, certain expectations are there and largely met. Even for subpar entries, they usually fit within a particular genre while executing it poorly. Every now and then you are presented with a game that truly takes you by surprise. A game that has you either mentally or audibly saying WTF repeatedly, unsure of what the developer was trying to do. Deadly Premonition is that game.
Let's get the obvious out of the way - Deadly Premonition, what I believe would be classified as a survival horror game, looks bad. Character models are bland; though, to be completely honest, I wouldn't have been surprised if they were worse, and scenery offers little visual stimulation. Everything feels washed out and bland from the skyline down to the people in town.
A variety of artwork would have been appreciated as vehicles and enemies repeat far too often, far too quickly. You'll fight the same enemy over, and over, and over again. Equally boring is your choice of police vehicles to drive, which don't take any visible damage when crashed repeatedly into cars, buildings, or horses. And believe me, I tried. Extensively.
Just as bad as the artwork is the limited number of animated states characters have. Enemies don't react appropriately when shot, instead recoiling with delayed reactions, oftentimes after several bullets have been fired. The protagonist could use with more frames of animation himself to smooth out his movement. When you switch on his flashlight he doesn't hold up his arm carrying a light nor is he wearing a headlamp, no, the mysterious light seems to shine from his chest or eyes. Not that it matters, but it makes one wonder how exactly he is able to control his radioactive light emanating ability so well. And the list goes on graphically, with more than there is time and space for - never will the words "Deadly Premonition" and "polished game" belong in the same sentence.
It would be appropriate to mention the even more flawed gameplay. The most egregious offense is the controls. They are terrible. Think pre-Resident Evil 4 movement. Describing it in detail wouldn't do justice to the frustration of reverting to this semi-archaic method of movement. At one time this sort of control scheme was accepted if not liked, but that was over five years ago, an eternity in gaming. Add in the unforgiving movement when running and frustration will quickly set in. Controls get even worse when the camera decides to give an overhead view.
Then there are the vehicles. Driving a cop car across town requires lots of patience mixed with wonder. Patience for when you are required to trek clear across the countryside to the middle of nowhere in a drive that takes ten minutes of boring travel time, and wonder for when you crash into something because it leads to a dead stop and sparks flying, even if what you hit was the aforementioned horse. I was unaware that horses were such resilient creatures, as after being hit by an SUV traveling at 50 miles an hour they just buck back and trot a few yards before resuming life as normal, none the worse for the wear, which I suppose makes sense if they are in fact made of metal and accounts for those sparks. Hmmm.
Combat is as tedious and repetitive as driving, while weapons are curious. If you thought that a gun would be the preferred weapon over a lead pipe in a shadow-zombie-ghost fight, well, you'd be wrong. Eight bullets equal one whack with the pipe, obviously. Though said gun is blessed with unlimited ammunition; perhaps anointed by Elijah to never run out, but that's just a personal working theory.
Quick-time events are used from time to time to inject a different feel that mostly works, however. Some of these events are just options to extend dialogue conversations or other low stress moments. Occasionally, some quick button presses will save you from having a shadow arm thrust down your gullet and, even more rarely, from an instant death scenario, so it's wise to be on your guard as these don't crop up often enough to always be ready for them.