Rising from the Grave: Siren

Fingers crossed for Siren on PS4!

Fingers crossed for Siren on PS4!

No matter what we may say, we like being scared. The thrill of the unknown, never knowing what is going to happen next. That’s why horror games have seen such a rise in popularity recently. The success of a single game have revitalised an entire genre. I talk of Slender of course, a game that set YouTube on fire and has spawn endless imitators. However, even with this increase on popularity, we’re still only really treated to small survival horror experiences. Where’s all the big hitters? Resident Evil is being put back on the drawing board, Silent Hill struggles to resonate with its fans and Project Zero/ Fatal Frame is currently stuck on the 3DS. This had me thinking of a game series that I use to love, yet never really struck gold with horror fans as sales were never spectacular. That series is the Siren series, developed by Project Siren, a small team working within the SCE Japan Studio.

With only 3 entries into the series, and the last one being somewhat of a retelling of the first game, I feel this is a series that died before it was ever given a chance. Siren is about a Japanese village with strong religious beliefs important in the area. The locals like to keep to themselves and have sought to keep their village isolated from the outside world. The story usually focuses on the leader of a local religion, a his attempt to resurrect or re-awaken a god through a ceremony. During the ceremony, residents immerse themselves in the surrounding water that is now red, thus creating an army of subordinates called Shibito. The Shibito then go about building a nest to house the god’s corporeal form once it is summoned, as well as killing and converting any remaining humans left, that usually includes you. With the popularity of horror games on the rise, does that mean Sony have Project Siren hard at work on a new game in the series for the PS4? This is ‘Rising from the Grave: Siren’.

It gets worse...

It gets worse…

Why? When Sony tried to reboot the series with Siren: Blo0d Curse on PS3 in 2008, they did something that was simply ahead of its time. They released the game in episodes, a format that The Walking Dead game from Telltale Games proved to be highly successful and a great way to distribute a game. They also released the game on disk too, for those of use that weren’t exactly in tune with downloading games yet. This is a strategy I’d love to see revisited for a new Siren game, with each episode ending on a cliff-hanger and a teaser for the next episode. When you think about it too, horror games fit the episodic nature extremely well, with deaths, reveals and intensity around each corner. The time is right for the next Siren episodic adventure.

How could it improve? I say it each time, but yes, the graphics could do with being upgraded. I’d actually like a more unique look to the game too, whether it be graphical or mechanical with perhaps retro style menus and items within the game. Something else that would benefit the game greatly too, is less weapons. Siren actually had a decent amount of weapons you could use against the enemy, from swords to shotguns. Maybe dial that back a bit and go a little deeper. With smaller characters not being able to handle the few larger firearms, but be quicker with their melee attacks. There’s a lot potential with being able to see through the eyes of the enemy too, with some of the scarier moments coming from that mechanic. With some tweaking, it could become a highly valuable tool to the player and one of the developers best opportunities to deliver some great scares.

Realistically, could this game happen? Project Siren had only been known for their Siren games. But in 2012, that all changed when they released a PS Vita game that saw both consumer and critical praise. This game was Gravity Rush, it was very different from the Siren games. It was such a big success for them, that it quickly gained a dedicated fan base and there is a high demand for a sequel. Project Siren has also shared their interest in making a sequel to Gravity Rush, so it would seem that a new Siren game is quite far off. However, Sony have stated that they have many first-party exclusives in development of the PS4, and we still have many of them to be revealed. Perhaps one of them is a new Siren game, if it is though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in development at a different studio with Project Siren doing nothing but overlooking the development as they work on Gravity Rush 2.

... like this much worse!

… like this much worse!

Probability of Rising from the Grave: 58%

-ast

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Grid 2 (2013) Review

GRID is back!

GRID is back!

Version Played: Xbox 360

Race Driver: Grid was a great racing game back in 2008, and to be honest it still holds up today. It was great because I’ve never been into racing games. I’ve never been good at them and got bored with them rather quickly. Race Driver: Grid changed that for me, the first person cockpit view that put you in the driver’s seat made racing exciting and I felt it had found the perfect balance between simulation and arcade. Now Grid 2 has been released, but does it improve on the original or play it safe by doing more of the same?

Grid 2 is split into two options, the story mode or the online. Each is completely separate from the other. The online is like other past Codemasters Racing titles. It takes the modes from the story and by replacing the A.I. with human opponents, you’ve got your online. It’s simple stuff, you level up and unlock different cars as your level gets higher and higher. There’s a lot on offer in the online section of the game, it stands fairly well on its own and it is always a nice time racing online with little lag and fair racing.

For me however, I felt the real heart of the game is found in the story. You play as an unknown racer, but after your first race in the story, your approached by Patrick Callahan about helping him build The World Series Racing. It’s from here you will start to gain fans after each race and move around the globe racing people in the US, Europe and Asia. Gaining the support of the US, Europe and Asia for The World Series Racing is your main objective throughout. You will be treated to real life ESPN news reports made for the game that showcases the progress of The World Series Racing as well as see you videos go viral on YouTube. All of this sucks you into a world you thought could never exist in a racing title. With the immersion and atmosphere only heightened by all of this.

The racing itself actually improves on the originals. I thought the original had the perfect balance of simulation and arcade, but it’s only after playing Grid 2, you begin to realise that only now had simulation and arcade been moulded together so well. Nailing the perfect drift through a corner is a great feeling and something not seen on a simulation racer. Were as the weight of a car combined with its other stats can make the car handle differently, something not seen in arcade racers. Presentation wise the game does a wonderful job, from the text to the graphics, Grid 2 is one of the best on the market. Graphically the game is simply amazing, cars look fantastic as does the tracks you race on. The sound design is also worth mentioning, with no music whilst racing, the grunts of cars really stand out as does the roars of the crowd.

Returning from past Codemasters Racing titles is the rewind feature. Upon messing up a corner or breaking too late and crashing you car, you are able to rewind the game to a point when you can correct the mistake. However this is limited, depending on the difficulty you choose. Something that has been removed however is the first person cockpit view. This is a feature that I loved from the original, it’s also the only reason I ever played Need of Speed: Shift. Why this was removed is a mystery to many fans, most opinions seem to point to it being a very time-consuming process and very expensive. Whatever the reason though, it is a real shame it has not returned for the sequel.

I said earlier that repetition as something that bothered me in racing titles and has made me get bored with them rather quickly. Unfortunately, this holds true in Grid 2. Whilst the story is great, you play through it season by season. I found myself extremely bored towards the end of a season due to the same tracks and race types. It’s only when you start a new season that you get access to new tracks and race types, but even then, by the end of the season, I found myself wanting to skip races just to see and do something new.

Grid 2 isn’t a perfect game, but it’s also not a terrible game. Where it improves on the original, it takes a step backwards with some thing missing or by being repetitive. It is one of the best looking and sounding racing games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. It also handles very well too. But the uninspired online, repetitiveness, and lack of the cockpit view that I feel the first game made so popular, it’s hard to say this game is what the original deserved. It wanted greatness, but that is something I cannot give.

71 Broken Bumpers out of 100

-ast