Review: Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut is still so bad it's good
When Deadly Premonition came out a few years ago for the Xbox 360, it developed a cult-like following. A game like this should've easily been trashed for its poor and driving controls, questionably bad textures and ridiculous story. But those who took the time to play it and deal with all its shortcomings found some gold in the rubble, with a weird quality that surprisingly sticks with you. It's almost like the game's producer, Swery, channeled David Lynch during his Twin Peaks era and said, "Okay, let's do this." It still remains a treat on that system, if you can track down a copy.
PlayStation 3 owners get a turn this week with The Director's Cut version, which comes with some extra narrative, slightly improved textures, a new control system (for those who couldn't stand the original one) and support for both 3D and downloadable content. Fortunately, Swery didn't "clean up" the game to the point that the charm was taken away – that's still here in droves. And it'll grow on you, if you choose to stick with it.
The story surrounds Francis York Morgan, an FBI special agent who's been called in to investigate a cult-like murder in the city of Greenvale. As he travels through the city, he'll deal with a number of awkward townsfolk, seeking answers and eventually delving deeper into the mystery. The game also introduces an alter ego of sorts, Zach, to help keep things on track (well, kind of, anyway), and then gets all dark and evil at night, with unspeakable horrors roaming the streets, just begging to be killed.
Does the story make a lick of sense? Not really. But that's just part of its charm. Deadly Premonition, made by anyone else, would've easily been trashed for production values and a lack of compelling storytelling. Under Swery's watchful eye, however, it's a trashy cult classic, and the extra narrative on the PS3 version makes it feel right at home. Just don't try to make sense of things like why exactly you need to shave when you're at your resting spot. (Just do it.)
Also new are the unlockable outfits you can get in the game. It's not often you see a detective try and lighten up by wearing a Hawaiian shirt – or change his appearance in other ways (like the aforementioned shaving), but it's a nice touch to those who wish to give Morgan a more obscure appearance. We're almost tempted to call him Dan-O now.
The controls have been improved, with better handling of York as he shoots at enemies and doesn't waiver all over the screen whenever he's in a car. That's not to say the gameplay has been completely polished though, as sometimes it can still be a bit of a drag running through areas and shooting things. If you're expecting a gameplay evolution, it's not here. Still, this is fun, and more workable than the original game. (But, as we said, the Xbox 360's control style is optional here.)
Deadly Premonition's box claims there are improved visuals, but you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference. The character models still look iffy in spots, the frame rate drops here and there, and sometimes you wonder just where the hell you are in the game. But they still impress on a guilty pleasure kind of level, and it looks quite suitable in 3D – like an old school horror movie.
The audio is good too, with lots of cheesy dialogue that'll make you smile as the characters try to convince you they're serious. (No, really, they are!) The music's okay, but hardly changed from the original game. Fans will like it just fine.
As it stands, The Director's Cut of Deadly Premonition is a trashy good time, with the minor improvements needed to make it gain a new audience on the PS3, but not enough of a stretch that we've forgotten just how "bad good" it really is. If you're in the mood for something unique or are looking for something absurd to kick back with over a weekend, this might be just what you need.