The Suffering - XB - Preview 2

Prison can be a terrifying experience unto itself. Couple it with the manifestation of demons and an assortment of maniacal monstrosities all bent on killing you and every other living soul and you have a nightmare.

 

As least that is the plan. Midway will be releasing The Suffering in the fall of 2003 for the Xbox, PlayStation2 and GameCube, and this is a game that will fit neatly in the horror-action genre. The game is not intended for the faint of heart or those with otherwise sensitive natures. The game content is reflective of the edgier feel that Midway is inserting into its games and will contain ultra mature language and content.

 

The story follows the incarceration of Torque, a man who is not a stranger to prison life. Torque has been placed on death row for, allegedly, killing his wife and children. Whether he did it or not remains to be seen and is dependent on how game players manipulate Torque through the adventure. You see, Torque can’t quite remember. He has a little case of amnesia, and what happened is conveniently missing. He also delves into madness and can invoke the Rage mode, which turns him into a monster himself. However, should he use it too often, he will go insane and die.

 

That is not a good thing, especially with the manifestations that are killing everyone and have inadvertently freed him from his jail cell. Torque must weave his way through the game world, and ultimately escape from the prison island. Four mob bosses are laying between him and his goal, each who speak to him, ‘advise’ him and try to lure him to his death. Oh, and there are a lot of ugly creatures roaming the place, dropping from the ceiling, slicing, dicing and attacking him.

 

Stan Winston, a four-time Academy Award winner who has created characters for Jurassic Park, Aliens, A.I., Edward Scissorhands, and the upcoming T3 (with Arnold Schwarzenegger), is responsible for the design of the horrors within this penitentiary.

 

Other game features include nine levels, 11 weapons Torque can use, first- or third-person perspectives, gory details, bonus DVD content, and, according the press release, “taboo environments.”

 

The game’s sound combines hard-cord language with passive, luring vocal characterizations of the mob bosses. They certainly talk a good game and encourage Torque to explore and reveal his true nature. Of course, that is a one-way path into the depths of depravity, insanity and death.

 

Graphically this game is similar to a host of other games, save that the gore levels are quite high. Torque rambles through the world, and the animation is a little stiff on him, whereas the mobs move fluidly and quickly. It is a dark world, filled with some arcade-style collectibles, and environments that are – to some extent – interactive. Some of the effects need a little work, like standing water, which seems to be a visual effect only, while others shine. The game has minor puzzles that need to be worked through, but these mostly revolve around finding the right switches to open doors.

 

Gameplay was fluid on systems tested, though thumbpad controls seem not quite as reactive in moving or turning Torque. This is not a good thing. When in third-person mode, and you see a mob drop from the ceiling behind you and approach to attack, and can’t turn quickly enough to fend off blows or initiate the attack, it can mean hit point levels drop unnecessarily.

 

A nice touch is that the game AI does have mobs attacking each other.

 

Is the game any fun to play? Certainly. Is it particularly horrifying? No, but then part of that may be due to the focus of killing one’s way through the labyrinth of levels.

 

The Suffering has its share of monsters popping suddenly in your face for the stock quick scare. The game has some work that needs to be done on targeting and movement elements for Torque. The bottom line is that this is not a game for everyone. This is for the hardened gamer who doesn’t mind treading the edge, getting extremely bloody and working through machinations designed to drive your avatar over the brink and into the depths of insanity.

 

 

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