Saw II: Flesh and Blood Xbox 360 Review

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Xbox 360, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher – Konami – Developer – Zombie Studios – Genre –  Horror/Puzzle – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

Since Resident Evil 4 arrived, horror games have almost lost their more cerebral puzzling in favour of fast paced combat, but Saw II: Flesh and Blood, like its predecessor, is focussed on puzzles ahead of action, of which is a welcome throwback.

Saw II: Flesh and Blood takes place between the events of the second and third films of the series. Michael Tapp (son of Detective Tapp, who appears in both the original film and game) plays the role of the lead victim of the menacing Jigsaw’s twisted game and at the same time is trying to learn of the events that lead to his father’s death. Something that fans are sure to enjoy is that by finding case files strewn around the prison, you’re able to learn more about the characters featured in the films.

You'll see a lot of gruesome stuff throughout the game.

Saw II: Flesh and Blood has you advancing through the various locations, listening to Jigsaw’s clues to solve his puzzles, sticking your hand in toilets filled with syringes to seek out a key and avoiding traps hidden behind doors, amongst other grisly tasks, many of which will be familiar to anyone who has seen any of the seven films. Puzzles are easily the domineering facet, but along the way you’ll also face off against insane inmates.

The combat system, a widely criticized area of the original game, has been overhauled, but is actually even worse than last times effort. It’s completely built around QTE’s and is so hilariously simple that the developer needn’t have bothered implementing it, and you aren’t able to even employ the traps that you could in the first game, of which would have at least granted additional tactical possibilities to the combat. It’s undoubtedly a good thing that fighting does not have a huge presence in Saw II: Flesh & Blood.

The puzzle aspect is much more successful, though on occasion puzzles are vague. Some are even reasonably challenging for that good old grey matter lodged in your head. Some are timed, granting tension and requiring you to quickly discover the solution before you’re blown to kingdom come or whatever. Often you must keep a keen eye on your surroundings to discover clues written by that nasty Jigsaw fellow.

Puzzles are repeated far too often, though, so you’ll find yourself having to move wires around to open doors, or being tasked with having to turn lights out too often, whilst the larger puzzles are largely tweaked versions of those from the first game – quite simply it’s a game that runs out of fresh ideas too soon.

Some will find that there’s not enough of a chance for true exploration for their liking. Usually at most you have access to no more than two or three rooms at a time, whilst often coming through doors will lock them behind you. Poking around the environments does allow you to find the aforementioned case files, as well as audio tapes (which grant additional depth to the games story), puzzle pieces and puppets, all of which will grant longevity to what is a short game.

When something is wrote in big red letters, perhaps you should take note as to what it says first and then panic later.

Visually, Saw II: Flesh & Blood fails to impress. It’s adequate enough, but does nothing to tax the might of the HD consoles – it doesn’t look much better than something from the last generation really. Character animation is unconvincing and the level design is rather bland. The sound of the game fares better: when you’re just wandering around, there are some unnerving noises, whilst fans are sure to be pleased that Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell, voices the twisted killer.

Whilst it’s welcome to play a puzzle focussed horror game, Saw II: Flesh and Blood is far from the level of quality of the best horror games of yesteryear, there’s just too much repetition and design issues. It doesn’t do much terrible, but it rarely does anything truly well either, it’s just another utterly unremarkable film licence to place in amongst that always growing pile.