Monday, April 11, 2011

Retro Review: Siren (aka. Forbidden Siren)

I first got in contact with the Siren franchise when I first met my fiancé Tobbii and his pal Jimmy in a local game store. While searching for a new horror game, they offered me a copy of Siren (Called Forbidden Siren here in Europe). Not knowing whatever it were good or bad, I popped it into my Play station 2 and begin to play it. Today, 3 years later, I'm reviewing it.

Siren (aka. Forbidden Siren)
Developed by Japan Studio
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
Played on PlayStation 2
Reviewed by: Anna Råberg

Siren's story starts of on a little island by the coast of Japan, called Hanuda (Hanyūda in Japanese version). On this traditional island a ritual goes wrong and the little town is soon surrounded by a strange red river. Only a few people remains living and starts their desperate escape from the island and its inhabitants who has now turned into man eating shibitos.

Siren's story is a real mess. If you don't pay attention to every little detail and date, you'll soon find yourself confused. The story isn't necessary bad, it's pretty deep and well made but sadly you won't enjoy this if you can't patch it together. The main reason for this is the timeline. Even tough it's stated to go in chronologic order, some things just doesn't seem to happen when they should. When put as a whole experience, the plot is were satisfying for a horror game.

There's a total of 10 characters in Siren. They all variates from well made and likeable to thin as a cardboard cut-out. For most of the time they appear annoying and the horrible English voice acting doesn't help at all. Not only does their personal traits variates but there's also variations depending on if you're playing as a boy, a girl or a child. For example; girl's can't climber higher ledges and have lower stamina. When you play as Harumi (a little girl) you're as good as doomed from the start since children's stamina are ridiculously low.

The AI of the game is a joke. Through some of your stages you're acompined by another survivor but this is mostly a problematic escort mission that weights the game down further. You are able to give simple commands to your partner like “wait”, “come over here” and “hide”. But most of the time your accompanist will not listen to you or just stand there, waiting for the nearest shibito to bite his/her throat. Also when you escort Miyako (who's blind) you have to keep close to here. If you get further away than a few meters, she'll stop and just wait for you to return to her.

A special ability in Siren is the sightjack function. This “psychic” thing allows you to look trough the eyes of the Shibito's and sometimes your partner. It's a really funny function and as far as I played, it worked really well. It also adds a great deal to the horror theme when you're able to see what your enemy sees and out master him with sneaky moves.

The combat is really clumsy. As Siren is mostly oriented on sneaking past your enemies, the combat is not very well developed. It's stale and it's often not worth taking the fight since the enemies re-spawn after a while (some of them gets up in just a matter of seconds). There's not many firearms around but a normal pistol is the best you can get. The sniper rifle is a real pain and you often find yourself surrounded by enemies when you've spent to much time trying to snipe down a Shibito further away.

The re-play value of this game is not very high. If you find yourself intrigued by the story, you're going to play this game over and over. But otherwise there's no real re-play value. There's a few un-lockables that you can play around with for a while and of course there's a load of items to find. Sadly, it's to much trouble for to little.

The controls will drive you insane. You'll find yourself struggling with the camera while you're trying to sneak past a shibito and in the mean time toggle a command to your incompetent partner. You move your character with the left control stick and the camera with the right. With the face buttons you control such things as opening doors, toggling the flashlight and commands to your partner. The problem with the controls is that it's to many things to get going at the same time. The camera is your worst enemy. It's clumsy and when you move your character it will, of course, change slightly. This can be devastating if you try to get into a “good” angle to sneak past an enemy.

The graphics were good for it's time. The faces appears to me as cold and emotionless or just plain silly. It should be noted that the faces are actually real faces, filmed from 8 different angles and then posted onto the model. What makes up for this is the environments that really looks great and gives the game the scary feeling it needs. There's not much notable sound in the game. It's often a calm background music that's hard to hear or a more high phased one if you're chased. The quite music isn't something bad in Siren as the player must be able to hear the enemies or other specific sounds. Over all, the soundtrack is really good and most of all really creepy.

Over all, Siren isn't a great game to start with if you're new to survival horror. It has clumsy controls and the bad voice acting will go down to history for sure. Despite that, I really enjoy Siren. It's a great horror game with an interesting story and it gave me some good scares. I would recommend people who enjoy stealth based horror games or just horror games with a great atmosphere and story to play this.

Story: 8.5/10        Gameplay: 7/10        Controls: 4.5/10
Replay Value: 5/10        Visuals: 7/10        Audio: 8/10
Total Score 7.0/10.0
Truly Great
Buy This Game

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