The Saw franchise has been around for what seems like ages, with a new movie being released yearly since it all started in 2002. You knew that eventually the series would make its way to videogame consoles and it did last year when Saw was released on the PlayStation 3. Although the original game had a lot of flaws, it did well capturing the dank atmosphere of the movies, which led us to believe things could only get better the second time around. Unfortunately, the Jigsaw Killer stepped into his own traps along the way and Saw II: Flesh and Blood takes major steps back in almost every category.
The story here revolves around Michael, the son of the late detective Tapp, a man obsessed with the Jigsaw Killer. Michael is a shady reporter, chosen by Jigsaw to be judged for his sins; thus placing him inside an abandoned building full of traps and moral choices. This might sound like a great gameplay mechanic and it could have been if the traps and mini-games were more fleshed out and provided a bit more in the way of heart pounding moments the movies are known for. The story in the game is told through audio tapes, case files and of course the creepy puppet that has become an icon in the horror world.
When one thinks of Saw, the first thing they might think of are gore-filled scenes that make your heart race. It is a great formula for an entertaining experience, but sadly the game forgot to build in any of this. Traps can be spotted a mile away by slowed down button mashes or a quick button prompt to jump over a collapsing floor. The first Saw game at least presented some hair pulling moments as you were trying to solve traps but Flesh and Blood just fails to bring you remotely close to that feeling. Most of your time in the game will be found matching wires on a fuse panel or peeping through doors for a code hidden somewhere on the wall. These puzzles end up becoming repetitive after the first level, especially if you played the first game as not much–if anything–has changed; except maybe the fun.
One of the biggest and worst changes to be found in Saw II is easily the combat, which took a huge leap back. Last year’s game featured a very dull combat system already, but this one takes it even further down the shitter with horribly done Quick Time Events. Any element of surprise you might feel when someone jumps out at you is taken away as you are given a button prompt almost immediately. QTE’s are not a bad thing in a game normally, but with this type of game, it really takes away from a feeling of fighting for your life. Also gone from the combat is the ability to set shotgun-door traps or trip wires, which was great last time around.
Environments are again as dull as they can be, with hardly any touch of detail. Rooms will begin to repeat themselves almost immediately and the unfortunate people you come across never fail to look exactly the same. The environments do at times give off a fairly creepy vibe but since nothing will ever jump out at you without a button prompt. Voice acting outside of the Jigsaw and a few main characters is horrendous. The overall sound of the game is well done with good tones to add to the dark and bleak environments.
Saw II: Flesh and Blood is an example of a developer taking a decent game with good building block and failing to expand upon it. Everything found here takes a giant step back: from terrible Quick Time Events to a surprisingly absent sense of horror. Poorly designed levels and monotonous traps do nothing to help its cause and save this game from the slaughterhouse. What little joy that can be found during your play-through is quickly squashed by the many flaws to be found. Unlike the first Saw, which was able to skirt around its many issues to still offer an interesting and dark experience, Saw II just cannot escape its bad decisions. Players looking for a suspenseful and difficult trek through the traps of the Jigsaw killer might be better suited using their $60 on actual jigsaw puzzles; you will likely find them more horrifying and engaging of an experience. SAW II is that bad.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
– Woeful Quick Time Events
– Suspense/Horror is Hard to Find