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Forbidden Siren 2 PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Forbidden Siren 2, an introduction.

The PlayStation 2 has more blood curdling action titles than any other console and as the console now enters its final weeks of being Sony's premier gaming machine we have the arrival of one more. The original Forbidden Siren was probably about as frightening as it gets on the PlayStation 2. Right from the off it had your nerves jangling and your heart beating faster. Set in the Japanese village of Hanyuda, where most of the inhabitants appeared to be the walking dead, the game was played out over three terrifying days that were split into 78 small episodes. Here we have the equally terrifying sequel aptly named Forbidden Siren 2.

What's the game about?

Forbidden Siren 2 sees us return to Japan, on a island called Yamijima and as you can guess all is definitely not well. Very early in the game we see a boat caught up in an abnormal storm. One of its crew was washed overboard. The people who were on board awake from the storm to find themselves on Yamijima island. They are not the only inhabitants of the island though. As well as other unfortunate souls who appear to find themselves on the island, there are also some rather creepy inhabitants who are going to make their lives hell. These rather creepy enemies are known as the Shibito and the Yamibito and they are very different in nature. The Shibito are the twisted deformed human creatures that take great delight in attacking you. They can use weapons and won't hesitate to take a bite out of your characters when they are allowed to get up close. The mutating Yamibito are even more creepy. There are even enemies that can only be harmed by light and you're pretty much defenceless if you don't have access to a flashlight.

What's good about the game?

Just like Forbidden Siren, this sequel manages to keep the fear level pretty high throughout the game. During the game you'll play as various characters such as Shu Mikami the novelist,  Akiko Kiyota the psychic, the sergeant Shigeru Fujita, the journalist Mamoru Itsuki and the rookie SDF servicemen Yorito Nagai. Forbidden Siren delivered the game's story in pieces and that's exactly what this sequel does too. Basically you have a chart that's known as the Link Navigator. From this you'll select your missions for each character as they become available. Missions have two parts to them and you're required to do something in another mission (with a different character) to unlock the second part of an earlier mission. These missions seem a little strange at first and they don't always makes sense to begin with. The reason for this is that some of the later missions are actually set earlier within the game's time frame and it's only when you've completed these later missions that the earlier missions make sense.

The ability to sightjack is once again present. Sightjacking essentially allows you to see the world through the eyes of your enemy. You can now even 'bookmark' various enemies' sights to allow you to switch between them at a touch of a button. Sightjacking is a crucial part of the game as it allows you to solve problems that you would be otherwise unable to. Early on in the game you're given a demonstration of this. One of your enemies is opening a combination lock and you have to obtain this in order to progress. As you can see through this enemy's eyes with the sightjack ability you can see what combination he is entering. Sightjacking has other uses too. Shu Mikami has poor eyesight and when playing as Shu everything will seem slightly blurry and out of focus. Shu will have to see through his dog using the sightjack ability, which adds an unusual twist to the game.

Forbidden Siren was notorious for being both frustrating and difficult. In fact it was common for missions to have you wondering about what needed to be done. Forbidden Siren 2 addresses these problems by having the option to play on a more forgiving difficulty level and by having the first missions serve as a kind of a tutorial. The missions always make it clear what needs to be done, which is certainly most welcome. The missions have checkpoints meaning that if your character is killed you can simply fall back to the last checkpoint rather than having to do the whole thing again. While there is still a very challenging game here (especially in the later stages) it's nowhere near as frustrating as Forbidden Siren was.

What's not so good about the game?

Because of the flitting nature of Forbidden Siren 2 it's sometimes difficult to keep track of what's going on. Only spending short amounts of time with the game's various characters means you don't really get a sense of their overall personality in the same way as if you spent the whole (or at least a significant portion of the game) with that character. It's also a little disorientating having to move from one character to another so quickly. Some of the missions are so small they barely seem worthwhile. This is especially true early in the game when you're simply required to exit a certain location or simply obtain a certain object. Certain enemies do carry guns and there are times when you're fired upon without being able to see the enemy, which does seem a little unfair in a game of this nature.

How does it look?

Forbidden Siren 2 looks slightly better than its prequel. In truth it's not graphically impressive in any way, although there are some pretty impressive animations on display, but the series definitely has its own visual style that  sets it apart from the other survival horror games. You can choose to play the game either in the first or third person (the default view). As you might expect this is a very dark game and at times you'll feel like wanting to turn the brightness up on your TV (although for maximum fear effect you probably shouldn't). The game offers a 60Hz mode and the frame rate throughout the game remains constant. Load times are quite snappy too. In fact the presentation of the game as a whole is quite impressive.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Forbidden Siren was not deaf gamer friendly with no subtitles at all. Forbidden Siren 2 is a different matter however. This time subtitles have been included and they are enabled by default. This means that you'll be able to follow the story and all of the conversations that take place during the game. Even the voice messages, that can be accessed in the main menu, are subtitled. Unfortunately the subtitles do no t always match the verbal dialogue. Thankfully though the differences are never anything to be concerned about (the text sometimes says the same thing but in a different way) and the subtitles essentially don't miss out on anything important. Whenever enemies are nearby the controller will vibrate. This compensates, to some degree for the lack of captions for the various eerie noises that the enemy makes.  At times there's no such compensation though. Using the sightjack for instance is easier if you can hear the change in frequency as you are tuning in on your enemies vision. The game's subtitles aren't colour-coded and there are no character names or portraits placed next to the text. This means that it's not always possible to determine who is saying what but for the most part it doesn't cause any problems. Mission objectives and all tutorial messages are shown in text.

Final thoughts.

Forbidden Siren 2 is a sequel that's not only going to please fans of the original game but should also appeal to those who had problems with the first game in the series being too frustrating. As a survival horror game it's definitely up there with the better titles the genre has to offer and is certainly as creepy as any other title in the genre. There are a few niggles for deaf gamers which may put some gamers off. Some won't appreciate the style of the game and how the missions are laid out and if this was your main complaint with the original game you'll probably not be too thrilled with Forbidden Siren 2. Those that like or don't mind this original style of survival horror game though will definitely appreciate game's story.

Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Forbidden Siren 2 is one of the better survival horror games on the PlayStation 2. The style of the game won't be appreciated by everyone and initially some of the missions appear not to make too much sense. However it all comes together nicely and delivers a chilling but thrilling experience.