Siren Hands-On Impressions

We spend a little time with SCEI's new horror-themed action game, which was unveiled for the first time at its PlayStation Experience event in London.

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During a recent visit to the horror-themed area of the PlayStation Experience event in London (think blood dripping down the walls, and bloodcurdling screams from visitors awaiting their turn on any of the games within), we happened across a previously unannounced game called Siren. No details on the game have been released by SCEI at this time, but based on the brief amount of time we actually got to spend playing it, it looks like Siren will be as innovative as it is scary.

Putting you in control of an elderly gentlemen armed with a shotgun, the game's first level got under way in a long, dark corridor that veered around to the left as we approached the end of it. At the end, we could see a large open area that was filled with thick fog, and, before we really knew what was going on, we were hit by a sniper. A little harsh for an opening level perhaps, but when a Sony representative became available to give us a little help with the game, we realized that Siren is a game in which being able to actually see your enemies might be something of a rare luxury.

By pressing the L2 button, you see, your character is somehow able to tune into the minds of other characters in the vicinity and see through their eyes. The mechanic is actually a lot like tuning a television for the first time, with the left analog stick being used to search for images on a screen filled with static. When you find a picture, you're able to allocate it to one of the controller's four primary buttons and so, in theory, it's possible to be tuned into the minds of up to four enemies simultaneously--even though you can only actually look through their eyes one at a time.

Looking through the eyes of an enemy not only gives you some idea of his or her locale if you're able to recognize their surroundings, but it can also warn you of dangers that may lie ahead. Looking through the eyes of one enemy who was walking around, for example, we were able to see that the fog-filled room ahead of us was fairly well populated, and that one or two of the characters there appeared to be fighting among themselves. The other major advantage to having characters' frequencies saved is that, when playing the game in its regular third-person view, the positions of enemies that you've tuned in to are indicated by colored crosshairs. Using this technique, we were not only able to pick off the sniper shrouded in thick fog, but we also had a little time to prepare ourselves for an incoming attack from a zombified girl who was making her way up a flight of stairs to meet us.

We didn't make it any further into the level on this occasion, and were later told that our character is only ever able to sustain three attacks before dying. Enemies in the game, on the other hand, will go down after only a single hit--provided you can locate them.

Siren is currently scheduled for release sometime in 2004. We hope to bring more information on the game in the near future.

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