Brutal survival horror.

User Rating: 8.1 | The Suffering PS2
The Suffering was one of those games that kind of slipped under the radar for me, but one day I came across a review for it that was generally favorable and seeing as I'm a big fan of survival horror I wasted no time in picking this game up.

GAMEPLAY - I would classify this as action-horror. You are not a defenseless girl that spends 90 percent of the game hiding and running for her life. You are Torque, who may or may not have murdered his wife and children and has been sent to an absolutely horrible prison to await his death sentence. Shortly after his arrival there is an earthquake and it becomes good news as Torque is freed from his jail cell but bad news as it appears as though the gates of Hell have been opened. While Torque's moral character is debatable his ability to survive (and kill) are not. Torque starts out with a simple shiv (machete) but will move on to a variety of guns and explosives. The various monsters he will fight are representatives of different methods of execution, murder or suicide. This brings a nice variety to not only the look of the monsters but their attacks as well. Torque also has the ability to morph into a super monster himself when his rage peaks, though he has to be careful to morph back before it runs out. You can switch between first and third person mode, though most of the time I stuck to third person so I could better see my surroundings. I found the controls to be responsive and the camera angles to generally be favorable.

GRAPHICS - Overall I felt they did a good job with the graphics. The different monster types were detailed and very unique, though the other inmates and guards were pretty nondescript. The indoor locations were excellent, with a good amount of detail and creepiness that was multiplied by the fact that many times Torque has to rely on only his flashlight. The outdoor scenes were not as good, kind of blocky with low detail. Also became confused a couple of times running around outside in the dark with a low powered flashlight, but nothing too bad. A neat effect is that as Torque gets into heavy battles he will become literally covered in the blood of his enemies, which will eventually wear off.

SOUND - Sounds were used to good effect in the game, as many times you will hear a familiar noise that will let you know that a particular monster is nearby. There will also be events that will occur in a nearby room that you will not see if you don't run over there but you will hear it happen. Certain characters were voiced well in the game, such as the infamous Dr. Killjoy, while others sound like they came from a bad prison movie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. One thing I should mention is that at certain points in the game you hear an excessive amount of profanity, which is something I could do without even if it is realistic for a prison setting. Just something to keep in mind if kids are within earshot.

Value - This game did not keep a timer, so I'm estimating it took in the 12 hour range, kind of average for an action game. It did have some nice extras, such as an interview with the developers and a very interesting documentary of a real prison that they modeled this game after. The game also offers three different endings depending on what actions you take at specific points in the game, and unlocks pages of an encyclopedia on the various monsters and locations as you meet them.

SUMMARY - First of all, this game definitely earns its M rating. The excessive violence and profanity means that kids should not be playing or watching this game, IMO. Other than that, if you enjoy action games with a good dose of horror mixed in with an interesting story, by all means do yourself a favor and pick this up!
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