Second Sight PS2 Review
Telekinesis and gaming were always going to be a beautiful couple but shockingly the shelves have little that represent such mind-blowing powers, off the top of our heads we can only think of the Galerians series and Legacy of Kain: Defiance, which for the record were skimpy in comparison to Free Radical’s impressive range of mind abilities as so beautifully illustrated on the technically pleasing Second Sight.
John Vattic doesn’t know who he is, where he is and even what he is when he wakes up strapped to a bed in a mysterious medical facility. Vattic has been severely battered and bruised and looks a little worse for wear, although that doesn’t stop his want to escape and piece together the entire complex jigsaw puzzle. The plot is subtly drip-fed, taking place in the present as well as the past, which helps to flesh out events leading up to Vattic’s capture. It’s a nicely told story with top class voice acting and an obvious conspiracy running in the background throughout, although it does suddenly become overly complex as the real unravelling begins.
Vattic is as outlandish as they come and thanks to his deeply embedded psychic powers he boasts an extraordinary method of getting rid of his pent-up anger, not forgetting to mention that it’s also rather resourceful for sneaking around enemy facilities and hand-in-hand this stealth and telekinesis is where the crux of the title lies. Recovering each of Vattic’s forgotten powers comes via cut-scenes, and he soon becomes rather godlike and one being that any shady bad guy should be very afraid of. Things start fairly basic and Vattic is able to manipulate just about any material object of the environment and this is bolstered by some brilliant -although weightless and frequently unconvincing- physics. Encountering an enemy is another thing as earlier on you are not yet able to elevate them above the ground but are still capable of moving the fallen out of sight. Every time you use an ability your psychic energy (displayed on a bar) decreases but starts topping up again when left alone, with this said, we do feel that Vattic’s charm (invisibility) and healing abilities should have been introduced a little further on in the game as they are both a little too useful for their own good. Still this is far from the bane of the game as it’s clearly apparent that it has been designed with a keen interest on giving each player their own freedom for dealing with each situation.
Putting your back against walls, hiding in lockers and tranquillising foes is by the numbers stealth, although this can be taken even further and removed from the norm with Vattic’s powerful abilities with the possibilities really being quite endless. With a nice method of targeting enemies with a selection of firearms and the use of cover, action is also present from time to time and again the telekinesis can come in handy to dispatch of foes. Possessing an enemy and shooting up all his nearby buddies is one of our treasured moments of Second Sight.
The controls have obviously been designed with ease of use in mind and employing Vattic’s individual skills is as simple as scrolling through a menu and choosing your power. The camera is also extremely friendly and allows you to switch between views at will with the triangle button, the fixed camera view is a rather pointless addition as adjusting the camera to a favourable view should be enough for most. A first person mode is also available to add to the precision, it’s very MGS2 and a worthy feature, which may have even been included to remind us of Free Radical’s FPS heritage, as they’re some of the folks behind GoldenEye (before breaking away from Rare) and more recently the TimeSplitters series.
Free Radical obviously want to be recognised for their past achievements as the references to TimeSplitters are obvious. The shared and unique cartoon visual style pays direct homage to their very own TimeSplitters series. Many of the sound effects are also brought over from the series as well as the classic musical score, which sounds very similar to some of that TimeSplitters 2 music. Finally the chance to find and play retro games is also an idea borrowed straight from TimeSplitters 2.
Second Sight is a bold new step in gaming that has been commendably pulled off. We’re just not convinced that the game is credible in any particular genre, foremost in the stealthy aspect and a stealth title is definitely what the game is striving to be. The game itself may be linear but the amount of freedom given to see off your foes is admirable and Vattic’s powers are truly enjoyable to utilise. But when all comes to all we found the plot is perhaps the strongest point of a fun but flawed title. We’d love to see a sequel obliterate some of these glaring flaws. Now bring on Midway’s effort!